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Am I crazy for wanting to make a neck thinner?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TexasThunder, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. TexasThunder

    TexasThunder Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2018
    For starters, I’m a fairly advanced woodworker.

    Secondly, I’ve posted in another thread about just buying a replacement neck that meets my needs.

    But I got to thinking...just traded for a Fender JMJ SS bass and am really digging it so far. However, I have small hands for a dude and the neck is a bit on the chunky side. This is also going to be a bass one of my daughters, learns on. So, I’m considering a diy neck adjustment to remove some wood from the back.

    Am I crazy for having this idea?
  2. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    Hey Texas Thunder,

    Not crazy at all. Doing these kinds of adjustments are common. If I'm gathering correctly (with Google search), this is your bass? JMJ Road Worn® Mustang® Bass | Electric Basses

    If it's already road worn, whatever you do could be an enhancement aesthetically.

    You'll most likely need to sand down to wood (with low grit, graduating up to about 220), or get out a wrap and work some of the thickness out of the back of the neck, then sand. There's a lot of videos out there on youtube, with many techniques. I'd recommend taking the neck off the bass though, and taping off the fretboard including down the side (covering the fret ends & board). I usually take a plastic grocery store bag and wrap/tape it around the head stock till I'm done.

    You'll want to re-seal and put a light coat of something durable. For simplicity on tasks like these, I like MinWax wipe on poly (satin). A few light coats can get you to done. I like to thin it down a bit with de-natured alcohol so it goes on light. I usually do about 3 coats.

    Then once it's all dry, hit it with steel wool 0000.

    Not sure if you already had plans on refinishing, but since I was already typing.

    Hope this helps!
  3. TexasThunder

    TexasThunder Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2018
    @chinjazz thank you very much for the response so quickly! Yes that’s the bass and I appreciate all the tips. Very helpful and more than anything, verified my confidence in this project.
  4. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Your bass, your call...but I wouldn't. I'd sell it and buy something short-scale which is more conducive. If an option in your mind, I would re-post in "Basses" with "looking for short scale with thin neck profile".

    spvmhc, Gabbs, InnerCityBass and 4 others like this.
  5. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    One caveat: unless you know the exact depth and type of the trussrod, and how much wood is left under its slot, leave the back of the neck unaltered in a swathe about 1/4"-3/8" wide right down the neck back centerline. Outside of that area, its pretty safe taking away some material to a sort of "soft vee". I have small/average hands and onset of arthritis, so thinner necks feel better to me too. Common wisdom is 1/8" minimum under the rod, if you sand through, the neck is toast.
    spvmhc, Gabbs, Picton and 11 others like this.
  6. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    I have a Fender MIM Mustang and wouldn’t describe the neck as chunky. I’ve never played a JMJ but I can’t believe that they’re that much different. Personally, I would sell it and find something that feels right, rather than risk damaging the neck and devaluing the instrument. But it’s your bass. Do as you see fit.
    The_Meatwagon likes this.
  7. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    Exactly what Gilmourisgod said :) Get a measurement of the truss rod slot bottom with a digital caliper (I usually use the bottom stick part - line up the bottom fretboard line, and then extend the stick part. This will get you your safe zone. I usually draw a pencil line down the side of the neck.
  8. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    There's definitely merit to this :). Depending on how much you paid, and if you cared about resale value, etc.
  9. LetItGrowTone


    Apr 2, 2019
    A narrower/thinner neck makes dead/weak spots more likely or worse.

    I have a 30" scale neck on a TMB30 that is also a little thick,
    1.61" nut, thickness .85" (measured at the nut side of the 1st fret), 1.01" (12th fret),
    and it is my *best* neck in this regard.

    My Glarry J-type bass (P-width and also thick) also almost perfect.
    A Fender American Pro Jazz was my worst, which is how I learned this.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    i've both thinned and narrowed necks to arrive at a more comfortable playing experience. i'm fairly tolerant of different feels, but they all have to be in the same universe for me to play my best. it's easy to do and you don't have to thin/sand a lot to get a significantly different feel on a particular neck. so you might plan on doing it in several steps (a little each time) to allow for a realistic playing experience (assessment) after you take the thickness down a bit. at some point: you can live/play with it = you're done!

    good luck thinning your neck! :thumbsup:
    Clutchcargo, Engle and JeezyMcNuggles like this.
  11. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I don't think that you are crazy for wanting to make a neck thinner but IMHO, it's not necessary. Once again IMHO, it's the width of a neck at the nut that matters for small hands, not the thickness.

    I mean, how much material are you going to remove? A 1/32"? A 1/16"? Kind of insignificant.

    My son bought me one of these and I love the neck. At age 69, it's much easier to play than a Precision. With the pickup mod, blindfold test, sounds like a P.

    If the Squire Bronco has a thinner neck than the JMJ, buy one. They are fairly cheap. Save yourself the trouble and the devaluation of your JMJ Mustang.

    DSCF8723.JPG DSCF8722.JPG
    Bassiclees and Jeff Hughes like this.
  12. dwizum

    dwizum Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2018
    Hard to do on a finished neck! :D

    The cliff note's is: Yes, you can try, but it is literally a crapshoot in terms of the structural integrity of the neck. Unless you find someone who has disassembled an identical neck and measured the truss rod slot, we can't really tell you if it's safe to take off 1/8" or you should stop at 1/32".
  13. Jackcrow

    Jackcrow Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    North Dakota
    If you don’t plan on selling it, go for it.

    If you’re looking for another (and cheap) option, the Squier Mini P is even shorter scale (28.6”) and has a nice slim neck with a 1.5” nut.
  14. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I would consider selling the JMJ and getting a MIJ Mustang. They have a 1.5" nut width and contour similar to a MIM Jazz. You won't be sacrificing anything in the quality department either. Just hard to find at this point.
  15. TexasThunder

    TexasThunder Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2018
    Thanks everyone. I think I’ll hold off for now, play it as is for a while and decide later. Maybe shop for an after market neck or one off a Squier Mustang to try on it. I can play it fine as is, it’s more of a preference thing for me. My bigger concern is how my daughter will adjust to it.

    The Bronco suggestion is really good too, for her.
    LetItGrowTone likes this.
  16. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I've seen lots of youtube videos with kids who can't be more than 8 doing things on a J or P bass that I couldn't do in my dreams. I think we tend to get hung up on this. IMHO
  17. I don’t think it’s that crazy. I opened for one of my bass heroes a couple years back (Ryan Martinie of soften the glare/mudvayne) hes A smaller built guy and he had the necks on his “stock” basses shaved. He had his custom fretless made with the neck profile he likes. Lot of the great guitar players Around here that use vintage style instruments Do the same. For example a lot of the flashier guitar players that play Gibson’s shave the necks down to more of a modern Ibanez wizard neck type of feel.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Not crazy.
    It’s crazy to have a bass that you can’t use. Make it right for you. Good Luck
  19. It's down to personal taste and preference. Alembic will tell you that the basses they make for Stanley Clarke (short-scale) have a fairly small profile, and he prefers them shaved down from that starting point. Bear in mind, SC is a full-grown man with big hands who easily plays a full-size upright, too big for most guys. It's all what you prefer.
    TrustRod and JRA like this.
  20. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Inactive

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody notices
    Tribute g&l fallout (short scale suggestion)
    Kubicki Fan likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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