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What makes a neck 'fast'?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by catcauphonic, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    I've see a lot of ads where the seller states that the neck is "fast". In my short window of learning so far I've played only a few dozen basses. I have noticed on a few that the transition is smoother when shifting hand positions, and some seem stickier than others. Is this what they mean by that? The smoothest I've played was a Warwick Corvette (hmmm... a fast Corvette!) with flatwounds on it. So what else goes into and constitutes a fast neck??
  2. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    For me, low action is what makes the neck "faster" rather than how wide the neck is. However, I haven't played many basses with different neck widths!
  3. kakao


    Oct 4, 2011
    Vancouver BC
    For me, good setup and Practice...
  4. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    Being able to move around on it very easily, quickly and accurately. For me - a high end Ibanez or my 'old '67 Hagstrom are the epitomes of "fast". Thin and narrow with super low action. The Haggie is even faster because of the short scale.
  5. lscs


    Dec 26, 2011
    The player of the bass.
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    It means different things to different players.
  7. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    It is all about feel to me- usually when I have a bass with a noticeably "fast" neck, it will be fairly skinny but sometimes it will equally be about the contour, the finish, the setup, etcetera. Oddly even the fretboard material has contributed in my mind to what have been "fast" necks- for whatever reason the last couple basses I've had with ebony fretboard combined with good setup have seemed to just let me pop the notes off like no other. Those basses did also seem to hold the lowest setups without trouble too, so it could be coincidental.
  8. norbusser


    Mar 26, 2008
    Deglossed back.
  9. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    For me, if the action is good to where I'm not fighting to play anything then that's what I call fast. Neck width or bulk has nothing to do with it either. I've tried to play fatter necks and have failed due to poor action....and I've played fatter necks and have succeeded due to a good string to fret relationship.

    For some the fretboard radius is also a determining factor. I generally prefer a 9.5 or larger radius. However, I did try out a '57 AVRI P bass not long ago that has either a 7.25 or a 7.5 radius (can't remember the exact spec) and it played great due to the action being so good. Played so good I was tempted to buy it!

    Lot's of variables that consitutes "fast."
  10. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    vintage frets and low action, IME!:)
  11. Thin and smooth...
  12. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The way I learned it was that a "fast" neck was simply slim, like a J bass has a "faster" neck than a P bass. It doesn't necessarily mean that you can actually play faster on it, it's just a bit of jargon.
  13. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    No, it really does mean you can play faster on it...

    The fastest neck I ever had was a serious Baseball Bat of a neck on an '82 Tokai Hard Puncher I had for a couple of years. (still love that name...) Yes, serious low action, but no fret noise the way I had it dialed in. IIRC it did have a smaller gauge of fret wire than everything else I'd played up to that point.
    Damn was it fast - proved to me that having a skinny Jazz neck ain't a requirement.
  14. bootsox


    Apr 28, 2012
    Biloxi, MS
    smooth finish that you don't stick to
  15. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Since I mostly saw it in their ads, I went right to the source. I just got back from BassNorthwest (www.BassNW.com) It's awesome that it's just a little over a mile from my apartment :D

    They explained it as having a thinner fret length + radius. Fender Jazz basses & similar ... as opposed to P's. That was pretty much it. Although I'm trying to nail down exactly what makes it easier to slide your hand up & down on some more than others. Smooth back or type of wood perhaps? Maybe they just need a spitshine or other treatment, but one or two I've held came off as kind of sticky for lack of a better word.
  16. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    This plus a thin neck for me. Most of my basses have jumbo frets, but one of them has lower profile frets and it seems to make a big difference in playing. Low action has to be buzz free, of course.
  17. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
  18. KTFunkAlive


    Nov 28, 2007
  19. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Pure energy.

    Just kidding. For experienced bass players, it is the playability such that they can move up and down the neck and across the fretboard faster than another neck with different dimensions.
    Dimension factors include, width at nut, neck back curve, scale (short, regular or long), but differences would also include finish on the back of the neck, and string height.
    There are non-physical factors too like exorbitant price paid, name brand, model, or if it is a signature bass such that the bassist feels awesomeness which makes the person think the neck is fast. That's no lie; it's the troof.
  20. For me, a fast neck is defined by:

    • No frets (they call 'em "speed bumps" for a reason).
    • Thin, asymmetrical (Tobias and Drozd) profile with a large (flat) fingerboard radius.
    • Low-friction (oil or satin-poly) finish, preferably with low-relief wood grain; e.g., quarter-sawn maple as opposed to ash.
    • Low action.
    • Nickle, as opposed to stainless, rounds.

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