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lownote12

Springing the skunk stripe?

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I just had a bass returned by a BCer buyer.   The bass left me alright but he claims when it arrived the varnish had cracked and lifted at the machine head end of the skunk stripe in the neck. Having now got the bass back there is a small area maybe 1/4 inch across of the varnish around the tip of the skunk strip which has chipped out and cracked,  although I can't detect any lift in the skunk strip itself. The buyer and a chum of his opine the cause was me relaxing the strings for transport without relaxing the truss rod at the same time.  Effectively, they say, the tensioned truss rod without counter-tension from the springs has in some way 'sprung' the skunk stripe while in transit for 24 hours, enough to crack and chip the varnish.  I find this causality extremely unlikely but then what do I know, so I thought I'd canvass the expert opinion of the hive brain on whether their explanation is feasible.  

Edited by gary mac
I've removed the name of the buyer, as not appropriate or necessary in this thread.

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There is a school of thought that suggests you do not loosen the tension on the neck. I must admit I’ve never understood why anyone would, the neck is designed to be under tension after all, and in this context I’ve heard - anecdotally - of this issue with the truss rod before.  I’m not an expert however, so don’t take my word. Hope you get it sorted either way. C

Edited by Beedster
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My original understanding on the relaxing tension thing was to give the neck more flexible options if Captain Courier decided to use the parcel as a caber.

Edited by lownote12

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I always loosen strings when posting basses. Keeping the strings at full tension, especially flats, can cause problems with heavy handed courier's or freezing cold warehouse's straight into warm rooms.

I don't believe loosening the strings caused the skunk stripe issue.

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I wouldn't loosen the strings when posting a bass ... but I still don't believe loosening the strings caused the skunk stripe issue.

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When I bought a bass direct from Lakland in Chicago, it crossed the Atlantic and arrived with the truss rod and strings in perfect tension. There was no loosening of anything.

 

Edited by EssentialTension

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1 hour ago, hooky_lowdown said:

I always loosen strings when posting basses. Keeping the strings at full tension, especially flats, can cause problems with heavy handed courier's or freezing cold warehouse's straight into warm rooms.

 

I'm genuinely interested in knowing how keeping strings at tension would predispose the bass to courier or temperature damage? 

51 minutes ago, EssentialTension said:

When I bought a bass direct from Lakland in Chicago, it crossed the Atlantic and arrived with the truss rod and strings in perfect tension. There was no loosening of anything.

I've bought a lot of basses (!), and from some serious/knowledgable dealers in UK and US, and never had one delivered with string tension reduced.

I've bought a few on BC however that have!

I wonder who's in the right?

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I have removed necks from basses and months/years later fitted them back to a bass. The truss rod didn't spontaeously explode out of the skunk stripe, while they weren't attached to a body.

I don't think the damage had anything to do with loosening the string tension on the neck.

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I’ve never had a bass arrive with the strings loosened off, and Ive had a lot of basses  over the years from all over the world , Ive also had jazz necks on the bench in my joinery shop for months , and there’s been no movement in the skunk stripes,

I don’t believe relaxing the strings did any damage at all  🙂

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4 hours ago, lownote12 said:

I just had a bass returned by a BCer buyer, Aiden63.  The bass left me alright but he claims when it arrived the varnish had cracked and lifted at the machine head end of the skunk stripe in the neck. Having now got the bass back there is a small area maybe 1/4 inch across of the varnish around the tip of the skunk strip which has chipped out and cracked,  although I can't detect any lift in the skunk strip itself. The buyer and a chum of his opine the cause was me relaxing the strings for transport without relaxing the truss rod at the same time.  Effectively, they say, the tensioned truss rod without counter-tension from the springs has in some way 'sprung' the skunk stripe while in transit for 24 hours, enough to crack and chip the varnish.  I find this causality extremely unlikely but then what do I know, so I thought I'd canvass the expert opinion of the hive brain on whether their explanation is feasible.  

To me, that sounds more like a knock or even a drop against something hard and really nothing to do with truss rod tension.

Any pics?

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Picture of the damage, the bass was well wrapped in bubble wrap and inside a strong cardboard box and no apparent damage to the box in transit but this cracking of the varnish was evident on first inspection; I thought that the damage, which is slight, just hadn't been declared, I didn't know it had happened in transit; the bass plays fine but John quickly offered to take it back so I returned it to him. I asked @Andyjr1515 opinion if it could have been caused by cold shock as I had tried to be very careful about bringing the package up to room temperature before opening it in the evening, it had been well below freezing here first thing in the morning so the package was very cold when delivered and had been in the workshop which is unheated all day

 

WP_20200122_005.jpg

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4 hours ago, Aidan63 said:

I asked @Andyjr1515 opinion if it could have been caused by cold shock as I had tried to be very careful about bringing the package up to room temperature before opening it in the evening, it had been well below freezing here first thing in the morning so the package was very cold when delivered and had been in the workshop which is unheated all day

And for completeness, I didn't think it was thermal shock.

None of us know, but like @EssentialTension speculates, it is my guess that it had a drop-shock in transport.  From the photo I don't think it is serious - trust me, a structural failure of the skunk stripe is much more dramatic.  Looks to me more like a split in the lacquer and that indicates a one off handling shock (couriers don't generally place large, heavy boxes...they do tend to handle them 'robustly')  

While there's no knowing whether this was exacerbated by the strings being slackened or not, nowadays, based on a bad experience I had shipping a bass overseas, I personally go for either strings AND truss rod slackened  or strings AND trussrod at normal tension.   Reason that I don't just slacken the strings only is an unproven and personal concern that the backward bend is stressing the neck into a shape it doesn't usually sit at, with the fret slots opened up slightly and the trussrod exerting quite high stresses at the two ends and middle.  My fear is that with a 'robust' handling drop, this combination could be the straw that breaks the camels back. 

Certainly, in the case of my bad experience - and based on other evidence pretty sure triggered by a drop -  with the trussrod at full tension and the strings slackened, the 'hump' of the tensioned trussrod split the fretboard /neck joint in the middle of the neck and loosened 4-5 frets.

I've always meant to ask here what other folks do.  This thread sort of does that :) 

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