Neck Through and Bolt-on

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrFortuneCookie, Oct 7, 2000.

  1. I have heard these two terms used a lot but my knowledge on what they are is pretty limited. What exactly is the difference and how would a bolt-on neck make switching necks easier? Thanks
  2. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    On a neck-thru, the body is actually two wings glued to both sides of the neck (which runs completely thru the body), making it impossible to change necks.
  3. A "bolt on" neck is attached to the body with screws directly into the wood of the neck. A "neckthrough" is a continuous neck construction that goes the length of the body making up the center section of the guitar. There is another type of neck called the "set neck". This sometimes looks like a neck through, especially when finished in an opaque paint, but is attached at the heel to the body by the use of a dovetail joint or similiar strong joint method. The neck doesn't go through the length of the body. Good examples of "set neck" construction can be found on most Gibson basses.

    As for changing necks - The first Fender's were conceived and built with bolt on necks as an economical method to replace a broken part. The intent wasn't to make a "modular" instrument. This feature makes it fairly easy to make a neck change and it's done all the time. It wouldn't be a good thing, though, to use this system to swap necks like you change your boxers. Eventually the tapped holes in the neck would lose some integrity and it would get more difficult to achieve the level of compression needed to keep the neck from shifting. That said, it would be perfectly normal and IMO acceptable for a neck to be removed several dozen times during the life of the bass.

    For the short answer on what the tonal differences are, do a search of this archive and you'll get plenty of opinions.

  4. I understand there is sonic differences- The neck thru causes
    compression (if that is desired),
    and the bolt on neck reduces comppression and increases dynamics and attack. And I can attest for that. I own an F Bass
    and there is plenty of sustain, and punchy as hell
  5. RockBob, I can't disagree with your situation but would add that for every instance of what you describe, there is an equally true instance of a neckthrough doing the same thing.

    My Kawai F2 has the sustain of a grand piano, that is with neckthrough construction and the strings through the body. Additionally, when a note is fretted anywhere on the instrument, at least 2 distinct harmonics can be heard over and above the primary note, without amplification of course. Now that's dynamic range!

    The differences in the situations come from many things. IMO at the top of the list would be wood selection with construction coming a close second. For this reason, I think it is difficult to fit an exact, universal set of characteristics to either of the designs.
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    R.B.M., How can you know whether one method of neck attatchment is better than the other without some way to do a A-B test. All of us have heard neck through and bolt-on construction that had all the overtones and sustain anyone could need.

    My personal opinion is that one is just as good as the other if it gives you the sound that you want.

    A bolt on kneck is repairable if you have a neck problem. A through neck isn't.

    If the quality of the instruments are equal, I don't believe there is much difference between the two methods of construction.

    Just my opinion.

  7. Also, Gibson and other manufaturers have glued in necks on some of their bass. The neck is seperate from the body, like a bolt on, but it is glued into a joint on the body.
  8. Who said better? I just like the
    way my bass sounds. I have been searching for a while. I've owned
    a 1970 P Bass, 1972 Rick, 1998 EB
    Stingray 5, Lakland DLX 5, and finally the BN5 F Bass. All the above exept the Rick are bolt ons.
    If you look around, a lot of top
    makers are producing neck thru basses. I'm sorry if I hit a nerve
    with anyone. Everything is subjective and my tastes have changed too. My opinions are shared so someone may discover what I have found to be satisfying. If you can, get to an F Bass, and play it. Your tastes may change also. I won't get into a pissing contest with anyone
  9. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    If you look around, a lot of the world's top makers are making bolt on basses ;)

    Lakland, Sadowsky, Keith Roscoe, Pedulla, Mike Lull, but I could go on for days :p ;)
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ermmm - I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "compression" in this case? Certainly, there is no way that the effect, commonly know as "compression" in pedals, rack unit etc, can be influenced by the way a bass is constructed. This is a purely electronically-generated effect.

    The difference is much-discussed and one of the most-respected bass-makers Michael Tobias explained the way he saw it in BP magazine. He maintains that in a bolt-on the fundamental of the note is not present and this is only transmitted in a a neck-though bass. But there is a phenomenon whereby our ears/brain "fill-in" the fundamental on a bolt-on, but this difference makes the bolt-on sound "punchier" and teh lack of fundamental may be preferred as a less muddy sound in some contexts.

    I don't believe that whether a bass's neck is built, one way or the other affects sustain, but rather the quality of the material used and the overall construction.
  11. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    Thats funny Bruce, I recall reading that in Bass Player (it was the issue where they reviewed the Rumblefish I think)and then thinking to myself: haven't all the MTD models a bolt-on construction????

    or maybe Mike prefers his newest line to have more punch over the pre-gibson/nashvile/whatever Tobias basses?
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The cheaper MTDs are certainly all bolt-ons, but I think you can still get neck-though ones if you're prepared to pay. I think all "luthiers" are prepared to make either and whatever their customers want.

    Certainly all the handmade original Tobias basses were neck-though. It was only after the Gibson takeover that there started to be bolt-on Tobias basses.

    I think that there is no doubt that it costs more to make a neck-though than a bolt-on - given that everything else is equal. But I think there is no general agreement that one is "better" than the other. People who like the Fender sound will usually say that bolt-on's the way to do it and the only way to get that sound, but similarly there will be fans of neck-through basses. You pay your money and take your choice!
  13. Nope. The top-of-the-line MTDs are all bolt-ons.

    From Mike's website:

    "The new series MTD basses are all 35" scale, 21 fret
    (plus 0 fret) bolt on basses."

    Mike started to make bolt-ons way back when Tobias was still in LA, the Tobias "Killer B" is a bolt-on from that era.

    BTW, what's a "cheap MTD"? The Grendels and Beasts aren't really MTDs, at least not in the sense that they're built by Mike and his crew.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You are definitely right on this range and I did say "cheaper" - I have seen a lot of pros (Gail Dorsey most recently) with MTDs that looked like neck-throughs and I assumed that Michael Tobias did a custom service as well, where you could specify how you wanted it. Looking at the site there is no evidence for this - so maybe I shouldn't have been so definite about it! I'm probably wrong on this, but I can dig out the article where he says about bolt-ons lacking the fundamental - he must have decided this is a good thing! ;)

  15. No need, I've read it.

    I think it's a matter of styles changing. When Mike was building Basic V, Classic V, etc., like the one you have (and like the one I used to have), neckthroughs were all the rage.

    I think he recognized at some point that things were changing, and that many folks (enough to affect his livelihood) preferred the sound of bolt-ons.

    So he did the Killer B while he was still with the Tobias organization, and when he formed his new company, he went exclusively with bolt-ons.

    I think getting him to do a custom neckthrough these days would cost you a BUNDLE... they're simply not what he does anymore, and it would essentially be a totally handmade one-off bass for him.