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Fender Necks - Were there good and bad years?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by scolba, May 9, 2011.

  1. scolba


    Mar 24, 2009
    Bloomington, IL
    Hey Guys,

    Is there a general concensus on specific era's or timeframes of fender necks, and when they were good, and when they were less than good? Seems like i have heard from some that there were certain times that they didn't produce the most reliable of product, but I'm not sure exactly when that was....so was hoping for some reference or resource that would help me figure that out.

    The reason I am asking, is because one of my parts basses is actually a pretty great bass imo, with the exception of the MIM neck. It is begging for something better. I came across one in a shop this weekend that is either a 78 or 79 MIA P neck w\ one of the first (I'm told) fathead's on it. He is asking $300 loaded for it. It looks to be in great shape, and from what I have seen on ebay, etc, that really is a smokin deal. But sometimes the prices you find on there aren't truely representative....hence the inquiry for info.

    So specifically, did Fender produce a quality neck during those years, and then more generally, is there a chart or list or something out there of times when they were great, as well as less than consisent?

  2. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    This is speculative at best due to the subjectivity of the "feel" of any musical instrument. What I think you might be after is the issue of Quality Control in a particular factory, etc.
    Often the "pre-CBS" Fender is looked upon as having a higher QC level due in part to direct ownership of the factory by Leo Fender. This also what made the original MusicMan and G & L instruments popular.
    So for example you have a Fender neck that was made during that period that the company had been sold from the original owner; the issues presented would be the same to a great extent. Is the binding and fret-wire insertion & placement even and uniform? Is the neck a single maple unit or a maple over-lay (laminate) on a maple neck, what is the density & quality of that wood & workmanship? If it was a Rosewood fret-board, what was the quality of that wood and that lamination? Nuts and tuning pegs aside, these are subjective issues for the most part with "post-CBS" units just as possibly high quality as their older fore-bearers; differentiation being the "collect-ability" or historic value of the older unit in many instances.

    With many instruments being made now by contract and QC being a matter of higher level factory maintained measurement; most guitars today (outside of handmade) have a QC level based on unit sale-value (price-point distribution). With this, the quality level may be more CONSISTENT [with a higher price point]. A classic example being a MIM Fender having a bit less consistency than a MIJ Fender and so forth. Labor costs often making MIA units higher priced (& often higher in resale value). But the integrity of the construction is often determined by the factory measurement methods, etc.

    So subjectively a neck is as good as it plays for you and the QC levels employed in it's construction. Occasionally those can be separate issues with "stand-outs" being a wonderful instrument made in China or Mexico, etc.

    So if the 70's neck is well made it is certainly worth the $300 - provided it plays well in the context of your overall construction and for YOUR feel. If it doesn't feel good for you, it still is not a major rip off for you IF it's quality level is there, etc. Many (if not most) commercial companies that provide "parts" necks charge over $300 for a decent quality neck.
  3. Which factory is also relevant.
  4. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    I have a 78 MIA Fender P Bass and the neck with rosewood FB is good. Even if I've to admit that now I prefer my CIJ Sting P Neck that I think is better than my 78 MIA.

    Hope it helps & good luck with your 'neck hunting' :)
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    After reading multiple threads about this for more than a decade, my conclusion is that there are no good and bad years; there are good and bad necks.

    Good luck.
  6. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California

    IMHO one should first learn to identify the things that make a neck good or bad before relying on generalizations from the lexicon of instrument manufacturing history.
  7. bolophonic

    bolophonic SUSPENDED

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    If it is a good neck, then it is worth that. At least I think so.
  8. BigOldHarry


    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    There ARE characteristics that are unique to years, though...

    Old P-bass necks were quite wide (1 3/4" or more, as I recall) up until some time in the '90s (?) - When they became 1.625"...

    J bass necks from the middle to late '70s had the "3 bolt/micro-tuner" system that is not compatible with a standard 4-bold body... Some folks, myself included, found that system to be pretty poor...

    Other years have fatter/thinner necks... I briefly owned an old Tele bass that had a very deep "V-Neck" - very odd neck, but strangely comfortable to play...
  9. scolba


    Mar 24, 2009
    Bloomington, IL
    and if you didn't like it, you could flip it over and use it for a boat hull! *rim shot* ya know...deep vee boats....anyhoo.... :D

    thanks for the info guys, all is helpful. John, I think you nailed exactly what I was getting at, but couldn't seem to articulate well. I guess I'll just have to see if the guy will let me bolt it on and try it in store for a min. Still though...if somebody could just say "Run, don't walk, and buy it for that price" so i can copy that and send it to my wife, that would be great. ;)
  10. Roundwound


    May 13, 2004
    Peoria, IL
    What Pilgrim said.

  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    IME, it depends on the individual neck with no correlation to a particular period of manufacture.