Sad demise of a '72 Jazz Neck (w/pics)

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Tim Skaggs, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    20170922_130950.jpg A friend of mine wanted me to take a look at his '72 Jazz to see if the action could be lowered. He does no setup work on his instruments and I have been doing setups on electric basses for decades, so I told him I'd take a look.

    I attended a rehearsal of his band where had the Jazz with him. I picked th bass up off a stand & thought a joke had been played on me. The strings were OVER a 1/2" high off the neck at the 12th fret. The bridge saddles were as low as they would go. When I sighted down the neck I could see a horrendous forward bow.

    The truss rod nut at the heel of the neck was about 1/4" below flush; a bad sign.

    I made a couple 1/4 turns of the truss rod while the owner of the bass rehearsed, but I couldn't tell the neck was improving. Then I noticed that the very end of the headstock was bowed forward to the point that when the bass was lying on its back, the very first end of the headstock out past the G tuning post was higher than the nut.

    When the strings were let off, the headstock bow wasn't quite as bad, but can still be seen as in the attached pic.

    The buried truss rod nut pic is AFTER two washers were put under the nut. Still didn't help. Nothing I've tried will remove any relief from the neck. It seems the truss rod is intact, not broken, but it's obvious the wood under the adjusting nut has been compressed.

    The neck looks good as you can see in another pic, but it's not playable. I'm going to do some searches here on TB for the owner to see if I can find someone that can work some magic and replace or repair the rod. Just wanted to show & tell about this in case there's another trick someone knows that I might try. 20170922_131122.jpg 20170922_130916.jpg
  2. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Loosen the truss rod and try forcing a back bow into the neck using clamps.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    It's not the truss rod's fault. That's a neck in which the wood has warped in the forward direction, causing a serious forward bow. Most of the warpage is right up near the headstock. I can see it in the pictures. Then various people have tried cranking on the truss rod, to the point where it's been crushed.

    Warpage like that happens to a small percentage of Fender necks. It's not caused by strings or tuning or setup or weather or anything like that. It's simply a bad piece of wood, which had internal stresses in it back when it was part of a tree. It shouldn't have been made into a neck.

    No happy answer, I'm afraid. It's unlikely that any clamping, even with heat, will straighten that out. And there's no point in continuing to crank on the truss rod. It may not be broken, but it's damaged to the point of being useless.

    The only fix for a neck like this is serious surgery. It's too bad, because it's a nice looking neck otherwise.
  4. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Could butterfly patches be installed after cutting a wedge out at the back of the headstock?
  5. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    Did it. No luck.
  6. wmhill


    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    It will make a nice gig bag hanger if nothing else-

    seanm likes this.
  7. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Well it is serious surgery and I don't know if the neck is worth it but you could remove the fretboard and plane the surface flat. I would install some carbon fibre reinforcement on either side of the truss rod. Fret work is pretty much gaurenteed with this procedure. You could also try compression fretting. Remove the frets in the offending area and install frets with a larger tang to push against the bow.
  8. The only good news here is that he can still play it by getting a replacement neck. At least until the original can be repaired or replaced.
    JRA likes this.
  9. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    That very much seems to be what is going on. The flip up of the headstock just behind the nut also indicates this neck bowed at a location where the truss rod couldn't help in any way. I've told the owner it might possibly be repaired, but it would probably be major surgery & costly beyond what most people would be willing to spend. He's already leaning toward a replacement neck and making this one a piece of wall art....
  10. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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