Finish on the BACK of the neck: glossy vs. natural wood / oil?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by johnny_bolt, Mar 2, 2020.

  1. johnny_bolt


    Mar 28, 2017
    Las Vegas
    What kind of neck finish do expensive basses have? My experience w/ cheap ones is that they often continue the glossy finish on the scroll all the down the back of the neck.

    Personally, I don't like a glossy neck finish on electric basses. Instead, I go for natural tung oil finish like a Warrick. I find that I'm not as fast on a glossy (back of neck) finish because my thumb and hand kind of sticks to the neck.

    I'm considering asking a luthier to sand off the glossy finish on an inexpensive Czech bass of mine. I had this one with an Eastman VB-95 with great results.

  2. In addition to sensations, consider the aspect of appearance. For cheap basses, opaque paint can hide wood defects or the ugly fiber structure. This applies to Chinese basses. I have not seen such defects on Czech basses (I have not very much experience). Perhaps painting also simplifies production or is used for other reasons, because there are many painted necks with the right wood.

    I know a few Czech basses with a polished neck, and it looks good. I also owned one of them for several years. This is one of those alterations that I would have made without a doubt, especially if the paint is translucent and you can evaluate the structure of the neck in advance. But I don’t know anything about your bass. The choice is yours. Just keep that in mind.
  3. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    In general the non-glossy finish you're referring to is known as a "speed-neck". Typically on stringed instruments, a speed neck is either totally unfinished, or finished a lighter or unstained color, with either a fast matte or satin finish coat like a French polish. The lighter color under the finish on the back of the neck on new violin family instruments is usually a simulation of this.

    Many people who have a glossy finish neck but wish to have the feel of a speed neck will use either steel wool or 3M Scotch Brite pads to roughen the glossy finish. This effect lasts for a number of months, then they do it again. It's an easy way to get the speed neck without immediately completely removing the existing finish there. Eventually, after a very long time, the existing finish will be gone and then the neck can be left raw or be treated with tung or a similar oil, or if desired, a french polish.

    Or there is the option of sanding the finish off the back of the neck immediately and completely, and either leaving it raw or applying whatever fast, non-gloss finish is desired there.
    james condino and VictorW126 like this.
  4. dvs20


    Mar 11, 2007
    mantua, OH
    I'm a steel wool user, I generally give the neck a rubbin' with 000 steel wool during string changes
    210superair likes this.
  5. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    I have one of each, and prefer no gloss, though I don't think it changes my playing. I'm may try the steel wool trick on the glossy one tho dvs20...
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just making sure you know the OP is talking about a double bass, not a bass guitar...
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Both Jeff and Jed used bowling alley wax....
    dhergert likes this.
  8. Caro


    Jan 6, 2020
    I would have the finish sanded off down to bare wood. Then have it oiled. I like boiled linseed oil rubbed in well. This is what my luthier uses. I rub the neck with oil a couple times a year to maintain it.
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