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Swapping necks?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Fletch, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. I have an old Ibanez tr100 that I'm kind of attached to the only problem is the neck is trashed. I also have an el cheapo Carlo Rebeli frettless that I'm thinking about using as a neck donor. Would this be possible even though the screw holes don't match? Would I end up ruining the frettless neck?
  2. Fletch, there are several comparisons you'll need to make between the necks to determine the suitability of the swap. To begin, do the necks have the same number of frets? If they do - no problem, if they don't, then you'll have to do some neck pocket alteration. Do the necks have the same dimensions and heel contour? If they don't match, the neck pocket will need altering. Do the necks have similiar thickness at the heel? If they don't, you will likely have to make some major changes in the your saddle heights or alter the neck pocket. Another comparison is whether the necks in question have the "extension" on the heel end that was created to give enough area to bolt the neck on. If one does, then the swap could involve some filling and recontouring of the neck pocket to make the new neck fit.

    Don't worry about mismatching neck holes. The best solution is to drill out the old holes with a forstner bit to clean it out and make it large enough to sink a clean hardwood dowel in the new hole. After the holes are filled and refinished, you will mark the new holes by clamping the neck to the body and transferring the hole location in the body to the bottom of the neck. At this point, I like to install threaded steel inserts and use machine bolts for neck attachment. This hardware allows much higher clamping forces between the body and neck and results in sustain that rivals neck-through basses.

    There's lots to this type of swap. Fortunately, you can make a determination of it's suitability by just doing some measurements, making observations, and comparisons before proceeding with the work.
  3. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    thanks for bringing this up. where do you get yours? (threaded inserts) rockler.com? what size do you prefer?

    i have a warwick corvette pro that came with 5 and 6 string necks along with the appropriate nuts and bridges; i am concerned about the threads in the body and necks; threaded inserts are the way to go (until i make another body for one of the necks!!)

  4. NJL, unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to be a fountain of knowledge on good places to get these things. I am extremely fortunate to have a local hardware store that carries them. This place is amazing - sort of like if Oz had it's own Woodcraft/Rockler store :cool:

    At any rate, my first use was with ¼-20 inserts and stainless steel bolts. This worked very well but in retrospect, was overkill squared. I now use 10-24 inserts and bolts and their size better fits the scale and location where they're used. The smaller insert is easier to thread into hard maple but it is still plenty strong for this use. I figure that I've got 200-250 lbs. of clamping force with each bolt, multiplied by 4 creating about 800-1000 lbs. of stick between the neck and body. I prefer the hex drive version but I can't find them in this size yet. Slotted is OK but takes a little more patience to install. And I'm here to tell you right now that you WILL hear a substantial difference in sustain and tone using this mounting method. Every bass (that's 4 now) that I've used inserts on has improved. I want to do my whole stable this way but it'll have to to wait.

    A word of warning about this procedure (Not you NoJaLo - you sound like you know what you're doing!). It is NOT an easy installation. There are MANY things that can go wrong for the inexperienced technician. The real downside is that it is very easy to make your favorite neck into an expensive piece of kindling in less time than it takes to blink. Those that have worked with inserts in regular projects can attest to the fact that you've got to really pay attention to details to make it go smoothly. The results, however, are worth every second of sweat.

    Hope this helps
  5. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    thanks for the response!

  6. Hammy, have you ever thought of using an adhesive once you have the insert location nailed down? I mounted the P/U on my warmoth jazzray by using 4-40 nuts that I epoxied to a clearance hole that I made in the body. After 24 hours of setting up, i screwed everything together. If you used a setscrew/epoxy technique you'd be even safer.

    Next time I do something, I'm just gonna make my own inserts and epoxy them in. I'll just knurl the outside, that should give enough interference to the wood. Dunno.
  7. There was one set that I got a little premonition on while I was screwing them in. They seemed just a little bit "looser" than normal so I did just what you suggested and dropped some epoxy in with them. By coating my screw with wax and threading it in to the bottom of the insert I was able keep the epoxy from creeping back up into the threads. Worked like a charm.

    If I were to play devils advocate here, I would only question the quality of the bond of the glue "plug" around the insert with the sides of the hole you drilled. The advantage to the threaded style of insert is the additional grip from the cut threads. Just glue alone might pull out as easily as a wood screw. BUT!...:)...this might be solved by flaring the bottom of the hole a little to make a nice tight fitting dovetail style plug.

    BTW, epoxy also makes a nice "grease" for stubborn installations into tight grain wood. You've got to be careful about things being too tight but the right hole and a little epoxy lubricant can make an incredibly solid insert

    I've also used knurled inserts with epoxy for other repairs. They also work great for discreet mounting of cavity covers, and even bridges. Sometimes I make my own from very small nuts and screws to create adjustable pickup mounts. I just massage a little cavity and glue the nut in.
  8. Cool Hambone. Lots of good ideas. I might play around with inserts on my essex J. I'd like to put a hipshot trem on it, and that would be a good time to play w/ all that.