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will a new neck improve my tone?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BarkerBass, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Hi all, quick bit of advice needed if you'd be so kind :)

    I built headless bass a few months ago and used a headless 24 fret maple neck with rosewood fingerboard from a bass I bought of the bay. The bass has a mahogany core with poplar wings and is bolt on. it has a set of humbucker pickups in a position fairly close to the sadowsky modern basses pickup location, like a jazz but shunted closer to the bridge respectively.

    Either way I know those wood combos will not make a snappy bright bass but in another thread someone suggested getting a stiffer neck to help the tonal stability.

    The current neck is rather susceptible to movement and the truss rod is almost maxed out. without the strings at proper tension the neck moves, it's a balancing act between strings and truss rod as the neck wood itself has little stability, as far as I can tell.

    So my question is: Will getting a replacement 24 fret neck (probably with a rosewood fingerboard) from a different bass, improve my tone due to it's greater stability? or will I not notice very much difference at all?

    Thanks guys for helping a noobish builder improve on his first real build.
  2. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    What type of tone are you seeking?
  3. allexcosta

    allexcosta Banned

    Apr 7, 2004
    Boca Raton - FL
    Endorsing Artist: MLaghus Custom Basses
    Generally speaking, a better, more stable neck and a high-quality rod will improve tone, sustain and dead notes.

    If you're using maple go for a traditional 3-piece maple neck as it has more stability.
  4. I just want a tone that's a little more alive, this bass has a dark (dull-ish) tone so I'm not expecting amazing highs and clarity but something with a little more of an even tone e.g more top end would be nice.

    It's the neck stability transferring the high end more that I'm concerned with. I know when I swapped a rosewood jazz neck for a maple one on my fender it improved the tone (to me) no end and was hoping a well made and rigid neck would do the same for this bass
  5. Arranger


    Mar 9, 2003
    That's just what I was wondering. I'm imagining that the swap you did from rosewood to maple could also have been more about the fretboard than just the neck stock. A rosewood fretboard always seems to me to be a darker or softer sound and I prefer the harder and brighter sound of a maple fretboard. Ebony is a close second to maple, but not quite as bright in my mind. I think any neck stock that is more rigid would achieve more of the same snappier, brighter or tighter sound, but that fretboard material might have an equal effect on your tone.

    My 2 cents... :)
  6. yeah I get the fretboard tonal change factor but it's more if anyone has experience with a stability factor improving tone or sustain etc that I'm after.

    Thanks for the reply though, I'm hoping some luthier or knowledgeable fellow could help me :)

  7. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi CATALDO BASSES Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Florida Swamp
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    What pickups are in the bass? That will affect the tone more than the neck...is the nut cut properly? That also makes a difference. All things being equal I agree maple has a brighter sound than rosewood.

    What kind of mahogany? Big difference in tone with what is called mahogany these days and the genuine stuff IMO.
  8. hello everyone I wanted to bump this thread to see if anyone has anymore ideas because I've decided to revisit this project bass again to see if I can improve it's tone and playability.

    The bass has a P pickup and an MM pickup fairly close together and a little closer to the bridge than normal positions. With alot of eqing they can produce a bit of bite but all in all it's a very dull thumpy tone, almost like flats but this bass wears rounds.

    My questions once again is will a new better quality neck with higher rigidity and better stability imporve the response of this bass and help it find a little more of an even tone?

    Regardless of the maple vs RW fretboard differences, will a bass with a cheap RW FB maple neck with poor stability and rigidity which needs adjusting LOTS to keep it playable, be improved tonally (I'm almost certain that playability will improve hugely) if this neck was replaced with a better quality RW FB maple neck which was stable and rigid and so would hold it's shape and be a stronger, firmer neck?

    Thoughts please :confused:

  9. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    The neck is going to play some part as it isn't stable, so replacing the neck could help some. I think the other part of the problem could be the pickup placement, but without real measures on position and the Don Tillman article, I couldn't speak to that. The pickups inheirent sound could be the reason for the dead sound also. Pics with some measurements from the bridge to the poles could help.
  10. I'm gonna go with pickups too. That is the easy first place to start. Also, what are you playing it through? Coz I guarantee that the electronic side of things makes a big difference more than the wood. The wood is subtle colours. The electronics do 90% of the work.

    P.s. how old are your strings?
  11. the pickups have been in a couple of other basses and have plenty of top end so I'm still thinking it's the mechanical factors of the bass. It's strings are dead atm but i've boiled them to see if a quick new lease of life could be grasped but it didn't do much at all, I think the neck's instability sucks out the top end.

    i'll try an emg pickup I have when I get home to see if that'll help, if anything will add highs it'll be an emg right?
  12. I'm just wondering why you think the neck is "unstable" too? Some pic of the bass would also help us here. I rarely say this, but could it be that the bass would benefit from a new set of really like bright strings, like some stainless steel ones for instance.

    I just think that the neck is pretty much the last thing on your list of things to replace. I've not seen a neck kill a bass' tone. Usually it's a combo of other things. Electronics at the top of the list.
  13. odin70


    Dec 26, 2007
    Maybe, but i think a couple of new hands would affect your tone even more
  14. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I don't believe you can get good tone out of a bad neck. If the neck is weak it will absorb most of the upper harmonic content. Pickups wont help this because they cant reproduce what isn't there to begin with.
  15. sratas


    Dec 15, 2007
    Parma, Italy
    this is the reason because I rarely chime in a thread. Many guys with little to no experience trying to have the best opinion. If a loose neck/unstable one has no or very little to do with tone, why acoustic/classic instruments change so much by only adjusting the neck properties? Yeah, electronics play a major role, I agree, but a poorly constructed instrument will never play or sound "awesome". If he says that the Pus were almost brilliant sounding in other basses, why continue to point on PUs? I understand that many folks do not know about luthiery and as a consequence believe a falsed opinion, but so, why buy a Sadowsky, or another high-end (and high dollars) luthiery instrument. If a neck/fretboard does not matter so much, go and sell your current expensive basses and buy a 100 dollars bass, then change pre and PUs. maybe you are lucky, but I think that some people simply has not the ability or knowledge to understand the complexity of an instrument's acoustics.
  16. i agree with you on the importance of an instruments integrity and sound construction being as important as the pickups etc, they can only work with what they receive, this is why I believe this bass has a mechanical weakness in the neck and not simply an electronic treble killer somewhere.

    I believe the neck is weak because it moved a lot, even detuning the E to a D will result in the neck shifting and noticably effecting the action etc. I know all necks are in someway effected by the string's tension but this is dependent on them and so moves a lot with any change of string tension, climate etc
  17. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    I don't know if you are referencing me or someone else, but I will say this. I have been buildang repairing instruments for 29 years.
    You can make an assumption as you are by just what you read, but when you have instruments on your benches every day of the year, you learn as I have that rarely is there 1 cure all for any problem with an instrument, and by reading what is said you can see where other problems might arise. I didn't say the pickups were bad, I said the inheirent sound may be, in accordance with their placement, which is why I mentioned this, also it is stated that they are closer to the bridge. If you read Don Tillmans articles on the vibrational rotation and the effects of rotation close to the bridge, you will understand why I also posed this.

    As an addend, I did state firstthat the neck could be the problem. You have to read the complete post, plus the point that the strings are dead and take the whole picture into account, not just singular parts.

    The OP said there was a stibility problem, and nothing about the actual neck to body join, only that the neck would move under tension. You can't surmise that the neck joint is crap without the OP actually mentioning it. But yes, as I stated in my first posting the neck couldplay a part in it. How much? nobody knows until it is swapped with one that reacts normally under tension.

    So please refrain from throwing out an absolute unless you have the instrument on the bench in front of you. Nobody can make more than a guess, and many people have many different experiences that result in similar problems. See the whole picture not just a segment.
  18. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    ^to add to what JC has said, comparing acoustic instruments to electric ones is like comparing bicycles to automobiles. They both get you around, but how they get the job done is radically different. sratas, not to be a jerk, but your post demonstrates clearly that you yourself have a limited understanding of the factors at play...
  19. What I'm seeing quite generally in this thread is a lack of absolute, objective data with which to diagnose the issue. Pics and sound samples would go a long way to helping us see the issue more clearly.

    For instance, if the neck does shift a lot when taken from E to D on the E string, give us some real measurements and pics of said shift.

    Show us a pic of the neck and grain of the timber, thickness, etc. These thing will demonstrate better as to why the neck is not stable if that is the issue.
  20. ok guys, what specific photos will hep you out?

    I'll en devour to take them tomorrow if I get told what you want.

    it's hard to photograph such things though as when the neck shifts due to string tension changing (loosening) the strings always end up hitting the neck and so you wouldn't notice much difference in the photos other than the strings touching the neck.

    As for the earlier mentioned neck joint, I thought this may have been the problem and so I have used screw inserts and bigger screws to ensure a very tight and strong joint, nothing is moving there, it;s the remained of the neck where the excessive flex is noticeable... as for the grain, it's a weird one, i'll try and photograph it to show you.

    Let's try and keep this civil, I'm just after some advice and people are offering their opinions, by all means give yours and even debunk others but please keep this about the basses and not the people.

    Cheers, BB