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compensate a neck heavy bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nuno1959, Mar 6, 2013.


  1. Hi guys

    something i read about often here & elsewhere is the fastidious & common how to sort a neck heavy bass !

    the obvious answer to that is to carefully check out how the instrument balances BEFORE buying it BUT....sometimes, maybe because we forget about it when trying the bass or simply because it sounds good & we don't think it's a major problem !?.. we still end up with a bass that dives on it's neck if allowed...
    there are several options for this but there's always some ''price to pay'', for ex. :

    1 - wide leather strap = may not be the most comfortable or could constantly & annoyingly pull your clothes

    2 - if the neck heaviness is not too pronounced, sometimes a 1 or 1.5cm metal cylindrical ''extension'' + a longer screw placed between the bass's upper horn & strap button WILL sort it while remaining reasonably inconspicuous ( dark finish works best..)

    3 - weights on strap, etc... = adds to wear & tear on our backs, etc....

    i wanted to share a solution which worked quite well for me w/ minimal side effects
    i stumbled across this when using a friend's bass for a couple of weeks while mine was being worked on :

    i inserted a small nylon strap in one of the slits of my bass strap & then tied it to my belt right around the side of my back, & although it wasn't perfect at first but after fiddling for 10 minutes or so with it, fact is that MOST of the excess weight WAS counteracted this way & while now the bass tended to ''pivot'' around the upper horn axis slightly, what little remained WAS compensated simply by my right arm when playing

    in fact this worked so well that later when i returned the bass to my friend, he had a nylon strap made with a loop to go into his belts, a little plastic clip/buckle in the middle & the top half of said strap riveted with a couple of rivets to the leather bass strap - he could not get over how well it worked

    it's still NOT perfect but trust me, it's as good as it gets WITHOUT selling the damn thing & getting another bass that is

    enjoy !
     
  2. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    I battled this for years when I played Rickenbacker and Fender basses, both of which are legendary for neck-dive (and I certainly fought it first hand).

    The strap/belt-loop idea works sort of but has the risk of a) an uncomfortable wedgie and b) because of a and all the extra machinery on your person, making you look and feel very uncool. No chicks for you!
    Thick straps don't work at least for longer than about 2 or 3 minutes and weights just take all the fun out of wearing the bass on the strap. Don't bother with either of those, they're a waste of time and money and they don't solve the problem.

    The only option that I found that actually works with this design flaw is your #2 option: an artificial extension to the upper horn. Try to get it a little past the 12th fret and over the 11th if possible. Neck dive is usually caused by the horn being too short in the first place, so you have other problems like the entire neck being launched too far out to the left (for righties). This breaks your arm when trying to play in the lower registers.

    I've used long drywall screws inside of metal sleeves, topped off with makeshift straplocs of various types. You may also need to sand a flat spot at the hole to increase leverage of the extension. I did this on my old Gibson Tobias - it took almost 3" to get it to be positioned right, but it worked reasonably well. In an extreme case like that, you'll need something pretty strong - the bass got stolen before I came up with a permanent solution, but probably a bolt and sleeve of some kind would have done the trick.

    The only cost will be the possibility of having to drill out the hole in the upper horn to fit an insert or something like that for the extension. But if the bass has this design flaw to start with, I just think of it as, well, it deserves to be drilled on anyway lol.
    If it's a boutique of some kind that's worth 1000's that you don't want to hack on, best to just get rid of it before you start drilling into it. It's a bad design anyway if it has neck dive and should be sold.

    But that can restore an otherwise nice bass to something that you don't have to hold on the strap, and repositions the neck to a more comfortable place besides.

    LS
     
  3. hi unclejane

    yes absolutely, the extension if not too extreme IS best, in my friend's bass case i wouldn't ( the bass not being mine & all.. ) but the belt strap did it WITHOUT the wedgie !!...LOL....that would've been disastrous :-b

    the trick with it was to attach the strap somewhere between the side & back of one's ...back !? but ONLY on a moderately neck heavy bass

    as for drilling the bass well, unless it's an irreplaceable collector's item worth many thousands or like...the ONLY bass Jimi Hendrix ever held in his life or something... i wouldn't care less, my playing comfort being MUCH more important to me

    fact is that despite being a well known problem, some models still make it out of the factories with this sort of ''undesirable trait'' to say the least & since often we try them sitting down, it can & does go unnoticed

    anything to keep us shaking the foundations man ;-)
     
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I have played a lot of Fenders and Ricks ... I have not experienced neck dive with any of those basses.

    For me it is the Gibson designs of thunderbird, EB-3, and Les Paul basses that really neck dive.

    I make my own straplok extenders to stop neck dive.

    r%20014.

    5s%20042.
     
  5. Hi Ric5

    there you go, nice & easy !! ;-)
     
  6. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Eh!
    I've never understood all the whining about neck heavy basses. Just angle the neck upwards slightly - changing the center of gravity and - you're good to go! And you have better facility, too!
     
  7. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Yeah, I hear that a lot and it's generally from players who've simply learned to cope with the poor balance. They don't actually realize they've been doing it and that there's really a problem.

    There's an interview with Allen Holdsworth on youtube somewhere where he describes this with his guitars. When he went to Carvin for his headless signature guitar it was kind of a revelation to him; he'd actually worked holding the neck up into his technique over the years and kind of never really recognized it lol.

    But usually when a player does put on a well-balanced instrument they go "I'll be darned, I never knew it could be like this!". It was a revelation to me the first time I put on my L2K for example. It still has too short of a horn, but the body weighs a ton so it still balances. I was amazed that I didn't have to actually hold the thing like I always had to do with my Ricks and Fenders.

    So that's kind of where the mythology that Fenders and 4003's don't neck dive comes from. When they strap on a well balanced bass they kind of see that there really was a problem all along....

    LS
     
  8. Hi Root5
    i wouldn't necessarily call it whining, it sounds kindda what ? depreciative ?

    i'd rather take the ''different things affect different people in different ways'' approach ?

    nonetheless it often comes up so...my conclusion is that to some it might be a problem
     
  9. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Well fortunately, I don't gig anymore (too much hearing damage and injury to my left hand/wrist), so I virtually no longer care how it balances on the strap anymore. Now it mostly just has to be positioned correctly on the leg, since I play almost 100% of the time seated now.

    I don't play my 4003 for other reasons, but now balancing on the leg isn't too much of a problem. On the strap it's miserable, but seated it's reasonable to deal with. I could even handle a P bass now since they're pretty well dimensioned for playing while seated.

    So if I were to get something these days, if it balanced ok while seated, I wouldn't be bent out of shape if it had neck-dive on the strap. Not so if I were gigging, but that'll have to resume in the next life when I may be built totally different.

    My Bunnies are ok seated, though the lower cutout is a little too far towards the bridge. I can compensate with a pad velcroed to the underside of the lower horn. The L2K is completely perfect on the leg, and even tends to fall backwards. No problem for me.

    LS
     
  10. jellymax

    jellymax

    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    this will help but it means drilling a hole.

    move the back strap button up by 1.25inch
     
  11. SBsoundguy

    SBsoundguy

    Sep 2, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I've never experienced neck dive on a Fender bass, but definitely have on Gibsons.
     
  12. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    In my experience, that doesn't work. The center of gravity on a bass with neck dive typically lies far enough up the neck that it can't be centered without tilting the neck downward.
     
  13. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Eh!
    It works for me every time! Even with the usual suspects like T-Birds and Gibson EB basses and 6-strings.
     
  14. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Eh!
    Yes, I'm sorry. It was maybe a bad choice of words.

    But I still insist that neck heavy basses are a non-issue!:bag:
     
  15. no worries my friend, we all do it every so often... ;-)
     
  16. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Out of curiosity, how low do you wear your strap?
     
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I strap on a Rick, or a p-bass or a jazz. I let go of the neck and it does not dive to the floor. That is reality. I can do it 100 times in a row with the same result. I strap on a thunderbird and let go of the neck and it dives. I do it 100 time in a row and it happens the same way each time. There is no mythology here. Just me, my bass and gravity. I know a neck heavy bass when I play it.
     
  18. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    I wonder if "neck-heavy" is in the eye (or hands) of the beholder. I've never thought that my P-Bass or my Ricks were at all neck heavy. The only bass in my herd that I consider neck-heavy is my Kramer 450B, and I've never met anyone who thought they weren't. Mine dives like a scared U-Boat. I also had a Kramer Duke that was just the opposite - butt heavy.:)
     
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    I find that if a bass has the strap button on the upper horn and the button lines up to somwhere near the 12th fret then it will not neck dive.

    I define neck dive in a bass as this ... Strap on the bass and grab hold of the neck. Move it into a comfortable playing position, then let go with your left hand. If the neck moves down then it has neck dive.

    I am not sure what "neck heavy" is, But as long as the bass neck does not dive like a u-boat I am happy.
     
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Have you tried this on a t-bird?
     

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