Twisted Neck on Fender Jazz

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Donkeybass, May 20, 2003.

  1. Donkeybass


    May 13, 2003
    Odessa, TX
    I have a Fender Jazz Bass that I have had for several years. I occasionaly perform my own adjustments to the bridge, neck, pickups, etc. to keep the instrument to my likings as well as a yearly trip to the guitar tech.

    I have never trusted my guitar tech, and during this most recent trip he pulled out the Fender, and took a quick glance down the neck and told me it was twisted. He also told me that there is no way to fix it, and any adjustments on the truss rod would snap the neck in two. He also informed me that the only solution is to purchase a new neck from him (of course).

    Question: Is a twisted neck really the kiss of death that he describes it to be? How can I tell if the neck is actually twisted? Is there a more conventional way of fixing it if it actually is twisted?

    Any help would be appreciated, because now I am even scared to play the thing.
  2. I got rid of my beloved '72 Jazz because of a twisted neck. It happens sometimes. I don't think the twist itself can be repaired but a refret can minimize the effect of the twist. Personally, it wasn't worth the time or money as mine was refinished and had aftermarket pickups and a replica bridge. It had no collector value.
  3. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    I would get a second opinion if you don't trust him.

    Tbone76 likes this.
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    The first thing you need to do is find another tech! The one you have is either a crook or is totally incompetent. Very likely, he's both.

    There is no way that a neck can possibly be snapped by a TR adjustment.

    Simply sighting down the neck and making sure that both sides of the neck have very equal amounts of relief will tell you whether it's warped or not.

    If it is warped (VERY UNLIKELY) it is usually repairable by removing the frets and planing the fingerboard. The fret slots may have to be slightly deepened and new frets installed.

    Definitely a job for a competent repair person, but not rocket science.

    Your case is a prime example of why any bass player should make setup a part of his education. It's not hard to learn and it eliminates having to deal with the few repair people who are nothing more than rip off artists.

    JLS likes this.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    J necks are known to twist or warp beyond the ability of the truss rod to correct.

    I own one that is at the end of truss adjustment yet still has overly high action. Only solution now is major neck surgery or replacement.

    That's the price you pay for that skinny neck :(

    Still, it's always worth a second opinion.
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    A truss rod cannot remove a warp or twist of any degree. It can ONLY add or remove relief. A shim can be placed under the TR adjusting nut if the wood is chewed up to the point that the TR is out of adjustment range.

    Any neck can warp beyond repair. It is fairly rare that it happens though. I would like to see some documentation that J basses are inherently likely to warp because the necks are too thin. Thats the first I've heard of it in nearly thirty years of experience.

  7. Donkeybass


    May 13, 2003
    Odessa, TX
    I really appreciate the feedback. When I got home last night I took a second look at the Fender and it does look like it might have an ever so slight twist to it. The only thing that I can tell it affects is that high (>12 fret) on the E I get some buzzing.

    The only problem with getting a second opinion is that I live 3 hours from his competition. I guess Ill have to suck it up some weekend and go.

    For now I think im going to downgrade it to my backup bass and start showcasing my Carvin fiver. Maybe someday I will get ballsy enough to replace the neck with a fretless five piece.

    Thanks again!
    RT :bassist:
  8. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    There are several ways to approach a twisted neck.

    Firstly, make sure that the truss rod isn't seized up in the neck. I worked on an old Gibson SB400 a few years back that had this problem. When turning the truss rod nut the neck would twist a little. This was probably due to moisture getting in there (I lived in Houston at the time, can't get much more humid than that!).

    Also, again, the neck will not snap in two from a truss rod adjustment. Sheesh!

    My real take on it? If you have never noticed it while playing until he mentioned it, I would ignore it for now and just keep playing it, checking it every month or so to see if it is getting worse or not. Don't be afraid to play it, nothing bad will happen.

    Anyway, the easier solution for a twisted neck is to either level the frets for a minimal twist. Next has already been mentioned - pull the frets and plane the fingerboard down and refret.

    Lastly, you could pull the fingerboard, plane the neck down, then put the fingerboard back on and go from there. The danger with this one is that this involves removing material from the neck, and only so much can be removed without affecting the neck stability. If the neck is already fairly thin, this might not be an option.


  9. Danksalot


    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
  10. Donkeybass


    May 13, 2003
    Odessa, TX
    I would say that it is twisted to the point where you need two straight edges and a level to figure it out. Degrees of twist would be in the minutes classification. Im not even going to worry about it. The bass is a trooper and has been through more than I ever expected it to.

    BTW that is one sick twisted bass!

  11. Danksalot


    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    Actually these are made this way new! It's supposed to be more ergonomical or something. A company called Little Guitar Works makes them. Somehow they figured out how to make it twisted and all the strings still play properly. They will actually twist it to a custom degree for you.
  12. I had a MIM Deluxe Jazz that the neck twisted and it was only 6 months old.My guitar/bass tech does warranty work for Fender and said this does happen every so often.Fender replaced it no charge but it took a while.The truss rod deal is ridiculous though.
  13. geezer316


    Jan 26, 2003
    i recentely traded in my mex jazz because of neck probs.i live in CT. and the bass lived in CALI.for 7+ years so when i got the bass this last winter the bass reacted very poorly to the drastic change in temp.i had to have the neck adjusted every other week and shimed 3 xs,it was a good thing my luthier is my friend/teacher as well or i would have been raked over the coals.finally last week i wanted to sell my bass because i've been out of work for 2 months and am waiting for the labor union to set up my new job,i went to the local music store who buys used stuff and they would'nt even buy it from me because the neck was so bad.luckily i went to another store who did'nt really go over it well and i traded it in for another j-bass but it was like your's it was starting to warp,and the bass had minimal wear on it and was in great seems that that major change in temp and getting stuck with a lemon added up to a very troublesome neck complete with constant worry about whether it was goona be totally wacked out in the morn when i go to practice.SO IT HAD TO GO! hope you fair better than i did.:bassist:
  14. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.

    A neck that is warped has a shape like a propeller. In other words, it is twisted.

    Your fear is understandable but it's really not justified. For every jazz bass that you see with a twisted neck you will see several thousand that have no problem at all.


    A P bass is just as likely to have a warped neck as a jazz.
  15. Brendan Richko

    Brendan Richko

    Sep 14, 2014

    There is a way to fix it but it depends on how twisted the neck is. Its easy to tell if a neck is twisted. Just hold it flat and you should see it bowing.
  16. G9j


    May 28, 2016
    Hi My Fender Jazz Bass 1977 US made one has a warped neck but is otherwise is very good condition body and electronics. If I level and refret will it loose value and place new inlays will it loose its value. Because if not it will be a piece of vintage history but never playable
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    If the twist isn't enough to create problems for you while playing it, then it's not really a problem. A minor twist may simply not be enough to matter. Whether it bugs you is another matter.

    If you search TB, you will find advice here and there on correcting a twisted neck. I've done it myself using weights attached to the neck with the neck off the bass. It took a few weeks.

    Oh, and as noted above, adjusting the truss rod on a twisted neck (1) has nothing to do with correcting or impacting the twist, and (2) will not cause damage to the neck.
  18. Gaebrial


    Mar 8, 2016
    The way I see it, if it doesn't affect the sound and it doesn't bother you, it is a quirk of the bass more than a problem.

    Hendrix's strats were, from what I hear, horrendous. There is a story out there when Hendrix traded one of his strats for this guy's black widow and the guy couldn't stand the strat. Said it was the worst guitar he played with the horrid action and all.

    I have a project guitar that I think had a bit of a twist, but I really liked the way it felt in my hands (minus the whole messed up truss needing to be replaced business). Which reminds me, I still need to glue the fretboard on again, and straight this time...
  19. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I've got an early 90's US Jazz Plus, one of the thinnest necks Fender ever produced. I played it outside one night when it was really foggy and it developed a twist. I took it to my repair guy and he fixed it. Not sure what all he actually did, but I watched him take the fret board off and remember thinking that was the end of my bass. When I got it back it played like a dream and has been stable and straight since.

    Admittedly I no longer expose it to temperature or moisture extremes. For that I've been using MIM Jazz basses. I've had them in an open front shed with the temps in the very low 40's with no issues. Just set them out about a half hour, tune, tune it up and go.