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Thunderbird neck joint stability.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by odie, Dec 26, 2003.

  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    I was planning on doing a parts bass from Warmoth and Moses neck. My question is after looking at the T-bird body I noticed the spot where you bolt the neck on really sticks out far from the rest of the body.

    My question is this a stable design for a bass with a graphite neck and possible B-E-A-D?[​IMG]
  2. Odie, I think you already know the answer but I'll help reinforce your knowledge...

    Of course it's "stable". There is no less an area of contact in that design than there is in any other 4 bolt design. And if it wasn't, Warmoth simply wouldn't be selling it. These guys are absolute pro's in their business. They've done the research and their product is arguably the best available. I would buy it without hesitation.

    But when I went to put on the neck, I would only use bolts and threaded inserts rather than screws. That'll give you a clamping force far beyond what you'll get with screws.
  3. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Hambone- I was hoping you would chime in. :D
    You are one of the most handy guys around!!

    Thats what I was thinking. I just never paid attention and looked at a body without a neck. It just looked strange sitting away from the body.

    Does anyone know if they can put a premium wood on top? Like a flame maple on alder or ash etc.
    Didnt say in their description. I will probably email them if BW or others dont chime in.
  4. I bet you can - hell, they'll give you most everything else!

    I think it would be cool to compliment that premium top with a nice, detailed binding around the edge. Maybe a little abalone inlay thrown in?
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Wormoth's T-bird, Mockingbird and Explorer bodies have always bothered me. I believe the joints of these basses were all (at least originally) neck-thru or set-neck, and their designs reflect this. When doing a bolt-on version, I believe that there is a significant difference between this neck attachment and that of a typical Fender.

    I agree it is true that you are getting no more or less contact between the body and neck than with a Fender pocket (since there is no side contact anyway).

    But, in this body, the body mounting surface is a cantilevered (extended without support) tab. In a Fender-style pocket, the contact area is supported 1/3 of the way up on the treble side by additional wood (acting much like the second leg of a structural angle for those of you aquainted with steel), and all the way up on the bass side. On the T-bird-style pocket, the support is only the 1/3 of the way up on each side. As an added negative, the two lower screw holes are pretty much lined up with the end of the side wall contact to the tab. This makes for a high stress area between the holes and the outer edge if the tab is stressed.

    What is the effect of this? Strength wise, I will say that the tab is far more likely to break off in the event of strong trauma than is the Fender joint. This could be minimized gluing the neck or by adding two more screws lower down in the pocket. It could also be minimized by using a steel back plate that reaches down to where the end of the neck is.

    I am aware that the Epiphone versions of these basses are also bolt-on; I would also be hesitant to buy one of them. Maybe I'm just being overly cautious.

    Sound wise, I would say that it will sound different, due to the tab acting in a freer manner; I would not say whether it would sound better or worse.
  6. Pilot, I think you've gotten to overthinking this by a long shot...

    First, the extended tab portion of the neck pocket is long grain wood approx. ¾" thick. This piece is continuous through the body. If you don't have faith that this will not "snap off" under string tension, then you should be equally worried about a Fender style neck that has a very similiar geometry arrangement at the headstock. Yep, think about it - extended, unsupported, thinner material with high linear string tension in cantilevered stress.

    Second, when a neck is clamped into this pocket, the largest amount of stress is transferred to the end of the pocket - exactly where all of it's "side" support is located.

    I'm not worried about necks and I wouldn't worry about this joint. Time tested, market tested, and IF it needed alteration, it would have been a simple thing to move the pocket back into the body by a small amount to compensate.

    But they haven't needed to.
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
  8. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Bump for a good discussion. :) Thanx so far to pilot and Hambone. They are hitting on exactly what I was wondering.