An idea I came up with in my sleep. :P A transformer neck.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ian the bassist, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. I came up with this idea in my sleep. I had a bass that I was playing in a concert. In the dream the bass had a neck 2 parts to the neck, and I was able to the slide the top half of the neck out and put in another half neck.

    You're probably wondering why I'm rambling. Because in the dream it was to make the bass fretless. I know you could technically just buy a fretless bass. But what if you aren't rich.

    Like me. And just want to play fretless sometimes. I don't have money to be buying more than one bass every year or 2. So the idea boils down to this. I just want to know do you think it's a good idea and will it work?

    The neck has a hollow slide part. Think of it has a whole neck with only a small half an inch slot to slide this part neck in and out. It slides all the way up to the nut, which since has the fretless and fretted points will be higher and lower, can in turn be screwed to be made a little higher to accommodate the slight difference in height of the necks. I wanted to call it the transformer neck. If it can even be done that is.

    Do you guys think this is possible? I became very excited about this idea. Because I feel it is a good one if it can be pulled off. I know alot of people would be thinking the same way as me. I don't want to shovel a hell of a lot of money out for a fretless. And if it was to be a quick change of the neck and not a painful long one. It could be possible to change the neck on stage for a song, and then change back in between a small break. :)
  2. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm pretty sure it was Musicman who built a few prototypes of necks that had switchable fingerboards sometime in the early 1980s. Somebody check my facts here, 'cause I'm hazy, but didn't Tony Levin get one... or demo one... or... something?
  3. Johnny Alien

    Johnny Alien Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2003
    Harrisburg, PA, USA
    I don't remember Musicman doing it but I know there was a neck with swappable magnetic fingerboards. I believe there also was one where the frets retracted and became flush with the fretboard.
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    You could just buy a fretless neck and switch one of you current basses over.

    I know of folks on tb that buy Carvin SB's and then get a fretless neck made for it and swap them back and forth.

    EDIT: Retractable frets bass
  5. I was searching everywhere I could for something like this. I couldn't find it though. So you don't think I pitch this idea to a bass company then? :( lol
  6. I suppose I could. I was hoping this idea would catch attention though lol. The idea I was hoping could slide the top neck out so you didn't even have to change the strings and it would be fast. You would if you swapped necks(unless you're completely replacing the neck as you mentioned).
  7. I've seen somewhere on here replaceable fretboards. It was held on by a large magnet the length of the neck.
  8. 905


    Jul 23, 2006
  9. Johnny Alien

    Johnny Alien Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2003
    Harrisburg, PA, USA
    I have to be honest I am having a hard time even imagining what you are talking about.

    I would think no matter what you came up with it would not make a cost effective neck and would be pricy to implement. And if you are going to pay a premium for a neck why not just buy a fretted and a fretless bass? Unless you literally wanted to switch mid song, it's not any harder to do than doing what you are describing.

    The other methods described did not take off which is why they are no longer around. I doubt you would find anyone interested in pursuing what you are suggesting because there isn't really a market for it. But give it a try you never know.
  10. Hmmmmmm. I suppose not many people would be interested if it was still gonna cost a tonne to implement haha. The idea is if you were to think of the small bit of wood that is the finger board. And the actual neck.

    Just sliding out the fingerboard and the neck still being there. And sliding in another similar finger board. Just fretless.(which could be held in with a clamp at the very bottom of the neck near the pickups) I looked at the bridge system and the retractable frets. Nice sound off both. But I would still want the nice feel of the wood and sliding the notes and harmoics on a fretless.(which I suppose could be achieved with the retractable frets, but to me, seems more messy or gimmicky to the neck than my idea lol) If the idea isn't there to done it's all good. Just thought it would be cool if wasn't done :)
  11. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    A fretless bass from SX rondomusic is roughly $100. Do you think you can modify a bass for less than that, and retain quality?

    The bass neck has more than a hundred pounds of tension on it due to the strings. Any design that has removable fingerboard/neck etc has to have mounting points that can handle such stress. Basically, if your replaceable fretboard slots into a groove in the neck, the relief setting on the truss rod and the string tension will prevent you slotting your fingerboard in because the neck won't be fully straight.
  12. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
  13. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009

    Of course it has been done, but I'm not so sure of the utility of it. I rigged one of my SX basses with both a fretted and fretless neck. I installed threaded inserts to keep screws from stripping, but I'm not impressed with it. It's just too much work to change over and then you have to deal with the tweaking the setup each time to get it totally right. A changeable fingerboard is better but still takes too much effort.

    I've become convinced that the way to go is a fretted/fretless bass where the frets raise an lower with a lever. That way you can switch right in the middle of a song. Now THAT is cool.

    And as I've mentioned here before several times, Randy Stockwell a local luthier makes a truly fine fretted/fretless bass that changes with a lever (actually a sliding part). Bu they are about $4000 and he currently only sells them in 4 string. In spite of my offers of money he's not ready to start cranking out the 6 string I'm dying to own. The problem I'd guess is market is too small to justify making a whole nother set of jigs, clamps and fixtures for making 5 or 6 string basses. Hey, Jaco only needed 4 strings! :)
  14. hipstirbass

    hipstirbass Guest

    Mar 15, 2009
    Novatone made a removeable fretboard. NorCal BASSIX is doing a review video on a 77 pbass with the switchboard.