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Neck/Body Joint

The philosophy regarding the preferred method by which the neck is attached to the body has evolved considerably over the years. The original Fender basses featured necks that were bolted onto the body, and other manufacturers later utilized a glued neck-to-body joint. Gradually up through the 80's, the industry came to regard the "neck-through" design (where the neck extends the full length of the instrument, and the body is essentially two "wings" that are glued onto opposite sides of the neck) as the most effective way to build a bass, and many of the "high-end" basses featured this type of construction. The prevailing thought was that the neck-through design afforded the most stable neck, with enhanced sustain. However, the current trend seems to have veered back largely to the bolt-on design. Renowned luthier Michael Tobias believes that this method results in a tone that is perceived to be clearer in the low frequencies, ironically due to less fundamental in the sound. He explains that a neck-through generally contains more of the fundamental in the tone, which results in a perceived lack of clarity in the context of an actual mix. It is an intriguing concept; I can only say that as a player, I definitely agree that the perceived "punch" of my bolt-on well exceeds any neck-through bass I’ve previously owned or played (particularly for slapping or other percussive techniques). There are certainly differing opinions in the industry regarding this issue, but it is interesting to observe the current proliferation of basses in the $3,000+ price range that feature bolt-on necks.

[Excerpted from "Bassic Communication", Christian Musician magazine (Nov/Dec ‘01). Reprinted by permission.]

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