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Neck Advice For Thru-neck Bass Build


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I've been thinking about building a neck-thru-body 4-string bass for my next project, and have a few Q's I hope you can help answer;

1) Good woods to use for the neck: I'm thinking 3 pieces, maybe maple either side with a dark mahogany in the centre, maybe some contrasting veneers along the join lines. Any other recommedations for good wood pairings?

2) I love ebony fretboards, but I'm not sure I have the skill to shape one well enough and put frets in it. Are there pre-shaped and pre-fretted fingerboards available I can use?

3) How much does the choice of wood for the wings influence the sound, compared to the core/neck?

Are you best going for a nice light wood to ease playability and shoulder strain?

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1) Mahogany and maple are both fine choices for a neck. But I would not use them together. You are going to have issues with the open pores on the mahogany vs. the closed pores of maple. If you want the mahogany but multi colored wood I would try and find something that is lighter in color or significantly darker that has open pores. Or like wise, something of a different color that is closed grained to go with the maple.

2) Pre shaped and slotted are easy to find, pre fretted are a lot more difficult.

3) You were probably the kid that liked throwing rocks at hornets nests. This is a question that is going to get you a lot of different answers. I do not presume to be an expert at how woods react together for tone, I am not even very good at what wood is going to give what type of tone, so I will leave that one for people more experienced than I am.

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You are going to have issues with the open pores on the mahogany vs. the closed pores of maple.

I'm confused as to what you mean by this. What do the size of the grain pores have to deal with anything? There are tons of basses out there with Wenge and Maple necks (2 I have built, 1 custom that I own) that feel and play excellent, Wenge is extremely open grained, more so than Mahogany.

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1) I agree with ihocky regarding mahogany and maple as a pairing. I would look into using maple with walnut in the center. Walnut is stiffer than mahogany, but still not as "bright" as maple. I don't know how well mahogany would hold up to bass tension without some reenforcement.

2) If you find any prefretted fretboards, lemme know :D I'd pay you so much for them! I'm going to be doing the fretting on my neck this long weekend, and it scares me just to think about it, hahaha. Preradiused/preslotted are the easiest to find. I'm thinking it's really hard to to fret a fretboard first and then glue it without it warping in some way.

3) I was asking the same question! Here's the link to the thread, I didn't get much luck. So rather than a shameless bump, maybe the link will get me some help, hahaha. The guy over at TK instruments puts forth some pretty valid reasons, in my opinion, so I'm leaning more and more towards the Warwick method of "a stringthrough but not really." Best of luck!

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Thanks for the feeedback guys.

2) Pre shaped and slotted are easy to find, pre fretted are a lot more difficult.

Can anyone offer advice about where I can get pre-shaped and slotted bass fingerboards here in the UK?

I like the Maple/walnut idea - see what you're getting at about the different pore sizes. Any other recommedations for good pairings, from a workability point of view?

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Carvins' upper fret access is godly :D

Al: Bubinga is a very popular body wood, ash and alder are used a lot by fender. I'd fix the headstock and tuner placement to look better with the body design. I know StewMac sells overseas, but other than that, I dunno. I'm in the states over here. It's one of the biggest parts sellers online, so you might be better off to make a bulk purchase, no?

http://www.warmoth.com/bass/options/options_bodywoods.cfm

Check here for tonal properties to give you more ideas.

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The Carvin looks lovely - just what I'm after. :D

Just finished putting together a P-bass with a Bubinga body, I thought my jig saw was going to burn out cutting the body for this. It has a cheap replacement neck off e-bay but the tone is absolutely awesome - only it weighs a tonne!

Thx for the Warmoth link.

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Ah, I didn't know bubinga was that heavy! Chambering is also an option. If you get a 2 inch (sorry, don't know my metric that well... 5cm?) thick body, you can quarter it, basically cut it into wings, and then cut the wings in half like a sandwich to chamber them then glue them back together. Maybe a veneer in between the slabs? It might look pretty classy!

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Yeah, you could, some flame or quilt maple. I don't know what the natural sound of the bass would be with all that maple, though, top and neck laminates. I've played a few Warwick basses with maple necks and bubinga bodies, though, and man do they sound nice :D That's a nice looking P-bass, two knobs, nice and simple. Just how I like it.

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Can anyone offer advice about where I can get pre-shaped and slotted bass fingerboards here in the UK?

I like the Maple/walnut idea - see what you're getting at about the different pore sizes. Any other recommedations for good pairings, from a workability point of view?

Simo from the UK forum has some stuff for sale on ebay inc fretboards here

you could ask him if he can sort you out with what you need

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the maple and walnut is quite a popular mix, so it should work well. there are plenty of other mixes though. what about maple and bubinga?

regarding the vol tone and balance pots, i was going to do this on my bass (but a preamp boost control instead of tone), but ive decided to just put 2 vol pots, works the same as the balance pot. saves having to get the special pots. i wanted to have a 1meg pots which werent available in the balance pots.

im also in australia, and didnt really want to order from stewmac (only place i could find with the pots) unless i was going to get some other things with it.

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I see a fairly emotive subject is pickup placement. My natural inclination would be to put the bridge pup as near to the bridge as possible and the neck pup as near to the end of the fretboard as possible (by 24th fret) to get the widest possible variations in tone. Now I am hearing I should be placing them under specific harmonic nodes, like the 36th and the 48th, but this surely would only hold true for when you play an open string, unfretted.

Looking at big names in basses, Fender, Rickenbacker, Warwick, Warmoth, their neck pups are never right at the end of the fretboard though, more like halfway between the bridge and the end of the fretboard. Is there a good tonal reason for this? Anything I should be aware of before I finalise the plans?

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I would play it safe and, depending on what pickups you choose, put them where they're normally placed. I've heard lots of people say that the Music Man pickups are at the best place tonally, but it's all preference. A P/J setup you say? I'd just pick up a few basses with your combination, play them, and measure out the placement you think sounds the best. As far as the most tonal variety, I think you're getting that with the two different pickups. I've never seen a bass pickup placed right at the end of the fretboard like a guitar. That's got to be pretty muddy! Even on a guitar, which has a much shorter scale, a neck pickup really pushes it.

I don' t place much stock in the node situation either, as you're right it would only apply with open strings, if it applied at all :D

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i agree, ignore the nodes, as diffeeren frets give different harmonic content. just think that the closer to the bridge, the more harmonic content there will be, giving a treblier sound, but also less fundamental, and closer to the middle of the string will give you more fundamental and less harmonic content. i just put mine where it seems suitable for the design, wether its guitar or bass. the bass i made i looked at a photo of a jazz bass, and got an aproximate ration, not to get the right node, just so i didnt make the bridge too thin or the neck too boomy. on my guitar i put the neck after the truss rod adjustment ( at the heel end, so the neck pup is a ways away from the bridge) im not looking for the cleanest sound in the world, so it should work well for me.

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