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WARNING: Oscar Prat Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by benjobass, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Chace90

    Chace90 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2002
    Denver, CO
    Would like to add my voice here.

    I own 1 Prat bass and have sold another. Without getting crazy specific, the bass I sold was solid. Playable, good tone, etc. It did have to have some fret sprout dealt with, but that's not unusual for the Colorado climate. I sold it because it wasn't a great fit for me and I felt confident I wouldn't be passing on a lemon.

    The instrument I still have has a severe neck stability issue. I custom ordered it in 2014, got it in March or April 2015. A popular build style for him at the time. See pics. 33" scale, pickup ramp, 28 frets, etc. When I was using it for gigs, I would frequently have to tighten or loosen the truss rod at least once a gig, and sometimes more. During the gig! That's how much it would move. Setting aside the woods chosen (mostly highly-figured flame maple), no guitar neck should ever move that much IMO. And it's a 5 piece neck! It seems to respond evenly to the truss rod, so (last I checked) I can still make it playable for a time. No bumps, ramps or twisting have occurred that I've noticed. I also don't play it anymore. It's become wall art.

    When I asked Oscar about this, he said: "The neck is a 5 pieces neck, very strong, but it will move till is stable, because is new, in around 4 to 5 months." My opinion of that statement aside, that definitely hasn't been the case. It's as unstable as ever, 3.5 years later. My last attempt at correspondence with him about it was Feb 2016.

    To be clear, I haven't made any true attempt at getting him to make it right. I brought it up a handful of times and basically just got excuses. I should have been more forceful, but it's clear from this thread and @lowendmafia's thread, as well as other stories, that it's unlikely I'd ever get help from him directly.

    So there it is. People can PM me if they want more info. I hope @benjobass and whomever else get their instruments or money back, whichever they prefer.

    Prat 1. Prat 2.
    Garret Graves likes this.
  2. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    I've "stickied" this thread now. I'm so sorry for everyone's experiences! :(
  3. benjobass

    benjobass Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2001
    Ugh, this sucks. Sounds like a very familiar situation to @lowendmafia's - horrible/unstable neck that makes the bass completely useless. So sorry you're caught up in this as well.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    lowendmafia likes this.
  4. benjobass

    benjobass Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2001
    Thank you for making the post sticky. Really hope more people can see this thread and feel a bit more informed.
    nomaj, smperry, ajkula66 and 2 others like this.
  5. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    id recommend trying to get your money back. You will likely never see the bass.

    Garret Graves likes this.
  6. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    This joint "layout" screams poor contact patch to me. Besides, looks like the bass side of the neck will be stronger than the treble side close to the "heel" zone, doesn't it twist when adjusting the truss rod? (I mean, that bolts line will attach that side of the neck to the body in a way that it'll resist truss rod action, besides neck itself having more wood there than the treble side). I'm no engineer, so could be wrong, but this design screams "orthopaedic" for a number of reasons. Sorry for the O/T and sorry for yours and other people's struggles with this guy. Been following this thread and have only read excuses from him, sounds full of it. Lame, and sad.
  7. Chace90

    Chace90 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2002
    Denver, CO
    Yeah, it's excessive and over designed. All those extra bolts aren't really doing anything. I will say I didn't notice the truss rod adjusting the neck very much above the 12th fret. Which is pretty typical for truss rods in general. Like I mentioned, haven't noticed any twisting but I also haven't been playing the instrument.
  8. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    I straight up asked Oscar about the bolt pattern and being unstable. He told me "that's like saying a single cut is unstable because its attached more to one side of the bass."

    I mean... that's not really how this works.

    I 100% got caught up in his pre-order charm and perceived work ethic. That's why these warnings are so important. He puts up a front like hes going to take great care of you and get things done quick. I learned a valuable lesson about luthiers being honest about turnaround time.

    Garret Graves likes this.
  9. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Earlier i posted about the very good reputation he used to have in the ERB community, so i doubt it, it seems more likely to be mental health issues than intentional malice.
    Not at all, it's better and far stronger than the typical small contact area neck joint of mainstream basses.
    There are many high-end basses built like this with no issues.
    It's not excessive, it creates a very strong joint with high contact pressure. The more bolts there are the more evenly spread the contact pressure is and the stronger the joint is. The bolts are doing something. The designs to be critical of are the mainstream weaker ones with 4-bolts and a small contact area.
    That's valid. Many high end singlecut basses have no issues.

    I get somewhat of an impression of designs being criticised without basis just because they are different and not a P-bass. To be clear, a P-bass is a bad design in many ways, people are just used to it so think that's how basses should be.
    Beej and cdbrewer99 like this.
  10. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    Do you own one of these basses? If not your opinion is invalid.

    Runnerman and bobyoung53 like this.
  11. Chace90

    Chace90 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2002
    Denver, CO
    Well, I have a Prat with 8 neck bolts that has the most unstable neck I've ever owned. And then I have or have owned many basses with much more "traditional" bolt patterns that never had an issue.

    I would not say that normal bolt patterns have an issue. They're tried and true.

    In Prat's case, the high number of bolts seems more like a feature to set his designs apart without actually accomplishing much. Perhaps they have their place on ERB instruments, I don't know. But for a simple 4-6 string? Not doing much from what I've found. IMO

    Oscar even mentioned the joint as explaining why my neck should have been stable. As I've said, it's not...
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    Runnerman and Garret Graves like this.
  12. Wow, sorry to hear more bass problems from boutique builders. Hope it all works out for everyone.
    benjobass likes this.
  13. nomaj


    Apr 2, 2012

    Who knows? But, yeah, substance abuse is the first thing that crossed my mind, both here and in the other warning thread.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  14. lowendmafia

    lowendmafia Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2007
    Sacramento, California
    My Prat's neck literally twisted towards the bolts like the overwhelming force and string tension made that wood warp. It was also a 5 piece neck. When he rebuilt the neck, it was a one piece maple neck that was significantly thicker than the previous neck.

    That said, whenever a post like this comes out, there are always people that feel the need to defend the builder. Look, the guy now has a long history of ripping people off. I think I was the first to call attention to it and I took slings and arrows by these people, they are conspicuous by their absence in this thread... wonder why?

    S-Bigbottom, benjobass and Chace90 like this.
  15. Yes, I've heard that Fender is going to discontinue the P bass because they've had so many complaints about that bad design in the short amount of time it's been made, what only 67 years I believe?
    swink, k0brakai, Trabeen and 7 others like this.
  16. benjobass

    benjobass Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2001
    All due respect, but can we please keep this thread on topic? Specifically about Oscar Prat and the mismanagement of his business/mistreatment of buyers. If you want to talk about Fender and P-Basses, or anything else, please take your conversation elsewhere.
  17. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars, Veillette Guitars
    No comment on the business aspects of this thread, but I'll weigh in on neck stability.

    In my opinion (as the co-designer of possibly the first bolt-on singlecut brought to market, the Veillette model introduced in 2002),
    the stability issues described above are not the function of the neck joint design.
    Rather, I would pretty confidently attribute them to the choice of material - in this case, the highly curly/flamed maple.

    Wood like this is much more reactive and unstable in a neck application - I would not use maple with this degree of figure in a neck,
    which is a choice shaped by repeated experience.
    True, it is not uncommon to see wood like this in archtop guitar or violin necks. However, those necks are much shorter (and thus, stiffer).
    However, the long neck cantilevers in basses make the material selection very important.

    The grain pattern that creates the flame figure is essentially a wave-shaped "wiggle" in the grain, meaning that the wood fibers
    are sort of coiled back and forth like an accordion bellows. This makes the tensile strength of the wood along the grain much lower - the fibers are not well-oriented to resist the stretching tensions on the back surface of the neck. The result is an unstable neck.

    Actually, this reduced axial strength is one reason flamed maple became the preferred material for violin-family backs.
    It brings the lateral (sideways) and axial (lengthwise) strengths closer together:

    adjective: isotropic
    (of an object or substance) having a physical property that has the same value when measured in different directions.

    A plate which is closer to being isotropic will respond in a more linear way when trying to "tune" the part for vibrational modes.

    BUT - it's the wrong choice for an electric bass neck, because that is all about axial stiffness and tensile strength.
  18. Chace90

    Chace90 Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2002
    Denver, CO
    This is basically what my luthier said upon inspection, and I apologize for not mentioning it before. I've always thought my necks' instability was due to poor wood choice.

    I did order the neck with flame maple. A better/more experienced luthier (like @Keith Guitars) would've advised against this or chosen better cuts of wood. But it's on me for being uninformed too.
  19. mojojim


    Feb 25, 2004
    I stumbled across this thread a while back. Since I can maybe add a couple of words of interest to Chace90, I'll add my 2 cents.

    I forget exactly when I placed my order for my Prat bass very similar to Chace90's. But I know that I saw Oscar's post of a picture of the body to his bass and the neck, etc. that made me pursue the build. I'd been putting off a custom build for a long time. OK, OK - I'll keep down the number of irrelevant comments. :)

    Anyway, as you will see from the picture of my bass, it looks quite similar to Chace90's. Quite beautiful.

    * Oscar delayed sending me the bass so he could take it to NAMM without asking me or informing me he was going to do so. I found out by seeing my bass on his table in pictures from the NAMM show. A rush job to get it ready for NAMM.
    * After NAMM, the bass arrived and the nut had moved - neglected to add glue to the slot. Nut slots for G and C strings cut too low. First several frets under C and G strings were flat – no crown – (Due to attempt to correct for low nut slots?)
    *Terrible fret buzzes up and down the neck – unable to play chords or play anything at all unless strings far off of the fret-board. Was this the first compound radius fret-board that Oscar had made? Don't know - if so, it is understandable why he had some trouble.

    * For my bass, I asked for abalone block inlays plus having a compound radius fretboard . He used his CNC router to cut the radius of the fretboard.
    Consequently, small pieces of several abalone inlays were missing plus there were fine lines in the surface of the abalone and the maple fretboard.

    -Bridge pick-up in neck position and visa-versa – the bass sounded terrible. (I ended up doing additional shaping of the ramp.)
    -One pot and switch were loose. (no battery - HA!) Screws loose. Not intonated.
    I didn’t realize all of the problems with the bass at the start due to waiting on the bass to acclimate and the nut problems - and I was crazy busy with work, so I asked for Oscar’s help with respect to only two small problems. I asked for a new nut and a couple of bridge screws. I received no reply to my request - no counter proposal or offer to assist me with getting the bass up-to-speed. Up until this point in my purchase, he had consistently replied to my e-mails after a reasonable number of days. However at this point, I had gotten tired of being put off; I had something in my hands for my money, so I was done.

    Luckily, I've been working on my cheap basses for decades - this was my first expensive bass, DOH! - and I knew how to fix all of the problems on the bass. Luckily my cheap basses pushed me to learn how to do fret leveling, etc. Now this Prat bass is my number one bass with excellent sound and response. However, it took a lot of work to get it to this point. Oh, did I mention that I had to add a spacer between the neck and body to raise the neck to a good height so I didn't have to drop the bridge into the body?

    Anyway, if Chace90 is still reading, my bass neck was very much helped by removing the finish off of the back of the neck (there wasn't any on the fretboard of my bass after I finished smoothing the block inlays and ...) and then letting the bass neck cure/dry out for a few days -- well, I used only tung oil on the back and lemon oil on the front of the neck after removing the finish -- so it has cured for more than a few days. My neck had been moving around previously, too. It's been much more stable since. Your results may vary! Well, it has been 3.5 years. Hmm. (Whoops - since my reply took a while - an expert posted about your neck problems! Thank you to Martin Keith! I love learning about this stuff, and I very much appreciate the replies of builders on this list.) My neck is flame maple but it has settled down over the years.

    I hope you don't give up on the bass. My neck is extremely easy to play and I love the shape of the body. Did I get my money's worth? Uh, after a lot of work, maybe?

    Would I buy another bass from Oscar? No. Would I buy a used one from someone else? Maybe.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
    WakaW, Rob Martinez and Garret Graves like this.
  20. Garret Graves

    Garret Graves website- ggravesmusic.com Gold Supporting Member

    May 20, 2010
    Arcadia, Ca
    I appreciate reading this post! Thanks for the info and time you took to add to the convo. Beautiful bass, glad you have a happy result eventually

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