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Graphite Neck Versus Wood Neck

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by HiFi, Jul 31, 2002.


  1. HiFi

    HiFi

    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    A friend of mine asked me to post his question on TalkBass. It is:

    What is a better value and why? A $250.00 Moses Jazz Neck or a just over $200 maple neck from Warmoth, USA, etc?If you had to decide what would you go with?

    He has this kooky "Jazz Bass On Steroids" spiel is building it in his head in case he ever scrapes together the $. How is the sound negatively affected or made better?
     
  2. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Personal preference, pure and simple.

    But, look out...there'll soon be a huge flame war over this subject, as has been in the past!:eek:
     
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yeah, as RAM says, it's personal preference.

    Part of the art, part of the beauty, part of the mystery, of the instrument is that there are no "betters" or 'bests".

    There's the "all wood" faction which will point out that graphite/composite cannot improve with age. There's the "graphite/composite" faction which will point out that wood produces dead spots, warps, and has 20 other things going against it.

    As in most things, I find "the truth" somewhere in-between.

    My ideal preference would be a neck that incorporates some of both materials.

    Then there are other factors. If I lived in a very humid, hot climate, all year round, I would probably opt for all-graphite/composite.

    Sustain is another part of the "craziness." Sure, from an ME point of view, graphite/composite has better sustain. But too many other construction factors of a bass come into play, like bridge/bridge mass & construction, woods, strings-through-body, the nut, et al.

    The mystery of the chemistry is why "trying it out" is the ultimate truth, not spec sheets.
     
  4. HiFi

    HiFi

    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    Thanks for your thoughts. I figured I would get some answer to this effect. What are the disadvantages to graphite and why might someone go with wood over it? I know there are personal preferences but I picture graphite as not being as good as wood for some reason. Maybe because it's not traditional. I'm not saying wood is better, it's just I don't know and that's my first thought for no apparent reason.

    Maybe it's some mental trauma I suffered when I was little.
     
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    There is a perception that graphite has less warmth tonally than wood does, primarily caused by Modulus Quantums with EMG's. They can sound pretty bright and sterile, especially with a composite fingerboard.

    But a Zon(or Modulus) with Barts can sound as warm as any wood neck bass IMHO. My Zon fretless sounds as warm as any of my all wood basses, warmer than some.
     
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You ask very good questions, bassable.

    But, ignoring articles I've seen by luthiers who are worshippers of all-wood instruments, notice;

    - how many makers of high end classical guitars/violins/cellos and double basses use graphite/phenolic/composite necks?

    I don't know of one. Yet, their customer bases seem to have no hesitancy to pay for what yields the best sound. They will pay ungodly prices for the best sound. Ask Paul who owns Talkbass. I bet he plays an all-wood neck for more than just "sentimental/traditional" reasons.

    Don't get me wrong, I think both have their advantages and they both can produce beautiful tones.

    But, I think there's a "sound" reason (pun ntended). why every luthier isn't on the all-synthetic bandwagon. After all, the luthiers live in a very competitive world. If wood didn't have something special to offer beyond "vibe," I think we would have seen it disappear long ago.
     
  7. LowRanger

    LowRanger

    Dec 24, 2000
    Based on my own experience with an EMG-equipped Modulus Q-5, I thought graphite necks sounded "sterile." I think, though, that part of the perception is based on the evenness of response rather than sound alone.

    I found a Sonus 5/2 w/Barts to be warmer than the EMG/Modulus combination. To my surprise, though, I received a neck-through (graphite) Status Empathy 6 about a month ago, and it has proved to be warmer than either the Zon or the Modulus. What a wonderful bass!

    I suspect that graphite necks impart so little of their own signature to the sound that the sonic signatures of the other features (wood, pickups, preamp, strings, scale, bridge, etc.) predominate.

    Just my 2 cents...
     
  8. phogchris

    phogchris www.scarsoflife.com

    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    Actually, I think the Sonus 5/2 has custom made Seymour Duncan pickups with a Bartolini pre.
     
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Is there an echo in here??? ;)

    Seriously, that's what I was getting at, Josh.

    Ceramic magnets vs. Alnico V magnets, ash vs. maple, roundwound vs. flatwound, bolt-on vs. neck-through, 10"s vs. 15"s. et al......it's what keeps our world spinning.
     
  10. HiFi

    HiFi

    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    I'm just trying to get a wider scope of opinions on the matter. I've only owned basses with wood necks. They seem fine to me. Awhile back, though, I went into a place and played a Modulus Flea Bass. The bass was okay, but the graphite neck felt awesome and I liked the feel better than wood. I don't remember the sound being more desirable to me. It was nice but it was hard to measure the sound without having my bass there to play as well and see which does what better. I remember I liked the feel.
     
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    That deserves to be said again.
     
  12. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i have a moses neck on my sterling and i like it alot. it gives the bass more snap and more punch, great for slapping. the feel of the neck is the best thing tho - with the inregrated fingerboard the neck is THIN and really fast.


    i had a dream where i had a black jazz bass with a moses neck and tortoiseshell pickguard w/EMG's. so now i want one ;)


    as for the graphite vs. wood, here's how it goes for me

    wenge
    other non maple heavy woods
    graphite
    maple
     
  13. HiFi

    HiFi

    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    Just wondering: The "standard" neck wood seems to be maple. You have it at the bottom of your list. Any reason(s)?
     
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Bear in mind there aren't that many truisms when it comes to either composites or wood. For instance feel... with the many finish processes available for both neither has an intrinsic edge. The idea that graphite feels cold is not a given. Nor is the idea that it's more precise than wood.

    There are lots of different woods available which all have there own characteristics. There are several ways to build a graphite neck, even the blasphemous Modulus Genesis which is a combination of graphite substructure under wood, supposedly blending the best of both worlds.

    Bottom line, it's up to the craftsman to build a good neck... then up to you to decide whether you like it.
     
    MarkM13 likes this.
  15. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Which basically gets back to what I said before...personal preference.;)
     
  16. RAM

    RAM

    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    But, if it's built well, it shouldn't need a truss rod...;)















    Wait a minute...that doesn't rhyme with "Imagine there's no...":DLOL!!!
     
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Wonder when Joe's in-house troll will roll in? Probably has a graphite plate in his head, much better than the old steel one.
     
  18. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2002
    Chandler, Arizona
    All I know is this, I have a graphite neck and a wood neck, both sound good but if I'm sloppy playing on the graphite neck it is more obvious. I live in a VERY humid climate so i love the fact that the graphite neck doesn't shift. :D
     
  19. I own both and can't really say I have a preference. For me, it's more about the total package, not just the neck. I can't imagine my Sadowsky with a graphite neck or my Modulus or Zon with a maple neck.

    It really comes down to what you prefer.

    I do like having an adjustment rod in my Modulus. Neither the Zon or Modulus was straight enough for me and I was able to fix that with the Modulus.

    Jeff
     
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I'd be willing to bet that the same sloppiness would be very evident on my Wenge-necked MTD. Just speaking from experience... it rewards more refined technique and illuminates flaws in lesser efforts.