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3 bolt really that bad?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by geddy402, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. geddy402


    Jul 20, 2012
    I saw a 78 three bolt Stingray recently and just thought to my self "Everyone poo poo's 70s Fender and their 3 bolt necks, but Leo was doing the same thing at Music man.".

    So what's the deal? Is it the bullet truss rod that most people have a problem with or is it the 3 bolts on the 70s Fenders? Don't want to start a flame war here just curious to know why people don't like the 3 bolt and if it was such a bad thing why was Leo doing it too? Was it that much of a cost saver? Was he I'll advised to adopt 3 bolt?

    Thanks for the info!
  2. I think it was an overall quality issue across the lines at that time, not the 3-bolt in particular. There are 70s reissue guitars with a 3 bolt arrangement still made. My local L&M had a Tele Dlx with this setup.
  3. dougazbass

    dougazbass Supporting Member

    May 6, 2011
    Mesa, AZ
    3 bolts works great. I thought it was Leo's idea actually. G and L did it for many years before finally going to 6 bolts which I think might have been a little joke on the public.
    "If 4 bolts are better than 3 then we'll go to 6!!"
    I like the neck tilt adjustment with the 3 bolt. Had it on a 5 string Peavey Axcelerator.
  4. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    My 78 Stingray three bolt was solid as a rock but for some reason I never trusted the three bolt Fender necks. Maybe because at that time there was a perception that Fender quality had gone way down from the early basses. Maybe.
  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    3 bolt really that bad?


    I would say yes ...
  6. Blake Bass

    Blake Bass Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    Montgomery, Texas
    Roscoe's 4 string basses are all 3 bolt..they seem to be pretty good!!
  7. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    It probably depends a lot on how tight the neck pocket is. A loose neck pocket + 3 bolt seems like it wouldn't be that hard for the neck to move. But, if the neck pocket fit is nice and tight, then you wouldn't be depending on the neck bolts nearly so much to keep the neck from shifting.
  8. My guitar player used to have a 3-bolt '70s Strat. The neck was always shifting on him.
  9. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    yes this
  10. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Yamaha & Grosbeak. I’m Marc!

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    Definitely depends on the construction of the bass. My G&L is a three bolt and is very sturdy. My dad's '76 Fender Jazz Bass needed retightening several times, on the other hand.
  11. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    i currently have 3 3 bolt 70's fender jazzes right now. not a problem with the one. no shifting ever. the neck pockets arent super tight either. when people say their necks shift i wonder what theyre doing with them because im not easy on basses.
  12. SilGarzaJr

    SilGarzaJr SilGarzaJr

    Mar 28, 2012
    North Texas
  13. SilGarzaJr

    SilGarzaJr SilGarzaJr

    Mar 28, 2012
    North Texas
    Agree to this too. I have four with 3 bolts and have no issues with any of them.
  14. jazzbo58

    jazzbo58 Bassist for My Man Godbey

    Apr 21, 2001
    New Orleans, LA USA
    I've never had a problem with my 3 bolt '78 Jazz.

  15. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    StuartV pretty much has the answer covered. I have a 77/78 three bolt Fender Jazz. If you pull on the neck wrong, it will move in the pocket.

    Not much, but enough to scare you.
  16. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Yes it was Leo's idea, but CBS/Fender executed sloppy, while Musicman and G&L worked as it should. So very incorrect to blanket all 3-bolts just because CBS screwed it up.
    The FMIC reissues were done right and had no problem.
  17. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky

    Jan 4, 2013
    Playing them presumably.

    IMO the 3 bolt arrangement and the 'micro-tilt' neck adjustment on 70's jazz basses, was a very poorly engineered design. A gimmick really, which, when combined with some of the other *idiosyncrasies* to be found on Jazz basses of that era, detracted from the overall utility of the instrument: Nothing more, nothing less.

    I had a 78 jazz with loose neck pocket and no matter how tight the neck bolts were, the neck would always shift with the *slightest* bump. And that micro-tilt...UGH...It guaranteed that there were only two substantial points of contact between neck and body and in the case of my old jazz, when coupled with it's non-resonant hard ash body, rendered the sound of the bass to be dull and lifeless.
  18. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    From what I've experienced on why a neck would move, is because of too much glossy finish left in the neck pocket. Easy fix: remove the gloss to create a friction fit.
    The other easy fix for the contact points: use a tapered/wegde neck shim.
    30 minute fixes for little to no money.
  19. geddy402


    Jul 20, 2012
    Interesting thoughts. Thanks for the replies. I guess its a reasonable explanation with the neck moving but still hard to believe it would move with two bolts on top.

    I wonder why Leo went with that instead of keeping the 4 bolt. Or even 6 like they (EBMM and G&L) went to later on.
  20. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
    Yes, USA CBS 3-bolt neck joints are really that bad, IMO.

    I tried scuffing, gluing, and even slightly over-tightening the necks on every one of my 70's CBS 3-bolt Jazz Basses, and they all shifted the G-string to the edge of the fingerboard.

    I have owned an '83 MIJ SQ Strat with a 3-bolt neck for 27-ish years, and it has never budged.

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