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The first step is wood choice, you want hard, light, and stable. My favorite choice is mahogany. If that isn't enough you could cut a slot in the center out your neck and add a truss rod. With most 3 and 4 string instruments you shouldn't need a truss rod though.
Hopefully I can help with this one.
Is it an already made neck you 're talking about? Or one you plan to build?
If it's a build then install a dual action truss rod of about 18 inches long. It will be easier if you have a router available with a 1/4" down spiral bit . There's a lot of how-to info on this all over the internet. Although intimidating, after you set it up properly (to route the truss rod channel whether by plunge router on top of the neck or it gets routed upside down on the router table. Leave the ears off the Headstock with this method) it's easily accomplished in several shallow passes.
When building the neck, put the forward bow to the FB side and remember when installing the frets on an unattached FB the FB may bow backwards so use the bows against each other to your advantage.
I hope this helps,
You can also use a tablesaw to cut the truss rod channel, much easier. The truss can just be a square metal tube or you can buy adjustable trusses. On guitars they generally glue a wood strip into the channel above the rod so that it doesn't exert pressure on the fretboard.
light strings and strong wood is a winning combination
No one's given you any smart ass answers yet, I see:
"How can I prevent neck bowing?"
1) Keep Jimmy Page away from your guitar.
2) Play with your fingers.
3) Sit up straight.
4) Don't befriend any violinists.
Sorry, couldn't help myself. Straight, hard, stable (e.g. not green, but fully seasoned and dried) wood (mahogany, red oak, maple are the most favored choices), lighter strings, 3 or 4 strings, thicker neck, alternating grain on fretboard and neck wood, laminated neck, and all the various routing channel / truss rod ideas mentioned.
Or you can stay with your high action for slide.
LOL! Oily! Here's another..
Don't put any strings on it! :D
laminating...i think the best thing you can learn to do is to identify whether your plank is sawn on the quarter or flatsawn.. when you have flatsawn planks gluing a bunch together and turning them 90 degrees makes for a real strong (and pretty) neck..
i'd much prefer this to a rod personally, i only do rods on bass necks
The crucial thing is decent wood, and the depth of the neck. As cigarbox guitar necks tend to be narrow for 3 or 4 string guitars, the simplest thing is to make them deep to resist the string tension. I've always done this, and my decision to do it like this has been vindicated when looking at other narow necked traditional insturments like the Turkish Saz, which typically has a very long, narrow (and unreinforced) but deep neck, about 30mm (1 1/8") deep and wide. It might sound very thick, but the profile is a sort of parabola, and it fits the hand very well.
Good points CJ, PK and Oily! Got to remember to keep the neck a little thicker than normal.