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Explorer Body that Won't Neckdive?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Unrepresented, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    So, I've been armchair designing a parts bass with an explorer styled body.

    I've done a number of searches which have warned me that because:

    a) this'll be a Warmoth neck (steel reinforced) with exotic woods (ebony fingerboard/wenge neck
    b) the Explorer lacks an upper horn
    c) the body will be relatively lighter wood (swamp ash)

    I'm going to be very prone to neck dive.

    I've briefly tried on an Epiphone Explorer, and at extremely short strap length the neck dived mercilessly.

    So far, the recommendations for avoiding/counteracting dive I've found:

    a) strap button (re)location
    b) high mass bridge as a counterbalance
    c) longer strap length (I usually ride my basses around my pelvis with the neck angled slightly upward) so this should work in my favor
    d) wider strap for friction
    e) ultralites or similar low mass tuners

    Are any or all of these going to be enough to counteract gravity? This will be a hefty financial investment, and I won't get to find out if it will be a burden until I'm nose deep in the assembled parts.

    Good members of TB, please give me solutions, reassurance, or a good stern argument about changing the basic body design (whichever is most applicable).
  2. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    I would suggest you relocate the neck strap button to the front, just above where the neck meets the body. Then move the bridge button to the back side of the lower "horn." Then when you put it on the strap will wrap around your waist, up and over your left shoulder down to the lower bout. This will make it hang more or less in an upright playing position.

    Edit: Apparently, I can't post images anymore, so google Bill Wyman + Mustang Bass and you'll see what I'm talking about. Cheers!
  3. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I would suggest making the headstock a 2x2 layout. The 4-inline headstocks are long and seriously affect the center of mass.

    Also, a wider strap and adding some weight to the strap at the body will help.

    For honestjohnny:
  4. i have an epiphone t-bird which is quite similar to the explorer in neck dive. i read online that placing the forward strap button on the thru-body neck right where the neck meets the body eliminates neck dive. havent confirmed it since im a noob at projects like this. i just got a really good leather strap to prevent my bass from slipping. hurts my shoulders from the weight, but its stable enough to relieve my neck-arm of some of the neck-dive weight.
  5. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Will this impact stability in any way? I'd think that ideally you'd want to have strap connectors at the highest point possible?
    Thanks for the image.

    I had been planning on doing a 2+2 headstock, so that should hopefully work in my favor as well.
    Good to hear that it's working for you, at least somewhat. The project I'd be working on would be a parts bass, so it'd be a bolt-on rather than a neck through. I'm not sure if this will impact the balance in any way, however.
  6. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
  7. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    I'm gonna have to say Swamp Ash body + Warmoth steel-reinforced neck (with ebony as well) is going to be a really bad combination.

    This bass was a swamp ash body with strap button at the 12th fret, and the Warmoth neck was just too much for it. I had to add a 2.5 weight to the body.


    I'd say do one or all of the following:

    1) Wait 'til Warmoth starts to offer necks with graphite instead of steel. (There's a thread on here somewhere.. wyliee from Warmoth is working on it.)

    2) Get a neck from another source (USACG, Allparts, Mighty Mite, etc... but it won't have the explorer headstock.)

    3) Use a heavier wood for the body. Hard (northern) Ash, or Mahogany, or Maple (if Warmoth can find you a blank) or Walnut.

    4) Buy that awesome Gibson that Sonny is selling:

  8. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I'd prefer to go with strap locks, but that does look like it'll interfere less with upper fret access than some of the other options.
    Yup. That's why I'm here asking questions instead of calling up various parts suppliers with credit card in hand.;)
    I'd been keeping tabs on the Warmoth thread, and the graphite neck looks like it would help. I'm not in a huge hurry, luckily. I've got time to wait for things to fall in place while finances assemble themselves.
    Was really hoping to go outside of the Fender headstock design both for aesthetics, and as noted above to reduce the weight being distributed at the most extreme ends.
    I'll have to do some more research on how those tone woods will impact things. I was actually pitching this to a local luthier over the weekend, and he was pretty supportive of swamp ash, and specifically advised me against mahogany.
    I'm planning on doing this fairly customized. I'd hate to buy a beautiful instrument only to rip it apart.:)
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Here's an idea: Attach the top end of the strap to a button on the back of the headstock! Some Fenders came with a button there already, and it has the nickname "the hootenanny button" because that's how a banjo is worn. Seriously, the button will not change the visuals of the bass, and it's a much more "minor" mod than some of the others out there, and it would be vastly more effective than all of the others combined.

    The only problem is that Gibsons are notorious for the headstock snapping off.
  10. nato101010


    Dec 12, 2009
  11. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    The whole "tone woods" discussion is a different question...

    I've tried swamp ash custom builds and alder custom builds, and I actually prefer the tone of alder. I think a big part of the swamp ash argument is in it's light weight, not it's tone. I also find swamp ash a bigger deal for guitars (strats and tele's) than for basses. If you're in the swamp ash camp, you should also consider alder, since it's a bit heaver (but still a light wood), but still has amazing sonic properties.
  12. ive seen ric5 (among others) use a long sort of post to avoid an upper horn, but still get good balance. im sure he'll chime in and post on this soon.

    other wise all i can say is keep your arm on the sharkfin and hope.
  13. long strap length isn't gonna help much - if the body is lower, the neck will just dive even closer to the ground.


    May 4, 2006
    Courtenay, BC, Canada
    Reverse the body. I always thought a reverse explorer would look really cool and with the long horn on top it wouldn't dive.

    (i didn't see the pick above. it was still loading. oops)
  15. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Wasn't planning on using a Gibson neck for this. Modeling it more after Entwistle's Alembic.
    Reverse doesn't really work for me aesthetically, with the droopy bottom. Another choice I'd been toying with is an Iceman style. I could see that being reversed with a little more attractive shape, and the "top" horn would be much more functional.

    I'm looking for something that will make for a grind, punch, and growl machine.
    Bump for Ric5!
    My physics background is nearly nonexistent, but I'd think that it'd help a bit, hopefully in conjunction with other designs to reduce things.
  16. Before you attach the strap to the lower horn, loop it around your belt once. That sucker will go nowhere.
  17. Bassdirty

    Bassdirty Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2010

    Well...this makes the Ursa headstock look good.


    Carry on.
  18. dhomer

    dhomer Commercial User

    Apr 9, 2009
    Hickory Corners, MI
    Owner, Gigmaster Soundworks, Auth. greenboy designs builder, MI
    Many many years ago I designed and built an Explorer-style bass. Cut the body out of maple. My solution to neck dive may not be aesthetically pleasing, but it worked. I drilled a series of holes in the backside and filled them w/a lead shot/epoxy mixture. You could rout out a compartment, make a cover, and do the same thing and make it look better..
  19. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Exactly correct. An Explorer body is made exactly wrong. To not have neck dive you need the front strap button to be as far forward as near the 12th fret. An Explorer is ALL neck dive!

    There are really only three solutions:

    1. Attach the strap to the headstock. Common with guitars and works very well.

    2. Reverse the body shape to give you a long upper horn as God intended.

    3. Install a long metal rod from the upper horn that goes forward with a strap button on the end so the attachment point is moved closer to the 12th fret. (I did this with my Carlo (amazing neck dive) Robelli 8 string and it totally cured the problem though the rod is a bit noticeable to the "look" of the instrument but not bad. Paint the rod black.

    OR just "suffer for your art" and put up with neck dive so you can have a bass that looks cool.
  20. First of all attaching the strap to headstock won't work on basses. I've tried it and the length is so long that, the strap doesn't stay on your shoulder, it slips to your back. Letting beside the neck problem you may face.

    To balance you can make 3 things:
    1. Making the neck side lighter (with lighter tuners),
    2. Making the body side heavier (with high mass bridge, but the overall weight will increase and it won't be very comfortable)
    3. Changing the witness point of strap as much as toward headstock.

    I have a custom made six string explorer bass. I have a custom made metal plate that looks like the one Darkstrike suggested, with strap lock welded on it. The shape of the metal plate replicates the shape of the headstock tip, so it looks aesthetic (at least to me), there is zero neck dive, I use strap lock and it is very comfortable.

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