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Tight vs. loose neck joint

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim C, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I really appreciate fine craftsmanship, but is there that much of a tonal / sustain issue with a loose neck joint?
    If aesthetics weren't any issue this could be shimmed very tightly with either wood or brass.

  2. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    My fretless, which has great sustain, harmonics and overall tone, has a huge gap on each side of the neck pocket. I'm NOT saying that the neck pocket may not be important at all, but I don't think it should be a major concern. Of course, if I'm paying big money for a bass, I sure don't expect to see a gap in the neck pocket. Also, of course, the neck absolutely must be bolted tightly to the body.
  3. sandman


    Apr 13, 2004
    i like it tight.....
    on my bass necks too.
  4. Slax


    Nov 5, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    My MIA P has been through hell since I've owned it. I've stripped it and repainted it changed the neck multiple times. (Always came back to the original though, it's a really good neck, I just didn't have enough basses to fit what I wanted at the time. :D)

    Well, after I threw the fretless neck on it, the neck joint became larger from the shop work to fit it. (I later cut the neck to fit instead of the body because the neck was a cheapo. :bag:)

    All in all, my P bass' neck is somewhat loose as in proximity of the wood around the neck joint, excluding where it's bolted on. With that, I haven't really noticed much of a difference at all.

    I'm interested in this thread too and hope to hear from other's experiences.
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Not in my experience. I make sure the neck screws are tight regardless of neck pocket fit.
  6. Gap on the sides of the neck influence tone & sustain = urban myth.

    As a matter of pride, we try to get it very close, but if you get it too tight, it actually can cause issues, particularly finish issues (speaking from experience - several years ago, we got them so tight you could literally pick the body up with the neck just fitted into the pocket - no bolts. It caused problems...). The neck and body will react (swell and contract) to differences in humidity and temperature, if the pocket is TOO tight on the sides, it will put pressure on the body and eventually cause stress fractures in the finish.

    The primary issue is to get a good solid FLAT contact between the heel of the neck and the bottom of the neck pocket. Another myth to bust: more screws does NOT equal better contact, if you can't do it with 3-5 neck bolts, GIVE UP. I've played perfectly well made instruments that sounded great and sustained incredibly well with ONE bolt as a design feature, and I've played basses with 9+ bolts that sounded sterile as all heck (more metal than wood in the neck joint - over-engineered, IMO).

    Wood to wood contact on the bottom (area where flat of heel and bottom of pocket come in contact) in a correctly designed pocket will give you the best combination of sustain and tone. We've strung up basses with ONE bolt in, and it sounded fine, and the neck didn't "wiggle" in the pocket. The rest of the bolts are "insurance". :)
  7. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    i agree totally with what you're saying, altho

    you use of the word " bolt " is mis-leading at best, as most ( if not all ) of every mass produced instrument uses a very cheap screws

    i've done mods to every keeper bass i own, including using fine thread hardened machine screws & inserts in the neck, for superior fastening between the neck / body jointery

    i also drill holes in the body slightly oversize to allow the machine screws to actually pull the inserts / neck tightly against the body, again for superior fastening joint, as every bass i've ever seen has the same size screw hole diameter in the body & neck, which ( imo ) just about offers zero pull of the neck into the body, when you run a screw into two pieces of wood like that, it just fastens them along side each other

    it's the principal of the superior fastening setup of a screw ( bolt ) with nut ( insert ) vs screw only
  8. NorCalDog, we use that very method, machine screws and threaded inserts. Sorry for using the misleading term "bolt" there! ;)
  9. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    glad to hear that Gard :)

    imo, it's a HUGE improvement over the wimpy coarse thread potmetal screws that most companies use

  10. I think a proper neck pocket is also,"insurance".I'm sure the bass sounds fine but,would it sound better with a tighter neck pocket(who's to say without doing the modification)?My thinking is,a tighter neck pocket allows more wood to wood contact that,IMO is"insurance"for better sustain and toal clarity....IMO,IME...:bag:
  11. superfunk47


    Sep 9, 2007
    Where can one get these threaded inserts and matching screws? Are they easy to install?
  12. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    you're going to get virtually all of the tone transference with the compression between the neck & body period,, i'm sure the sides of the neck & the sides of the neck pocket have very little effect on the transference of tone, all the sides do realistically is keep the neck pointed in the right direction, imo :D

    i actually prefer a slight gap around the neck & pocket to allow expansion / contraction of the different woods which infact expand / contract at different rates, & most of all

    no chipped finishes from pockets being too damn tight :rollno:
  13. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've gone the insert/machine screw route on a couple of necks and while I like it better from a mechanical/non-stripping POV, I've not noticed any change in tone or sustain after installing the mod.
  14. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    they can be picked up at most any hardware store

    are they easy to install ?

    if i install them,, yes

    would i recommend this as a diy mod ?

    hell no,, it would be too easy to bore a hole thru the fretboard
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I use a piece of masking tape wrapped around the bit as a drill stop indicator.
  16. NorCalDog got this right - the sides keep the neck pointed in the right direction more than anything else. Snug is good, but too tight is bad, causes finish cracks and even can cause cracks in the body wood under extreme circumstances.
  17. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    I've found it very beneficial to use a bit 1/64" larger than recommended; if it calls for 1/4", I use 17/64" and rub the insert across a candle to load the threads with wax. The extra 1/64" and the lubrication from the wax makes installation much easier. Maple is hard, brass is soft...it's very easy to screw up the slot in the insert trying to King Kong it into a snug maple hole. IMO, of course.

    I've also had the same experience in messing up the finish when it's a nice tight fit on the sides...it will bum you out chipping the paint after being all craftsmanlike and getting a tight fit. Allow for paint.
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I insert a short screw with a hex head and washer into the threaded bushing and use it to drive the bushing into the wood and then back out the screw when the bushing is seated.
  19. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    i also use like a 1" long cap bolt with a jam nut that i snug against the insert & lock everything together, & use a ratchet / socket to install

    the tape on the ol' drill bit works,, but i wouldn't recommend doing this kind of mod with any handheld drills / screwguns ( but that's just me, imo ) i'd use a drillpress & setup the proper depth on the stop on the press ( but i know that most guys don't have access to a press, at least get a proper sized drillstop for the bit )

    the wax is a great lubricant
  20. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That's the main idea. I'll do it that way if I ever do it again. Thanks.

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