What does make a neck playable

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by umberto, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. umberto


    Jun 10, 2004
    IMO there are two clusters of factors that affect the "neck playability" (in term of quickness) of a bass neck:

    1) subjective (time spent on that neck [=practice], ratio between neck and hand sizes, psicologically aestethics points, etc...)

    2) objective (radius and fingerboard curvature [flat, nearly flat, etc...], shape ["C" shape, "D" shape], depth, width, string spacing, finishing [natural satin], action, frets [jumbo, medium jumbo, etc...], and - altough not properly put in this list - strings [flatwound, extra light guage, etc...], etc...

    Two questions:
    1) Talking about objective, which one(s) do you consider the most important?
    2) What other "objective factor" would you mention in the list?
  2. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    I find depth, width, and spacing to be most important on the objective end of neck playability. The neck on my FBB six is 3.375" at the 24th fret with 18mm spacing and it has an overall "chunky" feel. I find these dimensions fit the size of my hands (quite large, borderline freaky....I'm only 5'4" :)) perfectly. They (the dimensions) allow my fretting hand to remain in a very natural, open position. On the other hand, my bass prior to the FBB, a Warwick Corvette Standard 4 (all previous basses were 4's), had a very thin, narrow neck. This left my hand in a somewhat closed and uncomfortable postion.

    As far as other "objective factors" goes, I think you have listed them all.
  3. kearney


    Jul 5, 2004
    i have different basses for different statuses, i know it sounds wierd, if my hands all stretched out nd the fingers are too, its the ibanez, if my hands all stretched out but my fingers feel little, its the gretsch, if my hand feels small, its the jazz or on some occasiions the gretsch

    all according to the neck size
  4. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Give me thin, with a natural wood feel on back.

    I play a Peavey Cirrus and Carvin tung oil neck for these reasons!
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I think your "objective" factors are actually subjective. While the dimensions are objectively measurable, a playable neck is a function of your hand's interaction with the neck, which is also to say the neck's interaction with your hand. The neck by itself doesn't play much.

    One person will be most comfortable with one neck shape and size; another person with another. Plus, your whole body is involved here, not just your hands. On one person, a particular bass will be comfortable because when it hangs on his body, with his height, his belly projection, and his length arms, everything relates nicely between his hand, in the position it falls, and the neck. The same bass could be immediately uncomfortable for someone else. There are people who couldn't play an instrument for ten minutes without cramping; they moved a strap lug to make the bass hang more to the right, and they fell in love with the instrument.
  6. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    when I think of a playable neck, I think of a neck that can be setup so the bass can be played with at least medium action - a truss rod that can be used to adjust the neck as needed, no humps, no fret problems that impair play/adversely affect tone, a functional bridge, etc. In as much, it may not be any particular players ideal but pretty much any of us could play it and get by and it would sound like it's supposed to. Basically fairly mechanical and objective interpretation, and otherwise pretty damn useless neck if not met.

    The comfort aspect in terms of width, shape, speed, etc. is personal, subjective, and wouldn't keep most players from actually being able to play the bass - they just wouldn't take it home.
  7. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Maybe this is oversimplfication, but if you like it, it's playable. What, mechanically make a good neck would depend on who you ask. Personally I like (generally speaking) Fender-type necks.For instance, a Warwick neck is about as far (IMO) as you can get from a Fender, but if I liked the sound enough I'd get used to it and like it. Warwick makes a good neck; it's just different from what I'm used to.