Jump to content
Why become a member? Read more... ×
petergales

Reducing the width of a neck

Recommended Posts

Is it possible to reduce the width of a fretted neck by shaving it down? The bass I have is 43mm at the nut and is just too wide for my hand. I like the bass in terms of tone but don't play it as much as I should because of the width issue. It would need to come down by as much as  4mm

to be ok for me. It's a bolt on neck.

Is it worth doing or should I just take a hit and sell it at a loss? It's an Elrick ex-pat 4 string and I've had it up for sale on this site for  a couple of months now with no interest shown.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’d buy a replacement neck 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As @Geek99 says; get a replacement neck.

What would stop me from changing the existing neck is:

1 - It makes it less saleable as an Elrick as it's no longer "standard".
2 - The Elrick has the dots to 1 side, so the dots will become closer the the edge at the nut end, if they don't get shaved off completely. - This would look odd.
3 - Reducing the wood in the neck may destabilize the neck. The wood, with less bulk may twist or bow.

This isn't a job for an amature, especially on a bass that isn't cheap.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it the string spacing or left hand position?

String spacing should be pretty simple issue, so an adjustment, but hand may need some learning to tackle the grip. The thumb should be placed behind the neck, but some people like that blues type of grip, where thumb tries to rise above the fretboard. The bass position may help this - if your bass hides your knees, there's not much you can do. Just meet your luthier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Grangur said:

As @Geek99 says; get a replacement neck.

What would stop me from changing the existing neck is:

1 - It makes it less saleable as an Elrick as it's no longer "standard".
2 - The Elrick has the dots to 1 side, so the dots will become closer the the edge at the nut end, if they don't get shaved off completely. - This would look odd.
3 - Reducing the wood in the neck may destabilize the neck. The wood, with less bulk may twist or bow.

This isn't a job for an amature, especially on a bass that isn't cheap.

Thanks for that advice. You've made some very good points that I hadn't thought about. I think my best move would be just to try to sell it for what I can get, or maybe use it as a part/ex for something more suitable.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, itu said:

Is it the string spacing or left hand position?

String spacing should be pretty simple issue, so an adjustment, but hand may need some learning to tackle the grip. The thumb should be placed behind the neck, but some people like that blues type of grip, where thumb tries to rise above the fretboard. The bass position may help this - if your bass hides your knees, there's not much you can do. Just meet your luthier.

Thanks for your reply.

The string spacing is fine. I use the thumb-behind-the-neck approach mainly but also the blues grip at times. Either way the first few positions tend to give me hand cramps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Geek99 said:

I’d buy a replacement neck 

Thanks for your reply but I'm not sure a replacement neck would be readily available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now things get interesting...

Easiest and quickest solutions: Sell the bass. (OK, it does not seem to be the quickest for some strange reason.) I strongly suggest you to contact the manufacturer for help. Often they are very nice and want to listen their clientele - for reason.

Somewhat slower choice is to find a reputable luthier. 4 mm is not so much after all. I have modified several instruments by myself, or a maker has done something to meet my needs.

If you have issues with your hands, that probably has something to do with the position of the neck in relation to your body. There are not very many other options than to start to hunt after a suitable instrument. If not a shorter scale bass, try to find something where the strap post meets the neck at 11th fret or even less. 12th is too far for too many players, I think. Bass is not so ergonomic to everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a chat with @Andyjr1515 of this parish before you make a final decision.  He very successfully reduced down the width of a neck on a Shergold Marathon for me a few years back.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, itu said:

Now things get interesting...

Easiest and quickest solutions: Sell the bass. (OK, it does not seem to be the quickest for some strange reason.) I strongly suggest you to contact the manufacturer for help. Often they are very nice and want to listen their clientele - for reason.

Somewhat slower choice is to find a reputable luthier. 4 mm is not so much after all. I have modified several instruments by myself, or a maker has done something to meet my needs.

If you have issues with your hands, that probably has something to do with the position of the neck in relation to your body. There are not very many other options than to start to hunt after a suitable instrument. If not a shorter scale bass, try to find something where the strap post meets the neck at 11th fret or even less. 12th is too far for too many players, I think. Bass is not so ergonomic to everyone.

Sell the bass? Definitely an option as I have some very nice instruments including a Fender CS 64 Jazz that has a very comfortable neck and curiously wider than the Elrick at the 12th fret (58mm v 55mm) but slimmer at the nut by 4mm. Also a recently purchased new Overwater Progress 3 that has a great neck and slimmer than the Elrick all the way up the neck.

Contact the manufacturer? I once tried to make contact with Rob Elrick but got a very curt response, so I wouldn't think I'd get much joy there. The official spec for the bass gave a nut width of 40mm but when I measure it it's 43mm.

A luthier? I have a luthier who lives not too far away and does all my repairs and mods. I've spoken to him and he reckons he could do it but I thinking about the points you made previously about dot positions etc. The other thing is that I would probably lose the MOP side markers. But thinking about it, he could probably make me a new neck to my spec and, that way, I would still have the original if I wanted to sell the bass later.

Your thoughts are much appreciated and I'm very grateful for them.

Kind regards

Pete

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Paul S said:

Have a chat with @Andyjr1515 of this parish before you make a final decision.  He very successfully reduced down the width of a neck on a Shergold Marathon for me a few years back.

Thanks Paul. I think I'll do just that. I do have a luthier locally, however, that I use for my repairs and mods who is confident he can do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, petergales said:

Is it possible to reduce the width of a fretted neck by shaving it down? The bass I have is 43mm at the nut and is just too wide for my hand. I like the bass in terms of tone but don't play it as much as I should because of the width issue. It would need to come down by as much as  4mm

to be ok for me. It's a bolt on neck.

Is it worth doing or should I just take a hit and sell it at a loss? It's an Elrick ex-pat 4 string and I've had it up for sale on this site for  a couple of months now with no interest shown.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

i have some ideas about this but before i share them id like to ask a few questions if i may?

1. are you looking to take 2mm per side off the entire length of the neck and therefore reducing the width at the 12 aswell? or just "increase the taper"

2. are you expecting a refret afterwards? as neck width surely corresponds to fret length. the neck will be much easier to work if there's no fretts in there.

3. are you also reducing the string spacing? or will the strings be closer to the new edge of the fingerboard

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, GisserD said:

i have some ideas about this but before i share them id like to ask a few questions if i may?

1. are you looking to take 2mm per side off the entire length of the neck and therefore reducing the width at the 12 aswell? or just "increase the taper"

2. are you expecting a refret afterwards? as neck width surely corresponds to fret length. the neck will be much easier to work if there's no fretts in there.

3. are you also reducing the string spacing? or will the strings be closer to the new edge of the fingerboard

 

 

Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions

1. I would only want to increase the taper from the 7th fret to the nut.

2. It would probably need a refret  of some length of the neck, perhaps from the 6th fret to the nut.

3. There is quite a generous margin between the strings and the fingerboard edge so the existing string spacing may not need to change.

I hope that answers your questions adequately

Kind regards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Paul S said:

Have a chat with @Andyjr1515 of this parish before you make a final decision.  He very successfully reduced down the width of a neck on a Shergold Marathon for me a few years back.

I'd forgotten that one, Paul!  Lovely old bass :)

Hi  @petergales

Yes - you should be talking to your local trusted luthier - these sorts of things are always easier if you can easily meet face to face and talk through the issues. 

But just some things that come to mind:

  • In order of preference, if it was my own bass - 1st  I wouldn't do it;  2nd If It was in all other respects an absolute keeper, I would consider the fully reversible option of a replacement neck...but I would be looking at more than just the width; 3rd  I would only mod if I knew I would never be getting rid of it or if the bass was already of low value.  And then, only after talking through in depth with a trusted luthier in terms of exactly what the problem was.

Expanding:

  • Are you sure it's the width that's causing the cramping?  It's worth seeing if the neck is also slimmer in depth than your more comfortable necks as that is often a factor in hand cramps.
  • Slimming the taper of a neck to this type of degree is actually perfectly feasible  BUT, as @Grangur and others say above: it WILL decimate the resale value of the bass (and, on a bass like this, I do mean decimate); it may give issues with side dots or may not - it depends on the dot depth and material; it will, of course, give issues if the fretboard is bound at all; it WILL require a full refinish of the neck as well as work on the affected fret-ends.
  • Custom necks are not cheap.... 

So I think it boils down to whether it is an absolute keeper or not.  I guess, if you've had this up for sale before, it's not really?

Hope this helps

Andy

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just seen your earlier post that came through as I was posting mine - slimming down to this degree should not require any re-fretting at all.

By the way - have you got a photo?  It is interesting that the nut isn't to stated spec and also that you reckon the strings are a long way from the edge.  Sounds odd to me.  Was it bought from new?  If so, worth going back to the original dealer...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Just seen your earlier post that came through as I was posting mine - slimming down to this degree should not require any re-fretting at all.

By the way - have you got a photo?  It is interesting that the nut isn't to stated spec and also that you reckon the strings are a long way from the edge.  Sounds odd to me.  Was it bought from new?  If so, worth going back to the original dealer...

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I was surprised, when I checked it, to see that the stated spec was only 40mm. The distance from the string to the fingerboard edge I measure to be 5mm. I bought it new but it was about a couple of years ago.

Elrick Expat 002.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, petergales said:

Thanks for your reply. To answer your questions

1. I would only want to increase the taper from the 7th fret to the nut.

2. It would probably need a refret  of some length of the neck, perhaps from the 6th fret to the nut.

3. There is quite a generous margin between the strings and the fingerboard edge so the existing string spacing may not need to change.

I hope that answers your questions adequately

Kind regards

1. The 2 sides of the neck, from the point where they leave the body, to the nut, should run in straight lines. If you slim them only from the 7th down it will feel really weird as your hand moves up and down the neck.

2. It's possible you might escape needing a re-fret. But do the fret ends show on the sides, or are they hidden? Hiding the ends, after taking the sides off would be impossible.

3. Is it possible that all you need is a custom nut that widens the string spacing to take the strings closer to the sides?

But all said.. as @Andyjr1515 says, before you do ANYthing, you need to be totally certain what it is that is giving you problems: 
Width?
Depth?
String spacing?
Your technique? (Are you a player who likes to use your thumb to fret the E-string?

Once someone takes a blade to the neck, there's no going back. I wouldn't do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Andyjr1515 said:

I'd forgotten that one, Paul!  Lovely old bass :)

Hi  @petergales

Yes - you should be talking to your local trusted luthier - these sorts of things are always easier if you can easily meet face to face and talk through the issues. 

But just some things that come to mind:

  • In order of preference, if it was my own bass - 1st  I wouldn't do it;  2nd If It was in all other respects an absolute keeper, I would consider the fully reversible option of a replacement neck...but I would be looking at more than just the width; 3rd  I would only mod if I knew I would never be getting rid of it or if the bass was already of low value.  And then, only after talking through in depth with a trusted luthier in terms of exactly what the problem was.

Expanding:

  • Are you sure it's the width that's causing the cramping?  It's worth seeing if the neck is also slimmer in depth than your more comfortable necks as that is often a factor in hand cramps.
  • Slimming the taper of a neck to this type of degree is actually perfectly feasible  BUT, as @Grangur and others say above: it WILL decimate the resale value of the bass (and, on a bass like this, I do mean decimate); it may give issues with side dots or may not - it depends on the dot depth and material; it will, of course, give issues if the fretboard is bound at all; it WILL require a full refinish of the neck as well as work on the affected fret-ends.
  • Custom necks are not cheap.... 

So I think it boils down to whether it is an absolute keeper or not.  I guess, if you've had this up for sale before, it's not really?

Hope this helps

Andy

 

Hi Andy

Some very sensible comments you've made. I think I'll take them on board and just leave things as they are and persist with the sale.

Kind regards

Pete

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, petergales said:

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I was surprised, when I checked it, to see that the stated spec was only 40mm. The distance from the string to the fingerboard edge I measure to be 5mm. I bought it new but it was about a couple of years ago.

I'd contact the maker and see what the cost is of a replacement neck. When you consider the cost of the work, a replacement neck could be a comparable cost.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Grangur said:

1. The 2 sides of the neck, from the point where they leave the body, to the nut, should run in straight lines. If you slim them only from the 7th down it will feel really weird as your hand moves up and down the neck.

2. It's possible you might escape needing a re-fret. But do the fret ends show on the sides, or are they hidden? Hiding the ends, after taking the sides off would be impossible.

3. Is it possible that all you need is a custom nut that widens the string spacing to take the strings closer to the sides?

But all said.. as @Andyjr1515 says, before you do ANYthing, you need to be totally certain what it is that is giving you problems: 
Width?
Depth?
String spacing?
Your technique? (Are you a player who likes to use your thumb to fret the E-string?

Once someone takes a blade to the neck, there's no going back. I wouldn't do it.

Thanks for your input. It's really appreciated and I think I'll leave well alone and keep pursuing a sale.

Kind regards

Pete

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, petergales said:

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I was surprised, when I checked it, to see that the stated spec was only 40mm. The distance from the string to the fingerboard edge I measure to be 5mm. I bought it new but it was about a couple of years ago.

Elrick Expat 002.JPG

Well, that looks absolutely spot-on in relation to the nut spacing.  To be honest, you wouldn't want to be much closer to the edge and so you would be looking at a tighter string spacing at the nut too too.  And @Grangur is right - the taper basically has to be done along the length of the board

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

How hands on are you @petergales?

Is it worth buying a few nut blanks and a cheap set of needle files, if you don't have any, and have a play around with different string spacings. 

It can totally change the feel of a neck and you don't need to make a perfect nut just to try out different spacings. If you do find a different spacing makes it feel nicer then you can make a decent one or get one made if you're not confident. Any rigid plastic will do for trial nuts and will be reversible if you carefully remove and keep the original nut. Would cost less than a tenner to make a few replacements. 

Edited by Maude

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Well, that looks absolutely spot-on in relation to the nut spacing.  To be honest, you wouldn't want to be much closer to the edge and so you would be looking at a tighter string spacing at the nut too too.  And @Grangur is right - the taper basically has to be done along the length of the board

Hi Andy

Think I'll just leave well alone and go for a sale. It's in the For Sale thread so I'll leave it a while longer or just withdraw it and hang on to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Maude said:

How hands on are you @petergales?

Is it worth buying a few nut blanks and a cheap set of needle files, if you don't have any, and have a play around with different string spacings. 

It can totally change the feel of a neck and you don't need to make a perfect nut just to try out different spacings. If you do find a different spacing makes it feel nicer then you can make a decent one or get one made if you're not confident. Any rigid plastic will do for trial nuts and will be reversible if you carefully remove and keep the original nut. Would cost less than a tenner to make a few replacements. 

Thanks for your reply. The simple answer is I'm not at all hands on to the degree necessary so wouldn't attempt it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to all you guys who responded to my post. Once again Basschat comes up trumps with some excellent advice.

I really appreciate such well-informed comments and as a result I'm going to leave well alone and either pursue a sale or a part-ex.

Kindest regards to you all

Pete

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×