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Music Man Bongo Truss Rod Issues

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Epitaph04, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    I may have posted about this already about a year ago, but once again I'm having issues.

    I got my Bongo 6 a year ago from the classifieds here. When I got it the action was very high and since it was my very first high end instrument, I was too afraid to work on it myself, so I sent it to a shop an hour away to have it get set up. The guy who worked on it told me the neck had too much bow in it so he took out the truss rod and added some washers to it. I believe he also shimmed the neck on it, not too sure.

    The problem was fixed for a bit until the weather began wreaking havoc on the neck. This Bongo has a seriously touchy neck. I like my string action low, but I've had to adjust it on a near regular basis, sometimes daily. Thankfully it has the easy access truss rod wheel but just now I maxed out the truss rod AGAIN. The bass is playable but the action just isn't where I want it to be. It's probably the 3rd or so time that I've maxed it out since owning it.

    I have some room still left on the saddles but the C string saddle is just about bottomed out. I've really run out of ideas and I am getting frustrated over not being able to get that super low action on an otherwise excellent instrument. WTH do I do? The strings I'm using are the only 6 string set EBMM sells.

    I tried talking to EBMM CS over it and the guy basically said I could fork over 500 bucks for a new neck. I'd really rather not do that. WTH do i do? Could it be due to a few very small chips on the paint of the back of the neck that reveals some of the wood? Should I go get it sealed? Should I add even more washers to the truss rod? Shim the neck again and deal with it? Should I save up all my cash and have a graphite neck made for it so it never shifts due to the weather ever again? :confused::atoz:

    TLDR: My Bongo 6's neck shifts if I breathe too hard on it, and now my truss rod is maxed out again. What can I do, and am I the only one with this problem?
  2. wvbass


    Mar 1, 2004
    This may just be bad luck. I think conventional wisdom says that every once in a while, you get a piece of wood that just doesn't want to be a neck. It is a shame hat a replacement neck is that expensive, but that may be your best option.
    petrus61 likes this.
  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    A comment that reflects my personal opinion. Your Bongo is a 24 fret neck and 6 bass strings. That's a lot of pull! Many 6 string basses are neck through bodies and the upper horn or upper body is attached to the neck up to about the 17th fret to support and strengthen the neck from string pull.

    The Bongo is not built like that and thus the neck can not deal with all of those strings. Of course, some Bongos or maybe most of them can deal with it. Every neck is different and some necks are stronger than others.

    Many of us have basses where the truss rod is maxed and perhaps our action is OK for the moment but in the future if a forward bow beyond specs developes, we're sunk.

    What can you do for your Bongo? Go to the lowest tension strings that you can find and the lightest guage that you can deal with. That might let your neck straighten out.

    In addition to low tension strings, you could lower your tuning a full step to reduce tension.

    StewMac has info on their website showing how to safely back bow your neck with a straight bar and a clamp and then snug the truss rod down. String it up and hopefully the neck will be adjusted correctly or even better, over adjusted and then the truss rod can be loosened to correct specs. Their photos will make clear what is difficult to say with words.

    I have 2 (4 strings) basses in my collection with maxed out truss rods that require me to use TI flats which are probably the lowest tension strings. Fortunately for me, I like flats but they might not be to your liking.

    Anthony Jackson the great bassist says that 6 string basses require to be made with the upper horn attached to the neck for support. I agree.

    Good luck with fixing your problem. A maxed out neck is a major concern!
  4. MKA


    Apr 14, 2012
    Northern Europe
  5. Mr. Black

    Mr. Black

    Oct 23, 2007
    Portland, TX
    I had a Bongo 4 that had a neck that I had to adjust daily.

    Lame. I sent it back to Southpaw where I bought it from.

    I talked to AJ from Music Man and he told me it was because of the satin finish.

    Whatever... I have no need for a bass that the neck can't stay still.
  6. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    I am SHOCKED the EBMM CS would handle this situation in that manner. I would call back and ask for AJ. They might let you send the bass directly to them to evaluate. Since the bass sounds like it's out of warranty, it will cost you, but maybe save you from replacing the neck. JMHO
  7. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    ^^If the bass is out of warranty and Epitaph is the second owner I am NOT SHOCKED by EBMM response. I have never owned a 6 er but I did add a washer to my EBMM 5 er to get the action where I wanted. Anyways good luck Epitaph04.
  8. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    I've heard recent stories from other EBMM owners that have sent their basses back to EBMM (out of warranty) and were given better care.
  9. Andyman001

    Andyman001 Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    If you loosen all the strings, and truss rod, is there still visible relief?
  10. Mr. Black

    Mr. Black

    Oct 23, 2007
    Portland, TX
    I'm only gonna tell you what I know... I was kind of shocked to hear his explaination.

    The bass was awesome in every other way, though.

    I LOVED the sound. Oh, well... It was 3 years ago...

    I have since moved on from EBMM.
  11. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    take the washers out, clamp the neck into back bow, put the washers back and max out the rod while the neck is clamped up. let it sit like that for a day. add some shim height to prevent the c string from bottoming out. just adding more washers without clamping probably wont fix the issue.
  12. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    It sounds like the wood is compressing under the TR nut.
  13. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Since he bough it used there is no warranty.

    Unfortunately wood being what it is, there is never any guarantee they all turn out exactly the same.

    To me, $500 bucks is cheap for a factory neck. And, SB is only 1.5 hr drive from SLO.
  14. Thanks for the creation and honesty of this thread. My Bongo 6 GAS is officially gone. Nothing bugs me more than a wishy-washy flimsy neck, and I've unloaded more than one bass because of it. I want to play, not be a daily setup tech. If a bass can't handle an 8 degree temp swing without becoming unplayable, it goes. No Ibby SRs here.

    I hope you find a solution. Better yet, a reasonably priced solution. A bass of that caliber shouldn't have neck issues you've described unless its 30 years old or had been abused somehow, regardless of how many owner's hands it's passed through.

    As others have mentioned, maybe the right combination of lower-tension strings and setup will help. Good luck.
  15. Really sorry to hear that, Epitaph. If the worst happens, at least you can change the neck, so don't worry yourself sick about it, play one of your other basses and when you feel it's the right time to spring for one do it, better yet, get EB to do it. Those are great basses, sad that you had this problem.

    - Jimmy Rage
  16. You could take it to a different tech (if you have another 75 bucks to spend). There are likely other options out there, including new truss rod, adding graphite rods, applying pressure to induce back-bow, shimming the neck, etc. With that said, if it were me I'd pop for a new warranty'd neck. Safest way to go, and to be honest, any of the other fixes will likely cost you a couple hundred at least so... might as well.
  17. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    The clamping backbow thing one or two of you recommended seems like a pretty solid idea...but its one I wouldnt dare doing myself! Anything beyond a basic set up is not something I trust myself on!

    I really considered buying a new neck for it initially but I'm thinking that if the Bongo is apparently known for having a twitchy neck, wouldnt it just keep happening to me again? I mean if its true that the satin finish is part of the problem, then it would just keep happening where every now and then the truss rod gets maxed out again.

    Could I maybe also have the neck sealed or something with some sort of finish?
  18. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    A tip I got when I called EBMM was to completely loosen the truss rod and to leave it for a few days so it could reset the neck or something. First time I did that about a year ago and it seemed to work for a bit. Tried it again a week or so ago and it helped for about a few days. Now the truss rod is maxed out.

    When I did loosen the truss rod there was definitely quite a bit of relief...havent tried it without the strings on though.
  19. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    it sounds scarier than it is. theres some pretty good pictures documenting the process here on tb. i did to my 74 jazz when i bought it a year ago and the neck hasnt needed a truss rod tweak since. if youve already got the washers, youve got the toughest part done already. i couldnt find any washers that would fit and had to grind some down. that was a pain in the ass!
  20. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always puts some stank on it Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Ill probably look into it once my internet comes back. Meanwhile im still just trying to see what other options I may have..