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Resizing the neck pocket?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by basss, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    I have a 4 string body and a 5 string neck that I want to put together. Obviously, I will need to make the body's neck pocket larger to do this. I'm thinking that I will make a paper template of the butt of the neck and put that over the neck pocket as a guide and dremel out the excess wood. I have never done anything like this and wanted to see what you guys thought. Is there anything I sould be aware of when I do this?
  2. Here's my big caveat - Mis-alignment of the template to the centerline of your body is going to be the easiest mistake to make. ANY deviance from center, measured all the way to the headstock, will result in a poor fit and improper alignment of the strings with the bridge. This can be solved by making template that is more than just the pocket itself. Your pattern should include a projected centerline for a couple of feet to make sure of the alignment.
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Personally, I would not attempt this with a Dremel and a paper template. The Dremel is way underpowered and you are almost guaranteed to end up with a sloppy pocket without some kind of real template for the machine to follow.

    Proper way to do it is as Hambone suggests, by starting with a plywood template (make it with a jigsaw and files until it is a tight, clean fit. Mark out your centerline and make sure you are properly aligned. Then use a router or a laminate trimmer at the very least when you do the cutting in your body.
  4. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Do exactly what these guys say. I'm in the process [have been for the last 5-6 months now] of designing and building a bass. I'm doing a complete version minus the finish, wiring, and with temp mounted hardware in particle board so that i can plan out exactly how things should happen. That's all
  5. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    You could get by without a router by hogging out the wood around your pattern with whatever tool gets the job done, then paring to the line with a very sharp chisel. I've hand-trimmed a couple pockets and ended with very good fits (disclaimer: not for the same reason you're doing it, so take everything I say with that understanding, and pay attention to what the others in this thread said.) Remove the material as close as you're willing to go (whatever you can accomplish with control - I won't freehand a router tighter than 1/16th or so depending on the wood, because one little tremor, sneeze, or fleeting mental image of a bethonged Natalie Portman can spell disaster. A Dremel might offer more control. I don't know. I don't own one.) Then use a sharp chisel to remove the remaining material, checking the fit as you progress, and using a jointed block to assure your final cuts are entering the wood at a 90 degree angle. Experience with a chisel goes a long way toward making a good straight cut, so practice on scrap four or five times if you're not already skilled, but the real key is patience, and anal-retentivity. Also, the chisel should be atom-splitting sharp, or it'll do what it wants instead of what you want. Though, if you're anal retentive enough for the task, your chisels are already sharp. :) I'm 45 minutes into flattening the back of a Record plane iron as I type this. God, my hand hurts.

    The downside of the chisel method is that you're dealing with a finished bass. If you set the edge of the chisel on the finish as you align it, it might leave a mark. Don't put it down til you're ready to push through wood.

    For the curved corner of the neck, put a card scraper on end in the pocket, and shave the curve out, being careful to shave perpendicular to the face of the body. The scraper will take off very thin shavings, so it'll take a lot of passes if the shape isn't close, but it goes pretty fast. It's kind of hard to get your fingers in there to guide the scraper, but you'll develop a feel for it pretty quickly.

    Oh, and I take it there's sufficent room in the cutout on the lower bout to accomodate the wider neck? My Jazz's cutout and neck are even, so I could put a wider neck on there without overhang.

    Good luck if you decide to do this! Personally, I'd just put the 5 string neck on a different body. And thanks for letting me ramble on. Sure beats flattening the back of a plane iron!
  6. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    Use a router, not a dremel. And use a template made specifically for your neck heel.

    Is your body already routed for pickups? If so, they'll be in the wrong spot when you move the centre line (which you'll probably have to do so the neck heel doesn't overhang the cutaway side of the pocket, and so the cutaway itself is big enough for comfortable playing. (I'm presuming here that the neck is around normal string spacing.)

    Oh and, is your body already drilled for the neck screws? Could be some issues here also.
  7. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Thanks a lot for your help guys. If I decide to do this I think I will need to take it to shop somewhere. The job is sounding like a bit more than I could tackle by myself in my apartment.