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Shaving a neck down

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bongomania, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a custom bass which has a very round-profile neck, not quite "baseball bat" but close. I find that it hurts my thumb and cramps my fingers, while I find my basses with "flat profile" necks to be much more comfortable. So I'm thinking about having somebody shave down the round neck a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I know it's hard to show profile in a photo, and this one does have a couple of optical illusions- the "vertical" grain stripes on the sides are actually angled, so the neck is not as thick as the photo makes it appear, and the "spine" grain swirls are not actually centered on the spine of the profile.

    The overall thickness front-to-back is approx. 22mm, the fretboard is a bit over 5mm, the "extra layer" between the fretboard and the maple is 3mm, and the maple is around 13mm. The middle layer appears to be on top of the trussrod channel. The neck is through-body.

    I would have the original luthier do the work (and answer all relevant questions), except that he's been really frustrating to communicate with about other issues and I'm done talking to him. He's also across the country, and I've had to pack and ship it to him once already.

    So, what do you recommend? Should I have a local San Francisco luthier like Roomian or Brawer shave this neck? Is it too risky considering the thickness of the maple? Is there somebody non-local who is an expert at this sort of thing, who would be worth the shipping hassle etc.? Should I just sell the bass to somebody who likes a round profile?

    Thanks!
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member

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  3. wilser

    wilser

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    first thing you should know is how deep the truss rod was installed into the neck (from the fingerboard). that will pretty much dictate how thin you can go. Maybe you can contact the maker and find out from him. Plan on leaving at least 3/16" to 1/4" from the end of the TR channel.
  4. Hambone

    Hambone

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    I shave and narrow necks all the time. For a skilled builder, there's nothing to it. He will essentially just pick up where the original builder left off. It must be emphasized that it takes some experience to know how far one should go in removing material. This isn't something for the first-timer.
  5. dooft11

    dooft11

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    hey aint your bass done my Mr.Dolan?
  6. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member

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    The one in my avatar is, but the one I'm complaining about is not. The Dolan neck is the most comfortable neck I've ever played. :)

    OK, so I used a pin depth gauge at the trussrod adjustment pocket on the headstock to determine that there's about 4mm of maple (at the thinnest part of the neck, from the first to fifth frets) from the trussrod channel to the surface. Towards the body it thickens to about 6mm.

    I'm guessing that is too little wood to work with, even for a skilled luthier. I certainly wasn't planning on doing this work myself. Hambone, anyone else have suggestions?
  7. Hambone

    Hambone

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    No, that's about what I would have suspected for depth. That's OK because the pressure is directed up towards the fretboard. You would be surprised at the difference even 1mm can make on the feel.
  8. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member

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    That's good news, thanks! I guess I'll ask Roomian or Ransom or Brawer if they will do the work.
  9. reddogbass

    reddogbass

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    This will be a relatively easy task for a skilled woodworker, or luthier.

    My guess is that the neck radius needs to be increased at the sides, moreso than decreasing overall thickness (though it's hard to tell from the photos. A semi-V shape, though thicker at the middle plays like a much thinner neck.
  10. gfried84

    gfried84

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    1 mm is signifigant when talking about neck thickness. IF I remember correctly 1 mm is about .040". That is a huge difference in feel.
  11. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini Supporting Member

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    +1 on recommending Dan Ransom. Great guy super work.
  12. Beej

    Beej

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    Not sure if your recommendation is going to travel back through time by seven years...

    :)
  13. the explode man

    the explode man

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    Have faith Beej. Have faith.

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