Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Completely straight, non-bowed neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Xanaptabil, Dec 18, 2005.


  1. Xanaptabil

    Xanaptabil

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    Hi,
    So, are there any basses out there made with completely straight necks with no amount of bow or back-bow to them? If so, are there new complications with buzz? How well can one get it to play?

    This came up when wondering how my fretless compares to a DB fingerboard. Does the DB have any bow to it or is it completely straight? I am looking to emulate the DB sound as much as possible and that is why I am wondering about this set-up.

    Thanks for any help you guys can give me,
    Ian
     
  2. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Double basses do have relief. Unlike a bass guitar though, the "bow" doesn't come from tension on the neck. The fingerboard is actually shaped with a certain amount of scoop. Slightly more scoop than a well set-up bass guitar in my limited experience with such matters. The scoop has to be carved into the fingerboard because a traditional DB neck is too short and thick to allow any actual relief in the neck.
     
  3. Xanaptabil

    Xanaptabil

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    Wow, this is exactly what I wanted to know.
    Thanks,
    Ian
     
  4. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    A perfectly straight neck is not a good idea as you need a bit of relief for the strings' amplitude
     
  5. T-34

    T-34

    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    There were earlier Zons (carbon necks without the trussrod) without any releif at all. Most playing just fine.
     
  6. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Impossible. It must've had some little relief. Otherwise the amplitude of the strings at normal string height and normal playing would cause buzzing and fret rattling
     
  7. jetsetvet

    jetsetvet Banned

    Mar 24, 2005

    I guess I have achieved the impossible. My Travis Bean neck has absolutely no relief nor any radius....so the fingerboard and tops of the frets are in a flat plane. This was very weird feeling to me when I first got the bass, but I got used to it quickly and now like it.....especially that there is no radius. It is very different from a Fender but no less usable.

    Certainly, when setting the string heights on this bass the same as on a neck with slight relief, the strings will buzz easier in first position near the nut than they will further up the neck. But raising the string heights (saddle heights) slightly will make this bass play without fret buzzes. The action ends up being a little high up past the 12th fret, but hey, that's just part of playing a Travis Bean. I certainly would not characterize the string heights/action as being "abnormally high".....just a little higher than you could dial into a well set-up Fender-style bass. I love this bass with flatwounds, and the deep throb it can produce, especially from the neck pickup. It also has the hottest output of any passive bass I have played. If you didn't know it was passive, you would wonder where the 9V battery (or two of them) goes.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  8. Xanaptabil

    Xanaptabil

    Jul 18, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    I also wonder how different plucking technique relates to a straight neck. I pluck up at the neck joint with the almost the same motion as DB using the tip and side of my finger. Perhaps the string vibrates in a different direction and allows for less bow.

    Jetsetvet, is the action past the 12th fret comprable to that of a DB? I essentially want my bass as "upright" as possible, so jaco licks aren't a worry.

    Thanks for all the info,
    Ian
     
  9. congrats, jetsetvet...while your neck is perfectly straight, your action is really quite high.

    you see, there's a trade-off...and IMO, it's not the one I would have chosen.

    just to stay on the subject...my baseball-bat-necked wishbass has a straight neck and the fingerboard is indeed slightly "scooped" like a DB to get the necessary relief.

    I've read that wishnevsky does this bit by hand, which is scary...but, at least on my bass, he did a pretty good job...(there's a very slight issue on the "A" string between the 7th and 10th fret area, but I'll get to it some day...for now, a slight action tweak has all but eliminated the problem.)
     
  10. jetsetvet

    jetsetvet Banned

    Mar 24, 2005
    Actually, it isn't really very high action. I included the pictures to illustrate the straight neck as best I could, but I must say, these pics make the string heights look higher than they really are (depth distortion is a common shortcoming of the typical photo because it is a monoscopic image rather than the stereoscopic image we see when we look at an object with both eyes). The strings are each only about 1/64" higher than those on a well set-up bass with some neck relief (like a Fender). It does not feel like playing a doublebass or anything close to that, even up above the 12th fret....it is pretty much like playing any decent electric bass. I think that the strings look high up also because of the A string being lower than the E string more than it would be on a bass with a radiused neck (where the E and A strings appear to look about the same height)....a slight optical illusion. The scale-length on a Travis Bean bass is 33" which makes any given string feel a bit softer than it would on a 34" scale bass, so really this slightly higher action doesn't make the action feel stiff or hard to fret at all. It would be a bit better if there was a touch of relief to this neck, but flat as it is I find no significant frustrations in the feel of playing it nor (especially) the tones I can get with it.
     
  11. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    No, you have just raised the action so high that it goes out of question. Oh and I said it is impossible with normal height and normal playing technique
    However you pout it, it is high. From the first shot I'd guess that the E is at least 4-5 mms at the end of the fb - even my B is around 3,5 mms and I don't set my action super-low