Trying to fix a front bowed graphite neck

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Woodpecker, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Hello folks :)

    So, I got this Steinberg 5-string bass with a graphite neck, that belongs to my brother-in-law (is that how you write "Brother in law"?) It has got a terrible high action in the middle of the neck due to its terrible front-bow in the neck. The neck doesn't seem to have a truss rod, so the only thing that I can think of is to remove the neck from the body and clamp it down to put a back-bow on it.

    However, I heard some rumors that this method do NOT work on graphite necks.
    What is your experiences and thoughts about this? Has anyone ever managed to "salvage" a graphite neck with a front-bow, or not?

    However, I'm gonna clamp this neck down and give it a try. It might take a few days or a month, so lets see if this works or not...

    Cheers, "Bobby"
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  2. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    From the photos I've seen, there should be a truss rod adjustment at the top of the headless area. If not, it may be near the base of the neck.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
    Woodpecker likes this.
  3. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Yes, that is the correct way to write brother-in-law. I have nothing for you about the neck though.
    DiabolusInMusic and Woodpecker like this.
  4. Thanks for the info. English is my third language so sometimes I get a bit confused how to spell things :)
  5. I removed the aluminum "head piece" (the aluminum piece that hold the strings in place at the "head") in hope that there would be something lurking underneath, but no such luck :( Nothing at the base either.
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    What model Steinberger do you have? If graphite-necked, I doubt if you'll find any truss rod / relief adjustment system. This is true of any early composite offerings including Zon, Status, Modulus, Vigier, etc. Steinberger Synapses and NS Design models do have truss rods.

    Bob_Ross and Woodpecker like this.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    Woodpecker, Lownote38 and Zooberwerx like this.
  8. Well, its not a question of "does it have a trussrod" anymore. It's obvious that it hasn't.
    The question NOW, is "is it fixable".
    Don't know the exact model, but its got 5-strings (very narrow spacing), wooden body, plastic pickguard, two EMG HB pickups, active electronics and a foldable "leg rest". Oh, and the battery compartment is in the top-left, under a dedicated piece of the pickguard.
  9. Thanks! I just did. Lets see what they have to say about it...
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I would be very, very surprised if any of the traditional techniques had much of an effect on the graphite neck.

    If you haven't already, try stringing with the lowest tension strings you can find.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Do not clamp it and try to bend it back into shape. Won't work.

    I have an old Modulus Graphite bass that experienced this sort of issue a number of years ago. Luckily I'm the original owner and Modulus at the time was honoring their lifetime warranty for original owners, so I sent it back to their factory for repair. What they tell me they had to do was:
    - remove the fingerboard
    - plane the top surface of the neck (that the fingerboard attaches to) so that it was level relative to the path of a taught string tuned to tension
    - add some additional carbon fiber reinforcing pieces to (hopefully) prevent this bowing from ever happening again
    - re-attach the fingerboard to this newly levelled surface

    The repair worked great, and mercifully the bass has been fine ever since.

    But yeah, you can't bend carbon fiber and expect it to hold the new position.
  12. Allright, so I guess its time for a update, and final conclusions on this.

    I've now had the neck clamped for about 3 weeks. When I started, there was a 2,5mm gap between the 10th fret and my straightedge. 2weeks later I got the gap down to 0,7mm, tried to clamp it a week more, however it stopped "giving" at 0,7mm, couldn't get it any more flat than that.
    So I screwed the neck back on, strung it up and as soon I started to get it into tune again the neck just bowed right back again.

    Conclusion; It doesn't work. As soon as you put string tension on again,the front bow will get back to where it was.
    Never ever buy a bass or guitar that doesn't have a truss rob! Period :)

    Cheers, folks.
    Have a good one...
  13. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    so what happened there?
    sadly i have to agree, i've seen plenty of solid graphite necks with too much upbow and no way to fix it.

    as for the clamping thing, i suspect you'd have to apply heat to actually retrain the neck to straightness, and i have no idea how you'd do that to what is essentially plastic without deforming it. (there may be a good way, i just don't know it.)
    Woodpecker likes this.
  14. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    It's probably possible to straighten a composite neck using heat, but it would be tricky and risky. The thing about plastic is that when you heat it enough to allow it to start to deform, then it will deform in any direction. Trying to get to stretch only along the back length, to slightly straighten it, without also squashing or twisting it, would be hard. Possible, but you'd have to be very careful.
  15. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Not sure if this guy is still in business:

    Graphite Guitar Systems (Jerry Dorsch)

    13043 195th Ave Sw, Oakville, Washington 98568
  16. Well, nothing. No answer.
  17. Thx for the info, but I give up on this.
    I've got more interesting things to do anyway, like two new bass builds that are about ready for some finishing...
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    still, did you email or call? there are places where it's kind of "old school" and you have to call to get anything happening. (lindy fralin is famously one of these).
    Killed_by_Death likes this.