How much does wood quality matter?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Grizz2k, May 15, 2021.


  1. Level, crown, and dress the Mightymite

  2. Replace the neck altogether

  3. Mod the Fender

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  1. Grizz2k

    Grizz2k

    Jun 19, 2020
    Let me start by saying this is a build/stability question, NOT a tonewood discussion.

    I was pining after a 1999 Fender American Precision Hot Rod for months and eventually gave up, building a cheap replica in its place. Seymour Duncan pickups, Squier body, maple Mightymite neck, Hipshot bridge, Mexican Fender tuners. Shortly after I finished it the Hot Rod went up for sale and I snagged it (it's a string-through passive PJ bass).
    Thing is: I prefer the sound of the cheap build but the frets are unplayable above the 10th fret. Half of them fret out, the terrible profile has been sanded down but still isn't as nice as my Mexican or American basses, and the overall feel is sub-par - but it sounds incredible.

    The American bass is stock except for strap locks and the pickguard. Both basses look identical at a glance.

    Is it worth my money to get the Mightmite neck professionally leveled? Would I be better off buying a Warmoth replacement? In other words, how much does wood actually matter long term?
    Hate to open this can of worms again but I'm at an impasse.
     
  2. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    What has been "sanded down"?

    If you get the frets leveled on the MightyMite, it might cost you a hundred bucks, but that might do the trick...UNLESS you just have a bad "tongue rise" in that neck, which a fret level will HELP, but not totally fix.

    A Warmoth neck is never a bad idea, in my opinion... they are a NECK company, primarily, and their reputation rests on the quality of those necks. I've never bolted on a bad Warmoth neck to anything. Recommended, but probably around three hundred bucks.

    How much does the quality of wood matter in a neck, in question of stability/playability? It's everything. Frets, nut, tuners can be replaced. Sure, I've had a few cheapies that were (by chance) dead stable, but I'm willing to pay for a premium neck that I KNOW has been properly dried and constructed.
     
    gg22, P. Aaron, thmsjordan and 2 others like this.
  3. loSbabbaro

    loSbabbaro

    Nov 11, 2018
    I second investing in a good neck. The quality of the body IMHO matters much less, unless you are one of those that can tell ‘tone wood’ in a mix
    A quality neck for me is the most important part of a bass/guitar. I believe fretboard wood also affects the sound to a MUCH higher degree than the body but that is indeed debatable.
     
    Grizz2k likes this.
  4. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member

    o_O There's you're problem: you're straying away from the money. :roflmao:

    Seriously, I think a fret level/PLEK is a better option than a new neck. You already said you like the sound and feel, and it's certainly less expensive than a whole new neck. You may have to dress/level the frets again with a new neck, anyway.
     
    DrMole, MattZilla and J_Bass like this.
  5. Haans

    Haans Altruistic nihilist Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Bergen, Norway
    How about just swapping pickups?
     
    BeeTL, JRA, garrett77 and 3 others like this.
  6. rpt50

    rpt50

    Jan 10, 2021
    Yes.
     
    J_Bass and Haans like this.
  7. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    there's no guarantee any mod will end up 'perfect' for you, there's too many quirky variables in what should be simple, if the costlier Fenders don't sound great now they may never, OTOH if a neck sucks it's replacement may have it's own issues, so you're screwed. you might luck out with your choice or go down a frustrating rabbit hole, I'd try a stabilized neck that you love and hope that's it, cheap and easy.
     
  8. scuzzy

    scuzzy

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    You will still have to get a warmoth neck leveled. Even for their price, the frets don't come leveled.
     
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Beat me to it.
     
    J_Bass likes this.
  10. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    That's exactly what was going to say, I am surprised it took so many replies until I found this one.


    Swap the electronics. Done.
     
  11. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Loosen your truss rod, and adjust your saddles. If it's still un playable, you cut your nut too low. Cause, your situation doesn't make any sense.
     
  12. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    You could try a good neck professional for an assessment or to remedy this dilemma. Might be less expensive than a replacement.
     
    tr4252 likes this.
  13. tr4252

    tr4252

    May 27, 2013
    I agree, seek professional advice. He/she would be able to look over the instrument first hand and make appropriate suggestions based on experience.

    You could learn how to do it yourself, but the cost of the necessary tools would probably be a bit more than a pro fret job. Also, you'd have to learn how, and it wouldn't make sense to do your first work on a neck you really like, due to the screw-ups that often happen when someone is just starting out. It's easy though; maybe a bit time consuming and laborious. There are tons of tutorials on the internet.

    I do my own fret work, and it is satisfying when you get it just right.

    Good luck!

    Tom
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2021
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Why not swap necks?
     
    Max Bogosity, tr4252 and RichSnyder like this.
  15. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I'm confused by the parameters, we are not permitted to discuss tone, but the tone of the Mighty Mite necked bass is more desirable. I assume you have the usual 20 or so screw drivers hidden in various drawers throughout the house. You are about ten minutes away from the answer to your question, at least with a sample size of two. Swap the necks. If the tone follows the neck, then it's worth leveling the Mighty Mite. If it stays with the pickup, my bet, then it's time to swap pickups.
     
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I just wanted to add that it's never a bad idea to do a fret level on an otherwise good neck. Even ski jumps can be fixed with them most of the time.
     
    stuntbass77, Jazzdogg, Engle and 2 others like this.
  17. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    Vermont
    Another option is to buy a used neck that has had time to allow any issues to come to the surface and be resolved. Like a Squier neck for example.

    To your question, if the neck is twisted or has a ski jump bow in it, you may not be able to fix it to your satisfaction. So yes the wood is important. Frets and nuts are much easier to deal with if there's a problem.
     
  18. smtp4me

    smtp4me

    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm not doubting you. I am surprised however. I would expect the frets to be level on any new neck (or new bass) I purchase, with the possible exception of a "low-end" one. IMHO, unleveled frets do not equal a proper/fully functional instrument, and that is what I'm paying for. Otherwise it would be analogous to a car manufacturer slapping the wheels and tires on a new car, and not bothering to do an alignment.

    Or maybe I'm naive and my expectations are too high.
     
  19. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Grixx2k.... beware of those who think the great sound of your bass would simply transfer with the pickups.
     
    cmcbass, Afc70 and Grizz2k like this.
  20. Giraffe

    Giraffe Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    San Diego, California
    The answer to this question is almost always "Yes!" This is true of the other aftermarket necks I am aware of, as well as most factory guitars. The extra couple of hours with a skilled tech is almost always worth the time and cost.

    When you find a component that has that sound you want, you should hold on like grim Death! Even if it has to be re-fretted it is worth the $250-350. A new neck from a good vendor, plus the cost of getting it leveled and dressed (plus getting the nut tuned up) will cost that much, and you don't know if it will sound as good as the MM.

    Keep the one that sounds good, and get the right guy to level and dress or re-fret.
     
    Grizz2k likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Jun 19, 2021

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