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Neck Grain

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Doug Ring, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. Hi folks, I've had my bass about a year now and am getting close to the sound and feel I want from it. It's a decent Chinese-made fully-carved instrument which I paid £2500 for, and it plays and sounds better than some more expensive instruments I've tried.

    What I'm puzzled by is the wood used for the neck. The fingerboard is a decent piece of ebony, but the neck itself doesn't seem to live up to the quality of the rest of the instrument. A lot of basses I've seen have the neck grain, or perhaps it's just the flames in the maple, perpendicular to the fingerboard, whereas mine has a very ordinary-looking piece of wood with the grain running in the direction of the fingerboard. It feels very nice to play (once I'd sanded a little gloss off it), but it doesn't look as good as the maple-flame necks do.

    I'm not contemplating having a new neck fitted or anything, but I just wondered whether the longitudinal grain will be less stable in the long run, or has less sustain, or whether this is more a cosmetic issue and a hallmark of the better basses?

    What do you luthier types think?
  2. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Plain maple is stronger and stiffer than the figured variety. What really matters is the distance between grains and the straightness of the grain. The straighter the grain, the less likely the neck will warp. The tighter the grain, the stiffer and more responsive that neck will be. Tighter, straighter wood generally comes from trees that grow at higher altitudes where there is minimal competition for sunlight. These high-altitude trees are the most sought-after by instrument makers because of their strength and stability.
  3. Ah! So it's a good thing, then (even if it doesn't look as pretty!).

    Thanks for that Arnold.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If the grain ran the other way the thing would likely snap right off. The strength of the wood is against the grain, you see. Plus, you'd be wasting a slice of a HUGE tree that could've been spent better in other places (like a one-piece back)
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    The flames in maple are perpendicular the grain. Even the fancy flamed necks have grain aligned just as yours.
  6. Well that explains it, thanks. I hadn't examined the grain on these flamed necks and didn't realise it was at 90 degrees to the flames.

    And yes, if I'd thought about it at all I'd have realised that cross grain would be useless for a bass neck!

    Thanks for the replies.