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Necks, Frets, and other things


Rocky McDougall

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This question is only to rest my curiousity. If you built a neck from scratch. Could you lay out the fret spacing mathematically or only by tone intonation??

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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It can be done mathematically, there are several online calculators < here\'s one >

 

Stewmac offers a rule that is marked with a different scale length on each edge. I think they also offer a slot cutting service.

 

Also, there are a couple dealers on eBay that sell fretboards for reasonable prices. < here >

 

Don't forget to follow-up with pictures!

- Matt W.
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I think it's most often done mathematically. Ya know, considering some of the composite technologies that are available, I'm actually a little surpised that someone isn't making necks where each fret is actually cut into 4, 5, or 6 pieces (one per string) and each piece positioned slightly differently to have perfect intonation. (There's the fanned-fret approach of course, but that's not exactly what I'm talking about.) That would obviously be night-marish to try and do by hand...but for some of the composite necks (Modulus, Status-Graphite, Moses Graphite, etc.) I would think the necessary slot spacing for the fret pieces could be mfg'd into the neck. I'd imagine it probably wouldn't be too extremely difficult to actually adapt to.

 

The reality is however that with all the low frequencies we crank out, intonation isn't quite as audibly noticeable as it is with an instrument with a higher range. Of course, not saying that a bass isn't a full-range instrument (my opinion is that it is), but the part you usually hear the most of in the mix is the lower-mids, regardless of what the bass actually sounds like by itself.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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DAve, I think your idea of individual frets for each string is a very interesting one. Or, the fretboard could be made up of 4 individual strips of wood, each one cut for that particular string and the frets are installed in slots cut in each strip of wood. I guess this is carrying fret accuarcy too far. As you said, intonation precision is not really that important on a bass. After all, we like the sound of a fretless because is is slightly off.

But, interesting none the less.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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I think the trade-offs of doing individual frets are many. First, the intonation from the mathmatic methods isn't bad. And think about what would happen when you bend - the string would jam in at the fret ends. Novax/Dingwall would seem to be a smoother approach.

 

No science here - just an opinion.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

I think the trade-offs of doing individual frets are many. First, the intonation from the mathmatic methods isn't bad. And think about what would happen when you bend - the string would jam in at the fret ends. Novax/Dingwall would seem to be a smoother approach.

No science here - just an opinion.

Tom

That certainly make sense. I had not thought of that. Tom have you ever played a faned fret. What is it like?

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Ya know, another thought I had. Rocky had mentioned a bit about how the truss rod cavity is shaped for the neck (Rocky, got a url with pics handy, by any chance?). Here's a thought...why not do a double or even triple truss rod system with the cavity curve shaped differently for each slot. For a triple trussrod design, the center slot could have the bottom of the cavity radius in the middle, one of the other rod cavities could have the bottom of the radius closee to the headstock, and the final one could have the bottom of the radius closer to the body of the bass. If I understand how the physics of a truss rod actually works (which is indeed questionable :freak: ), having this arrangement would allow you to flatten or bow the neck in the middle, closer to the headstock, or closer to the body. You could essentially "tune" the shape of the neck to a reasonable degree. (Then add a height-adjustable nut like the Warwick Just-A-Nut.) The only downsides I can think of are the complexity of getting it right (isn't that always the case given lots of options though?), and there'd need to be some way to prevent different tensions across truss rods from causing the neck to twist.

 

Just my musings...

 

Hey...while we're at it, why not also have some mechanism that allows you to adjust the angle at which the neck attaches to the body. I don't have a mental picture of this though. But then, perhaps the truss rod cavity that tweaks the neck closer to the body answers this need.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Originally posted by Rocky3840:

Tom have you ever played a faned fret. What is it like?

I've tried a few Dingwalls. The first time I thought it was huge - that's because I was still playing my 30.5 scale Gibson exclusively, and the 37" B string was a stretch. After I had a 34.5 scale 5 string, I found it easier. I think the adaptation from my 5 to a Dingwall would take a lot less time than from small 4 to 5.

 

There are Dingwall owners on the board (Davio) and lovers (Wraub), so they can give a better qualified answer. Dingwalls are quality instruments.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

Hey...while we're at it, why not also have some mechanism that allows you to adjust the angle at which the neck attaches to the body...

Leo addressed that with the Fender three-bolt necks. Fender had marginal results, but G&L seems to have had good success with it.

 

http://www.njaz.com/guitars/images/starcaster_neckplate.jpg

 

The little hole at the bottom of the picture is access for a set screw, which travels in the body. The bottom side of the neck has a metal plate that the screw works against. It would be interesting to see other ideas, AFAIK this is the only type of adjustement that has been in production.

- Matt W.
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I think the G&L was identical, but somehow executed with better quality and results.

 

I had to go to guitarsbyleo.com FAQ for the lowdown:

 

The four-bolt neck joint was introduced in approximately mid-1997; prior to that, a three-bolt "tilt-adjust" design had been used exclusively. G&L's Purchasing Manager had the following to say about the switch:

 

"The change was made by John McLaren, Jr. before Sales had even seen it. When we started making the Invader, our necks had improved to a point where we could go without the three bolt micro-tilt system and return to Leo's original design of the four-bolt neck. We surprised Marketing with this design and after some initial hesitancy, they were very happy with the new design."

 

One of the reasons Marketing was likely won over by the new design was that the three-bolt design had (quite incorrectly) developed a widespread reputation as being "unstable". This ill-founded rumor had mainly been perpetuated by those who had had experience with three-bolt Fenders of the '70s. What these folks were missing was that the instability seen in those '70s Fenders was due not to an inherent weakness in the three-bolt design itself, but rather to the sloppy, careless construction techniques used to build those instruments. Despite the fact that G&L's three-bolt neck was extremely well-executed and offered plenty of stability, the move to a four-bolt neck has proven quite beneficial in terms of eliminating initial "customer skepticism" from shoppers new to G&L.

 

The switch to the four-bolt neck was gradual; as mentioned above, it first appeared on the Invaders. The first non-Invader four-bolt G&L was a stunning one-off ASAT Classic with a quilted maple top; G&L's Plant Foreman, Ed Sebest, built this guitar for Dave McLaren (Export Sales Manager), in order to demonstrate to Dave that the four-bolt concept was viable on the non-Invader models as well. Upon examining this guitar, Dave gave the "go-ahead", and so began the use of the four-bolt neck on the entire line. The earliest guitars had plain, unstamped neck plates, but soon the G&L logo was added.

- Matt W.
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Dave, The double or tripple truss rod would work and give you the ability to really tune the neck as you want but the added weight may not be acceptable. The placement of the "Arch" is critical to get the upward bow in the right spot on the neck. Twist can be controlled by placing one or two stiffing rods or rails, Look at Warmoth article and pictures.

 

http://www.warmoth.com/bass/necks/necks.cfm

 

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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As far as the Micro-Tilt goes. I don't see the need for it. Once you get the neck at the proper angle you should not have to readjust it for a long time. Many instruments come from the factory with very thin shims at the rear to tilt the neck. An extremly thin shim can make a big change in neck angle.

 

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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