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Interchangeable Necks?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by malthumb, Nov 4, 2002.

  1. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Anyone here have or considering having interchangeable necks for the same bass? When I was in college, a guy in my dorm had a Stingray that came with a rosewood fingerboard. He found a maple board neck and would on ocassion switch the neck.

    It would seem that this would be a practical way to go for high end bolt ons. For example, I'd love to have an MTD535 fretless or a Hanewinckel fretless, but if I were to order one of them new, I'd want to consider also buying a fretted neck.

    Do you compromise the neck joint if you "ocassionally" remove and replace? At this point all of my basses are neckthru (more of a brand preference than NT v BO thing).

    Seems like a "budget" way to have multiple basses.

    Okay, fire away.


  2. dkmonroe


    Jul 3, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    I have thought about this recently as a way to convert my MIM Fender Jazz Bass to fretless on the fly. I've pretty much abandoned the idea, however, because I'm terrified of stripping the screw holes on the body of the JB. As attractive as the idea seems, it just seems like playing with fire to be constantly changing necks. Considering the fact that I've compromised the integrity of two basses in the past just by changing straplocks, I've decided that swapping necks is just too risky.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If the neck didn't have metal threaded Ferrules and machine screws to set it, it wouldn't take that many removals before the stability was compromised by the wood loosing its ability to hold the wood screwss. I suppose you could install those in the necks after the first removal to avoid that problem.

    I don't think would like it for a couple of reasons.

    1. I would want to be able to play both fretted and fretless bass even in the same practice or performance session.

    2. Having to set the basses up every time you switched the necks would be be a PIA.

    I would rather buy two complete instruments of lesser cost and avoid these problems.

    I might be inclined to toy with something like this on cheap stuff, but there is no way I am dropping $2,500 on a bass and then removing the neck just for the heck of it. If the pocket is fit properly, (which it most certainly is on an MTD) then it is nice and snug. Everytime you remove the neck, just the friction and subtle off-angle forcing of the neck into the pocket will eventually enlarge it a bit. You could do this in just a few switches.

    Also, a properly hand-built bolt-on means building the neck, then hand-finishing the pocket for an exactly appropriate fit. How would you fit two?

    I guess I think it would be a shame to have two sub-standard MTDs instead of one nice one.

  4. dreadhead


    Feb 1, 2002
    Hi James!
    I think you should try a Wal: they are really bolt-on basses, i.e. the neck bolts are fixed into threaded inserts, and you can change neck 1000 times without compromising the bass sound and the neck pocket. Wal fretless necks are easy to find, I've seen a lot on eBay!
    My luthier builds in the same way... it's just a great way to keep a bolt-on hi-end without making it less beautiful or easy to build. It helps the sustain too!
  5. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    in theory the fingerboard thing would be cool but in execution i think it would prolly blow goats.

    i have to agree with chas. you are comprimising the solidity of the JOINT not the screws but fro just pulling the neck in and out you would enlarge the cavity. hell someone ask ken smith or roger sadowsky.
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Hmm... a huge magnetic strip down the neck of a bass with metal strings. Nope, I can't see any possible conflicts there.
  7. ganttbos

    ganttbos The Professor Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2001
    New Orleans area
    I have a Warmoth deluxe-5 jazz and I have both fretless and fretted necks. I change them fairly often. The joint stays nice and tight if you're super careful about aligning the neck and working it out of or into the pocket. The joint on mine is tight as a drum after 8-10 switches. As far as the screws go, they're basically going back into the same threaded hole and maple is pretty hard, so again being really careful especially when torqueing them down installing the neck, you can get away with it (so far!).

    That said, I would be much more reluctant to do this with an expensive bass. Mike Tobias just quoted me a price of $1100.00 for a fretless neck for my MTD (plus I'd need to ship the bass both ways). He said he custom fits every neck to its specific body and he wouldn't consider shipping just a neck. That effectively ended any fantasies about a fretless MTD for me anytime soon.
  8. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Hey all,

    Thanx for the input. I sorta assumed that the joint bolts would require metal thread inserts in the wood to avoid stripping. At this point this is a half-baked, "boy, wouldn't it be nice" idea.

    I was also sorta hopin' that if the bass was made with the intent to fit both necks (in other words, cut the pocket 1st, then cut two necks that each fit it perfectly) it would be doable. Out of all the basses I've ever owned, on ly 4 were bolt-on and I never took the necks off those, so I'm a novice when it comes to neck joints.

    In reality I may be a few months away from deciding on either an MTD fretless (more than likely used) or ordering a Hanewinckel fretless. Just thought it would be nice to also have a fretted neck for those VERY RARE ocassions when I might want to try a change of pace. I'm very satisfied with my current roster of basses, so I don't really need a fretted MTD or another fretted Hanewinckel. Then again, since when do GAS and "need" co-exist.


  9. I thought that too but it's true....perhaps it is not as huge as i made out.
  10. superphat


    Sep 30, 2001
    abraham laboriel plays (played?) a custom Valley Arts model with interchangeable necks.
    even if the bass is designed that way, seems like it'd be a hassle with changing strings, etc.
  11. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    FOR SALE: Fodera Emperor 5 FL/FR
    Posted: : 11/06/2002
    Category: Basses
    Condition: Excellent
    Age: Months
    Asking Price: $3000

    Fodera Emperor 5 fretted with extra Fodera fretless neck
    alder sunburst body(looks like a vintage Fender jazz where the dark part of the burst turns hunter green),both fretted and fretless(lined) necks are maple with brazilian rosewood fingerboards(21 fret),tortoise shell pickguard,gigbag
    black hardware(both necks have hardware)
    SD dual coils in jazz sized pickups,pope preamp
    bass has a tiny ding at neck joint(barely noticeable)and a few scratches but almost mint(anyone else would rate it mint)
    get a Fodera fretted and fretless for what one would cost
    both ways sound awesome,pics available
    3000(extra neck was almost have that)
    I'll pay shipping in US

    So, this animal DOES exist...


  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    A friend of mine defretted his fretted bass, and bought a new fretted neck, so he's basically got a fretless, but can change the neck if he wants frets.
  13. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    My old Electra Westone fretless originally came with 2 necks, one fretted, one fretless. The fretted one was on a Westone body that got stolen a few years back.

    Both necks had threaded inserts, so wear on the holes wasn't an issue. It was a pain to switch necks just to play fretted though. That's why I put the fretted neck on a different body.
  14. gareth


    Jun 9, 2002
    would this idea work on a musicman 5?

    I am currently buying a fretless stingray 5 and have seen seperately a fretted 5 neck for sale

    I can see the problems of changing necks regularly if each time screws are going into wood, but do any bass makers put metal plugs into their necks so that the screws go into metal? does musicman do this?

    if they don't I suppose its possibly a good idea although someone will argue that the tone may suffer - which actually may be a point?

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