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Should I add carbon fiber rods?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jim1457, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. jim1457


    Mar 29, 2006
    Honolulu Hawaii
    I've got a couple of necks that have been curing for a long time and I'm thinking about getting back to work on them. I've heard a lot about these carbon fiber rods, and they sound like they might be a good thing. But I'm wondering how "necessary" they are.

    I can see how they would help with stability, but I'm wondering what they would do for (or to) the tone. Has anybody had a chance to compare this?

    The necks are 5 piece laminates. Maple and Koa with a 1/8" purple heart strip in the center.

    Attached Files:

  2. Slapped


    Jan 23, 2006
    Queens, New York
    They can't hurt, you know.
  3. Schwaa


    Feb 25, 2006
    I wouldn't, with the 5 piece lam you have they should be pretty strong and stable anyway.

    They look nice btw.

    Plus, carbon is one of those nasty soulless products that's made up of a bunch or chemical crap that'll be around until the end of time. Nasty stuff really. guitars have held up well for thousands(?) of years fine without it. It's all hyp IMO.
    I work in the bicycle industry and it has become one of those tech weenie things that everyone wants 'cause it looks cool. But it can break easy and costs alot (not to mention the enviromental concerns).

    One thing it does do on bikes is dampen vibration. I'd think this would have the effect of lowering your sustain as sustain is continued vibrations.
  4. gfried84

    gfried84 Commercial User

    May 7, 2005
    Owner Fried Guitars Inc.
    I say the more wood in the neck the better. I don't use carbon fiber in flatsawn bolt on necks. I wouldn't use a truss rod if I could cast a spell and make my necks not move under tension. With a five piece lam neck, I think it is overkill and like schwaa said there was a time when carbon fiber didn't exist and guitars lasted with out it.
  5. You might want to try the Luthiers Corner in TB.
  6. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Sustain is continued vibrations of the string. If the neck is vibrating, it's absorbing energy from the string, and that lowers sustain. So, this reasoning is a little backwards.

    Graphite can enhance the sustain, help with avoiding dead spots, and increase overall stability--but it's no guarantee of a perfectly stable, dead spot-free neck. My guess is that cutting down on the vibration of the neck also makes it a little less "resonant" or "woody". I don't think it's a huge difference, though, unless the neck is made of a softer wood like the cedar of some Modulus Genesis basses.

    I did have graphite added to the neck of one bass I owned, and it made a slight (not huge) difference in sustain/dead spots. It's hard to say if there was a difference in tone due to that, since I also had the fretboard changed from rosewood to ebony, but if there was a change it wasn't a major one.

  7. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Um...yeah......right....it's all just "hype".:eyebrow:

    My Modulus Quantum 6 only sustains for like, 3 days.

    Sadowsky and Lakland use carbon fiber (graphite) reinforcement. I think they might know a little more about it than Schwaa does.
  8. TBalls


    Mar 18, 2005
    Really? Last time I checked carbon was one of the basic building blocks of all living creatures. Maybe you're thinking of carbon fiber, which involes using hardening resins? To the best of my knowledge, most reinforcement rods are made from graphite, which is pure carbon.

    I guess you could argue as to whether it's soulless, but it's definitely not one of "those nasty......products that's made up of a bunch of chemical crap..."

  9. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    No, "graphite rods" are carbon fiber and resin. If reinforcment rods were made of pure graphite, it would be like using a pencil lead...

  10. jim1457


    Mar 29, 2006
    Honolulu Hawaii
    Hmm, this is interesting. I expected a big resounding "yes definitely!", but it looks like- 2 for, 2 against, and 1 why not?
    I didn't count TBalls because he didn't really say anything about instruments, but it sounds like he's probably in the yes column too.

    I'm not so worried about stability since these necks have been waiting for the final cut for about 3 years now. I don't think they're gonna move once they're done, although the carbon fiber would definitely help if the bass went to a place with a different climate.

    I've heard that the carbon fiber will increase sustain and make the bass sound brighter, but I don't want to lose any of that sweet low end. I've never had a chance to compare for myself, that's why I'm asking for opinions.

    Thanks to everyone for posting. Especially you Mike, that's exactly what I was looking for.

  11. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    have you thought about putting one neck together with carbon reinforcement rods, and putting the other one together without?

  12. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    My Status Energy has a wood neck with graphite reinforcement rods and its neck still moved when the weather suddenly got quite a bit warmer a few weeks ago, which I found a bit underwhelming. :(
  13. I like the sense of security that graphite reinforcement rods give me... do they work well? I suppose... but I do not think my Sterling has'em and the neck hardly budges. It took two whole years before it needed an adjustment to the relief. On the other hand, my Carvin, a bass with graphite in the neck, needed neck adjustments practically every few months.

    It's a toss up, really... I'd say, "Yeah, go for it! No harm to be done," but then again, there may not be a benefit.
  14. jim1457


    Mar 29, 2006
    Honolulu Hawaii
    Thanks again guys,

    Art, I am considering doing that test myself. The thing is, one is gonna be a 4 string and the other will be a 5. It sure would be an accurate test though, especially since the all wood came from the same three sticks. At this point I'm leaning toward only using the carbon fiber on the 5er.

    phxlbrmph, sorry to hear about your bass. That's a bummer. It might've been worse without the reinforcement, I guess. Are any of the glue lines separating? Especially at the fretboard? I'll bet the wood and the carbon fiber a really competing with each other right now, since they have different rates of expansion. I've learned that when wood wants to move, it can exert great force.
    I wouldnt expect reinforcement to make anything "warp proof". Maybe warp resitant at best.

    Marcus Allen, you responded while I was typing. Thanks for the review. I had a Carvin go out on too. I don't think it has carbon fiber though. I think Carvin is more of a production kind of place and I doubt they let the necks cure for more than a couple months. I wouldn't be suprised if it was even less than that.
  15. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    jim1457, it was nothing major, all it took was some minor truss rod adjustment and the neck was fine again, I picked the bass up one day and noticed that there was buzz in the lower registers and most of the strings were tuned slightly too high. It took me a few moments until it dawned upon me what happened.

    It's just that I thought graphite rods should prevent things like that from happening: my Squier's neck moved just as much, which is also something to consider.

    Fortunately it didn't happen before a gig or something but it still sort of lessened my faith in graphite reinforcements.

    By the way, my Ibanez ATK's neck didn't move at all, so it seems but then again it's on the baseball bat-ish side.
  16. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.

    Actually those cabron fiber bikes and componants you speak of do just thoe opposite.

    Carbon fiber is widely know for it's pound for pound strength and rigidity over metals like cromoly, aluminum ect....

    I think it was Kestrel that had a nasty problem in the early 90's with resonant frequencies that were generated in their road bike frames. They would literally shatter in some cases or the down and/or top tube would split rather bad. While you were riding them!!
    A friend of mine had one of their forks (carbon fiber) and it let loose on him. Just shattered. He got messed up something good in the insueing wreck.
    There was also a company that was building rims (SpinErgy maybe?) that encountered the same type of issues.

    Anyway, there was a big push to dampen the tubing used in the industry after that. So I guess your statement results from the newer standards in place.
    Sorry, a little OT!!!

    As for necks, I've had basses with both. But never two of the same model-one with and one without.

    But, given the opinion of quite a few extreamly well respected luthiers (two of the top in our industry who post here on a regular basis) that it doesn't help much/if any tone wise, but it does help in reducing dead spots, I would say go for it.
    In fact one actually just added them and made the headstocks of his basses a bit thicker to further aid in this.

    So, I say place yourself in good company and do it!!
    I think the balance is going in the direction to use them.

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