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Is a twisted neck worth anything?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by itchy, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. itchy


    Jan 3, 2009
    Bay Area
    I have a neck from a 1986 MIJ Squier (E serial) Jazz Bass that seems like it was once a pretty decent neck.
    But, the truss is maxed and it looks twisted when I sight down the fretboard.

    Aside from scrapping the tuners and string tree, is this of any use to anybody to warrant putting it in the classifieds....or should it go straight into the dumpster?
  2. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Use it as an experiment in how to straighten a neck?
  3. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Keep it by the bed and use it as a bludgeon on home intruders.
  4. msaone


    May 13, 2012
    I knew one guy had an old guitar neck sticking out of a planter like he was growing Fenders.
  5. Sell it for 20 bucks. People will buy anything.
  6. I have an old twisted neck that I use to hang bass bodies when I need to paint them.
  7. itchy


    Jan 3, 2009
    Bay Area

    This thought actually crossed my mind.
    So poetic.;)
  8. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    I would try this ^ ^ ^ ^

    with some carpentry clamps/vise you could untwist it.
  9. Twisted necks can "sometimes" be saved. Most Luthiers know how to do it but it is time consuming and may be too expensive, depending on the neck.
  10. kreider204


    Nov 29, 2008
    Especially poetic if they're trying to steal your gear. :)
  11. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    I've always thought this could work but have never had the tools or neck to try it. I figured that removing the finish, soaking the neck, clamping it tight and straight, and then kiln drying it for a sufficiently long time would straighten it with little-to-no glue damage.
  12. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    Sell it as a Torzal?

    Seriously, it's a loss unless you want to throw a lot of money at it. If it were off a 64 P bass, yeah, try to save it, otherwise, experiment on it yourself and see what happens.
  13. Hevy T

    Hevy T Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Lethbridge, AB Canada

    Say it was owned by Jimmy Hendrix and sell it for $5000 and then use the money to buy a few MIA Jazzes with good necks:bag:
  14. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    I think you'd end up with a worse condition than now. It takes pressure and heat applied at the right locations while not doing anything to affect other parts of the neck. Figuring out those locations by trial is what takes the time. A neck with too much bow, that's consistent, is relatively easy. Twist not easy.

  15. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I've repaired a lot of twisted necks over the years. I specialize in the Ampeg Scroll Basses, and most of them that show up here for restoration have necks that are twisted to some degree. Some are quite severe. I think the worst I've seen was close to 10 degrees! Because the Ampegs are rare, and their necks are complicated to build, I almost always try to rebuild the original neck.

    I've repaired some twisted Fender-style necks too. It certainly can be done but, as noted above, it's expensive. It will typically cost $300-$700, depending on the severity of the twist and other factors. The reason it's expensive is because it's a lot of labor; nearly as much as making a new hand-made neck from scratch. So, the neck has to be worth it in instrument value or sentimental value.

    I always repair twisted necks "mechanically"; that is, I re-machine them to make them right. A light twist can often be repaired by pulling the frets and recutting the fingerboard surface to correct for it. For a heavier twist, I'll mill off the whole fingerboard and make a corrective cut to the to the top surface of the neck shank. Then it gets a whole new fingerboard and frets. On severe twists, I've had to add in wedges of maple to correct it before putting on the new fingerboard. As I said, it's a lot of work. Besides the structural work, the truss rod usually gets replaced. After new inlays, frets, and refinishing, it's nearly a new neck.

    Yeah, I know, some other Luthiers work with heating and clamping to un-bend the wood. I haven't tried any of that because, from what I hear, the results are too unpredictable. To me, if the wood has moved to a new shape as it dried out, then it needs to be re-machined to the new shape. Trying to force it back to its old shape isn't likely to work long term. When I rebuild an old Ampeg, I want the neck to stay straight for another 45 years, not twist again in 2 years.

    Just so you know, neck twist has only one real cause: The orientation of the growth rings in the wood blank, in relation to the centerline and geometry of the shaped neck. As a builder, you try to position the neck on the wood to make the rings symmetrical about the neck centerline. The reason is that, as the wood dries out thoroughly over the years, the outer rings will shrink at a different rate than the inner rings. The more asymmetrical the ring pattern is about the neck's geometric centerline, the more this differential shrinkage rate results in the board twisting. This is true of both flat-sawn and quarter-sawn board orientations. Either will twist if the rings aren't symmetrical.

    Overall, neck twist is essentially hereditary. It happens or doesn't happen almost entirely based on how the neck was laid out and cut at the factory. A bass living in a climate with big humidity changes may twist faster or more dramatically, but if a neck has twist in its "genes", it will twist eventually. Wood is still alive, long after it is dead.
  16. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    Very informative post and I appreciate it very much. Not being a pro I've had suspicions that areas of different densities with different shrink rates caused twists or abnormal bowing problems but never got deep enough into it to figure it out. The growth ring explanation fills the bill. If the neck is not cut symmetrically with the growth rings there could be areas of different densities due to the growth rate of the tree through through the years. Slow growth = dense and quick growth = less dense. Trees that had relatively stable growth cycles would yield wood that was less likely to twist if cut off axis due to almost equal growth rings.

    This could also explain naturally occurring forward or back bow that develops over the years but with the growth rings more symmetrical along the centerline of the neck. Could also explain the Fender "ski jump" where the heel of the neck had a more dense growth ring pattern.

    Your post should be a sticky for "warped/twisted necks".


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