Neck influence in overall tone of bass guitar??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by soaf, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. soaf


    Jul 27, 2013
    First off, I am a player not a luthier. I have posted another thread asking opinions on how much the neck and body influence the overall sound and most say hardly at all. They claim that the player, the pickups (type, placement), strings and electronics are the most important factors. What is your opinion on this? Is the neck not one of the most influential ingredients in the overall tone?
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Neck influence in overall tone of bass guitar??


    Yep ... I swap out necks on my Fender-style basses ... I go Maple to Rosewood to Fretless and get a different tone with each.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    My opinions are the same as I have expressed the first time you asked this question. If wood has any effect at all is arguable, but it is definitely not near the contributing factor to the over all sound of a guitar/bass as the pickups and their location, and strings.

    So does the neck influence the tone? Yes slightly, to be more specific, the fingerboard does have a slight influence on the tone, but its not one of the most influential ingredients. Sorry if this isn't the answer you were looking for.
  4. Hi.

    Everything contributes to the tone.

    IMO the most significant piece of the puzzle is the player.
    The rest are in no particular order since the combinations are practically unlimited and most, if not all, affect the amount that the others contribute.
    For example: uneven, bad strings won't sound excellent, no matter what the rest of the instrument is made of.

    IMO/IME no.

    I'm known of being a circular reasoner, but if the neck really had a huge predictable impact on tone, we'd have more than the three basic groups we have now to choose from.
    The main groups IMO being:
    1. Wood (only a ~1/100 of possible choices in use).
    2. Reinforced plastic (CF+ epoxy being virtually the only commercial option).
    3. Metal (aluminium there as the sole contender AFAIK).

    Very few hybrid necks other than wooden multi-lams out there as well, if one doesn't count using reinforcing rods or truss rods as hybrids.

    The one or two piece necks out of wood probably make 99,9% of all the necks as well.

    OTOH, if the neck (or any other part of the instrument) did not have any influence at all, we wouldn't have even the ones we have now to choose from.

  5. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Part of the Rickenbacker tone is the neck through construction and the Bubinga or Carribean rosewood fretboard with the conversion varnish finish.
  6. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I wouldn't know how to quantify it per se, but as one player to another, yes of course the neck is an important determinant in the sound of an instrument - with a bolt-on neck bass guitar, but even more so with a neck-through bass guitar. I have experienced it for myself. It is real.

  7. paparoof

    paparoof Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    fEARful koolaid drinker
    Of course neck wood choice makes a difference in tone. That's not at all arguable. It does. Period. I can hear it and no one is going to convince me otherwise.

    I'm also not a luthier, but I've been playing over 30 years now and to me, neck wood choice is entirely about looks. When laying out parts, one type of wood looks better to me than the others.

    Factors that are more noticeable than neck wood? Oh man, just about everything else. Player is definitely #1. Finger-style vs. pick, pickups, strings, signal chain, even the body wood - all more important than neck wood.

    What IS arguable is whether its a useful difference. MOST people in MOST live band settings will not hear the difference. In a recording setting? Maybe. That depends more on the style of music/recording and what else is happening at the same time. So... maybe.

    Only YOU can decide for yourself if the difference is meaningful. Can YOU hear the difference? If one sounds better than the other to YOU than what the hell do you care what a bunch of anonymous strangers on the Interwebs have to say about it? This is all about pleasing yourself. So pick what sounds/feels/looks better to you and forget about what everyone else says.

    Make yourself happy.
  8. roninrindra


    Nov 26, 2013
    Just for sharing...this article taken from Bass Gear Mag 2011 (Tone Primer) about Necks:

    Even though the body makes up most of an instrument"s mass,neck materials and construction are important to tone.Some builders feel a single piece of wood is best, while others take the laminate approach.Some feell that reinforcing the neck with a stiff ,light material like graphite improves tone,while others believe the best approach is to make the entire neck out of alternative material.Everyone agrees,though,the neck must be strong enough to withstand string tension ."laminated neck are more stable," says Bob Mick,but " general, a heftier neck gives better tone."
    Ken Smith believes graphite reinforcement even out a neck"s response, while Roger Sadowsky prefers unreinforced,one-pice flatsawn maple necks to laminate construction."Every few years i make a batch of graphite-reinforced necks just to remind my self it doesn"t make much difference,says Sadowsky."They still get acoustic dead spots, and they're not significantly stiffer than our unreinforced necks.How ever ,the fingerboard wood is a significant factor in the sound.It's easier for me to hear the difference between maple and rosewood finger board tham between an alder and ash body.
    Garry Willis avoids graphite reinforcement for a different reason: It raises the neck's resonant frequency, and he prefers lower-frequency resonance.Still some feel graphite (a.k.a carbon fiber) makes the ideal material.Rich lasner says," A graphite neck eliminates sympathetic vibrations that either cancel or favor notes,because the neck's resonant frequncy is above the range of the instrument's fundamental.The idea is to give the truest fundamental tone poissible,and because of the material's greater stiffnes,the notes sustain longer."

    But dont forget..."The sound is in my hands,' says Jaco
  9. A few good points here so far. Stiffness is an important thing. To date I've build 7 different basses. What I've learned about necks...

    Neck joint make quiet a different. Neck profile/thickness makes as much or even more difference.


    I built this fretless a few years back with a deep insert neck joint and a trapezoidal shaped neck. CRAZY sustain all the way up the fingerboard... even with flatwounds. :eek:


    I just recently finished this thunderbird style bass. It's got a 6 bolt neck joint and a deep C shaped neck. Very deep in fact. Upon installing some DR roundwounds on it the other day, I found it too had crazy sustain... and it's 32" scale! :eek:

    Neither of these basses, or any of the others I've build have deadspots in their necks. I can't account for that except to say that I tend to build fatter necks and than your regular fender/production basses and the extra depth seems to lend itself to extra stability and stiffness. Hence the sustain and evenness.

    I know some people prefer thin necks, me not so much and players who've tried my basses have found the necks comfy (with some exceptions on the trapezoidal neck), but I don't bother with CF rods.
  10. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups
    Here is what I said in a previous thread.

    "When you have 3 ash Js all with the same bridge (the Schaller 463) using the same strings and the only difference are the necks and yet they all sound different (acoustically) that says something.

    Also the necks are all on the brighter side...So I'm not comparing Wenge/rosewood to maple/maple either (which are radically different from each other). I'm talking about 2 forms of carbon fiber lay up (which is 8-15 times denser then steel molecularly speaking) and maple/maple against each other."

    Yep you change more with electronics, but better to get the fundamental tone you want with the core materials IMHO.
  11. soaf


    Jul 27, 2013
    TRUE STORY. Tone originates from wood. All other contributing factors shape that tone for delivery.
  12. I don't get it. Why do you ask the question if you really only want to hear what you already think is true?
  13. Hi.


    You have to have one hell of a time on internet forums.

    Not that people on the real world are much different IME.

    So You must have one hell of a time, all the time :).

  14. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Yah, the debate about the influence of wood (and other materials) on tone is perennial!

    The best data point I have to offer doesn't isolate the fingerboard wood, itself--but here it is:

    I'm fortunate to own two Sadowsky Metros, both Vintage 5s. The electonics, bridge, tuners, scale length are identical. One is ash/maple and the other alder/morado (a kind of rosewood, AFAIK). Both have one-piece maple necks; the fingerboard wood is different. They're only a few years different in age, and the newer one seems to have seen a bit more playing time, judging from the fretwear. I figure that pretty much cancels out aging of the bass as a variable. I've strung them both with the same Circle K balanced tension string set, and I set them up with the same relief, string height, pickup height. The build quality of both is excellent (both came from Roger's Japan shop), so that cancels out construction details as a variable.

    When I play them (i.e., the player's touch is a controlled variable), the tonal personalities are strikingly different.

    Again: it doesn't isolate the fingerboard as a variable, nope. But I'm firmly of the mind that, in general, the wood does matter to the tone of an instrument.
  15. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I think the neck can have a meaningful impact on tone. Back in 2003, I bought a new MIA Jazz, which developed a neck twist after a few months, so the neck was replaced under warranty. The bass had been great before, but it became more lively, punchy, and resonant with the new neck, even though it was the same model as the original. I noticed the difference immediately.
  16. willop


    Feb 7, 2013
    beaver, pa
    wood is organic - no two pieces will ever be identical.
    Laminating is one way to try and solve that and to make the wood more stable. OSB is more stable than plywood which is more stable than a board - but OSB is dead - it's as much glue as wood.
    Painting and finishes add stability too and as such have an effect on tone.

    Now think about this and necks. A rosewood (or any) fretboard on any neck makes it a laminated neck, adds a layer of glue, and many times heat to cure the glue.

    My next bass will have a maple fretboard - rare for a bass but possible. My dean has what appears to be a one piece neck, but having looked at many of them they actually are two piece - there is a scarf joint from the 2nd to 4th fret.

    But there are soooo many variables I"m not sure it's gonna matter a whole lot more than personal preference. I want maple fretboard for the look as much as any technical reason.

    Even in this thread you see that diff guitars, neck shapes, new necks can make a difference in sound. That would suggest there is a lot more to tone than the wood itself.

    Look at stradavarious instruments. People have tried to replicate the tone for hundreds of years and now they say imperfections are what makes them sound so good. SO maybe a perfect guitar isn't what you want!
  17. spufman


    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    I think the neck has a subtle but audible effect on yhe tone. The extreme example of a bass with dead spots or wolf tones exemplfies this. Much more than the body, the neck seems to effect the acoustic tone which will translate to some extent, to the electric tone we ultimately hear. Hence electronics, including pickup placement, probably has the biggest influence outside the player.
  18. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    So, based on the opinion that what a neck is made of doens't make much of a tonal difference, is a neck through design more about looks than adding to the tone too? What are the benefits of neck through vs. bolt on? I would gather maybe a bass is a bit more stable with a neck through design as far as keeping the neck straight and not having to adjust the truss rod as much.
  19. willop


    Feb 7, 2013
    beaver, pa
    The neck thrus I've played I think sound better. But that depends on what sound you want of course.
    Most are heavier in my experience, prettier, and the shape of the neck/body is better (more fluid, organic).
    And there's no joint to deal with so in theory you should get more consitency from one instrument to the next and it won't loosen up over time.
    In theory you get more sustain but I"m not sold on that. You get a sweeter sounding sustain, if that makes any sense. More organic less electronic and harsh.
    The peavey (it's a 6 string) had more, what I might call resonance rather than sustain.
    Play one string, one note and the other strings begin to vibrate in sympathy. Somehting I'm sure you'd learn to mute.
    I didn't notice that in a shector through nect I played (that I shoulda bought) it was just really nice to play in feel, weight, sound and the look (like the peavy and ibby BTB) is great IMO.

  20. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    Play any graphite neck bass and see for yourself.