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When is it safe to say that your neck is not going to be up to par

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by blue4, Feb 9, 2019.


  1. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    I have a Fender Mustang that keeps bowing. In a temperature and humidity controlled environment, I've had to make several adjustments over a two week period. The two basses in the rack next to it, an SX jazz and an Epiphone eb0, have barely needed tuning. So it's not environmental. The strings are stock Fender rounds, so it's not high tension strings. It has also been one of the easiest basses to go out of tune I've ever owned, and I've owned quite a few. Does this have a chance of ever stabilizing, or would you guys just write it off as a lemon and try to recoup some of your money.


    Edit: I've been doing my own setup for years and have never had a bass give me this much problem before. Maybe its operator error, but I don't think that's it.
     
  2. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    A mustang Bass should never do that. Is it a Japan reissue? If so, they went through a period of using wood that was too young, and also not dried out enough before it was finished. That makes for a rubbery neck like you seem to have. The original Mustang Bass necks were quite chunky and very stable. I had a 1966 (that was sadly stolen) for a number of years and I never had to adjust it.
     
  3. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area

    It's a MiM. Bought it new in August from GC. Ironically it's one of the few basses over the years I've tried out before buying. Most come via internet and I never have a problem. Would you cut your losses, especially if you already owned two reliable basses?
     
  4. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Yes. Living in Nashville, the humidity is all over the place, so I need a stable neck. Adjusting a neck once, or twice a year is normal here. I wouldn't keep one that needed constant adjusting like what you're describing.
     
  5. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    That's the way I'm leaning too.
     
    Lownote38 likes this.
  6. Lownote38

    Lownote38

    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I had a U.S. Fender Jazz neck from 1991 (brand new) that did that. The adjustment just didn't hold. It was a bad piece of wood.
     
  7. Cliff Colton

    Cliff Colton

    Nov 7, 2016
    Using lighter gauge strings might help.
     
  8. It can be the 'lottery' of wood, it may just be 'one of those necks'.

    I had a Peavey Dyna Bass that would have never needed a tremolo installed: Just press on the back of the head, and I could wiggle held notes or harmonics as needed. Virtually everything else would take a touchup or two once in a while, but that was it. One of the Alembics NEVER moved: I would get the feeler gauges out once or twice a year, but it was an academic exercise. It always wore the same brand/gage strings, and it just never moved. THAT will never happen again.

    I do my own adjustments, but past that I trust a trusted guitar tech for things that are past my basic upkeep skills. If it's one of those 'I really like this bass, but . . . . . ' axes, you might want to have a good tech give it the once over before it goes over the side to Davy Jones' Locker.
     
    blue4 likes this.
  9. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I have a Highway 1 J bass that was a bit wonky when i first got it but it settled down within a few months. It would go out and i’d adjust it back but the longer i had it the less it moved. It’s been a couple years now and i check it every time i restring it, and it’s required a minor bit of tweaking but nothing to write home about and outside of that it’s doing fine. TBH i couldn’t return it or i would have. It was new but highway 1 basses had been discontinued when i bought it so a replacement would have not been possible and i didn’t want any other bass at the time. I’ve had necks fixed before so i figured if it was still wonky after a year i’d see about getting it looked at, but it settled in after about 6 months.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
    96tbird and blue4 like this.
  10. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    That sounds like a "green" neck. The board wasn't fully dried before it was cut into a neck. It's still drying out and deciding on a permanent balance of moisture inside itself.

    The important thing is: Is it staying within the range of adjustment that you can correct it with the truss rod? If it's just moving a little forward, then a little back with the weather, that's not too bad. That's called short-term instability. Give it some time. It will probably settle down in six months or a year.

    However, if it keeps moving in the same direction, that's a more serious and potentially unfixable problem. Known as long term instability or warpage. Eventually you'll run out of travel of the truss rod, one way or the other. Then the neck needs to be rebuilt or thrown away. If it keeps bending the same way, that means that the wood has some deep internal stresses. That's just a bad piece of wood that will take a lot of work to fix.
     
  11. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    So far it's only moved in one direction. Hopefully it'll settle down now. I'm going to let it be for awhile. I don't know if that will help it or not.
     
  12. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Thanks for the info guys!
     
  13. ProfFrink

    ProfFrink

    Jan 16, 2015
    I'm struggling with a similar issue with a Sire right now. See this thread.

    One thing that is very annoying but does seem to work in my case: Whenever I touch the setup (change strings, etc) it takes a number of TR adjustments over a number of days for the neck to stabilize. But once it's stable it mostly stays.

    I'm now trying to shim the neck and change to somewhat lighter-gauge strings, in hope of making this better.
     
  14. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    The shim won’t do a thing to help neck stability. Don’t do it unless your saddles sit too low impeding you from getting your action as low as you like.

    Who convinced you a shim would help with an unstable neck?
     
  15. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Higher tension strings will help as will slightly higher action. The Truss rod will be pulling against the strings more and will be better able to do its job.

    Conversely, Lower action and tension will allow for more movement and require more frequent adjustments.
     
  16. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Well, its been a few days and no movement yet. Maybe its settled in.
     
    ProfFrink likes this.
  17. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Hope so. You’ll want that to perform!
     
    blue4 likes this.

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