Fender 3-Bolt Necks...Anything I should know?
Looking at a new old stock, Fender American Vintage 75 Jazz Bass. Everything seems to check out with this model, the only thing that concerns me slightly is that 3-bolt neck.
I have heard that the original ones had issues, but one could only assume Fender has dealt with these issues in the making of the reissue.
For my own peace of mind, I would love to hear from some people that have owned one of these basses with the 3-bolt neck and can speak to it's reliability.
When they're solid they're great *but* the single bolt side can develop a little side to side action over the years if not kept solid and tight all the time. If it develops any movement at all when it shifts it not only changes the alignment of the strings over the fingerboard a little but it alters the tuning; not a good thing to happen while you are playing a song at a gig.
Disclaimer: I do not have a 3 bolt bass at this time, and my last 3 bolt bass (an early G&L SB-1 if I recall) never had this problem. My '75 Stratocaster did develop it and despite securing the bolts after the problem started it was too late. After a few years of the issue I had a luthier fix it which required plugging the single side hole in the body and redrilling it. It is solid now.
This problem can happen, it does not mean that it always happens or that it will eventually happen regardless. If there are other problems with 3 bolt necks I am not aware of them.
I worked music retail for about ten years ('95-'05)... some of the old salts at the shop kept telling stories about the early 3-bolts. They said they were horrible, but could always be knocked back into alignment by holding the headstock and body and forcing it with your knee (just like trying to break a stick/branch). If you look at many of the G&L basses, they've used 3-bolt joints (for instance the JB-2's). I've never heard or seen bad things happen to them! Hope this helps!
I would not let this be a factor in my purchase of a bass I wanted as it is fixable if it even happens at all on that particular bass.
I had a 70's Fender with the 3 bolt and is was rock solid as solid as any 4 bolt I ever owned.
I certainly can't speak for all of them. Logically, I would think 4 bolts would be more stable than 3.
But I've had a 2000 model AV '75 Jazz that I got new that year. It was my main, go-to bass for a long time, and I've never had a problem with it. One of my sons has been using it in the praise band at his church for the last couple years, still without any problems.
Due diligence, make sure you check things fairly regularly.. If you decide you want it, I don't think you'll have any issues unless you misuse or completely ignore the TLC.
I've had a '75 J-bass (the real one, not a RI) and it did not have this problem. Probably this problem occured due to bad quality control. Many of the late '70s Fenders had a gap in the neck joint area, so the neck could rotate easily.
Side to side motion is only possible if there is a gap in the neck pocket. Unfortunately for many real 70s Fenders, the neck pocket gaps were large. Also if you use the micro tilt and really crank down on the neck bolts you can cause a "ski-jump" or a high spot at the neck heel that isn't super easy to fix.
Awesome, that really puts my mind at ease. I searched extensively on this forum to try and find someone who was having issues with the 3-bolt neck on these basses and I came up empty handed...that's gotta mean something! Your experiences only validate this further.
Thanks all for your help, I think I may have found "the one".
I have an '06 75RI, which I use as my main bass. I have never had any issues with the 3-bolt neck, and my tech has assured me that it's not at all problematic.
Those '75RIs are just great basses.
Had a Fender MIJ 75 RI Jazz 3 bolt...never had any problems with the neck. Would have kept that bass if he didn't weigh 12lbs.
I think the 3-bolt got a bad rap from some poor quality control in the late 1970's at Fender.
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