sanding down the back of the neck?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Kevinlee, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    Has anyone ever heard of sanding down the BACK of the neck to make it thinner? I have heard about thinning out the fingerboard some, but it would seem if you take to much off the fingerboard then you have a weak fingerboard where it hangs off the body. Unless you sort of graduated down and left it thick at that end.

    I happened to play a guys bass recently that did this. It felt great! He said that the neck was one of those "tree-trunk" type necks and he wanted it thinner. I have at times sort of longed for a bit of a thinner neck.

    Is this a crazy thing to be thinking about? Is there a standard method of thinning the neck or should I just live with it.

  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    It's a risky thing to do. Bass necks are thick for a reason.
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I've used ebony cloth to take a little of the sticky finish off the back of the necks of my electric guitars to facilitate left hand position changes (all one needs is a sticky thumb to slow one down on that stolen Eric Johnson lick all the way down to the nut from the 15th fret...). However, I don't encounter that problem with my modern & modestly priced upright bass. I would put some sort of sandpaper or any other type of wood cutting instrument on that side of the neck for that reason alone and live with the baseball bat grip. I can see removing a little wood off the fingerboard to chase for that magical level playing surface we all want our basses to possess when we understand what it can do for one's playing with just that little amount of relief, but I'm learning to play a double bass, not a hunter's bow.

    On the other hand, it's your bass, and that's how I would answer the criticism if I wanted to take a drawknife to the neck and play around.
  4. My teacher/luthier is setting up my next bass. The one I've chosen has a thick neck. There is another, which has a great feeling neck, but the sound and the look doesn't move me; so, my luthier is making the neck of the one I'm buying, about the same as the one with the great "feel" - he does this by taking measurements etc. etc. He knows what he is doing - I'm at his mercy. His reputation stands on whether or not pupils/customers/clients (like me), like what he does and sells. I'm ignorant about basses, but I'm learning - he is trying to establish a customer base, without advertising - it is in his interest not to screw me over (especially with the InterNet...)

    - Wil

    PS: Re-reading this, I think the point I'm making is to get a good luthier, or teacher, or luthier/teacher - I would be very wary about going it alone...

    - Good Luck
  5. Kevinlee


    May 15, 2001
    Phx, AZ..USA
    Thanks for the input. I wasn't actually going to attempt to do this myself. (If I do it at all.)

    I would have a luthier do the work. I'm just curious to see if anyone has had this done, and how it was done.

    It sounds like Will is in the process of having this done. I'd be interested in the details of this undertaking Will if your luthier doesn't mind sharing them.

  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I had the neck on my new German Bass thinned when I took it to get set up after buying it. I erred on the side of caution and probably didn't have enough taken off, but I'm glad I did. Now, a year later, I'm a bit more used to it, and while I might have it shaped a bit more next time I go back, I don't want it as thin now as I felt I did then. Make sure the luthier knows exactly what you want, and then it's okay. As long as you knew...

    Good Luck,

  7. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Thinning the back of the neck is a completely acceptable thing to do, provided it doesn't end up feeling like a Fender.
    Last week I had a customer that wanted this done. He owned one of those Palatino/Cremona BSOs. (Bass Shaped Object) The neck was 10-15mm thicker than "standard" beefier necks. I brought it down to 43mm(first position) and 47(at the heel). This measurement includes the fingerboard-a healthy chunk of dyed maple.
    If your board is on it's last legs, then the measurement will be a little less.

    BTW, these basses are junk.:mad:

    Neck shaping can be done at home. But for your sanity and overall happiness, have a luthier do it.
  8. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    You are being kind, Nick. If you offered me one of those basses for free I would take it-but only cause my 13 yr. old son Alexander likes to see things explode. The ne'er-do-well guy that lives down the block sells illegal fireworks and I think I could get him to sell me an M-80.
    A year ago this kid brings in one of those BSO and wants me to make it more playable. A sweet kid who knew absolutly nothing. Apparently a local amatuer shop [scot russ] sold it to him for $1800 cash! They actually made him feel like he was getting a break by saving the tax! Those who know me know I have a big mouth and I'm not afraid to use it-I called the owner up while the kid was there and told him he was a disgrace to the community. It seemed to give the kid some satisfaction.
  9. 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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