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Anybody change necks regularly? Bad idea?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Moley13, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Hi there,

    I was just wondering if anybody changes necks relatively regularly - e.g. from fretted to fretless - and if perhaps this was a bad idea.

    The only (main?) problem which is immediately apparent to me is the stress on the neck screws/holes, but as far as I know, the screws are replaceable and the holes are (somewhat) repairable. Perhaps, if I was to get into this, I could get threaded inserts put it (I've already witnessed a few flame wars about threaded inserts on necks, but have since heard that a local, very popular pro luthier uses them all the time, and that's good enough for me, so let's not get off topic!).

    I should add that by "relatively regularly" I mean no more than once a month. Just a sort of "I'd like to play fretless on these few gigs.... I'll need it fretted for this festival, though" frequency, not between sets at a gig or anything nuts :) Obviously I've considered that the neck will need a setup each time, and that dealing with the strings could get interesting - perhaps quick-release bridge would be a good idea?

    Let me know any experience or advice you've got!
  2. TheCrimsonKing


    Jan 23, 2014
    I'm thinking that you could do it, but you'd have to set it up each time and worry about stripping out screw holes, It could be done, but it would just be easier to have several basses.
    Mikaelbass likes this.
  3. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    It's not something I would want to put my basses through on a regular basis. The main issues I would agree would be the threaded holes. And yes adding inserts could help.

    But I see simply from skis - that even with inserts - it's not a great idea to keep on swapping things out when this much physical stress is involved.
  4. AGH


    Jun 18, 2013
    Long Island NY
    All of the stuff I got for free wore out!
    With the very attractive selling price of loaded P & J bodies in TB classifieds I think it would be much easier to piece together a whole second bass and be able to choose whether you're playing fretted or fretless at your whim.:)
  5. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Just a thought. At a certain point it might be better to just get an extra body and have two basses. This way you can "tweak" each one and work the little bugs out. You can also bond to each one instead of having to re-adjust. That being said, Good quality maple necks can withstand the multiple swaps. Just don't go ape-Shizzle when tightening the screws.
  6. telecopy


    Dec 6, 2009
    If you put a small dab of carpenter's glue on a toothpick or match stick, smear a little on the threads of the screw hole and screw, and run the screw all the way down and back out you really strengthen the wooden threads.
  7. To me it sounds like a bad idea, too much physical stress going on there to be doing this on a regular basis. According to your sig you have an arsenal of 6 basses - I don't get the idea of why you want to to this. But each their own :)
  8. Thanks for the responses!

    A fair point (only have 5, by the way - the others in the sig are uprights). I want to have a fretless neck for the Deluxe V, since it has much, much nicer pickups (nordstrand), electronics, and all the rest of the hardware, as well as and an extra string. I'd also probably get a neck which was much nicer than the fretless VM Squier. That way, when I'm REALLY wanting to do some serious fretless stuff, I'll have a "pro-level" bass, but I'll have the VM fretless around for the odd fretless work here and there. I don't think I can part with the frets on that bass just yet, though.

    While I do have a fair few basses and potentially give the impression of being able to afford another, one is a Squier ($400 new), one was my first ever bass ($200 second hand, plus a few mods), and one was a steal (EBMM SR4 for $800). My other 'Ray was second hand, too, so all up, if I added all the money together, I could probably only buy one and a half brand new Stingrays. I'm also already having trouble storing all the beasties. Getting a neck for the Deluxe V Jazz bass would allow me to have a high(ish)-end fretless available for minimum added cost/space.

    I suppose I could hybridise the suggestions so far, and attempt to strengthen (with inserts or glue) the threads, get a neck, see how much I'm swapping around, and if it's getting out of hand I could justify buying another body later down the track...

    Bottom line, how much damage (specifically, repairable vs. irreparable damage) would you estimate I could do to the bass/neck swapping once a month?
  9. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Change necks regularly?

    no. Not a great idea. Not useful. Not needed. Just not.
    scourgeofgod likes this.
  10. Too bad those Novatone necks with the swappable fretboards weren't better. The thought of changing to a fretless fingerboard to fretted in a minute sounded awesome.
    Moley13 likes this.
  11. Woofer


    Sep 24, 2008
    Keep one of the Rays, sell the rest and buy a nice fretless. Done.
  12. What Woofer said.
  13. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I'm working under the presumption that you like your stable of basses and want to keep them.
    You could:
    1) Replace the neck on one (least used?) and just work with it. Drag that one around for fretlessness.
    2) Get a new fretless. GAS can be a good thing.
    3) Use screw inserts if you're bound and determined to swap necks on a regular basis.
  14. "I enjoy running autocross track days with my Miata, but the manual transmission is such a hassle for city driving. Yes, I have 4 other cars including manual and automatic transmissions, but sometimes on sunny days I really want the Miata for running errands. Research tells me a transmission swap is not a massive undertaking if I have the right tools and experience...so should I buy a second transmission for my Miata to swap out when I feel like taking it to the grocery store?"
    Stealth, AGH, Remyd and 1 other person like this.
  15. My personal rule of thumb is to never remove a bolt on neck unless if must be taken off for a repair or refinish.

    I've noticed some sellers (mostly over the past year) that offer to remove the neck of a bass to lower shipping costs. Just the thought of that scares me.

    If you must do it remember to "Torque To Spec" !
  16. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    It is possible, and there is nothing wrong with using threaded inserts. In fact, it would almost be required if you go this route.
    The main point of contention about inserts has never been whether or not they work, but whether or not they contribute positively toward tone.
    I have read about people who installed threaded inserts so they could easily remove the neck to pack in a suitcase when flying. They would put a capo on the strings and unscrew the neck and fold it in half.
    - I have no direct experience with this, but I don't see why it wouldn't or couldn't work.

    But seriously, its probably more of a PITA than it is worth.
    Moley13 and AGH like this.
  17. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    They are designed to be replaced when/if necessary - they are not legos.
    scourgeofgod likes this.
  18. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    "....they are not legos."

    LEGO BASS!!!! Holy Shizzzz, how did nobody never think of THAT before!!!
  19. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    look up lego bohemian rhapsody on youtube.
  20. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    As usual there are a Lot of negative nabobs here on TB. They aren't totally wrong. But they aren't totally right either!

    I did this. I bought a nice 5 string SX Fender clone that I wanted to make fretless. As is common Rondo happened to have some fretless necks in stock to fit it. So I figured since I always put threaded inserts on ALL my SX basses, it would be perfect for a neck-switcher! A great experiment to see how I like it. And so it was.

    Well, you'd LIKE the operation to be simply loosen strings and neck replace with other strings and neck and tighten. Note that to make this operation easy you need to have a top-loading quick-loading bridge...not one where you shove the strings through holes and scratch the finish all the time! Best to have one set of strings for each neck like say rounds for frets and ground wounds for fretless.

    Did it work? Yep it did!

    Get to change bass from fretted to fretless at will.
    If one neck is less than stellar (dead spots) you can use the other.
    Get two versions of the same bass that pretty much play alike.
    Cost is a bit more than one bass rather than for two basses.

    No matter how hard you try to get everything the same, every time you switch necks it's MORE than just a string and neck switch. A SETUP always seems necessary to get the bass playing right with that neck.

    It's not exactly flipping a switch to change necks. There is some time and work involved. Even more with setup.


    In my case It's still switchable, but I pretty much leave it fretless because the fretted neck has a couple of mild dead spots and the fretless neck doesn't. And if I would switch it for some reason, it wouldn't be once a month but more like once a year because of the hassle involved.

    So my final review is that yes, you CAN do it and it DOES work, but it's not NEARLY as convenient as you imagined in your fantasy before you built it!

    An identical fretted-fretless pair of basses is better. TB rule: You can never own too many basses!
    That way you have the "other" one as your back up bass and you can switch from fretted to fretless during a SET rather than once a month! Consider my main axes: A fretted - fretless pair of blueburst USA G&L L2500. What is not to love?

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