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Effect of a carbon fiber neck

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by darkshadow54321, May 16, 2005.

  1. darkshadow54321


    Sep 3, 2004
    I know that a carbon fiber neck (like on Modulus basses) greatly helps tuning stability and prevents warping, but how exactly does it affect the tone?
  2. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    In general, it makes the tone deeper, colder, more focussed, and gives more sustain. There is also an effect on the response of the highs, but it is harder to describe.
  3. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    Colder is the key word there. It really does make it sound sterile. If you've ever checked out those synthetic Basslabs basses, you can just hear it. Good tone, but very sterile.

  4. There is a lot more to carbon fiber than just saying "carbon fiber neck". You have everything from torque-tube basses like the Basslabs that use all-synthetic layups, to composite carbon/wood/phenolics like some of the Zon basses. Sounding "sterile" is one way of saying that the neck isn't soaking up the high frequencies and overtones. So this "sterility" is really more tonal range. Overall the well made ones are more even across the entire fingerboard than almost every wood neck I have played.

    I'd put the differences as:
    Better pitch definition
    Better consistency of tone across board
    better seasonal stability

    There are some excellent wood necks out there but they are by no menas common. The really stable ones also tent to weigh a lot or have carbon fiber rods for stiffening and dimensional stability control.

    My first carbon fiber neck bass was a Jazz with a moses unlined fretless neck and the thing had so much definition that every small intonation error just jumped off the board. That effect is from having a very even response and great definition. I am playing a Zon Sonus 5 that is a better overall design in that it doesn't sound thin or cold or anything other than huge and focused. The opposite is my Tacoma ABG that has all of the "warmth" you could want as long as you don't want a lot of detail. Sometime you don't.
  5. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    I only play Zons right now and they are far from sterile sounding. My fretless has more warmth, growl, mwah, and swells than any wood neck I've ever heard. The fretted one is just as punchy as any jazz or better. I can't comment on basses with 100% carbon fiber necks. I know Zon uses wood/resin fingerboards. Not sure exactly what his neck composite consists of besides graphite. There are many different composite combinations, and Zon, Modulus, Status, and others do not all use the same composite.

  6. Hrumph...

    ...the one overwhelming comment I get from bassists that play my Zon is how ORGANIC it sounds.

    Sterile...yeah, right...


    ...you really shouldn't make generalized statements like that based on a sample of ONE.

  7. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I can tell you have never played a Zon fretless.
  8. Justice


    May 24, 2002
    Houston TX.
    Hey Bud? Does my F-Bird sound sterile?
  9. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I don't find my Modulus to be "cold" or "sterile" at all.
  10. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I had a Modulus Q6 (w/ Barts)that didn't sound sterile at all, and that's from a guy whose owned pre-Gibson Tobias, stingray 5's, fender jazzes, Kubicki's, Carvin, the list goes on. I really liked how I could travel with it without having the action go screwey from moving between places with verying temperatures and humidities. It was rock solid, which is probably why Flea, Stephan Lessard, and a host of others use graphite neck basses for touring.

    The only thing I didn't like about it was the feel of the back of the neck, it was like a high-gloss coated bass neck. I prefer natural oiled wood feel for the back of the neck.
  11. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Depends. Nobody could ever say this about a Zon, but I've heard this about others like Status, Modulus, Basslabs, etc..

    The key is, the type of composite material (I'm pretty sure it's not all the same stuff, and not pure carbon), how the body is made, what the body is made of, the mating of the neck to the body, etc...
  12. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    +1, tho I'd add "lighter weight" as a significant diff, too (as you sorta' get into later also).
  13. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    +1 :)
  14. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    I think the carbon fiber necks do have a unique sound. My Q5 has a bit of a compressed sound, all the notes seem to have an equal volume and superior consistency as opposed to wood necks the notes are more focused. In no way am I suggesting that carbon fiber is better than wood, it just doesn't absorb the frequencies the same way because there are less inconsistencies. And of course there is the stability; these necks are virtually impervious to the elements. It seems most people either love them or hate them. Also there are allot of options to consider, allot of manufacturers are using a carbon fiber/wood combination, like Zon or even the Modulus basses. You can order a carbon fiber neck and a wood fingerboard or even a carbon laminate neck that is combined with wood. All these combinations have a different sound, hope this helps.
  15. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I think part of the problem here is that ther are some people who would say that a fretted zon sounds a little "colder" than a wood neck bass (nobodys crazy enough to say that about the fretless zons ;) ), and there are some who would not say that a modulus is a little chilly. There are also those who would not call an SWR cold or sterile.

    Its a wierd thing to talk about, we all hear it differently, and some people confuse warmth with rolled off high end.

    Graphite sounds different, and when blended into a design by a skilled luthier, the results can be fantastic.
  16. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Spot on. I play a Jazz fretless with a swamp ash body and a Status graphite neck and these comments could apply equally to my bass. The supposed "sterile" sound of graphite neck basses has become one of those persistent generalisations that people trot out at every mention of the g word. It ain't necessarily so... :rollno:
  17. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Couldn't agree more, and my Status is a monocoque construction, so no wood at all. When I had my Steinie XL2, no one ever called that cold or sterile sounding either.
  18. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    Sterile? No way.
    Sound like a wood neck bass? No.
    Sound like triple thunder? Absolutley!

    My Status Retro-Active 'J' sounds pretty dang good too.
  19. silky smoove

    silky smoove

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I agree Bill. In fact, Bill has sent me some sound clips of the bass he's referring to, and cold is not a word I would use to describe the tone on the sound clips. Good playing too :bassist:

  20. +1

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