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fitting a new neck to your bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dolphin_wank, Mar 21, 2006.


  1. hello, i currently own a mexican fender jazz but deeply regret buying the fretted version, so i've just bought this off ebay (a fretless neck if you cant be bothered to look)

    my question is, what the bloody hell do i do when it comes. i know near to nothing about the workings of bass and stuff, just how to play it :meh:

    it doesn't come with the tuning pegs on it, so i guess i'm gonna have to take the ones off my current fretted neck and put them on the fretless one. do necks normally come with the tuning peg screw holes drilled in? (not the holes the actual pegs go through, the place to screw in the back plate) if not, where should i drill

    also what should i do about neck tension/the truss rod, etc

    basically could someone explain to me what i need to do in a few days, or point me in the direction of some sort of tutorial

    MUCH MUCH MUCH OBLIGED!

    Terry Nutkins.
     
  2. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    If you bought a MIM Fender neck, it should just be a simple matter of swapping them out with no need to do anything else (aside from the obligatory truss rod adjustment and setup).

    However, the MIM's have the truss rod adjustment on the peghead, so if you got a Fender MIA neck (or a Warmoth) the truss rod will adjust at the heel, and you'll have to route out a pocket in the body and the pickguard to be able to get the truss rod wrench in while it's assembled and strung up.

    It's not a big deal to do that, and it doesn't need to be very big.

    Do you have pics and/or info about the neck you bought? Because I couldn't get your link to work.

    EDIT: I got the link to work. The truss rod adjusts at the peghead end, so it should work fine for you with no troubles. I would measure your bass neck pocket and double check the measurements the seller provided. Worst case, you might need to do a little minor sanding or shimming. But it really should a be simple swap for you.

    Just put your tuning pegs on it, bolt it onto your body and string it up (but tighten the strings slowly) and adjust the truss rod as needed.
     
  3. yeah i emailed the guy with my measurements and my exact guitar, etc before i bought it and he said it should definately fit, i'm not worried about that, i was just more worried about what to do with the truss rod as i've never had to use it before and if its hard to fit the tuning pegs, etc, are all the holes normally drilled ready for fitting on new necks? normally my mate would do it for me as he always sets up my guitars/basses/whatever but i'm not in my hometown at the moment so i'm gonna have to do it myself

    thanks

    edit: what do i do with the truss rod basically (not even sure i've got my alum key thingy anymore :meh:)
     
  4. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    There are no holes drilled in the heel. It would make it a little tough to bolt on.

    You are going to have to either pay a qualified luthier or figure out how to drill the holes by searching this forum for instructions.

    David
     
  5. ummm, please say your joking :/

    by heel you mean the bit where the neck bolts onto the body?
     
  6. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    You'll see what to do when you take the tuning pegs off your old neck.

    All you need for the truss rod adjustment is an allen wrench and some patience. Don't turn more than a quarter turn at a time, and check. Then give it a bit of time to let that set, and try it again.

    The truss rod is just forcing the wood in the neck to move. You want it to have a slight bit of convex (relief)...not perfectly straight. The truss rod is just there to counteract the tension of the strings when tuned up.

    Look at your current neck and check out the string height (including the distance from the fingerboard to the string when you fret the 1st and 12th fret). You should see that the neck is not perfectly straight, but that there is a slightly larger gap halfway between 1st and 12th fret.
     
  7. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    Take a look at the photo. At the bottom where it attaches to the body. Notice there are no holes pre-drilled there. There never are on new replacment necks. Otherwise, you could end up with a neck that wouldn't fit your pattern.

    Guys say that it's no big deal. For me, I would prefer to have a drill press to do the job right. Marking the holes no problem; drilling them exactly where you want without a drill press, IMHO big problem.

    David
     
  8. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    It isn't that big a deal to drill holes in the heel. When you take your current neck off, look at the holes in it. Look at the size of the screws.

    Just find a drill bit that is the thickness of the screw shaft (minus the threads). Put your new neck in the pocket of the body and clamp it down (you might want to put some material between the clamp and the wood so you don't mar it).

    If you aren't using a drill press (and one is not necessary), but a hand drill, find something to tap the centers of the drill holes (like a center punch, or a nail) that is the same diameter as the body holes (this will keep the tap lined up with the body holes), so the drill bit starts in the center of where the holes will go. Then lightly tap it to make an indent for starting the drill bit on center.

    Use the body holes as guides and drill slowly into the neck (and make sure you either use a stop on the drill bit, or mark it with some tape for the maximum safe depth).

    It's just four holes. Just make sure they are drilled straight up and down (and only to the safe depth). That's why a drill press comes in handy...but a hand drill works too...especially if you use the body holes as a guide.

    Just take it slow and be careful.
     
  9. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    I'm afraid I have nothing to add to the discussion about the neck, but when you do get it on, please post a review. I have been considering one of these mm ebanol necks for a while, and would love to hear another opinion on them.
     
  10. so should i not drill all the way, just a bit into the neck, and then screw in from there for the rest of the way? (if that makes sense)
     
  11. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    No, drill for the length of the screws...but don't go through the fingerboard. :eek: What I meant by "tapping" the holes...I just meant for you to "punch" a small center hole, so your drill bit starts right in the center of where the body holes are. Since the drill bit will be slightly smaller in diameter than the body hole, if you don't find the center for the hole (on the heel of the neck), you might actually start drilling the hole a little off to the side of perfect center.

    Also, even if you can drill it on center, without a center tap (a small hole to get started) the drill bit might shift/slide around in the body hole and be off-center before it even starts digging into the wood. A center tap helps the drill bit go where it's supposed to. You want the holes in the heel of the neck to be dead center of the body holes.

    When you take the screws out of your old neck, leave the neck in the pocket and take the drill bit and check the depth of the holes and mark the drill bit with a piece of tape (or put a stop on it at that point). You want the holes to be as deep as the they are on your old neck.

    It's not how tight the screw fit in the holes (like if you just screwed them in further than you drilled) that keeps the neck on, it's the threads of the screws. You drill the holes the diameter of the screw shaft. The threads will dig into the wood and hold it tight.

    IMPORTANT: If you haven't done a lot of woodworking...just be careful and follow the old axiom..."measure twice, cut once." Just take your time with it. Maybe practice on some scrap wood first to get the hang of it.
     
  12. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    Sundogue,

    Thanks for the concise directions on attaching a new neck. I feel less constrained by not owning a drill press. My hand drill even has a bubble level in it's handle. I purchased that particular model because of the level. Not a replacement for a drill press but if one goes slowly it works amazingly well.

    Now where's the phone number for Warmoth.<g>

    David
     
  13. Sondogue, thank you so much.
     
  14. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    No problem. You're welcome.

    I don't have a drill press (though I'd like one in my workshop...but it's all I can do to get new musical equipment approval from the wife).

    I've been refinishing and hacking apart :eek: ...er, modding basses forever...with the simplest of tools. I'm no luthier, to be sure, but this is a pretty simple mod if you are careful.

    The bass body already has the holes to use as guides. You just need to find a way to use that so the drill bit can stay aligned where it needs to go.

    I have, in the past, drilled holes for necks and the holes were misaligned a bit and they still worked fine. The pocket on the body, won't let the neck go anywhere...but you do want it as perfect as possible. I've taken necks off one make of bass and re-drilled new holes to use on another make body, even where I had to sand the neck down and/or shim it.

    This mod should be pretty straight-forward as you are putting a Fender neck on a Fender body. As I mentioned before, you might want to cut a block of scrap wood (to simlar size/shape as the heel of the neck) and try it out first to get the hang of it and see how it works for you first.
     
  15. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    It might be obvious, but...

    If you are relying on the bubble level to indicate that you are drilling straight up and down...make sure the neck and body are also level with that as well. If the body and neck aren't level...your bubble level in the drill will still cause you to drill the hole crooked relative to the neck/body. ;)
     
  16. yeah i'm definately gonna test first on some ****ty wood, not up for wasting the £80 i spent on the neck!!
     
  17. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    paco,

    If he has fret buzz on a fretless neck he will definitely need help. I am not sure if a luthier would be the one to assist; probably something more in the line of an exorcist.
     
  18. ehque

    ehque

    Jan 8, 2006
    Singapore
    avid, youre one joker.

    hrmmm, no need relief on a fretless neck right?

    dolphin, since you have no experience with truss rods and probably will need to take it down to a luthier to get your setup done anyway, why dont you get one to do the drilling, and ask for the setup as well? there's a lot going into a good setup, which will make an ok bass play like a good bass.
     
  19. hmm i could just wait a month and take it down to the local guitar shop and pay them to do it when the student loan comes in

    probrably the easiest option
     
  20. avid

    avid born lefty

    Jun 22, 2005
    Ashland, Oregon USA
    Call around and see what the going rate to fit a new neck would be. Then consider what you have invested and check your courage and make a decision. I am in the same boat; considering a warmoth fretless neck on a Fender Pbass. I have a luthier within a stone's throw of my house but I haven't asked what he would charge.

    It would be a great experience if you took the task on and got the job done. There is little doubt with careful consideration that you could handle it. Especially with the great instructions Sundouge has given. Best wishes and let us know what you decide. We would love to see your project bass after completion.

    David
     

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