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Tension Free Necks?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ozzyman, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. Ozzyman


    Jul 21, 2004
  2. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
  3. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    That's interesting. I'd like to try one.
  4. I read it and do not understand it either. It sill looks like there is tension to me.
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Had one (5 banger), sold it to buy a Lakland. Not a bad instrument; I'm thinking of buying another should one pop up on E-bay. Here's the deal with the tension-free neck (note: I actually took the neck apart to satisfy my curiousity). The neck has a very stiff square-shaped rod which runs from one end of the neck to the other. The headstock / string retainer (if headless) is attached to this rod, not the wooden components of the neck. The body end of the rod is essentially connected to the instrument's body. As a result, the entire string tension is borne by the internal steel rod, not the neck / fingerboard .
    Problem: as the neck / fingerboard carries no string tension, there is no naturally ocurring relief. Bunker introduces an "artificial" relief by adding a counter-tension set screw located at the neck heel which creates the desired forward bow. Sounds complex yet it works quite well. Treker basses (Bunker's son) uses the same technology as do some early US made Ibanez ATK basses (surprise). I had a couple of construction issues with my Bunker, though. The maple cap was paper thin and the rosewood fingerboard had a markedly inconsistent thickness from treble side to bass side. Petty? Maybe. The tuners are great; I think they'd work well on any headless project.


  6. LajoieT

    LajoieT I won't let your shadow be my shade...

    Oct 7, 2003
    Western Massachusetts
    Not looking to slam a luthier, his instruments look great and I'm sure they play and sound the same. But IMHO if you don't have a truss rod you have lost a lot of adjustability to the neck. If this "Cold Rolled Steel" bar is truely as rock solid as he makes it sound, you could not change the relief on the neck. Even a pretty good sized chunk of steel, being that long, is going to flex some given the amount of stress the strings are going to put on it. Sure it's going to move less than wood will, but it is going to move some, and different strings and or tunings are going to change that amount which is going to change the action of the bass. I couldn't tell from his descriptions, but I didn't see any mention of adjustability. I'm sure he knows WAY more about instrument buiding than I do, but I think if this was such a major improvement it would have come to light back when Kramer and others were doing entirely metal necks.
  7. Man. . .There is all kinds of weird things on that sight. Check out the hollow bass or the touch guitar/bass. you can watch a demo os some dude playing both bass and guitar via touching in a double neck.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Wouldn't that be a "compression-free neck"? The strings are in tension, putting the neck in compression. So the rod would theoretically take all the compression the neck would ordinarily feel.
  9. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Like Munji says, all necks are essentially tension-free, unless you happen to be holding the body while your buddy pulls outwards on the headstock. For whatever reason that might be. Necks are basically under compression; a bending moment is also produced, which can possibly cause the fibers at the back of the neck to be under some tension.

    Bunker's design puts the compression and the bending moments on the internal rod, instead of on the entire neck. They are still there, but they are not on the outer "shell" of the neck.

    The statement that conventional neck construction "kills the necks[sic] resonance at point B" and thus causes a dead spot is BS. First of all, placing something under compression or tension does not kill its resonance (as is claimed). Secondly, a dead spot is cause when the neck does resonate, at just the wrong frequency, at the wrong position. There's a research paper that dicusses this; I could provide a link, or more of my own explanation, while I'm at work tomorrow if anyone's interested.

    They claim, "This technological advantage eliminates dead spots, and provides much quicker response to the notes you play." This might be a little deceptive, as the fact that the string tension is bourne differently does not automatically mean that there will be no dead spots. There could in fact be no dead spots, but not solely as a result of this fact.

    When Dude asked about these a few years ago on TBL, there was one respected person who liked his Bunker neck a great deal, and a few with Bunkers or Bunker-equipped ATKs with poor experiences.
  10. I don't know about that one but this one really is a tension free neck:


    The strings are attached to the bridge and the rod that goes above the neck so the neck is freefloating :D
  11. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    my buddy owns a five string fretless one he got off ebay. i haven't played it yet but heard a recording of it. it sounded decent but i would still like to play it.
  12. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    I own a 356 GTB (six string) that I bought directly at the Coopersburg, PA factory store. Dave Bunker formerly made the instruments there under the name PBC. Interesting side note: the bass I own was made for Allen Woody - when he went to pick it up, he decided he'd rather have one of their "wishbone" 5-strings and took that instead.

    I can tell you that the tension-free neck design:
    • Works! And takes the tension completely off the wood
    • Has truss rods for the wood neck
    • Has no dead spots (at least not on my bass)
    • Plays like buttah!

    I was at a local music store many years ago when a rep for PBC showed up. He actually had a bass that was strung up to pitch but had half of the "neck" (wooden portion) removed. all that was left was the steel rod that runs through the hollow channel of the neck. The bass was created specifically to show the effectiveness of the design, proving that the wood neck carries none of the tension. So it's not just "marketing hype" - the design really does take the tension off the wood as advertised. Does it make a difference in the tone? I dunno; I don't have a traditionally-necked bass with the same woods, design, and pickup configuration. But I like it. And I get lots of compliments on my tone.

    As far as adjustability, my six string actually has a dual truss rod, which is adjusted using dual allen screws from the back of the bass. It allows me to get the instrument set up just as easily as any other "conventional" bass.

    The ATK basses someone mentioned were actually manufactured at the Coopersburg factory; its proximity to the Hoshino factory/warehouse made that an easy deal for them.

    I love my PBC/Bunker; it's my main bass - the only thing is that it's tough to find double-ball end sets for six string. ;)

  13. Offbase


    Mar 9, 2000
    The Hartke's were nice, but when I saw the thickness of the metal bar in the neck, I had the same thought: sooner or later, that sucker WOULD bend some. What then?
  14. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC

    The Hartke's were a different animal altogether. Their design is different.

    As for the PBC/Bunker/Treker design, the bar is cold-rolled-steel - you'd need a LOT of pressure to bend it, even over time. Far more pressure than even my six-string bass can create.
  15. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    It's sad that what I'm GASing for most of all in sixandeightstringer's photo is his set of Funk Fingers*. ;) TLev needs to get off his lazy behind and start producing them again - I mean, what's he been doing the last few years but watch Gabriel walk upside-down on a lighting rig? :D

    ...or is that downside-up?

    *Is that a MIDI pickup on the PBC? Sure, toss that into the GAS tank as well.
  16. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    LOL! Will you be pissed to know that I had the forethought to order three sets when they were available? No, I can't sell you a set, two of them are already worn out. (Yes, they get worn out with regular use).

    Can you believe that a couple sets of brand new funk fingers went for like $150 on ebay recently?

    That said, I really don't think that they'd be very difficult to make. And I'm going to have to consider the possibility real soon, too... since I'm down to my last pair.

    Yeah, that's the AXON pickup. I use it with a Yamaha G50 and an Alesis NanoBass module.
  17. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Yes I will be. Owning three sets is violating some type of anti-trust law... or should be. ;)

    I've seen those auctions, and I can't believe that a) someone would pay that much for pared-down percussion sticks and Velcro, and that b) Tony doesn't hold some type of patent for the design (along with his tech, I presume, who helped develop the concept and prototypes) and came down on them. Then again, he may not, and he most likely doesn't have the time to deal with two-bit auctions. However, I doubt that he'd be pleased that someone's making huge profits of his idea and bilking bassist into massively overpaying. He seems very much a stand-up gentleman that way, and certainly helped me a few years back with a problem order through his store. Class all the way.

    I'll stick to being a mediocre bassist as opposed to a mediocre bassist/pianist/guitarist/banjoist/multi-"sound"ist. :D
  18. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    I have one on an Ibanez ATK 5. It never moves, has no dead spots and sustains like you wouldn't believe.
  19. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    Yeah - I've had my six string literally stay in tune for weeks at a time. And it has spent much of its life in my basement rehearsal studios...
  20. Mark Gollihur

    Mark Gollihur Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 19, 2000
    Mullica Hill, NJ
    Owner/President, Gollihur Music LLC
    Well, the auctions I saw were for legitimate FF auctions, just some dudes who had a set and never used them and sold them on eBay. I do recall that Tony Levin openly advocates people creating a set for their own use (or to give away), but that selling them is contrary to a patent he apparently does hold (or is pending) and he will grudgingly pursue legal action.

    I'm seriously considering trying to create a set or two, and if I do, I'll document the process and put it up on my website.