How light is too light?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JEDI BASS, May 13, 2022.


    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    In my quest to make a lightweight slab style 51 P, I may have gone too far. So, I thought I’d ask those that know way more about building basses, than this here beginner.

    So… my chambered basswood body weighs 2.49 pounds! I figure I’ll need a heavy high mass bridge and ultralight tuners to balance the bass. The neck is lightweight too. So, I could end up with a 6 pound finished bass, maybe less… I’m just guessing.

    Will there be negatives to having so little weight, to the sound that is?
    mikewalker and Alan Ace Cooper like this.
  2. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    Only if the bass is flexing too much.
    Balance might end up being an issue too.
    What's the neck made of and how is it made?
    JEDI BASS likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I don't like heavy basses, but I hate basses that have neck dive more.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    I have several maple 51 style necks mostly finished. 1 piece maple w/ glued on fretboards and dual action truss rods, no stiffening rods.
    Last edited: May 13, 2022
    MaxSpinrun and Beej like this.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Oh, there’s no chambering between the neck and bridge, just in the wings.
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    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Same here! I’m sure I can add enough weight to the body to remedy any neck heaviness.
    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  7. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    All good with maple. I wouldn't be worried about stiffness with a maple neck.
    2.5 lbs is really light, but you can ways add weight for balance.
    The only unknown is how stiff the body will be with all that material removed.
    JEDI BASS likes this.
  8. RichterScale


    Feb 21, 2021
    I say go for it.
    JEDI BASS likes this.
  9. Barticus

    Barticus Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2017
    6lbs sounds good, I have a couple that are close to that.
    bdplaid and JEDI BASS like this.
  10. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    I have a Palownia bass body with a jazz neck it has some neck dive but I didn't bother to add a high-mass bridge or relocate the strap button because I use it pretty much as a garage 'house bass' and play this one sitting down, as far as the sound with this super light body no issues, all I can say is that it sounds amazing! 6.4 lbs.
    mikewalker, bdplaid, JRA and 2 others like this.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Necks can be lightened by taking the shoulders down a bit along the length and planing the back of the headstock a smidge. If planing the headstock be aware of minimum depths for tuners. Also, pics please! :woot:
    Barticus and JEDI BASS like this.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    I won’t be doing any neck lightening. The necks already slim. But, I will take measures to balance the bass, on a strap that is.
    MaxSpinrun likes this.
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    How light is too light? Not light enough for me!
    Hectobar, mikewalker, bdplaid and 5 others like this.
  14. rooster


    Jun 10, 2000
    upstate new york
    I have a 2018 Roadworn p bass I bought new...Put Hipshot Ultralight tuners..weight 7lbs 11 oz plenty light for me.
    JEDI BASS likes this.
  15. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon
    I have a parts P that comes in at 6lb. 13oz. and it feels great. Slight neck dive when played without a strap. I can deal just fine, and it's very acoustically resonant.
    Previously had a Squire Classic 70s P that weighed around 6lb. 8 oz. and had near zero neck dive (lighter neck than above P bass). Weight felt ideal.
    Last one — I had was a Squire Affinity J body, likely Agathis, that had finish removed by someone, and when I had that built up into a proper J bass with AllParts neck and Res-O-Lite tuners it weighed 5lb. 8 oz. THAT was too light! When hung around my neck on a strap, it felt like a balsa wood movie prop. Fun, yes, but neck dive city.

    My ideal is 6-1/2# to 7#. Sweet spot.
    Mvilmany and JEDI BASS like this.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks for the info folks. I’m going to gather everything together (if I have a set of the proper tuners around) and see what the finished bass will weigh. If it’s below 6 pounds, I’ll look for a brass bridge and even chrome plated brass knobs, to give it a little more heft.
  17. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Don't forget that another way to reduce neck heaviness is to extend the upper horn out a little farther. Splice a block of a stronger wood like maple onto the tip of the horn, moving the strap button out an inch. That will help to balance the bass on the strap without needing to add as much weight to the back end of the body.
  18. i have two basses under 6 lbs and they both sound fantastic. Because they're headless, there are no balance issues.

    I don’t think weight affects tone, myself. Flame suit on :) Imo the only potential downside of uktralight is neck dive. Headless def solves that.
    bdplaid, Max Bogosity and JEDI BASS like this.
  19. bench


    Dec 28, 2007
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    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Yes. I’ve recommended a similar method to people: put a Dunlop Straplok on the horn and add a washer or two behind the button, using a longer screw of course.
    Skillet likes this.
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