Calling Dr. Frankenstein... Charvel body, what necks will fit?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thedovewarlord, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. thedovewarlord


    Dec 29, 2010
    Hi All --

    Posted this question within repair forum but haven't received any response, so casting my net a little further here.

    I have a Charvel p style bass from the late 80's early 90's and it has a maple neck with the pointy headstock

    My goal is to get it back together but would like to use a Fender or Fender style neck with a rosewood fretboard.

    Searched and scoured the web for specs and info but have found nothing informative.

    Does anyone on TB have any knowledge or experience with a Frankenstein build as such?

    If so, please help guide me on selecting a neck that will fit.

  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Have you tried measuring the neck pocket?
    Nev375 likes this.
  3. A good pro would be able to mate 'em no matter what, but it will cost you
  4. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010

    Have you ever done this sort of thing before?

    You aren't expecting to just slap a neck in the pocket and tighten screws up and simply string up and play are you?
  5. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Anythings possible, but… you'll need to determine what neck. Standard 34" scale Fender necks are 20, can be 22 and a couple are 24. All can be found on eBay if patient. Regardless of which you chose, the distance from nut to bridge saddles needs to be 34". The pocket will most certainly need to be routed to fit whatever neck you choose which fits that scale length. But, scale length related to your body is optimal - it needs to work before any pocket fitting is attempted. In other words, you could rout the pocket, attach the neck, and the scale will not be correct. (over or under 34" from nut to bridge saddles) If this is the case and you are still in mod-mode, the bridge will need to be moved. (unless it runs out of room on the south end)

    If you have shop skills and tools - it can be done, otherwise it's best left for a pro to either make a neck or adapt it with skill/experience. $$$
  6. thedovewarlord


    Dec 29, 2010
    Not yet, might sound straight forward and certainly willing to do so (would robably just need to know what exactly needs to be measured) the key hold up here is I do not see measurements when I see necks on parts sites or used necks on ebay.

    Defintely not underestimating this, actually going slowly with this notion - my plan would be to identify a compatible neck and shop around until I found a fit in my price range. Ultimately I would bring to a professional to set it up for me (30th Street) but wanted to research and understand as much of this as possible, thats kinda the fun part along with the eventually having a kick ass bass to play. I want to learn from this, perhaps someday building a bass from parts would not be out of reach from me.

    Another helpful response. Im not planning to assemble (perhaps one day) but my choice would be 34" scale, which the bass was originally. Im leaving this to a pro but starting with a body I have, but would like to select the parts.

    So that all said -- my original questions are still unanswered -- does anyone know what specs what the charvel pocket are? if not what would be the way to get proper measurements? Then are there standards for the neck heals (by brand) that I can narrow my search.

    If you were searching for a replacement neck, how would you go about it? What is the proper way.

    If this adventure means I will wind up paying more than 1,500 than I might halt, I could probably find I used american p and have it modified with lollars and defretted for around that, but I hate to give up that easy. It would be great to revive an instrument I once played shows and a good portion of my youth was spent with that bass on my hip.

  7. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Well the neck pocket measurements you need to obtain yourself because Charvel, being such an off-brand may or may not align to standard fender specs. It probably doesn't because even certain years and models of Fenders don't adhere exactly to Fender specs.

    The width is measured from one side to the other at the bottom (widest part) of the pocket.

    The length of pocket is measured from the center where the butt of the neck joins the body out to the lip.

    The depth of pocket ought to be uniform throughout from face of the body to the bottom of the pocket.

    I recommend using a standard 6" dial caliper because it makes measuring stuff like this easy, precise and you can use it for so many things ight down to measuring string gauges and nut heights, etc... A cheap plastic one will do, but you can also use a simple ruler.

    From there, you need to search the internet for necks. Any neck builder ought to be able to provide specs on what they build.

    Most of the time a neck with be ever so slightly too large or small for a perfect snug fit. That comes with the territory and half the time you will need to sand the sides of the neck to fit.
    The screw mounting holes are almost certainly not going to align. You can plan on drilling, dowling and re-drilling them from the start.

    Things to pay attention to:

    If it's a used neck, beware of possible truss rod damage. You never know
    If it has a fretboard extension doublecheck theres not too much depth in the pocket that there is still clearance for it between the face of the body and/or pickguard.
    Note the shape of the heel of the neck. It'll either be rounded or flat and it needs to be close enough to fit in there.
    (if you are good with imaging software you can scale up builders drawing and print out a paper template to compare.
    And last but not least. What fret position does the butt of the neck lie on and how much distance is that from the average saddle position.
    (That's going to take some special measuring and a bit of math to work out if you will need to move the bridge and by how far)
    You also need to pay attention to the alignment of the neck so that the bridge and strings don't end up off-center.

    It's not all that hard to figure out how to do all that stuff, but then again it's not that simple. It's too complicated to go into great detail and type out on here. I'm sure if you search around though someone has already written a tutorial. But if you are pretty good with geometry and mechanically inclined it's all pretty obvious.

    Good luck.
  8. First of all, I applaud you for your sense of adventure in creating something different and unique. There is a lot of good information that was put out here, but don't let it scare you. I have a couple of charvels; they are and 86 and an 87 2b models, and are great quality builds. By looking at them, they look pretty standard, but I'll pop a neck off a precision and see if it fits tomorrow when I have time. I'll do some quick measurements and let you know how close they work out. Personally, I love building parts basses, and have had some great results with not many fitting issues. The Japanese aftermarket parts are pretty good quality, and will work with a lot of "fender standard" parts. Beware of the Chinese stuff flooding the market. It's hit or miss, and the quality control is all over the board. My last build was a squire "Jaco" body to an aftermarket 21 fret jazz neck with a nice 70's style big headstock. Everything bolted up (the neck was not drilled prior) but i had to move the bridge 1/8 inch forward to keep a true 34" scale. The bass has 60s custom shop pups, a varitone with a series parallel, and with flat wounds, gets a great vintage growl and bite, or a huge dub thump. It's my favorite four string bass to play right now. Sorry to wander off topic, but if you know how to run a router (mandatory if you are going to mess with building basses) you can build or modify just about anything. Plan your build, take five measurements of everything, and don't forget to look up stuff on you tube. There is some great info there. I started with cheap necks and bodies to practice on, but over time have built some really cool stuff with higher dollar items. I come from a lifetime of woodworking, carpentry, and metalworking skills which I sometimes forget that most people don't have. I have to points of advise; don't be scared of a project, but don't get in over your head, and the other is to plan, measure, and do mock ups as much as possible. Taking your time and doing it right will make it all worth it. Good luck, and enjoy it!
  9. thedovewarlord


    Dec 29, 2010
    WOW!!! What great advice. Thank you JGbassman & Nev375 for the wisdom and encouragement!

    Going to re-read, but this weekend I'll buy some calipers and measure.

    Based on above, my plan...

    For this project, I'll leave all the assembly and setup to an expert. Before purchasing the neck I will double-check with him also before I buy anything. The DIY side for me would be the sanding and finishing of the body. I'm not looking for perfect gloss like it just arrived from a factory. I have plenty of experience sanding, staining, painting. Going to be expressive with that!

    There's two approaches I suppose. One would be.... "Don't tell about the contractions and labor pains, just show me the baby". I'm taking a bit the opposite approach.

    . If you're able to take the time, please let me know the results. A Fender P neck (MIM or MIA) is what I have in mind. Nothing vintage, something off eBay like the vendor stratosphere is advertising. It looks to me that they take complete (American MIM and Japanese) Fender basses, then pulls them apart and then sells all the ingredients individually.

    How does a lefty, rosewood P neck, that I'd have the same luthier convert to fretless joined with that Charvel body with Lollars sound to you?

    BTW, that bass arranges the pickups opposite to Fender's arrangement. Meaning the half of the pickup that's under the E/A strings is closer to the bridge than the bottom half.

    JGbassman likes this.

  10. Hey, I haven't had time to get the basses out of storage, but will get to this sometime this week. Also, look up a website called " reranch". They are a company specializing in nitrocellulose paints and dyes, but the have a great write up on painting and prepping guitars. It's definitely worth the read. I use they products exclusively, and they are a quality company. It covers fillers, prep, tints, dyes, and boo boo recovery ( fish eyes, and blushing) it's got great info.
  11. Another thought. Instead of having a luthier remove frets on a neck, just hit eBay and buy a fretless reverse neck. Reverse necks are harder to find, and a fretless would be much harder as well. I have a reverse headstock bass, and honestly, it's more of a hassle tuning than the cool factor is worth. In a pinch, I always grab the wrong tuner as I contort my arm around to tune it on stage. Definitely has to be thought out when used to regular head stocks. Reverse wind tuners don't give me half the problem lol. But if that's what in your soul to do, make it happen. De fretting a neck isn't that hard, unless someone has used superglue to attach the frets.. Grr. Then there is going to be chipping, filling and sanding. Vermeer is usually placed in the empty slots, and that will take time to sand and prep the board. My point being, you will spend a lot more than you would buying a fretless aftermarket neck already good to go.