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Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Michael Case, Aug 19, 2005.
What makes them different structurally? I've wanted to know for a while.
Thanks in advance,
I don't know that they are structurally different. It is simply a reference to the note that is roughly under the first finger when the thumb is at the heel.
It isn't about structure but design. The relative length of the neck, combined with body size and position of the bridge on the body, along with the overall string length is what determines this.
If you compared a 'C' Neck to a 'G' Neck (which neither exhist) then the longer G neck would be able to bend more being a foot longer than the shorter stubbier C neck. Comparing a D to Eb neck is a smaller difference or maybe only 1 1/2" depending on the String Length. The Shorter Neck will 'flex' less than the Longer neck.
This is Apples to Apples only. The exact same wood on the exact same Body. The Eb ofcourse making the String length longer as well.
Other factors come into play when comparing Bass 'a' to Bass 'b' which are possibly different in many ways.
Since Eb necks were in use for all my life and the D I believe to be the new kid on the block there seems to be room for either. The D neck is the favored one these days but many Eb necks are still in use and favored by some. I happen to own Basses with both and have no problem switching back and forth as long as I warm up for awhile b4. Do not choose a Bass based on the strength this way. There are other problems a neck can have other than it's length.
I thought the quartet instruments all had D necks as well. I also thought that all old Italian basses had D necks, and that the Eb neck was a German/Eastern Europe thing. What gives? Am I totally wrong here? Seems like the last violin I played had a D neck.
I don't know about Violins since their high string is E it doesn't mean much here.
Anyway, many Italian Basses are long Bodied so I guess you could be right there. Anything less than D and it would be hard to reach the F# and G. My First Italian Bass had already been cut over 100 years eariler and was still long. It had an Eb neck and a 44" SL. It needed mucho restoration to the sunken top mostly and a new playable neck. It finished at about a 42.5 SL and barely a D neck. I actually cut the Heel down myself to make it a D as it was almost a Db.
Most people don't get to start on an Italian Bass so the German and Czech Basses were mainly EBers as I remember.
As far as the Italian Basses as a rule, how many have you seen and played that had their original Neck and Shoulders still intact?
Since most of the Italian Basses you will see are in use in Current Orchestras, they probably have them fitted with D necks by now. Who knows what they were 200 years ago. I have the original neck on my Gilkes but the Shoulders were cut. It's a D now but I can't say for sure if it was a D b4.
Why wouldn't anyone want an Eb neck? At least you will get 4 notes in tune
So what you are saying is it's mostly a neck, body, and string length issue. Is there a standard SL measurement for and Eb neck?
I think the only thing that makes me prefer a D neck, is the fact that I can put the butt of my left hand down on the butt ( or as violin luthiers say : The duck-tail) of the neck and get the D harmonic with my left little finger.
Back in the late 60s there were alot of Bass lines we were doing in Jazz and Latin Jazz in F using the a-g strings to play the octave, 5th and 7th across the strings. The Eb neck made it easier to play that over the D neck. This is just an example.
I think it's what you get used to. If you own one or more of each, try warming up with your Eyes closed and play till you are in tune with all the notes. I have different string lengths on my Basses so that becomes more of a concern than the heel of the neck.
As to the question of String length vs. Eb or D neck, there is no rule. The String length is shorter measured to the FF notches with a D neck than with an Eb neck on the exact same Bass. I own 2 Basses now with Eb necks. One is a 3/4, 41 1/2" SL and the other is a 7/8, 42 3/8" (reduced from almost 44" before lowering the neck block, re-cutting the Back Button and setting the neck deeper into the block to lower the Heel height to avoid cutting the Shoulders of the Top and Back).
String length is determined by how the Bass is actually made and designed as far as the Bridge position goes. 43" and 44" were not uncommon 100 years ago. 41" - 42" is the current favorite now.
Very interesting, thanks Ken.
When Arnold Schnitzer makes or modifies a neck, he installs a carbon fiber rod. I know he did on my orchestra bass. Those necks aren't going anywhere.