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Fender 3-Bolt Necks...Anything I should know?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dedoonbass, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. dedoonbass


    Nov 17, 2012
    Hey guys,

    Looking at a new old stock, Fender American Vintage 75 Jazz Bass. Everything seems to check out with this model, the only thing that concerns me slightly is that 3-bolt neck.

    I have heard that the original ones had issues, but one could only assume Fender has dealt with these issues in the making of the reissue.

    For my own peace of mind, I would love to hear from some people that have owned one of these basses with the 3-bolt neck and can speak to it's reliability.

  2. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    When they're solid they're great *but* the single bolt side can develop a little side to side action over the years if not kept solid and tight all the time. If it develops any movement at all when it shifts it not only changes the alignment of the strings over the fingerboard a little but it alters the tuning; not a good thing to happen while you are playing a song at a gig.

    Disclaimer: I do not have a 3 bolt bass at this time, and my last 3 bolt bass (an early G&L SB-1 if I recall) never had this problem. My '75 Stratocaster did develop it and despite securing the bolts after the problem started it was too late. After a few years of the issue I had a luthier fix it which required plugging the single side hole in the body and redrilling it. It is solid now.

    This problem can happen, it does not mean that it always happens or that it will eventually happen regardless. If there are other problems with 3 bolt necks I am not aware of them.
  3. The Professor

    The Professor

    Nov 15, 2008
    New Jersey
    I worked music retail for about ten years ('95-'05)... some of the old salts at the shop kept telling stories about the early 3-bolts. They said they were horrible, but could always be knocked back into alignment by holding the headstock and body and forcing it with your knee (just like trying to break a stick/branch). If you look at many of the G&L basses, they've used 3-bolt joints (for instance the JB-2's). I've never heard or seen bad things happen to them! Hope this helps!
  4. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    This is true *however* if you do this instead of fixing the issue the problem gets worse over time. This is what I was doing with the Strat. This does not happen to every 3 bolt instrument but is more likely to happen to a 3 bolt than a 4 bolt by a long shot.

    I would not let this be a factor in my purchase of a bass I wanted as it is fixable if it even happens at all on that particular bass.
  5. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I had a 70's Fender with the 3 bolt and is was rock solid as solid as any 4 bolt I ever owned.
  6. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    I certainly can't speak for all of them. Logically, I would think 4 bolts would be more stable than 3.

    But I've had a 2000 model AV '75 Jazz that I got new that year. It was my main, go-to bass for a long time, and I've never had a problem with it. One of my sons has been using it in the praise band at his church for the last couple years, still without any problems.
  7. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High

    Jul 21, 2012
    Due diligence, make sure you check things fairly regularly.. If you decide you want it, I don't think you'll have any issues unless you misuse or completely ignore the TLC.
  8. Low_blow


    May 14, 2005
    I've had a '75 J-bass (the real one, not a RI) and it did not have this problem. Probably this problem occured due to bad quality control. Many of the late '70s Fenders had a gap in the neck joint area, so the neck could rotate easily.
  9. metron

    metron Fluffy does not agree

    Sep 12, 2003
    Lakewood Colorado
    Side to side motion is only possible if there is a gap in the neck pocket. Unfortunately for many real 70s Fenders, the neck pocket gaps were large. Also if you use the micro tilt and really crank down on the neck bolts you can cause a "ski-jump" or a high spot at the neck heel that isn't super easy to fix.
  10. dedoonbass


    Nov 17, 2012
    Awesome, that really puts my mind at ease. I searched extensively on this forum to try and find someone who was having issues with the 3-bolt neck on these basses and I came up empty handed...that's gotta mean something! Your experiences only validate this further.

    Thanks all for your help, I think I may have found "the one".
  11. esa372

    esa372 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have an '06 75RI, which I use as my main bass. I have never had any issues with the 3-bolt neck, and my tech has assured me that it's not at all problematic.

    Those '75RIs are just great basses.