Searching for a luthier to supply me with custom bass necks

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by hbarcat, Mar 21, 2018.


  1. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I hope this is the proper place for this. If not, I'll have it moved.

    I'm looking for a source of custom bolt on necks I can install on 4 and 5 string electric basses that I'm building. They will be sold via my part time business at a rate of about 3 per month.

    A bit of background: In the past, I've built several of my own basses as well as some basses for friends, and have been pleased with the results as I've gained experience in finding the best materials and parts and also in applying a very high quality finish using my skills as a professional painter. For awhile now, I've thought about expanding this hobby into a profitable side business.

    A few years ago, I purchased the remaining assets of the closed business known as "The Bass Company" and this included about 250 nearly finished bodies. So far, I have built a half dozen bass prototypes using necks sourced from some of the more well known companies but none have proved suitable to my needs.

    So, I'm reaching out to the luthiers on TalkBass to find someone who would be willing to build necks for me in batches as needed. This business is ready to go right now. I have the funds available and the tools and materials I need - except for suitable necks.

    Ask me anything you need to know (either posted here or via PM) and I'll provide more details on the specifications and hopefully we can work out something that is profitable for both of us. Even if you aren't interested yourself, but know of someone who might be, please help us get together.

    Thanks in advance,
    --Dan Cote
     
    Stumbo likes this.
  2. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    What do you plan on spending on these custom necks each? I assume you bought them from Warmoth or Musikraft or Fleebay what didn't work for you with those necks?
     
  3. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    The bodies are all routed for a 22 fret neck like the Fender p/jazz deluxe except moved about 1/3" toward the bridge. The bridge cant easily be moved because the bodies are also drilled for a specific bridge screw pattern with the string through body holes also drilled.

    I've tried Carvin necks (about $260) and also Moses graphite (about $420) and have gotten them to work only by adjusting the bridge saddles nearly all the way to their farthest limit.

    Yes, it works, but I find this to be an unacceptable "solution" for a quality commercial instrument.

    Other companies I've tried don't seem to make necks in the dimensions that I need. Warmoth, Allpaerts, Status, and others can't or won't make a neck that fits my bodies. Unfortunately, "TBC" decided to make a neck that can't be easily replaced with a standard alternative. To make matters worse, the base of the neck heel (where the truss rod nut is located) has a much smaller radius than any other neck i've seen.

    I haven't quite given up hope of finding something that is already being made thst will work, but so far I've come up empty handed.

    I'm willing to pay $300-$400 for a wood neck or even more, if I can justify a higher sale price for my final product with a neck that is of superior quality. The bodies I have are beautifully made semi-hollow ash and the fit and finish will be outstanding so I expect to pay good money for a quality neck that will complement the bodies.

    Also, the necks won't need to be finished. I will do the drilling, sanding, and painting myself.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  4. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I'll post pictures tonight of the bodies I have and what a neck needs to look like.
     
  5. T_Bone_TL

    T_Bone_TL

    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    Pardon my reading comprehension limitations - the neck needs to be shorter than usual, or longer than usual? Because shorter than usual (my first read of "neck moved 1/3" towards bridge" seems like it might not be too hard to sort with stock necks and a router fixture. If the pocket is moved 1/3" towards the bridge, so the neck would have to be longer, that's going to be more of a project (Hmm - would cutting down a 24 fret neck do the trick? Just spitballing ideas to put it closer to mass produced bits and a little modification.)
     
  6. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    It needs to be longer than usual.

    I'll take pictures of several different necks (20 fret Fender, 22 fret Fender deluxe, and 22 fret TBC) side by side, next to one of the bodies.

    It's difficult to explain but a picture is worth 1000 words. :D
     
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  7. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Maybe a weird question but what happens when the 250 bodies are used up?

    Are you the going to have to source your bodies and necks?

    I know a few companies work like that, but i don’t know what the margins look like. They just changed their name but bestguitarparts.com offer an oem production.
     
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Hello Dan;

    I don't know if we've met here on TalkBass before; I'm one of the regular contributors. I specialize in exactly what you are asking for, supplying custom necks to other small Luthiers. I've been building necks for a small group of Luthiers here in the LA area for many years. Unfortunately, I'm trying to trim down that side of my business right now, to concentrate on my own line of basses. So, I'm not taking on any new custom neck clients.

    And my friend Keith Horne, whose shop is right across the hall from me, is also very good at custom necks. But he's in the same position as I am; stopping the custom work to concentrate on his own lines.

    But, there's another young Luthier named Anthony, who has been working with Keith. I don't know him that well personally, but Keith says he's very good and capable of making high-quality custom necks. I've got a message in to him to see if he's interested in working with you. If so, I'll put him in touch with you.

    What you are asking for sounds very straight forward and reasonable. From what you are describing, you should be able to get one of us to supply these to you in batches of 3-10 necks at at time at a cost in the range of $300-$400 each. That's complete, ready to go, in bare wood.

    You can also talk to companies like Warmoth and USAG. They are happy to talk custom orders in quantity. But they may want larger orders at one time, to get the price down. I suspect that Warmoth would do $300 each or less for 10 at a time. Because they cut by CNC, they might charge a significant initial fee for programming. A small Luthier wouldn't.
     
    moonshinegtrs, hbarcat and Jon Clegg like this.
  9. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Sorry about not getting pictures up yet. I forgot that my Photobucket account doesn't work anymore.

    Thank you all for your input.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  10. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I have a full time job as an industrial painter that pays my bills and building basses is just intended to be a part time side business. I will only be making 2 or 3 per month so the bodies I have will last at least 7 years at that rate. I haven't thought farther ahead than that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    thisSNsucks likes this.
  11. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Thanks very much.
     
  12. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Anthony said yes, he's interested. I PM'd you his contact info. He seems to be a good young guy, getting himself established in the custom Luthier world. Keith likes him, and has been subcontracting some work to him. Could be a good match for getting your project going. And Keith and I are right here to help with any more complicated technical issues. If needed, I'd let him rent time on some of my specialized neck building machines.
     
    bound'n'blocked, hbarcat and Joshua like this.
  13. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    Sounds like a win-win. :thumbsup:
     
    hbarcat likes this.
  14. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Thanks for the contact info. I sent him an email and expect to talk further by phone.
     
  15. hooky_marr

    hooky_marr Supporting Member

    Hi Bruce! Sorry to barge into this thread, but I'm also looking for a luthier to build some custom medium-scale necks to retrofit 80s Ibanez Roadstar II basses (a few are 21 but most are 24 fret, very hard to find anything that fits). Maybe not in large quantities, but at least 2-3. If your acquaintance Anthony would take that on I'd be very interested in getting in touch - Thanks in advance.
     
  16. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    As far as I know he's available and interested in building custom necks. I just sent you his contact info in a PM.
     
  17. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I've been communicating with Anthony and he impresses me with his expertise and he's come up with a neck design that is better than I could have hoped for. It looks as if this could be a good match for both of us and I'm optimistic that production will become a reality in the immediate future.

    Thanks for the contributions from all of you TB'ers, particularly Bruce Johnson.
     
    Joshua, Bruce Johnson and Jon Clegg like this.
  18. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois

    Just curious, but are you a fan of the 80's Ibanez Roadstar II basses, like I am? If so, maybe you can tell me if they made many 32" scale necks. I have an '83 bass with that shorter scale and maple fretboard (and, of course, the Gibson style 2+2 headstock). The bass is very comfortable and easy to play and it is also remarkably stable - it seems to never be out of tune and the intonation is dead on.
     
  19. Sounds like the rb600 one of the earliest Roadstar basses
     
    hbarcat likes this.
  20. Or rs721 the later roadster bass

    Both shortscale
     
    hbarcat likes this.
  21. 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.

     
    Jun 17, 2021

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