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screw-on (bolt-on) neck vs. neck-through, can you hear the difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Killed_by_Death, Oct 1, 2019.


  1. absolutely

  2. not at all

  3. sometimes

  4. undecided, carrot-thru for me, thanks!

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. FiddleFixr

    FiddleFixr Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Ontario
    Luthier - Jan's Fiddle Farm
    I want to add that the truer that your string rings, the better it intonates up and down the neck, meaning each note rings nice and clear just like all the rest. You can see how true your string rings with a tuning meter - just watch how much the needle bounces around at ever different note. The truer the ring, the less the needle bounces around. So technically a thru-neck would be the easiest to tune and the meter would settle on each note quickest. Alternatively an acoustic bass, especially if its X braced, does not have a very true ring tone in comparison.
    If your strings don't ring true, there are more conflicting frequencies (overtones) which are the cause all these other problems. In a subtle way the conflicting frequencies (noise) is less pleasant to listen to, and also has a minor affect on the singers ability to find right note. Another rather subtle effect is that you and your hands have to work harder if the strings don't ring true.
    Congrats to anyone in this thread who said they find their thru-neck bass resonates better or has longer sustain.
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That has absolutely no basis in fact. As long as there are adjustments for each string, I can get any bass to intonate properly regardless of how "true" the string rings.
     
  3. FiddleFixr

    FiddleFixr Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Ontario
    Luthier - Jan's Fiddle Farm
    Too bad you couldn't have told that to Les Paul when he conducted this experiment nearly 100 years ago. But if can't hear the difference, try a good tuning meter and you'll see.
     
  4. FiddleFixr

    FiddleFixr Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Ontario
    Luthier - Jan's Fiddle Farm
    I don't mean just the intonation between open string and 12th fret which is what people commonly think of when we use the word. By intonation I mean response of each and every note up and down the neck - if there are conflicting frequencies then they try to bend the notes you want a little bit either up or down. That's why some of the notes are a little quieter or louder than others. This is one of the big problems luthiers have when adjusting instruments for concert level performers and their instruments. The quieter notes are called dead spots, the loud ones are called wolf tones. Understanding trueness of ring helps figure how to solve these problems. Also helps understand the decades old question as posed in the OP about the difference between neck-thru design and screwed necks. That difference may be subtle, but its certainly there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019 at 4:00 PM
  5. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Built two neck-throughs, honestly can't hear the difference, and I suspect nobody else could either in a true blind sound test. I like them aesthetically, for the challenge of building them, and the ability to do a carved heel. Good enough reasons, but tone isn't one of them.
     
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, well on an electric bass, I don't really care because I've never found the differences enough to care.
     
  7. FiddleFixr

    FiddleFixr Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2016
    Ontario
    Luthier - Jan's Fiddle Farm
    .. so in a bolt-on neck there would be a bigger difference in how the strings ring if neck and body are of 2 different materials, say maple and mahogany.. just like if you replace a part of the Les Paul steel rail guitar with something like styrofoam (in such case i'm sure we'd all hear the difference)
    .. bigger difference again if the bolt on neck is shimmed with something like cardboard or tape, and if its not tight.

    I agree with everyone that the differences between bolt on and neck thru can be quite subtle, especially if neck and body are same material and neck joint is a tight wood-to-wood fit.
    Personally it doesn't matter to me as much; if its a cool looking bass I'm quite happy playing either style.
     
  8. Brocephus

    Brocephus

    Sep 18, 2019
    In My (seldom) Humble Opinion, any difference is virtually indiscernible, and largely in peoples heads. It's like the wine snobs, that were floored when the 'murican Napa Valley stuff blew away the French stuff in blind tests.
    Does anyone turn up their nose when Clapton is playing a modern strat, instead of his vintage Blackie ? No, because it's the player, not the instrument.(and similar examples can be cited, until the proverbial cows come home.)
    Leo Fender turned the guitar world on it's ear with bolt-on necks, that now sell for car-buying money (and yeah, i realize '59 Gibsons are selling for house-buying money, but that doesn't invalidate the point). They work and they sound great, it's a non-issue.
     
  9. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    I'm of the same mind. The Punchiest thing I've ever played was my Rick - which was neck through. The most sustain I've ever had on a bass (by far) was a bolt on - OK, it was metal necked Kramer, but it sure wasn't neck through.
     
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  10. Matt R

    Matt R Supporting Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Newbury Park, Ca.
    Notes from bolt on necked basses sound uncompressed as where capillary neck (neck through) bass notes sound more compressed, in my observation.
     
  11. MYLOWFREQ

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I don't know if I can.. I prefer screw-on necks because I think an instrument is a tool, and it's a much easier fix it if something happens to the neck or the body. That's about it, rock.
     
    Matt R and Koshchei like this.
  12. Koshchei

    Koshchei

    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    People always say this, but the number of people that actually do is vanishingly small. I prefer neck-through basses because of how they feel and resonate in my hand, but that wouldn't stop me from grabbing an Ibanez Gary Willis if one popped up for the right price.
     
    Gilmourisgod and MYLOWFREQ like this.
  13. MYLOWFREQ

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    I do swap the necks on my basses, and I prefer J necks on my P basses but yeah not everyone does that that often I guess.. I have to mention that I'm kind of clumsy, and just knowing I can replace the neck or the body is a good enough relief even if I don't end up doing that.
     
    Koshchei likes this.
  14. Koshchei

    Koshchei

    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    It's a pity that ye 'olde neck swaperoo doesn't work on more modern basses, which might be bolt-on, but certainly aren't designed according to some sort of universal neck joint standard, which class Fender designs more or less are.
     
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  15. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Australia
    Mine certainly disagrees.
     
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Which is why I'm thankful for mine.
    :D
     
  17. brainiac

    brainiac

    Oct 4, 2005
    "I believe what you say when you say you're going steady with...
     
  18. I believe that every little difference in design, materials & manufacture make a little difference to the tone of a bass guitar. Whether or not you can hear it may be down to your EQ and ears.
     
  19. Gene S

    Gene S

    Nov 8, 2016
    I chose the "carrot" option because I don't know exactly what is having the greatest effect on the tone of a custom bass I have - the woods, the pickups, the bridge, the fact that it is chambered/semi-hollow - really not sure. It is neck-thru and has tremendous sound and sustain.
     

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