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Neck-through Basses. Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by plangentmusic, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Banned

    Jun 30, 2010
    As is the case with most guitars, I believe the neck-through design was as much of an experiment as anything else.

    The question is, does the fact that it requires more attention to design make it better...or just different?

    Personally, I find they tend to have more tone, but almost "too much" sustain. Then again, Ricks aren't very "sustain-y". But that's a neck glued to 2 side pieces of wood. It's funny how all the variables change things.

    Bolt-on basses are cheaper, but tend to sound chunkier. The same goes for guitar. Neck throughs feel heavy and stiff but some guys love the solidity.

    Joey Fodera makes some of the most beautiful neck-through designs on the planet -- yet he prefers a bolt on himself.

    So, what's your take? Yay or nay, or...no preference?
  2. I've had many of both. Really depends on the bass. IME neck through basses do not have more sustain than bolt-ons, but YMMV.
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    How can a bass have "more tone"?
  4. Crons?
  5. I don't have a preference but the basses that I like happen to be bolt-on. My advice? Don't worry about the neck joint and just grab whatever bass grabs you :).

    I second Bryan's sentiment and let me add this; How do you know that the "more tone" that you're hearing can be directly attributed to the neck joint construction? Also, how can a bass have too much sustain? Once you mute a note, it stops.
  6. Did you mean to type this? Aren't all neck-throughs a neck with two pieces glued to the sides?
  7. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    Can you name any neck-thru bass that isn't "a neck glued to 2 side pieces of wood"?
  8. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    The guitars maybe, but the basses....?

    My preference: whatever sounds and plays best for me, construction is not an issue.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009

    It really does depend on the bass. The bass with the most sustain I ever owned was an old Aria Pro II with a bolt-on neck. It had SO much sustain it was a damping master class! But tone sucked and everything I tried to fix it (new pickups, going active EQ etc.) failed and I sold it. So I don't buy the huge tonal difference idea. Minor tonal differences is all and the entire bass package modifies that enough that you can't really make rules.

    On the other hand there ARE differences between bolt-on, set neck, and neck through that are obvious on all basses! And that is the way the bass plays up at the neck joint. Neck-throughs are slim trim and easy to reach the high notes. Bolt-ons have a big lumpy joint there that tends to get in the way or at best just feel not as comfortable. Set-necks are sort of half-way in-between.

    I own an play and love all three styles of necks. Each sort of has it's own feel. I love my 24 fret neck-throughs for wide-range bass playing especially on a ERB. Two octaves up and down the neck and two octaves across it too. Nothing nice as a 6 string neck-through ERB. But then just plain old down and dirty grooving, that nice solid fat feel of an old-school limited fret bolt-on neck just does it like nothing else.

    Just depends what you are doing.
  10. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    The single most expensive bass that I have ever owned (and I have owned A LOT) was a custom built, neck-through Mørch bass. It was born fretless, and the sustain was relly nice. However, I almost never played it as I got into DB and preferred fretted basses for non-jazz stuff.

    Then, I decided to have it fretted as it was a shame having such a great piece of wood just hanging on the wall. It was born with a MM pickup, so I had a J installed in the neck posiitonl and got the new Mørch preamp as well.

    It sounded amazing when I picked it up initially, but on the first gig, I never made it through the mix... :-(

    I figured that maybe if I had yet another J pickup installed at the bridge, it would give the bass the edge it lacked for cutting through. So, now I had a Jazz AND an SR in the same bass. I could do the serial/parallel/single-coil switch on the MM and blend with the neck J. The bridge J could be punched in or out with a separate switch. But STILL, I couldn't cut through the mix...

    Then, I spent yet another bag of money on having the neck J pickup moved slightly towards the bridge (an inch or so). Still not enough...

    At this point I had spent around $7k on that bass (purchase price plus all the additional upgrades and mods)...:(

    I ended up selling it for a lot less, of course... And now it gets really weird and ironic. I heard that the new owner decided to have it converted back to fretless...! Obviously, I am getting really curious as I'd love to hear what it sounds like as fretless, but with the new preamp and the two additional pickups as it really gave it some tonal possibilities...

    So, IME neckthroughs are suitable for fretless basses used in a near-acoustic context such as jazz. I did use it when it was fretless for jazz (before I got my DB), and that worked out quite well. For more electric stuff I DEFINITELY prefer bolt-ons!

    I have owned nearly 50 basses and that one was the only neckthrough, and it was a very expensive lesson that I learned trying to make it work in a pop/rock/blues/funk/fusion/whatever-non-acoustic context...

    NOW, despite all this, I must admit that I also had a few bolt-ons that didn't cut through the mix, and I know many use neck-throughs for electric stuff, so this is just IMO/E! I do realize that there are many factors that can influence the cutting-through-abilities of a bass ;)
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Different. That is, sometimes different. Ya never know.

    When it comes to judging factors like tone and sustain, use your ears, not your eyes. :cool:
  12. I have neck through basses with good sustain. I have bolt on basses with good sustain. I bolt on basses that are punchy. I have neckthrough basses that are punchy.
  13. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Let's see........I have 3 neck through and 3 bolt on. I enjoy all 6. I've never paid attention to how much sustain any of them have, since I wind up muting notes along the way. In other words, all of them sustain as long as I need them to and then some.
  14. IbanezBass69


    Jul 14, 2010
    With Haxxorz. :eyebrow: For real though, without a definition of "tone" that doesn't make much sense.
  15. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Until electric guitars came along, almost all stringed insruments were either a neck through design or some sort of set neck. I'd say bolt on necks were really the experiment back in to '50s.

    I'm not knocking your observations, I just have different viewpoints.

    I have a bolt on bass that sustains forever. It has a horrible gap in the neck pocket, to boot. I've never really bought in to the more sustain in neck throughs thinking.

    Most neck throughs I've played are a little lighter than bolt ons. There is a little less wood used in most neck through designs, I think.

    My favorite basses happen to be neck through designs, but I don't think that's why they are my favorite. So, I guess I'd vote "Yay"for both designs. :)
  16. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I don't like the idea of bolt-on necks.
    I want neck through or at least set neck. They look classier and feel better.
    I don't have a valid explanation for it. Not that I need one.
  17. I regularly gig Jazzes and Rics. Bolt-on versus neck-through. I love them both. Go figure.

    My only 5-string is a Peavey Cirrus USA, neck through. I settled on this after less than stellar results with bolt-on fivers. My personal preference.

    I think never did the term YMMV mean so much as it does to this topic.
  18. lposavad

    lposavad Supporting Member

    To your question yay or nay:
    Some days I drive my truck.
    Some days I drive my car.​

    You get the idea...
  19. jmac


    May 23, 2007
    Horsham, Pa
    I'm not sure where, how, or why it started, but when I was growing up the common belief was that neck-throughs were a better quality instrument. You paid a premium for a neck-through design.

    I believed that for years. Just like I believed that 10's were for bass and 12's for guitar. And that the world is flat. Ok, I'm kidding about the world being flat.

    I have a bolt-on MM Sabre and a neck-through Spector NS-2. Both have different, distinct tone. And I love them both.

    So to kwesi's point...find the bass that works for you.
  20. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'm with the "it doesn't matter" bunch. It really doesn't, but neck-throughs do tend to be more expensive, in general.

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