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Set-in vs. bolt-on necks on Zon basses

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by MCS4, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Do any of your Zon basses have bolt-on construction rather than a set-in neck? If not, do you believe that the set-in construction is important to getting the sound that serves your music best?

    I would be interested to know if you have experience with Zon's bolt-on necks and if you have any impressions of their sound and performance in comparison to the set-in necks (even if the impression is that they sound the same!).

    Anyone else who wants to chime in regarding differences between bolt-ons, set-ins, and neck-throughs in relation to tone, harmonics, sustain, etc. is welcome to do so as well.

    Thanks for any input!

    P.S. Your performance of "Selene" from the DVD with Don Ross is probably my most-listened-to song of any kind over the past couple of years.
  2. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Tonally, I'm not sure there's much difference between set-neck vs. bolt-on with the Zon graphite neck. I expect the set-neck works better to facilitate the extended 3-octave boards on the Hyperbasses. It seems like at least some of the headless VBs are bolt-ons.
  3. Plantbrain

    Plantbrain Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    I had a Hyper(fretless) and then a Vinny(fretted), not much difference I could really tell due to the neck set or bolt on.
    Fretted and fretless instruments are different and like the old pick vs fingers, I feel it's best to try, if you have time and the passion, to learn both. They will lead you to different applications and frankly, you may write very different songs on fretless where you might not on a fretted. Harmonics seem to come easier for me on a fretless and sliding into artificial harmonics makes fretless more fun for me. If you add a detuner......well, then you can whammy the harmonic, the vinny bolt on lacks that ability to accept detuners(well, maybe a bridge detuner or perhaps a whammy trem), but it's a very light nice little instrument.

    Pick up differences, placement of said pick up, different electronics, set up, all these things make comparing tough.
    I'd have a tough time being too sure about the difference. It would be speculation at best.

    Joe Zon will build you anything you want however.
    The Legacy basses are really wonderful.
  4. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Thanks for the input, folks. I personally feel that there are general tendencies of bolt-ons, set-ins, and neck-throughs, but they are not necessarily as significant as various other factors.

    Joe Zon himself has said that bolt-ons are generally "punchier" and neck-throughs more "open." That is consistent with my experiences in owning several reasonably similar basses from the same company (Carvin), including bolt-ons, neck-throughs, fretteds, and fretless.

    However, it would be interesting to hear from someone like Michael who (1) has owned and played numerous Zons and (2) needs his basses to cover a wide variety of tones and sounds, from low drones to artificial harmonics. My intuition is that the differences may be less pronounced in instruments of that quality, but it does appear that Michael either exclusively or near-exclusively plays set-in Zons.

    I'm additionally interested because I have a Vinny-4 on order from Zon, and I paid extra to have it made as a set-in per my general preference. ;)
  5. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Hi MC4S,

    Although I've played several bolt-on Zons, all mine are set-neck. I've long since learned that Joe has more knowledge of the subtle art of how the construction of an instrument affects the tone than I'll ever have, so I trust him to make those kinds of decisions on the instruments he builds for me. I've had conversations with him about the differences in neck attachment, but it does seem that the whole gestalt of how an instrument is made far outweighs any single feature and Joe has an amazing sense of what's going to work for me.
  6. Well said!
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    Funny, but I have never played a Zon although I have heard good things about them. Last year, I contacted a local music store which is listed as an authorized Zon dealer. I sent them an email explaining what I was looking for and my budget which was in the several thousand dollar range. I received one email back which explained that they didn't have what I wanted in stock but could have it in a couple of days. I responded that I was interested and asked them to get the bass. I never heard from them again. Too bad because based on what I have heard about Zon, I probably would have bought it.
  8. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Thank you for the response, Michael. I have a Vinny on order from Zon (set-in neck!), inspired largely by the amazing music that you and Zander Zon have made with that bass.

    P.S. I've probably listened to "Selene" more than any other song in any genre over the past couple of years -- particularly the live version from the DVD with Don Ross.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I've owned both set-neck and bolt-on Vinny 5's (still have the bolt-on). No discernible tonal difference...to my ears, anyway. I do prefer the truss-rodded bolt-on as I like a tad more relief.