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Al Krow

Bass necks - single wood piece vs laminate

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My Yamahas have typically all had laminate wood necks - and Yammy states that these are stiffer and by implication less prone to twisting and warping, but plenty of other makes and models use single wood pieces for their necks.

Do you have a preference for single piece or laminate e.g. in terms of the sound or sustain (which I appreciate can be a dirty word these days)?

Have you had any issues with bass necks twisting / warping? And, if so, did you manage to get the neck fixed?

Interested to get your thoughts / wisdom / experience on this - not least from any luthiers.

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I wouldn't be put-off one way or the other, although I'd expect that a laminated neck has more strength to it. Some people like the aesthetics you can conjure up with a nice choice of timbers for a laminated neck, so that's a potential plus too.

The worst neck I ever had was on a Danelectro re-issue (not a 50's / 60's model). It was all over the shop in the end. I'd be interested to know what the construction of the neck was. It was painted black, so it will remain one of lifes great mysteries.

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Carbon fibre necks are a set of layers.

Curbow had lots of laminates, looked like plywood. That pretty new Australian luthier seems to build his necks the same way. If that plywood is good for boats and aeroplanes, why not basses?

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My Thunderbird's a nine-piece laminate thru-body (mahogany and walnut, I think). Whether it's for improved stability, or for showy luthiery, I don't know - are there any experts who can confirm or refute the theory of improved strength? It certainly maintains a nice, straight neck with a surprisingly narrow profile, but then that's probably as much to do with a good-quality truss rod!

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4 minutes ago, EliasMooseblaster said:

My Thunderbird's a nine-piece laminate thru-body (mahogany and walnut, I think). Whether it's for improved stability, or for showy luthiery, I don't know - are there any experts who can confirm or refute the theory of improved strength? It certainly maintains a nice, straight neck with a surprisingly narrow profile, but then that's probably as much to do with a good-quality truss rod!

Basically speaking-The strength comes from the fact that being smaller/thinner bits of wood blues together if one of the pieces wants to warp Then there are ‘X’ other numbers keeping it in check, as well as carbon rods.

1 piece - if it wants to go, it goes and has little else to brace and stop it.

There is of course 1 piece - 1 piece and 1 piece with a fingerboard which will behave slightly differently as well.

Its the same as a 2 piece body being more stable than a single piece.

Of course pairing woods of different properties, different batches helps

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Hmmm, not really thought about this before, certainly not the sustain bit.  I can see why we would expect the laminate (if the laminate is perpendicular to the length) would help stability though.  The only laminated neck I have is on a Rick and it has only needed one tweak of the rods in 8 years whereas my Fenders and one of my 2 Musicman basses get fettled at least yearly (one of the MMs has a roasted neck and that seems more stable than the other one).  Interested in @Rikki_Sixxcomment on his Dano....my Longhorn with a very skinny neck, though only owned for a couple of years has ultra low action and not needed resetting yet - no idea what the construction is under the paint though.   

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2 minutes ago, martthebass said:

Hmmm, not really thought about this before, certainly not the sustain bit.  I can see why we would expect the laminate (if the laminate is perpendicular to the length) would help stability though.  The only laminated neck I have is on a Rick and it has only needed one tweak of the rods in 8 years whereas my Fenders and one of my 2 Musicman basses get fettled at least yearly (one of the MMs has a roasted neck and that seems more stable than the other one).  Interested in @Rikki_Sixxcomment on his Dano....my Longhorn with a very skinny neck, though only owned for a couple of years has ultra low action and not needed resetting yet - no idea what the construction is under the paint though.   

Roasting increases stability by removing moisture from the wood and altering the cellular structure to make it more mature - so it makes sense

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Isn't a glued joint stronger than the wood itself? If this is the case shouldn't a laminate neck be stronger?

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4 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

Isn't a glued joint stronger than the wood itself? If this is the case shouldn't a laminate neck be stronger?

Pretty sure that’s what I said - and yes it’s true

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I prefer laminates just from the look, but I thought that the idea was strength, stability (different woods expand at different rates) and sustain (or lack of dead spots, a composite wood doesn't have one fixed frequency like a single piece of wood does).

I would say as a 'not about tonewoods' sort of person, my theories about that were blown out of the water by the SR2605 compared to the SR1605. Same layout, same pickups, same electronics, completely different sound. The only thing that is different between them (if you ignore that the 2605 is heavy laquer and the 1605 is matte), is that their neck composition is very different. the 2605 certainly has a lot more sustain than the 1605. Maybe its down to the OMFG number of laminations?

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38 minutes ago, martthebass said:

Hmmm, not really thought about this before, certainly not the sustain bit.  I can see why we would expect the laminate (if the laminate is perpendicular to the length) would help stability though.  The only laminated neck I have is on a Rick and it has only needed one tweak of the rods in 8 years whereas my Fenders and one of my 2 Musicman basses get fettled at least yearly (one of the MMs has a roasted neck and that seems more stable than the other one).  Interested in @Rikki_Sixxcomment on his Dano....my Longhorn with a very skinny neck, though only owned for a couple of years has ultra low action and not needed resetting yet - no idea what the construction is under the paint though.   

Quickly gets dictionary out to understand what "fettled" means...can't be the same as (fine) "fettle" at least not in this context 😁

fettle in British English 

VERB

1.  to remove ( excess moulding material and casting irregularities) from a cast component

2.  to line or repair (the walls of a furnace)

3.  British dialect:

a. to prepare or arrange (a thing, oneself, etc), esp to put a finishing touch to

b. to repair or mend (something)

NOUN

4. state of healthspirits, etc (esp in the phrase in fine fettle)

5.  another name for fettling

 
Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers
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Posted (edited)

I've owned and played several different types of neck construction, and have only had warping issues with one: an old (late 1990s) G&L SB-2 with the old bi-cut neck. Those are technically one-piece maple necks, but sawn in half down the middle to install the truss-rod from the side (!) and then glued back together. This was specifically done to prevent warping issues, but it happened to mine anyway. G&L doesn't use this type of neck construction anymore since they were bought by BBE, I suspect because of cost issues (routing the neck below the fingerboard, or from the back and installing a skunkstripe, seems like an easier and more affordable way). 

I think I've just had bad luck with mine, I know there are many more G&L's out there with that type of neck construction that are perfectly fine.

I'd grab a nice one-piece quartersawn maple neck just as gladly as I'd play a good laminate. 

Edited by LeftyJ
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3 hours ago, Al Krow said:

Quickly gets dictionary out to understand what "fettled" means...can't be the same as (fine) "fettle" at least not in this context 😁

fettle in British English 

VERB

1.  to remove ( excess moulding material and casting irregularities) from a cast component

2.  to line or repair (the walls of a furnace)

3.  British dialect:

a. to prepare or arrange (a thing, oneself, etc), esp to put a finishing touch to

b. to repair or mend (something)

NOUN

4. state of healthspirits, etc (esp in the phrase in fine fettle)

5.  another name for fettling

 
Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

Ironically I do get involved in number 2 on your list (not number twos...other than when required).

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, martthebass said:

Ironically I do get involved in number 2 on your list (not number twos...other than when required).

Which I presume is most days (in terms of "when required")? 😂

Edited by Al Krow
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4 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

Basically speaking-The strength comes from the fact that being smaller/thinner bits of wood blues together if one of the pieces wants to warp Then there are ‘X’ other numbers keeping it in check, as well as carbon rods.

1 piece - if it wants to go, it goes and has little else to brace and stop it.

Aha, that makes sense - thank you for clarifying!

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Of all the basses I’ve had the ones that have moved most have been 3 of my Seis. All were laminates and the one that moved most had carbon fibre rods too. I had a Status with a twisted carbon fibre neck once.

My Rics, however, once set, have hardly moved at all. My favourite-sounding bass, my Feb ‘72 4001, has a one piece neck, which was once described by John Diggins as “spongey”, and yet it sounds wonderful IMO. I think both sound and stability depend on the individual instrument. 

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I'm inclined to think that it's more dependent on the neck profile (in terms of thickness),  the type  and number of truss-rods, any other reinforcing and stabilising rods, and the cut and type of wood used. Then maybe the laminations, if any.

The only exception I can think of is if no one wooden material dominates- like say, an Alembic comprised of Maple, Walnut, Purple Heart etc.

The stiffest bass neck I've owned was on a Streamer LX6. That was a 7- piece Wenge item (with reinforcing bars,  I think)  That wasn't going anywhere,  ever.

Conversely, my Ibanez loves to go for a wander if it gets cold. That's one piece maple under the paint. That said,  it's running a crazy low action and only just enough relief. De-tune it even a smidge and it'll start to buzz.

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Honestly I only had to adjust a truss rod once before I was on here.

The only bass i ever had to adjust more than once was a Jazz.

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Posted (edited)

A laminated neck made of the same type and quality of wood as a similar 1 piece neck is theoretically much stronger than the 1 piece neck.

When that is said I have never owned any guitar or bass with as stable a neck as my cheap budget December 2010, Chinese, production, Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Bass, maple neck, which is a 2 piece, I guess, 1 piece of wood for the angled headstock cut in an angle and glued on from about the end of 1st fret to about the middle of the 3rd fret to a likewise angled cut 1 piece remaining neck piece.

Of course it is still a relatively young neck, compared to some of the basses out there, so time will tell if it eventually will develop a twist or warp, but up till now it hasn't, and it seems like when the trussrod once has been adjusted to the desired amount of relief the neck pretty much stays in that position regardless of weather changes, even through quite prominent temperature and humidity changes, and holds tuning extremely well too.

Still if the same neck wood that this budget bass has been lucky to get, out of the pile of more or less random, budget production poor quality control, wood, on the factory where it was made, had been cut out and laminated, no doubt it would have been even stronger and even more resistant to changes.

 

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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Any neck made with good quality wood that has been properly "seasoned" before use will be fine so long as you don't expose it to wildly different climactic conditions and expect it not to move at all.

Personally I don't like the look of the contrasting multi-laminate necks. They were interesting in the late 70s and early 80s when they were new, but now, to me, they are just a tired cliché. 

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30 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Any neck made with good quality wood that has been properly "seasoned" before use will be fine so long as you don't expose it to wildly different climactic conditions and expect it not to move at all.

Personally I don't like the look of the contrasting multi-laminate necks. They were interesting in the late 70s and early 80s when they were new, but now, to me, they are just a tired cliché. 

It's alright. You can always paint necks to overcome any aesthetic misgivings you may have. 

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Just now, Lfalex v1.1 said:

It's alright. You can always paint necks to overcome any aesthetic misgivings you may have. 

And I would.

The nicest looking (IMO) laminated necks I have seen were on the Overwater Originals and Pedulla Buzz I used to own. All the laminates were pieces of similar-coloured wood and then covered with a semi-transparent stain. You could only see that the neck was made of multiple pieces of wood if you looked really carefully.

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20 hours ago, martthebass said:

 Interested in @Rikki_Sixxcomment on his Dano....my Longhorn with a very skinny neck, though only owned for a couple of years has ultra low action and not needed resetting yet - no idea what the construction is under the paint though.   

Out of interest, how old is your Longhorn @martthebass? I know (or think) they've been around a while. I had a Dano '63 bass bought brand-new in around 2009, so I'm not sure how things changed over the years. It was certainly on the budget end! Sounded so good though, I still miss it!

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