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New to P bass, having trouble with neck: what to do?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by alanloomis1980, Oct 27, 2018.

  1. Get used to it

    70 vote(s)
  2. Get a jazz neck

    43 vote(s)
  1. Hi all. Ive read some previous threads on the topic; but hoping a poll and some personal stories might help me out in making a decision.

    Ive been playing a peavey jazz neck for a year. Before that, ive played yamaha and ibanez, all thin necks (1.5 nuts). i got a squier P about 2 weeks ago. I know its new, but struggling with the neck. Mostly its the hand cramps & fatigue; and an overall feeling that its not natural. But i LOVE the sound so want to push through .

    I also bought a no name, MIJ, "fender specs" e Bay jazz neck. But it didnt fit, not even close. So i Sent it back.

    Heres where im at:
    P neck thoughts... i find for short periods its not THAT different . I like the idea of keeping bass stock, not fussing and over- customizing. Keep it simple. And pushing myself to improve technique and flexibility. Ive played a bit of upright bass too, so why is this so uncomfortable?

    J neck thoughts... this has long been my idea of my "dream" bass. P p-up, J neck. My muscle memory leans this way. I value endurance for long gigs, so want a bass that i feel comfy with for those.

    Budget has ruled out me searching for a different bass, so these are my 2 options at the moment.

    Id love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by!
  2. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    I have two P Basses. One has the P Bass neck it came with. The other has a Jazz neck. TBH, I don't prefer one over the other but I do play them differently. The P w/J is something I put together for the '90s cover band I'm in now and it's just the ticket.

    There is something (but not much, really) to the endurance thing you mentioned. First couple decades of my playing was primarily on Jazz basses so it's what I'm used to. I'm less likely to wear out my left hand over an evening with the Jazz neck.

    I do like how the hybrid turned out. Has that piano string tone. The low E is good enough to support a D tuner.

    A lot of TB is "you should buy this because I have one". However, based on your story, I think you'd like a hybrid. But you won't know if you'll come after until after you build it. Something like that.
  3. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    I prefer jazz necks. You can probably find a good one in the classified here for not too much money.

    But, I also find I can get used to anything with time. So, you could give it time. I’m also a P player mostly and if I’m traveling or something and playing a wider neck, it doesn’t bother me.

    Or compromise. Take time with this one, save up for a really nice jazz neck. I had a USA custom guitars neck built to my specs and loooooooove it.
    alanloomis1980 and Aqualung60 like this.
  4. Not all P necks are the same depth and actually not all are the same width either but experimenting with different strings can make a huge difference in the feel and comfortability sometimes. I have La Bella flat wounds on a Fender P/J bass and it plays and sounds great, those same strings on a Fender fretless P/J are difficult to play, these both have the standard 1 5/8ths at the nut necks and are about the same depth. The fretless seems to want round wound strings so that's what she's got. Experimenting with strings can really surprise you sometimes, put the right string on a bass you hated and were thinking of getting rid of sometimes all of a sudden you'll love it. I always say persevere. I picked up upright 10 or 15 years ago, now that has a BIG neck and a very long scale but you get used to it after a while. There is usually a fairly long transition time going from a Fender to a Ric, also to a Gibson, I love them all and get used to them all, they all have their little quirks that you get used to and end up loving kind of like a marriage:laugh:.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  5. 4sight

    4sight Supporting Member

    Is your Squier a "Standard" model (as opposed to Affinity, Vintage Modified or Classic Vibe)? The neck pocket on those seems to be wider than the usual Fender spec for some reason. Otherwise any Squier/Fender Jazz neck should fit, so I'd swap it.

    Historically, this is a very common mod (P body, J neck), and a major advantage of the screw on neck design.
  6. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    Make sure the bass is setup close to whatever loose Fender spec you finds works with what you've got.

    Then go play a Warwick 5-string U neck for a month.

    Any 4-string will seem fine.
  7. JakobT


    Jan 9, 2014
    Oslo, Norway
    With me it was the other way around. I used to play an SBMM sith a jazz-type neck. I then bought a travel bass for holiday practice, and found that its P-type neck suited me better, even though my hands are small. Now I mostly play Ps.

    If you find that the neck is too much of a stretch, experiment with strap height and the angle of your bass when you play. If your arm is too stretched out, the angle of your wrist will be different, and your fingers won’t reach as far. I find I have no trouble reaching the E-string even with my small hands when the bass sits correctly, but if I lower it too much, it gets much more difficult.
  8. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've re-profiled several necks to make them more narrow at the nut and less chunky in profile, usually relieving the shoulders until they are more comfortable for me.

    If you can't find a suitable replacement neck, maybe you can find a luthier to perform a similar service.

    Edit, forgot to add:

    My favorite necks in no particular order are the Squier VM Jaguar SS and the "pencil" necks on the Hofner Ignition Club, Hofner HCT 500/5 President, Vox Hawk IV Fender Performer, Kay Truetone/Speed Demon, the shaved and re-profiled by a previous owner Sears Silvertone Model 1444 and those I've modified myself.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  9. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    You've just bought a good bass and now you just have to learn the best way to play it. Changing the hardware or modding the bass is not the answer. You can put a J neck on a P bass, Duck Dunn and several others did that, but if you're having problems with a standard P neck the "issue" to be addressing is your technique.

    You are getting cramps because you are probably gripping the neck and pressing down on the strings too hard. Lighten up.

    Is the bass set up correctly? You should not have to put more energy into your fretting hand than is required to lightly press the strings as far as the frets. A good set up can make a bass play very smoothly.

    Anyway. . . now on to you: workout how to hold your hands with your wrists as straight as you can. Find out how light you can go when fretting the notes and train yourself to always use this light grip. Also develop a light right hand plucking, or pick, technique. If none of this comes naturally, have a couple of lessons to kick start you.
  10. Mili


    Nov 14, 2015
    Practice, work on your technique, get used to it.

    This is for dear network marketers only : i know there is at least one complaint per week about p necks here but many many Bassists love them and obviously we don't make threads about how much they are great. Personally i won't buy a P bass with a J neck so please, please don't let the Real P basses disappear in future.
    Pleas don't reply.:cigar:
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  11. bassboysam

    bassboysam Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2001
    Ottawa, Ontario
    if you are cramping up then it's poor technique not the neck. keep your wrist straight, use the tips of your fingers to fret, the thumb should put little to no pressure on the neck, your fretting hand should not be holding the bass in the correct position, that is what the strap is for.

  12. Look, everyone here will have a different experience and nobody would be wrong becuase we all have different hands and bodies. In my case I prefer Js in general, but I have a P and a StingRay and I'm comfortable with the necks, but that's me. If you have having cramps and sicomfort jsut get a J neck, don't hurt yourself without reason. You won't be a better player for keeping the bass "as it was designed to be", if you can afford it, get a J neck, keep the P neck in case you want to give a try in the future or sell the bass, but don't struggle, playing has to be a pleasant experience, not a torture
  13. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Personally, I’m okay on either neck and much prefer P basses overall, but every time I pick up my Jazz (not all that often), I’m re-reminded how nice the J neck is. I’d switch to a J neck except the P neck doesn’t really bother me, it’s just "slower". And switching necks would be a project and the P neck is fine and...and I’ve never switched necks, though the thought does occur from time to time.

    If the hand is cramping, like others have said, I think it may be the setup. Try and get it setup by someone good (a guitar/bass tech) after explaining your problem to that person. Sure, it seems like a pain to have to take it somewhere — but it’s a lot easier than buying a new neck. And cheaper.

    Also, make sure the strings aren’t too thick — personally, I use 100s (ymmv).

    My 2c: If, after getting it set up and re-examining your playing position and technique and giving another month or two to adjust, you decide, "okay, I can play the P now" (because a P neck is hardly unplayable or anything, so you should be able to play it), "...but I’ve given it a try and I just really prefer the Jazz neck/the Jazz neck works much better for me", then go ahead and buy that J neck and get it put on and set up and enjoy
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  14. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    if you know what you prefer --- really know what you prefer --- why change to something you don't?

    FWIW: i had a P neck 'narrowed' to a J (1.5" nut) by a local luthier: it cost $80 and he threw in a custom brass nut! i had it done because i prefer jazz necks.

    i play both, however: if you put in the time = time will take care of you! good luck! :thumbsup:
    alanloomis1980 and rmayer like this.
  15. rmayer

    rmayer Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2008
    Boynton Beach, FL
    If you’re comfortable with the Jazz width neck stick with it. Either find one that fits your P or look for a Fender with one. They have a few MIM models with a Jazz neck with P/J pickups. Or just get a Jazz Bass and favor the neck pickup a bit. It will “fatten” up the sound. Is that even a word? Boost the bass on your amp a bit and you have an acceptable alternative to a P.
    I’ve been playing since the 60s and only play jazz necks. In fact, one is a 1.45” width.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I have been playing since 1968 … I have owned over 75 basses and they were everything from 30" short scale to 35" 5 string basses, fat necks and skinny necks …

    I have come to realize that the p-bass neck really fits my left hand nicely and it is one of my favorite neck designs of all time …


    So play it awhile and let your hand adjust.
    Mili, alanloomis1980 and bobyoung53 like this.
  17. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Change the neck to fit you. Just like you would change shoes that didn't fit.
  18. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    OP dint mention which Squier pbass.

    The VM fretless P and VM PJ are modern C neck profile which pretty close to jazz but wider nut width. Comfortable and smooth.
    The CV70 p just little thicker meanwhile the CV50P are far chunky neck.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  19. mike57


    Feb 12, 2009
    Our Fair City, MA
    I changed out the neck on my MIA P with a MIJ J neck years ago and have never looked back.

    Playing 3 sets with the P neck was like wrestling with the bass rather than playing the bass.

    Now i've got the P thump with J playability.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  20. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    I would suggest as many here said, make sure the bass is properly set up and maybe try a lighter gauge set of strings.

    If after a month you don’t like it, look for a good quality jazz style neck.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.

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