Vintage P: Are ski-ramp necks a problem that keeps coming back?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by magnaton, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. magnaton

    magnaton

    Dec 12, 2013
    New York
    Looking at a vintage 1965 CAR precision bass and while I've seen this on old J's a bunch I'm a little more surprised to see it on a P.

    It's nothing terrible and pulling the high frets and a light sand will be enough to fix (according to a well-respected luthier) but my question is -- will this problem come back? Is this a less stable neck for whatever reason and fixing it now will only provide temporary relief (eyo!) from the root cause which will likely to resurface (on a roll here) later?

    I know these old gals sometimes need some tlc but an expensive purchase so don't want to buy something that's gonna give me continual problems down the road.

    Photos of the suspect:

    123_1 3.jpeg

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  2. jbrew73

    jbrew73

    Dec 24, 2006
    A neck replacement is as simple as it gets.
    Would you pay a premium price for a Road worn classic car with an original engine that was blown up? Would a beat up 69 camaro with a new gm crate engine be worth top dollar? Only you can decide.
     
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  3. DavidBassista

    DavidBassista

    May 21, 2014
    NYC
    I can't imagine it getting worse. The ski-ramp is sort of inherent to the Fender bass design. How bad is it? Is it just something you notice visually or does it actually impact the action/playability? If you can get the action you want with a light sanding of the neck-heel frets then it might be ok. Is this issue reflected in the price of the instrument?

    I have two early 60s bases and don't encounter this issue on either and I run pretty low action.
     
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    If you haven't seen it, we have a long detailed thread all about the "ski jump" condition over in the Pro Bench section of Hardware, Setup & Repair. We go over what causes the condition and how to fix it, in mind-numbing detail.

    Getting the Facts about Ski Jumps

    The quick answer to your question is that ski jump conditions build up slowly over some years. They are caused by the wood on the back of the neck being under too much load, and the wood stretches over time. The neck forms a permanent kink around the 12th fret. You can correct for the kink by level trimming the frets and/or the fingerboard out on the heel. But if you put it back under the same string load, without adding any new reinforcement, then yes, it may continue to stretch and kink.

    The ski jump (aka 12th fret kink) is a whole different thing from wood warpage or instability due to weather. It's caused by the load of the strings being up to tune. Storing the bass with strings de-tuned will stop the ski jump from getting worse, but the kink won't recover back to flat.
     
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  5. Eneade

    Eneade

    Jun 14, 2008
    France
    Are shimmed necks more prone to develop ski jumps ? I have been told short shims (like the ones usually found on old Fender) are bad for the necks and that angled shims that cover the whole neck pocket are better.
     
  6. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    My experience tells me that using a full pocket shim would be a better method.
     
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  7. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    You need to read the thread in the Pro Bench:

    Getting the Facts about Ski Jumps
     
  8. BritFunk

    BritFunk

    Jan 8, 2009
    I'll share my experiences with this issue in hopes it helps.

    I have an old Yamaha BB300 bass (July 1986) that developed the ski jump issue after about 10 years of play - no shims, factory bridge. Took it to a luthier, and he removed the frets, planed the fretboard, and reinstalled frets. The neck was perfect - for a while.

    For the record, I play a *stupid* low action.

    A decade or so later and the problem was back again.

    After getting a quote for another repair/refret I seriously considered pitching the bass in the trash - the repair quote was almost double the original cost of the bass, and replacement necks for that model are a little difficult (more like impossible) to obtain. I decided to keep it around mostly for nostalgia, as it was *my* first bass - I couldn't quite bear to part with it.

    After seeing some positive reviews on his process, I sent the neck to Sky Guitars (warpedneck.com) for treatment last August, and received the neck back inside of a couple of weeks. Total invested was 1)- my shipping cost sending neck via UPS (to Texas if memory serves), and 2)- $105.95 to cover the fix and return shipping.

    After bolting it back on and stringing it up, I can honestly say that the ski jump was 95%+ gone, with no wood removal apparent and no refret. Speaking with the tech who did the work, he thinks it's permanent fix.

    Again, given how low I run my action at times, 95%+ for me might well be a perfect neck for a player that hits a little harder.

    So far it does seem to be holding, but it will obviously be a "time will tell" thing.

    For a stock Fender instrument, with replacement aftermarket necks readily available, it might not be worth investing in the fix, but for an oddball like my Yamaha it was 100% worth it to have it running again.

    I'll of course be keeping an eye on it going forward to see if the problem returns.

    That all said, for my money, I doubt that I would invest in an instrument with that kind of issue unless I was able to negotiate the price down to cover the cost of a replacement neck, but that's just me. Good luck!

    - Kurt
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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  9. I straightened mine and went back with medium instead of heavy strings.
    After 5 years or so, it is holding up just fine.
     
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  10. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Coincidentally, I tried out a '65 P bass years ago with severe ski jump, didn't buy it but for a different reason.
     
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