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Using window screen in bolt-on necks?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TyKao, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. TyKao


    Jun 29, 2003
    I was recently lurking around the Harmony Central bass forum when I came across a thread on the pros and cons of bolt-on necks. One poster said this:

    "There is an easy way to improve the neck joint of a bolt-on significantly: remove the neck and place a piece of window-screen between the neck and body; tighten the screws and it bites both sides stabilizing tuning and incresing sustain."

    Is this true? I've never heard of this technique. Has anyone here tried this?
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    If the bolted joint were tight enough to actually fully embed the screen, with it partially embedded into each surface, then this would serve to prevent neck rotation. However, 1) I doubt the four screws exert that much pressure without stripping out the holes, unless you've added metal inserts; 2) it's more likely that the screen would embed into an alder body, and little if at all into a maple neck, and so it wouldn't have this effect.

    As to the other intended benefits, I doubt it.

    Also, assuming the screen does not fully embed itself, you've now shimmed up your neck, and will have to raise the bridge saddles to compensate.

    Also, again assuming the screen does not fully embed itself, you've potentially worsened the neck-body contact, decreasing your sustain and worsening your tuning stability.

    If you're really interested in that type of change, you might consider gluing the neck on. Not that I've done it, but in combination with the screws, it will provide a rock-steady joint.
  3. There is NOTHING to the idea that this will increase sustain in a properly fitting neck joint. In fact, using it in a good neck pocket, like Pilot said, will likely result in less neck to body contact. But...

    ...this method for quelling a WOBBLY neck joint is an old one and yet is one of the cleverest I've ever seen. It DOES work! I've done it in an experimental way and was really surprised at how well it held. The key to getting a good grip is after you've initially bolted your neck to the body, let it sit for awhile then come back and tighten your neck screws again. You'll get just a little more give and that's when the screen really locks-in. Another point to keep in mind is that you don't need to totally line your pocket with the screen. You only need a small area and this even helps with getting the compression completed. I would even consider using a narrow strip ala shim across the heel of the neck. Then if the screen's thickness upsets the geometry of the neck to the body, it will only require a small change in string height to correct.

    Want another similiar method that doesn't use screen? It's an old machinist's trick. Instead of the screen, try a pinch of course dry sand or glue some sandpaper to the bottom of the neck pocket. Both work equally well to grip the neck but use the same tightening process described above to assure the tightest grip.

    If you want to increase the acoustic coupling between the neck and body, my advice is to install neck inserts and use machine bolts for attachment. This setup increased clamping force about 4x over standard wood screws and IMO rivals neck-thru's for a noticable increase in sustain. I'll leave the tone judgments to the individual:D
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I was also thinking of the idea of putting a little sand or drill shavings in the pocket, but I thought it was too crazy to mention. Funny to see that it's actually done.