32 bolt on neck from a 34 neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mormoyboy, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. mormoyboy


    Oct 9, 2012
    hi all - i asked the same thing over in the medium scale club:

    i am contemplating how i might come by an affordable 32" scale five-string: since a capo at fret 1 on a 34" scale neck pretty much gets me 32" ... here is my question:

    how hard would it be to:

    take a stock 34" bolt-on neck (without position markers on the fretboard) -

    take off it's fretboard -

    saw of most of the 1 fret fingerboard area leaving a shortened fretboard -

    reinstall/ reglue the fingerboard with the 1st fret now the zero fret (in effect creating an almost 32 scale neck) -

    sand the sides. adjust (i.e. take some off) the heel and move up the bridge -

    reinstall the neck and:
    Voila - a 32 bass born from a 34?

    is this possible? or crazy talk?
  2. I think you'd be far better off moving the nut- remove it and the first fret and place it where the first fret was. Instant permanent capo.
    Re working the heel would be a disaster, probably.
  3. mormoyboy


    Oct 9, 2012
    could i leave the 1st fret in and place the nut right behind it - turn it into a zero fret?
  4. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    That could work. You need some type of clamp right behind the nut
    to hold the strings down on the zero fret. Possibly just copy a zero fret
  5. Hi.

    Yes, that will work.

  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I think this will be more work that is worth it. You'll have a length of neck without the fingerboard on it, and fingerboards are an integral part of the strength of most necks. You'll have an exposed trussrod channel at that point, that would be difficult to cover nicely, and finally, you may have problems with the breakover angle past the nut. As stated above, you could introduce some form of clamp to keep strings in their slots, but with the angle remaining, you may end up with strings sticking when tuning. If this was brought to me for this mod, I'd be suggesting just making a new neck in the scale and design you want. If this is just something you want to explore and mess around with, then go for it, but for a serious instrument, this plan introduces several significant problems that would need to be carefully and thoughtfully worked around...
  7. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Well, although your key word is affordable, Warwick is supposed to show a 32" 5-string at NAMM.
  8. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Agreed. If you try this you're probably going to ruin the neck, so you might as well save your money and buy a short scale neck from Warmoth or All-parts. What kind of bass are we talking about?
  9. mormoyboy


    Oct 9, 2012
    does allparts make a 32 bass neck?
  10. iiipopes


    May 4, 2009
    The Warmoth short scale necks do not retrofit standard basses.

    You answered your own question: until you get a real 32 inch bass, just capo it.

    Squier had a 32 inch P-bass in the mid '80's that was killer. They pop up used for a reasonable cost from time to time.
  11. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    Unless you relocate the bridge. Are you averse to that? If not, then it's just a matter of bolting on the 32" neck, then making sure that the G string bridge saddle is 32" from the nut.

    Excellent practical advice!
  12. The capo idea is OK to find out what a 32" five feels like, but it'll never be completely in tune. Will intonation be possible at 12 ( or is it 13)?

    No. It's mathematically impossible to turn a 34 into a 32 by capo-ing fret one. Does anyone have a 34" whose first fret measures exactly 2" from nut to fret? No. It's 1.908 inches.

    Those tenths and hundredths of inches add up to not in tune land.
  13. mormoyboy


    Oct 9, 2012
    thing is i want a 5-string (will actually be EADGC) and there is an off brand acoustic electric (which i own and love) and Alembics (which i can't afford) otherwise one has to go custom.

    I am aware of the Warwick - their president actually responded to an inquiry about it personally - but that will be next year and in the $600-700 range -
    i think i'll get a cheap neck and experiment:

    what if i remove the nut and cut 'slots' into the first fret fingerboard area for each string - creating an oversized nut of sorts to turn my 1st fret into a zero fret? ...
  14. mormoyboy


    Oct 9, 2012
    ctmullins - i am pretty sure the warmoth neck is also narrower at the neck heel than the 2.5" 7ender standard.

    immigrant - i realize the 'capoed' at 1st fret, if you will, 34" neck is not exactly 32 - but why wouldn't it intonate?
  15. ctmullins

    ctmullins fueled by beer and coconut Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2008
    MS Gulf Coast
    I'm highly opinionated and extremely self-assured
    I don't think that's correct. I think it will become a perfectly in tune 32.092" scale length bass.
  16. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    You may not get 32" exactly, but that should not cause any intonation problem.
    If it did, capos and barre chords would out of tune (mainly refers to guitar, but same principle)
  17. Yep. I'm busted. Completely full o beans.:D

    That's OK. I just go by the StewMac online fret calculator, and my 34" and 32" basses. If I were a real luthier (like you guys) I'd want my measurements to be exact, not just "close enough". The way I see it, a few hundredths of an inch X 12 adds up and if the 12th fret is a quarter of an inch off, the whole fretboard is off. I'm glad the builder of my FBB custom saw it that way also. It's a 32" five string, and the 12th fret measures exactly 16" from the nut, not 16 1/5" or whatever.

    I stand corrected. Good luck with your build!
  18. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Heh, close enough is nearly always the best that you can do. As soon as you put strings on it, precise measurements go out the window. That's why bridges have intonation adjustments.
  19. daveman50

    daveman50 Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Westchester County NY
    Sorry, Immigrant, but you're still wrong.

    Try this experiment with your FBB custom:

    Part 1: Tune bass. Play 12th fret on E sting. Hear: E.

    Part 2: Capo the first fret. Tune bass. Fret the 13th fret. Hear: E. In tune.

    The frets are positioned in relation to one another and they remain in tune with each other regardless of where you put the capo.

    If I'm wrong, prove it.
  20. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    According to the stewmac calculator, for a 34" scale:
    the 1st fret is 1.908" from the nut
    the 12th fret is 17.000" from the nut
    the 13th fret is 17.954" from the nut

    If you were to cut 1.908" off the nut end of the fretboard and move the nut
    up to where the 1st fret was, the 13th fret would now be 16.046" from the
    "new" nut (17.954 - 1.908) and the 13th fret would now be the "new" 12th

    The new scale length would now be 32.092" (34.000 - 1.908). Now if we check
    the stewmac calculator again with a 32.092" scale, we get:

    12th fret - 16.046" from the nut

    It works out exactly.

    edited to add this:
    Forgot to mention that the fretoard itself does not actually move;
    just the position of the nut or 0 fret.