neck angles

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by lowendtheory, Oct 1, 2003.

  1. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane

    i am to be building a five-string, neck-through bass over the next 18-24 months and have just finished the conceptual drawings of what it will (hopefully) look like when finished.

    the neck will be a five-piece laminate. a center of Karri, a strip each side of either Queensland Maple or Pink Beech and on the outside of that, another strip of Karri each side. it will have a pretty classic feel to it as opposed to a thin, modern neck. it will be a 35" scale, with one dual-action truss rod. i'd like to have about a 3/32" string height at the 12th position.

    the head stock will be angled at approximately 12 degrees. the question i have that i have no idea on where to start is this:

    what kind of angle do i need to incorporate into the construction of the neck, and where does the apex of the angle occur? is it the 12th, the 17th? the 24th? or does it happen gradually? i can't seem to find info on this anywhere

    i've looked around but can't seem to find anything with numbers. i was just going to angle it at the 20th position by about 5 degrees. but that doesn't come from anything but a 'hey, that looks good' method.

    i want a fretless, but as this is my first go at building a bass, i'm thinking that i might be expecting too much of myself to get a perfectly level board. if i plan to put frets on, but happen to fluke a great board job, will i have to change much else?

    i wanted to do a 36" but am having a trouble finding strings that would fit. if at all possible, could any answers be given for this possibility too?

    any info is greatly appreciated, i'm hungry to know more! i can hardly wait to get the ball rolling on this puppy!

    when i get it going i'll be sure to paste updates.

    thanks guys! talkbass is da bomb!

    cheers for now,
  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    The neck angle is a way to make sure the action is not too high. On bolt-ons, the apex is obvious: the joint. For necktruoughs, its usually at the end of the fingerboard.

    How? You angle the neck so much, that a string will lie flat on the board from nut to end, when the bridge is in its low-most position.

    Or you can use a thick fingerboard, or recess the bridge.

    Good luck, and now I hide for all the slowly awakening US experts.:)
  3. Neck angle is not mandatory on neck throughs

    You could also build the neck blanck by routing the body portion of it so the fingerboard stands proud of the body surface. You'd do this to achieve presenting the strings at a correct height for a choosen bridge.

    look at this benavente (hope Brian and Chris won't mind me using this pic):


    This is the key: you need to choose the bridge you're gonna use because it's height will determine your construction.

    Using the technique I described, you have a body to strings height that is similar in feel to a bolt on bass.

    If you dont want to use this technique and you rather use a NT with the fingerboard standing flush on the body face, then you'll have to work out the correct neck angle ( here again, choose you bridge before!). the apex shoul occur where the fingerboard enters the body and the angle is pretty easy to calculate using the method suburban described (see melvyn hiscock book too).
    The easiest way IMO to get the corect angle (building this way) is to build the neck blank a little thicker than needed and then glueing the wings at the correct angle on the neck blank. The small aeras of body portion neck blank sticking from body top and back can then be sanded flush pretty easily.

    I'd use the first method if I were building NT just because I prefer having a nice body to string height for popping strings.

    Bottom line: you could also mix styles of construction ;)

    Peace, JP
  4. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    Wow. i'm stoked. i didn't think it was that simple. (i didn't expect a response so quick either. you guys rock)

    i've been spending my night looking at different bridges and i'm going to use the ABM individual for all the reasons you've listed on your site. and after talking with a friend, those are the tuners as well...

    i'm going to go with the first method JP mentioned, because i too like a bit of space between my string and body.

    suburban, i know what you mean. i was kind of shocked when i first started coming here (i'm still a newbie though) to find that some of the people's gear i've admired from before i started playing are helping beginners. thank you so much for your advice.

    thanks guys. you rock.

  5. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    ditto, ditto, ditto
  6. gyancey

    gyancey Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I use a combo method: a neck step and angle. That way I get more string-to-body distance for slapping and the comfort of an angled neck. Its a shallow angle, though: about 1.5 degrees.
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    The "neckstep" is one way. It's OK, but also intimidating.
    If your heel is to shallow, you may end up with a weak body joint, and the main idea of the neckthru will be gone - it will act praty much like a bolt-on.

    If your heel is rigid enough, it is still a lot of extra work. The same effect will be reached with a thick fingerboard - OTOH, you may have problems to fit your truss rod.

    The angled neck, planed down to body level, is the most difficult (precision demanding) method, but also renders the best result, IMHO

    What is your honest opinion? :)
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