neck construction? does it matter?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by zillo, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. zillo


    Jun 5, 2003
    So, My bass has a one piece, hard maple neck. Recently (last 3 weeks or so) the playing got harder and harder. I took it to the local bass guru, who implied that the neck might be useful as a longbow:oops: There was a big old curve, in other words.

    I live in the northeast...long cold winters and hot,humid summers. Not good for necks, I guess.

    I see that there are lots of neck construction possibilities; laminated maple, multi-wood laminates like Ibanez or Warwick, and graphite rods like Carvin.

    What are your experiences with these other types of neck. My only experience is with the one piece maple.? Are they less likely to bow as the weather changes; no difference?

    Maybe this is just something to live with? Just tweak the truss rod more often?

    Also, besides the humidity control, are there are some other things to help prevent bowing. I thought that I could loosen the strings every day after playing, then tune up again next day? Does anybody do that?

    Thanks for your help!
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    In theory, a multilaminate neck is more stable than a one piece maple neck. Graphite reinforcement is supposed to improve stability as well. And a composite neck is supposed to be the most stable of all.

    In reality, if a neck is made from top notch materials, whether properly seasoned wood or composite, and made by a manufacturer that has high quality control standards, it will probably not warp.

    Sadowsky and Pedulla both make some of their necks out of one piece, flatsawn maple. Supposedly the cheapest way to make a neck, and the least stable. I had a Pedulla Rapture J2 5 string with a one piece neck, and it was solid as a rock. Sadowsky basses are not known for their neck problems either.

    OTOH, I have seen one USA Fender with graphite reinforcement that had a badly warped neck, and I have seen two older Modulus basses with neck problems, one of which had a twist in the neck.

    So, any neck can warp. But if you buy a bass from a good manufacturer, and with a good warranty, you should have nothing to worry about.
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Seasonal changes do play a big part in how your neck moves (I lived in Connecticut for most of my life).

    There are different theories to neck construction. Many say multi-laminates are stronger as they have opposing grains which counteracts your neck from bowing in one direction (similar to plywood). Graphite rods are also intended to maintain stiffness, although some luthiers won't use them because they feel it "sterilizes" the tone. Others theorize that the strength of a neck is in the piece of wood and how it's cut, so a good piece of quartersawn maple may be as sturdy as a seven-piece neck. Different woods also have different stiffnesses to them; for example, purpleheart is a very stiff wood, making it a very good wood for neck laminates.

    I wouldn't suggest loosening the strings, as you might change the setup on your bridge. I would suggest keeping your bass in its case as often as possible (to keep it at a fairly constant temperature), and when taking the case in from the cold at a gig or something, let it warm up first by allowing it to sit for a while, as extreme temperature changes will not only warp your neck-it can crack the finish on your bass.

    Also, take your bass for a setup job twice a year (February and August, or other opposing summer and winter months), as your neck will move naturally over the course of the seasons and will need adjustments.

    I hope that helps.