Body weight. How light is too light?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bkbass2000, Jun 8, 2021.

  1. bkbass2000

    bkbass2000 Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2011
    Asheville NC
    I am thinking about building a PJ with a Warmoth body. I'd like it to be 8lbs or maybe a little less for my shoulders sake. To those with experience, what is the sweet spot weight wise for the body where I won't get neck dive? I'm thinking around 4.5lbs. Sound about right? I will use lightweight tuners and I know there are some other variables, I'd just like to keep it as light as possible while keeping it well balanced. Thanks!
    staurosjohn and jefff100 like this.
  2. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    4/ 4.5 will get you in that ballpark +/-
  3. I recently contacted Warmoth about buying a 5 string Deluxe J bass & neck what I wanted to do was a chambered body for resonance & also to reduce weight.

    Basically they wont do a chambered 5 string body due to balance issues & neck dive.

    Not directly your question but as body weight goes down balance can certainly be an issue
    petrus61 and bkbass2000 like this.
  4. steveinohio


    May 27, 2007
    I would recommend a neck with just a truss rod and no reinforcement rods. I think that helps balance wise.
    bkbass2000 likes this.
  5. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    How light is "too light"? I don't believe that "too light" is a thing. I'd love a 2lb bass, but get to a certain point and the limitations of the design start to trip you up.

    The pivot point on a bass is where the strap button is located on the top horn. Usually the body is heavier than the neck but chambering or light body wood can change that. If you have a chambered body and neck dive, that pivot point is too close to the body. So you need to extend the top horn or lose weight from the head.

    Replace the tuners for light weight ones. Go for a headless bass design. Extend the top strap button by adding a metal bracket, to push the strap button a coupe of inches further away from the body.

    Sandberg manage to bring some of their basses in at under 8lbs, so it can be done.
    steveinohio, 4SG, M.R. Ogle and 2 others like this.
  6. BLDavis

    BLDavis Master of Snarks. Gold Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Ellenboro, NC
    I built a Jazz last year on a 4.4lb Warmoth chambered body. It had a bit of neck dive with a USA Fender Jazz neck till I switched out the tuners for Hipshot Ultralights. Total weight is 8.2lbs with a Levys 4" leather strap and balance is perfect.
    Hope this helps, B.
  7. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    If you're thinking J body 8lbs or less will be neck dive city, even with lightweight machines you'll still be supporting the neck as you're fretting. 9 lbs is generally considered the starting point for good instrument balance, sorry to burst your bubble.
    grimjim likes this.
  8. bon viesta

    bon viesta

    Dec 10, 2020
    how light is too light??? well, i’d say to refer to the bmi scale. if you’re a 6 foot tall guy who’s maybe 120 pounds i’d certainly say that’s too light. unhealthy too! but jokes aside, the lightest bass i’ve ever played was a 7.9 pound precision bass. i should also mention that’s the only other bass i’ve ever played other than my walnut jazz bass that weighs in at a huge 13 pounds. i’d say maybe sub 5 pounds seems a little light to me, but seriously i hardly know what i’m talking about.
    BassNugget, makdub and zortation like this.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Lightweight body, no problem. Mate it with a full sized Fender-esque headstock and that's when the imbalance kicks-in. In my way of thinking, there should be just enough real estate to mount the tuners.

    lomo and JRA like this.
  10. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I built a frankenbass with a basswood body that is too light. I corrected this by adding a 1.2 lb scuba belt weight to the back end of my strap.
  11. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    It's not only the weight of the body but also the weight of the neck. After modding my Cabronita [light weight tuners, replaced Hi mass bridge w/ 2 saddle string thru & ferrules] it weighed in at 8lbs 4oz. The neck dive was minimal, but still present.

    I then did a neck replacement [Allparts TBMO w/ nitro finish vs the poly finished original neck]. The Allparts neck was slightly bigger, but also lighter. Now the balance is perfect and the weight is closer of 8lbs.
    marchone, gebass6 and JRA like this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    TL;DR: no such thing as "sweet spot weight-wise for the body," as an absolute, per the OP. i.e., "it depends."

    IME/IMO, there is no absolute for all axes --- it varies from ax to ax, so = it depends. bodyweight is part of a system where the effects of the other variables also 'weigh in' :D to create the balance that gives you troubles or that you might prefer.

    think: simple machine = the lever. bodyweight acts as the force/effort via the fulcrum (the strap buttons, especially the upper horn button location) and the load (the weight of the neck/headstock).

    if the load is minimized, and if the fulcrum is optimized (location), then the force (the bodyweight) can be altered/reduced and still achieve "balance." body weight (all by itself) doesn't mean much without taking into account the effects of the other variables --- and the strap itself is an additional variable that can influence the effect of the load.
    C Stone and Billyzoom like this.
  13. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    For a P bass, the heavier the body the better, since neck dive is inevitable for it. You can only limit how bad it is. What I would do is throw money at the tuners, and get the lightest possible set you can find. And the heaviest body you can find. If I were DIY’ing a P bass, I wouldn’t turn down a body made of solid maple. Or even oak if there were such a thing…

  14. inthevelvet

    inthevelvet Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2012
    Washington DC
    I had a roadworn P that was 7.8lbs and balanced fine. It had the stock tuners so with lightweight tuners I think low 7’s for total weight of the bass would be great.
    TrustRod likes this.
  15. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    I'd say sub-7.5 lbs total weight will neck dive. I have a 4.5 lbs bass that neck dives terribly, also had a 6.5lbs one that also neck dived. I had a bass around 7.7 lbs and and didn't neck dive (and it was a P with Ultralites).
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
  16. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Everyone's first plan is usually to make the standard FSO design, but lighter. There are shortcomings in that plan. You can make a seriously light and well balanced bass but only if you think outside of that particular box.
    TrustRod likes this.
  17. Thumpin6string

    Thumpin6string Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Shoals Indiana
    They must be doing this just to cover their azz. I built my 5 string fretless with a chambered body. It weighs around 6 pounds and has no neck dive.
    jefff100 likes this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I have a P with a rosewood neck, it dives. The center of mass without a strap is on the neck plate about 1 cm from the bolt toward the back of the body on the top side. I’d estimate the body would need 1.5+ more pounds weight to counter the neck.
    Thank goodness for 4” suede straps.
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    A Danelectro filled with helium is too light.
  20. Depends on three things: strap placement, neck/scale length, and what's going on at the headstock.

    My last build was a short scale at 30", but weighs 6.75 lbs - it's on the very edge of balancing properly. My strap button sat right between the 12th and 13th fret, for reference. Mind you I have plain old Wilkinson tuners, no light weight stuff there.

    Regular Fender style bodies have the strap button between the 11th and 12th fret, so a small advantage there. I would venture a guess and say that it'll be difficult to get much under 8lbs without neck dive.
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