Laminate necks: humidity and stability of the lamination

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FourBanger, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. My most stable necked bass is my Roscoe. Truss adjustments have been minimal and I don't feel a seam at all along the neck. My former RIC 4003 was by far the most elastic band neck I have ever owned!
  2. Yup. My Carvin has a 5 piece neck with a gloss finish and it doesn't have this issue. It does need adjustment a couple of times a year though. Go figure, I thought multi-piece necks were supposed to be more stable?
  3. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    I have three basses with multi-lam through neck construction: '76 Alembic 4 string, '88 Tobias 5 string, and '92 Tobias 6 string. The Tobias' both are original finish; the Alembic was refinished by Alembic a couple years ago due to some unrelated warranty work. None of the three have displayed the slightest amount of laminate dimensional mis-registration.

    So, I don't think there are any fundamental issues with multi lam through neck construction, presuming compatible woods and well tempered woods are used. I do suspect that mis-registration of neck laminates which happens after construction could be due to woods which are not properly tempered. As a Materials Scientist, I can say that wood microstructure is probably the most complex composite structure in use, and we do not have a good fundamental scientific understanding about all the details. One problem is that wood has been used for so many thousands of years that we have developed an empirical understanding about wood's artisan properties that is relatively well developed; so, the funding to get into the molecular level analysis just isn't there. Meanwhile, short cutting in the manufacturing process, especially wood tempering, is probably going on in more mass market produced instruments.

    Here's one empirical observation I have: my '62 Jazz Bass has a neck which by this point pretty much doesn't even respond to humidity swings. I have not touched that truss rod in maybe a decade. Straight as an arrow regardless of what the humidity does. But, that is a 54 year old neck. Anyhow, my point is that the response of individual elements of wood to humidity is a pretty strong function of the microstructure of the wood. That microstructure is not a simple and invariant character of any wood species and does vary with the drying/tempering that gets used. As a consumer, you really don't know what that is. That is one reason it is better to go with simpler designs or builders with a better track record.
    petrus61, farshore and UpperBout like this.
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