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carbon necks nice for sound?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by nanookanono, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. I play bass for only two years, and I have been reading about bass technical improvements since beginning :

    I know in the 80s (or so), many luthiers have tried nonwood material for necks as graphite, aluminium... etc. ( N Steinberger, Alembic ... etc )

    Some of them don't anymore.

    Excuse me if this question certainly is already answered in other threads, In case please tell me where.
    Which neck do you believe is better sounding ( even unplugged and with best harmonics) ?
    Wood one piece
    Wood laminated
    Wood with graphite reinforcement
    Whole carbone neck

    I have heard from luthier that carbone neck is as good sounding as wood laminated (for neckthrough bass), but he can't build them that way, only because customers trust wood exclusively for quality sound.

    Are they wrong, what do you think?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it's personal preference, but I don't like the sound of graphite necks and wood always sounds better to me.

    So - Status used to have a wide range of basses with varying amounts of graphite and wood, which I got to play in the Bass centre in London. So, they were great basses to play and the graphite necks were noticably stiffer and very "playable" - but I always preferred the sound of the basses with more wood and less graphite.
  3. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I have extremely limited experience with graphite necked basses. I've played 2-a Modulus Q5 [i think it was Q5...] and a Parker Fly 5 string. The Modulus belongs to my uncle who is also a bassist. I really liked the way the mod sounded and the action/playability of that neck was unbelievable. I definately liked it.

    The Parker Fly-not so much. The neck itself didn't feel bad-but to my hands it just didn't feel right. I know part of it is since the bass didn't have front dots-only side and that threw me off. I don't know for sure what it was about the neck that felt wrong to me-it could've been the shape or the radius of the board-i just felt completely disoriented and a bit lost. I later played a G&L L2500 Tribute at that same store and that bass felt awesome and i liked more than the Parker. However i must say that the G&L also happened to feel a lot more like my Ray5 than any of them did.

    So in my limited experience i will say that i prefer either laminated or 1 piece wood necks. Carbon fiber stabilizers i'd go for, but a full neck-until i play one of those Moses Graphite Ray5 necks-i don't like it for me. That's All
  4. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I own or have owned basses with all of these types of necks and I wouldn't like to make a call on which of the neck throughs or CF (monocoques in my case) have the best sustain, sound or anything else. I like my Status S2000 monocoque CF bass; it feels nice to my hands, sounds 'warm' when I need it to and is as reliable as hell. Ditto the Steinberger XL I used to own. My Alembic and other wood NT's also sound great.

    I'm having a 4 custom made, and the luthier I chose prefers to build boltons, whereas I have a preference for NT's. However, on seeing how he builds his basses and listening to his personal instrument and hearing the excellent sustain and tone by listening ear to the body horn, I went with his recommendations. He hand fits all the necks to the pocket and I watched as one was removed and it almost seemed to 'pop' out of the body so good was the fit. The necks are one piece or laminates, depending on how good the actual timber is and often have CF reinforcements and are bolted to the body with inserts.

    So I think it depends on the actual instrument, how it's constucted and the way the materials are used (as well as pickups etc) that determine the final sound, there being too many variable to make any sort of definitive comment, except the my CF basses have always felt 'colder' to my touch than all wood ones.

    I do think though that the introduction of the Steinberger (+ other CF utilising instruments) and other boutique basses such as Alembics has made some luthiers look differently on construction and techniques and has expanded the state of the art in bass design.

    I do beleive a lot of the opinions people make about CF being 'cold' etc comes from prejudices (no judgement here!) and there being a preference by most people for wood. Apart from small specialists that have carved out a niche like Status, I don't think we'll be seeing a whole lot more complete CF instruments in the future, and this is down to the difficulty in actually <i>selling</i> them because of preconceptions people have about them, and less about the actual feel and tone of the instrument.
  5. Skips


    Feb 19, 2003
    Nothing really useful to say about the sound, but besides stiffness, you should also consider how much a neck expands.
    My Kramer Aluminum neck is possible the best sounding bass I own (heavily modded) and it sustains for days, but aluminum expands a lot in heat, so be prepared to adjust tuning a lot on stage.
    Carbon barely expands at all. Wood is somewhere in the middle, I believe.