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Knot in the maple damaging my 60's Custom Shop Jazz Bass neck

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fred8816, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. fred8816


    Feb 25, 2008
    Exeter, UK
    Hello everyone

    A warped spot around 7th fret is causing my Jazz bass to buzz heavily on the first few frets. At first I thought it was due to the age of the instrument (1989) but then I took it to a local luthier in Exeter where the guy told me it was the Knot (or grain patterns that looked like there was a branch coming out) which is a weak-point in the neck's construction.

    It's a 1989 Custom Shop 60's Jazz Bass.

    Does this happen often? I have never seen these type of patterns on a maple neck before, certainly not on a high-end instrument. And if is this is a Fender quality problem, will they repair or replace the neck if I'm not the original buyer?

    I don't want to spend an arm and a leg to buy a replacement neck...

    Thank you for your time.
  2. fred8816


    Feb 25, 2008
    Exeter, UK
  3. Its wood and anything "natural" can happen.. Random question...it took 20+ years to discover this?

    After seeing the pictures Im not 100% convinced this spot is the cause of warping.. The image appears to be figuring associated with the normal growth/strain of a tree and not a "branch" inclusion...perhaps a branch was there and this is the undergrowth where the branch flexed and strained...assuming its hard maple I think this is a common occurance.

    And NO...dont expect to get help on a used instrument thats 20+ years old...

    Also you said 1st few frets...this appears to be the middle of the neck..how would those 2 be associated?
  4. I'd get a second opinion before I got a second neck. A luthier who specializes in bass set ups could perhaps overcome the issue with fretwork, trussrod adjustment or magic.
  5. fred8816


    Feb 25, 2008
    Exeter, UK
    Yes the bend is at around 7th fret, and all frets before that have loud fret buzz.
  6. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Are you the original owner? Fender instruments have a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship to the original purchaser.
  7. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I second the notion of getting a second opinion from a good bass technician. It doesn't look good, but it may not be the problem. Then again, the reason the previous owner sold it could be that he didn't want to shell out for a replacement neck. Is the deal done on this, or can you still get a full or partial refund?
  8. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
  9. The OP says hes not the original owner.

    I agree with a simple fret job or fretboard releveling...
  10. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    Looks more like figuring than a knot that would cause the shaft to change direction and cause a buzz.
    +1 There are lots of things that can be done to straighten a maple neck, regardless of the source of the whip.
  11. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    If you are the second owner and the first owner or original owner had no issues with the bass, I really think you are out of luck with Fender. If Fender truely had a lifetime transferrable warranty they would still be having to work on and service guitars and basses made in the 1950's. Has a luthier tried everything to adjust the warp out? It can be done, but could be costly. You can possibly BUY a replacement neck from Fender at a premium to match the body color like yours, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be a free replacement. A bass over 20 years old is not expected to be a museum piece or as perfect as it may have been when new.
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    +1 on getting a second opinion.

    A replacement neck may also be less expensive than repairing the existing neck depending on what needed to be done.
  13. Ian_Flash


    Jan 17, 2013
    With any production instrument where the wood is not "hand-selected" for its grain direction (quartersawn or flatsawn), lack of flaws (knots, holes, splits), this can happen... especially with necks. Unless it's an obvious flaw, manufacturers will go ahead and use it, say a few Hail Mary's, and have a beer. A refret/recrown can alleviate the issues you're having. This is, however, very surprising to me since this is a Custom Shop instrument.
  14. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    That is an astoundingly bad piece of maple for a neck. I'm just slack-jawed in amazement. That is horrible wood.

    I'm with your tech's assessment -- I would give this about a 90% chance of being the source of the problem because I have repeatedly seen the identical problem in vintage Fenders with Leo's cost-cutting firewood-grade necks with just such irregularities in them.

    Straight conventional necks require straight -- or at least consistent -- grain.

    Enda story.
  15. Wow, that's surprising. I've seen some noticeable knots in Squier and import Fender necks but that looks like a wooden Category 5 hurricane! I'm surprised that neck got through the Custom Shop, especially assuming they were crankin' out far fewer instruments in the late '80's as compared to now.

    Would heat treating help? I was considering saving a warped AVRI neck recently and came across www.warpedneck.com. I wonder if their service or something similar could help to partially correct or at least stabilize the neck, at which point you could get the frets leveled or whatnot to make the most of it.

    By the way, that's a beautiful headstock!
  16. Did you just buy this or are you trying to sell it? I saw the add and alwasy thought there was something wrong with this thing, or it couldn't have been offered at that price. If you are where I think you are, I would send it to HK to get a second opinion, going to the Custom Shop is probably going to cost you more than what you paid for it.
  17. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I do alot of woodworking and that is scary looking grain to me. You never know what wood will do when there is that much torsion. Surprised it would have taken this long but can never tell. Looks like a new neck is called for.

    FWIW, it might be worth calling attention on this to Fender custom shop - I'll bet that they haven't seen much like this over the years. IMO, someone was hung over when they selected this piece of wood for a neck.
  18. Paul M

    Paul M

    Jul 21, 2005
    Have another tech look at it and check the nut. The grooves might have just been worn down. That could also cause the first few frets to buzz.
  19. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    you think that's bad, look at this one!!

  20. MEKer

    MEKer Supporting member

    May 30, 2006
    Maybe I am wrong, but I doubt the "knot" in the neck is causing the problem. It actually seems very streamlined. I've seen more dramatic out-of-straight grain patterns, but the strength was not harmed a bit and played just fine.
    Take it in for a second opinion, but mention nothing about what the first tech told you. Just explain the buzz and ask the guy "What can you do to get rid of the buzz?" See what he says. And before you spend $, take it to a third. I mean, when you get any major work done on any type of project, 3 IS the minimum number of opinions/prices you want to compare.

    Then come back and let us know. Nice looking neck though.

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