what is the better neck attachment for an electric bass ?.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Russell Ward, May 17, 2018.

  1. Russell Ward

    Russell Ward

    May 2, 2018
    Hi, My mate has a 1970's "Rickenbacker bass", he's a staunch Rickenbacker fan as his hero "lemmy" from motorhead played one.

    The Rickenbacker bass has a "through neck", and he maintains it has a better "sustain" because of it ?.

    He has a Rickenbacker copy as well, not from China, but from 1970's Japan, a Hondo, which also has a through neck.

    My mate gave me his first ever bass, a Kay from the 70's, it's a plywood construction, single pickup, short scale model.

    I'm renovating it, it's got a bowed neck, which Ive adjusted by the truss rod and bridge height adjustment, this put the height at a much more playable level, but the nut is worn, so I temporarily put some hot glue in the slots. I could have added a shim under the nut, but I decided to order a new nut and fully adjustable bridge {The old Kay has a crude bridge that is only adjustable end to end of a fixed metal plate).

    It's the first Bass Ive ever played or owned, I come from a classical guitar background, spanish guitar and flamenco.

    I've just purchased a redwood 25 watt bass amp, so I'm thinking of getting a decent Bass guitar to go with it, I am torn between the straight through neck, or standard bolt on, from an engineers point of view I would favour the straight through neck, but this could be harder to adjust should the neck need straightening ?.

    I've heard a lot about the pro's and con's of Rickenbacker bass guitars, my mate swears by them, but others point out what seems and endless series of "fault's, my view is that if a rickenbacker bass can withstand the abuse dealt out by "Lemmy", it must be good, and the straight through neck may be responsible for this "reliability".

    Any advice is "Welcome", Russell Ward.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Not better, different.
  3. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Bolt-on versus neck-through is an endless, and pointless, debate.

    Each design has it's merits.

    There are plenty of bolt-on basses that have been through hell and back. For example, Steve Harris has been playing the same Precision bass for a few decades now (in case you didn't know, the blue one in the old pictures is the same as the white one in newer pictures).

    Not saying a Rickenbacker's a bad bass , either. But they are a pretty specific thing, and most players either love them or don't like them at all. A lot of their models don't have any body contouring, so they can be uncomfortable, the hardware around the bridge pickup can be a pain, etc. You have to see if you like them or not.

    If you're buying new, be aware that Rickenbacker has a very well known reputation for not giving a hoot about customer complaints. They do their thing, and as far as they're concerned, everything they do is good.
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    The bolt-on vs. neck-thru debate is one of those endless debates in which there is no shortage of opinions but a severe shortage of facts. Here's a link to one 5-page thread, in which the second post contains links to seven previous threads:

    Neckthrough vs Bolt on?

    The Ric is a unique instrument in many ways and is consequently a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing -- but not because it is neck-thru.

    If I were looking for a new bass, whether it had a bolt-on or thru neck would be way down on my list of decision criteria, and probably not on the list at all.
  5. Welcome to TB. Like any other products, Rickenbacker basses aren't immune to faults. I have two of them and like both very much. Through neck construction has the advantage of being stable (no wobble due to loose screws) and disadvantage of rendering an instrument useless with a damaged neck. Bolt on necks have the advantage of being easily repaired or replaced with the disadvantage of being of dubious pedigree for that reason. Glued necks seem to fall somewhere in the middle. The tonal properties of all styles are determined by a number of other crucial factors, such as pickups, electronics, build quality, wood, etc. Best to try as many specimens as possible to narrow the search for the perfect bass for you. Hope this helps.
  6. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I’m of the opinion that there is no demonstrable benefit to a neck through design, whereas a bolt on neck is easily replaceable if necessary. Any claims about improved tone one way or the other are hogwash, so bolt on wins by default since it has the only demonstrable benefit.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Advice #1: What's with the random quotation marks, Russell Ward?

    Advice #2: There's nothing "better" about any of the three normal neck attachment methods. Bolt, through or set (glued on). Each brings something slightly different to the party, but in the end the tone and sustain differences are minimal if you control for all the other factors involved, particularly stiffness.

    The big differences are in manufacturing and repair.

    Bolt on necks scale up for mass production differently than the other two. You can have necks and bodies made in separate buildings, finishing both completely and only bringing the two parts together at the end of the process. Compare that to permanently attached necks that have to be joined to the body before any finish can be applied. That makes each piece being worked on take up a lot more space, and limits you to only being able to work on one part at a time. With a permanently attached neck it's impossible to, for example, level the frets while the body is being painted. Those processes can go on simultaneously with bolt on parts.

    Not surprisingly, bolt on necks were an integral part of Fender's assembly line philosophy, as compared to Gibson's glue on necks that followed logically from their acoustic instrument manufacturing background.

    As you suspect, it is easier to adjust the angle of a bolt on neck with shims. It's also easy to replace the neck if there's a problem with it, or if you just want something different. Again, that was an intentional part of the design. Modular construction with interchangeable parts. Many people have P basses with Jazz necks, or vice versa. As well as swapping out rosewood for maple fretboards, or various frettless options. Because the pocket is the same size for almost all 34" scale 4 string Fenders.

    On the through neck side you get different flexibility of design. If you're making one-off instruments rather than mass producing it's easier in some ways to use through neck construction than to make the neck and body separately. For example, if you want to make 4, 5, 6 and 7 string versions of the same bass you can use the same body sides for all of them if they're just glued on to the neck. With bolt on you would have to make different bodies for each number of strings.
    mcarp555, Spidey2112 and TjMetalhead like this.
  8. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My first bass was a neck through. Decent sustain - no problems, really. My second bass was a bolt on. DRAMATICALLY more sustain - actually, you had to work at damping on song endings, because you'd hang over so much if you didn't.

    First bass: Rick 4001. Second: Kramer metal neck.

    It's not just about bolt on or neck through - lots of things contribute to sustain in small or large ways, and for the best effect (which may not be the longest sustain), you need to pay attention to a bunch of things.
  9. vroc38


    Jan 5, 2006
    I never understood the desire for "more sustain". But controlling sustain is an ongoing battle.
  10. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    There are lots of instrument makers who use the neck-through design, not just Rickenbacker (they were the first to do so, though).

    Buy whatever suits you, there is no right or wrong here.
    TinIndian likes this.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    welcome to TB! :thumbsup:

    that's all i've got!

    good luck finding the better/best neck! Gorn 's post makes a lot of sense to those of us who prefer a bolt-on neck, or who simply don't care.*

    * i care: don't do it.
    Spidey2112 and Wisebass like this.
  12. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    I’ve got all 3 types,don’t particularly find any one of them superior.
    Some of my favorite basses are set-neck,like my old Rick 4000 and my new Epiphone Embassy Pro.
    They both have boatloads of sustain. (But then again, so do my bolt-on and neck-through basses.)
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  13. Charlzm

    Charlzm Guest

    Mar 25, 2011
    I have three NT basses and four bolt ons. The NTs seem to have more sustain and a fuller tone with more low mids and bass, but that may be my imagination. Even if it's true, wood, pickups and scale length also play an important role in the overall tone.

    I like both, so I'm afraid I'm not much help.
    Loring likes this.
  14. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    My bolt-on basses sustain for days, but I've played neck-through's that do the same. The quality of the tone comes from the quality of the materials and build.

    Anyway, don't worry about this bolt-on or neck-through detail. It isn't as important as a bass that feels and sounds good to you.

    After a few years, very few bassists are still playing their first instrument. Play your bass for awhile and you'll find out what sounds good and what sounds better. Then you sell the old one and buy a new one. Easy.
    jonlimo likes this.
  15. CatchaCuda

    CatchaCuda Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2018
    Transfer, PA
    I own 2 nearly identical ESP LTD's one neck-through, one bolt on.

    Honestly, any difference that could be there would be so subtle it's simply unrecognizable.
  16. Best to have a bolt on so it can be replaced if need be. If anything happens to a neck-through...yikes.
  17. You've gotten great answers so far. I'll just add then when it comes time to do a fret dress or a complete refret, on Neck Thru it is more difficult to dress those last few frets (closest to the body) without hitting the finish of the body horns with the files. With a bolt on, you just take the neck of and dress the frets with no worry of scratching the body .
  18. jackn1202


    Feb 14, 2018
    Austin, TX
    It depends on what style of music you play. Heavy rock where you're playing a bunch of notes quickly with not many being held out for a long time, sustain's not so important. But like in a church worship band or some jazz groups (mine for example), I'm hitting a lot of notes and letting them ring, and finding that depending on the bass I'm using the notes don't last as long.
    jamro217 likes this.
  19. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    I have basses with bolt-on and neck-through designs, and can honestly say that at no point ever do I pause to think about one versus the other, except on the rare occasion when I drop by a thread such as this. Rics are fine basses. The dual truss design (novel), truss rod cover placement (accessible), truss nut tool requirement (specialized) are all far more interesting things to consider about the Ric neck than the neck-through factor.
  20. grillman


    Dec 15, 2014
    I had to leave a neck through bass behind because I could not fly with it. It's a lot easier to travel with a bolt on neck instrument.
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