1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

(Poll)Finished vs Unfinished Necks

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AngusHasMoxie, Jul 10, 2016.

Which do you prefer?

Poll closed Sep 10, 2016.
  1. Unfinished Neck (bare wood)

    101 vote(s)
  2. Finished Neck (lacquer/paint)

    82 vote(s)
  1. AngusHasMoxie


    Mar 11, 2013
    Easthampton, MA
    Formerly endorsed by Carvin, Basson and Dimarzio
    Hello TB.

    I was at the local music store trying out some different basses, looking to see if I could stumble across something that really spoke to my hands. I didn't find anything that was "gotta have it" but I did notice a trend across the board: I really preferred bare wood necks. To me, a lacquered or painted neck made me feel a slight disconnect from the instrument. However, the unfinished necks were almost all the lower-end bass guitars. I was preferring a squier affinity J to an American standard J due to the neck alone.

    To test this theory, I broke out my first ever bass, a bottom of the barrel Ibanez gio, against my frankenbass SX J that's been my main squeeze for the last couple years. after A/Bing them for a bit, I realized I prefer the Ibby neck. My slides felt more accurate, and the neck felt more responsive, terrible action and all. Unsurprisingly, the Ibby has an unfinished neck.

    So here's the question, what do you prefer? and as a discussion point, are finished necks more common on expensive basses? Is this something you pay attention to when buying a bass?
    Ellery likes this.
  2. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2013
    The feel of the neck is definitely something I consider when buying a bass. That is what you play after all. I prefer a wax and oil or natural finish as I tend to sweat a bit and lacquer gets stucky under the thumb.
  3. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    A lot of warwicks and Ernieball basses have bare unfinished necks. Those are expensive and not low end. My stingray 5 HH and streamer lx5 have bare wood necks and feel great to play.
  4. popcat

    popcat Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2016
    Absolutely a finished neck. I hate it when I'm playing with one that is unfinished, and suddenly come to a section of the neck that isn't there. :blackeye:
  5. Just for clarification, most "unfinished" necks, particularly maple, have a satin poly on them for protection. There may be some using exotic, naturally oily woods that don't need them, but I'd say they're harder to come by.

    But yes, I prefer satin finishes as well. I hate the stickiness and feel of a high gloss bass neck... For some reason, I don't mind it on a Strat though.
  6. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    I voted unfinished, but really it's the satin necks that I prefer. I love the look of the finished necks, just not the feel. My sweaty hand tends to stick to it after one or two songs (and one or two beers!).
    Ellery, BlueAliceOasis and Farseer like this.
  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Truly unfinished necks are rare. And if the neck is maple, unfinished is a really BAD idea. You might think your neck is unfinished, but it isn't.
    Humbled, tuba_samurai, MVE and 8 others like this.
  8. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Unfinished wood is like a sponge which will absorb moisture unless it is something like wenge that has inherent oils which act as a moisture barrier. Most players that prefer the 'feel' of an unfinished "wood" neck will feel the same way about a neck finished in a matte or satin finish (hand applied oil, wipe-on poly, 400 grit sanded alkyd sanding sealer, 400 grit sanded nitro, whatever) Think of it like standing in the sun all day naked w/o sun-block - you will get burned.
    Humbled and Matthew_84 like this.
  9. AngusHasMoxie


    Mar 11, 2013
    Easthampton, MA
    Formerly endorsed by Carvin, Basson and Dimarzio
    I knew I worded that badly. I guess I meant the "bare wood" feel over the "paint" feel on a neck.

    I typically look for hardwood bass necks (wenge, bubinga) for this reason. They feel so smooth and quick, and most importantly, my hand feels more accurate on the fretboard.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    why is that?
  11. AngusHasMoxie


    Mar 11, 2013
    Easthampton, MA
    Formerly endorsed by Carvin, Basson and Dimarzio
    Because an unsealed maple neck left in an area with any sort of humidity will start bowing like it just performed Madame Butterfly.
    Ellery likes this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    haven't really noticed that on any of my maple necks: they are 'unsealed' (i sand the sealer off!) but all of them have the benefit of linseed (etc.) and 'natural' oils (playing grime). if they get too dirty: another very light sanding and more playing. it's worked for over 40 years. maybe i'm lucky!
  13. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Maple is one of the more hygroscopic of the hardwoods. So if you have a truly unsealed neck and you do not experience a variance in the neck geometry through humidity changes, you are indeed lucky to have an exceptional piece of maple.
    Humbled likes this.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Farseer likes this.
  15. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    I prefer to feel wood under my left thumb. Doesn't need to be "bare wood." My favorite neck finish is maple, properly sanded and with a light oil finish. That feels like wood to me. Don't care at all for a thick poly or painted finish, although my current workhorse bass has a thin satin poly finish that feels really good to me.
  16. I prefer oil or satin finish on the neck. Though I played some lacquered necks that felt good and didnĀ“t stop me that much.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2016
    BlueAliceOasis and Farseer like this.
  17. I never even thought of sanding the finish off any of my necks...but when I got my most recent mim p the finish was already off the neck. Now I think I'd have trouble going back....love it
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. And I prefer satin finish necks myself. I have taken sandpaper to some really nice basses to get that sticky thick poly of the neck. I usually go back with tung oil or something similar.
  19. Sweet Willie

    Sweet Willie

    Dec 31, 2014
    Former moderator for now non-active Nordstrand Forum
    I prefer satin finished necks. I've had gloss necks that have been just fine to play (a fretless StingRay5 I used to have comes to mind that was lovely to play), and it's not a deal-breaker for me about a bass. But, I most definitely prefer satin finish.
  20. Alivefor5

    Alivefor5 Supporting Member

    Jul 17, 2006
    Visually I prefer high gloss. Playing wise I could care less. Only the pad of my thumb touches the back of the neck and the finish just does not matter.
    DwaynieAD likes this.

Share This Page