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Neck Plate: To Gasket, or Not to Gasket?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by JollySpudd, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    Working on a Frankenbass project - a P-style bass: nice Warmoth high grade birdseye maple neck, black ebony fretless finger board, to a Lotus body, quite heavy and, I imagine, made of multi-layer laminate (plywood).

    It's a 4-bolt (screw) neck joint. The question is with the new neck plate, it came with a plastic gasket, said to give a more snug, tighter fit, as well as protect the body against being marred from the steel plate over time.

    The original plate on the Lotus bass has no gasket, so the body is already a little marred (clear impression of plate in the paint), so that not being a issue to avoid, I see I have an option - to gasket or not to gasket.

    I've read elsewhere where some argue that the gaskets may or not have a negative effect on tone and/or sustain, due to resonant energy being impeded by the gasket at the body/neck joint. Any truth to this? Is it that noticeable?

    How could the gasket impede sustain, since the acoustic coupling is nearly 100% happening in the body/neck wood-to-wood connection in the neck socket. isn't it?

    Has anyone noticed any real A/B difference with this, say between Fenders issued with and without the gasket?
  2. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I've had both. No difference I could discern. And I don't much care if the neck plate mars the surface of the bass - the marks won't be visible unless you have X-ray vision.
    JollySpudd and quickfix like this.
  3. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    DRAT my X-Ray Vision! :-( Thanks Turnaround, surely experienced and wise words from both a player and a bass technician. That means a lot. :)

    When I read that some people (on another site) were saying they noticed the difference, I thought, it's either pretty obvious or it's a matter of psychology - like when I'm tweaking EQ during multitrack mixing, feeling warm and fuzzy at the improvement, yeah, that's the ticket - until I realize I'm twisting the wrong knob on the channel nextdoor - lol.
    I can't imagine it being that big a deal, especially if a company like Fender goes back and forth on their use of them over the years.
  4. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Not something I would use as I have seen how they can go over time. IME the plastic material will go hard and start to disintegrate. Eventually the exposed corners will drop off and the thing will develop cracks through the middle, usually starting from the bolt holes. As the structure of the plastic continues to collapse under pressure the neck joint may start to loosen, and you can guarantee that this will not happen in an even or controlled manner. IMHO, these gaskets are best avoided.
  5. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    How long does it take for this to happen? I have a P bass that turns 40 this year and the plastic gasket is still as good as new.
    tkonbass likes this.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I guess it will depend on the actual material used - I have only ever seen them on cheaper instruments - it's possible that your P uses a higher grade material. Over-tightening and/or frequent removal/refitting will also contribute.
  7. fjadams


    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    I have both. There is no difference between using one or not. Other than cosmetic.
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    My comments:

    1) You're going to end up with an imprint on the paint anyway. Use the gasket or not, makes no real difference.

    2) To hear any difference (if there is any, which I sincerely doubt) you'd have to have $10,000 worth of hi-fi amplification and ears like a bat. You'd also have to be playing solo, not in a band, which would absolutely mask any infinitesimal difference.

    There are many people on TB who argue for hours about the purity of the acoustic coupling and how shims/paint/bridges/screws/bolts/nuts and every other component can compromise the acoustics. What they're missing is that an electric bass isn't an acoustic instrument, it's a chunk of wood with electronics, a metal bridge and strings, and those components dominate the sound. I am convinced that the type of wood used also matters, but I have learned that I don't usually hear any difference. I simply appreciate each bass for the way it sounds, and I don't spend time trying to figure out why.

    I'm not saying there's no difference (because I don't want to get into a year-long argument with someone whose reason for living is to argue the contrary) but I assert there's not enough to matter to a sane person.
  9. mech

    mech Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    Totally agree but I fixed it for you.
  10. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Ah, under the theory that you go with your gut, right? :cool:
    mech likes this.
  11. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    That crossed my mind, as well. While I can sort of understand the argument for slightly improved sustain with fewer impediments in the entire neck joint equation - hence the existence of neck-thru designs; -- due to Leo Fender proving that you can basically use a log as an electric guitar, I can't see a 16th or less of an inch of plastic making any big difference once the sound leaves the bass - considering all of the ways we can modify our sound after. --- And, yes, plastic or not, the pressure of the plate will mar the paint anyway overtime. I doubt a bolt-on w/ neck plate exists that doest have an impression thereof.

    I think in such a breakdown, over-tightening would be the main culprit, as most plastics squeezed by a piece of steel will give way.

    This also makes sense if one is either a super aggressive player over all, as well as just a very active user - like heavy gigging/touring, and/or constantly modding ones instrument, or causing wear and tear in need of regular tech work.

    Not me at the moment. Mostly a mellow boy, a little (i.e. not enough) gigging, recording, jamming, teaching, practicing.... mellow at least off the jousting and gladiator field :), but then I use my Gene Simmons battle axe bass :-D [joking] ^_^

    Lots of great perspectives, thanks ALL!!!
    Now for those...
    issues. I think that flower shaped guitars, like in fjadams profile pic, sound better than chicken shaped ones. There is no argument to any sane person. Further, blue guitars just sound better, hands down.
    fjadams likes this.
  12. But the green duck shaped ones beat both!!
    JollySpudd likes this.
  13. Best results with gaskets are always obtained by using the correct torque values for the screws (which may or may not be available) and using a quality torque wrench. Torque each screw to 1/3 final torque value, repeat at 2/3, and repeat again at final torque value. Torque in a X pattern (corner to corner).

    The idea is to have as equal pressure as possible at all points of the gasket. If this procedure seems too anal (and it probably is for a guitar neck) then discard the gasket idea.
    JollySpudd likes this.
  14. fjadams


    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    That Daisy Rock is my grandson's favorite bass. I think mainly because it has no gasket, and then it's blue.
    If you try to take it away from him, he wraps his arms around it and says "No, Mine" and he's right, it is.
    Actually every bass in my house is his. I'm just holding them til he's ready to take possession.
    JollySpudd likes this.
  15. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    Thanks Olde Axeman, that's something I hadn't considered, noob that I am, keeping even tension makes a lot of sense for best acoustic energy transfer with a gasket or not - hmmm, glad I thought of it - LOL :) Leave it to a wise Olde Axeman to know such things - good advice!
  16. My Ibanez SRX655 has a gasket, I didn't know what it was for until I saw this post. It's got a BEEFY neck joint, but I'd never seen one before.
    Learn something new every day.:bookworm:

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