Author Topic: Neck thru & true body  (Read 624 times)

StephaneBuchon

  • I'm New Here
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Neck thru & true body
« on: December 11, 2016, 04:19:02 AM »
Hello,

For a couple of years now I'm thinking about letting a custom instrument built for me.
I've already a good idea for all parts of the instruments and for sure Alembic's hippies sandwiches & electronics are amongst my 1st choice.
But an important question is still to be answered: what about the architecture of the instrument ?

Neck-thru: this sound to be the best choice e.g. from a sustain perspective. But, the greater sustain comes at the cost that the instrument is deprived of an actual body (as it remain only 2 small wings).
Glued/bolted neck: this sound to be the best choice to beneficiate from the soundtable effect on the global sounding of the instrument. But both bolted or glued necks are not optimal e.g. from a sustain perspective.

The custom project Mindmeld (http://www.alembic.com/info/fc_mindmeld.html) present a neck-thru architecture "hidden" behind a cocobolo top/back.
It's an interresting approach but, as far as I understand, the benefits here is only aesthetic.
So, I wonder if the concept has already been pushed further: e.g. by having a neck-thru occupying only a part of the instrument thickness and, on top of that, a real body.
Is it a realistic approach ? What could be the drawbacks ? Is there a risk of cumulating the disadvantage of both architectures while having no benefit ?

Thanks in advance for your advices.

keith_h

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2626
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2016, 07:02:04 AM »
With a neck through instrument the majority of the instruments characteristics comes via the neck woods. Not having a joint between the nut and bridge means it has no effect on the sound. One noticeable trait is more sustain but it also tend to be flatter across the tonal range. I'm not sure flatter is the right word to use here but it is the only word I can think of at the moment. That being said the body and top woods do have a audible effect on the sound of the instrument. Maple topped basses tend to have a brighter sound than walnut topped. Cocobolo adds a certain tightened darkness. I can't say if a bookmatched to center top would be noticeably different than one that is not as I have not had the opportunity to hear two similar instruments side by side.

In a set neck instrument the neck to body joint has an effect on the overall tone in addition to the neck and body woods. I purposely went with a set neck and ash body on my fretless as I was looking for that mid-range bump and mwah you have with Fender basses. I have a spalted maple top on it and suspect it has minimal involvement with the audible tone other than maybe attenuating the highs a bit although I don't notice it.

Of my three fretted basses, one is a set neck and the other two are neck through construction. They all have different woods and electronics. Two are short scale, small body basses and the setneck is a long scale. Of the two short scales the Brown Bass is definitely the mellow one. It was my main bass for many years. It has a mahogany, birch and walnut neck with myrtle core and walnut top. The tone tends to be very  even across all strings without one harmonic over powering another. You can still get the brightness for a very good slap sound but again about all I can say is it is balanced. For my other short scale the Series 1 was built using western maple and purple heart for the neck with a vermilion body and buckeye burl top and back. This bass has a more pronounced fundamental and has a brighter slap sound. Not as bright as a neck made with eastern maple but very noticeable none the less. Again I'm not sure how much effect the top and back have but being a punky wood I suspect they attenuate the highs a bit. But, as I've played identical basses other than the maple in the neck I don't think it has a major effect. The last is my setneck long scale. I would put it somewhere between the two short scales. It has a maple neck with mahogany body and walnut top. I will say other than my fretless this is the bass that is easiest to get set to the Fender mid-range bump. Partially because it has the simplest filter circuit Alembic makes but also due to the setneck.

One suggestion I have is contacting Alembic directly by phone about what you are looking for, concerns, etc. They are a fountain of knowledge and can explain the characteristics better than any of us here can. They can also help in suggesting wood combinations to get he tone you are looking for. A word of warning or not. They will also tell you when you are going down the wrong path and the reason they will not build something the customer thinks they want. It is prudent to listen when they do.

Here are some links to the Alembic wood pages that should give you an idea of the wood characteristics:

http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_neck.html

http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_standard.html

http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_premium.html

http://www.alembic.com/info/wood_body.html
 
« Last Edit: December 11, 2016, 07:05:39 AM by keith_h »

lidon2001

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 603
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2016, 07:24:45 AM »
I think the biggest drawback would be the cost of having Alembic take the time to design and execute such a build that differs from their normal construction process.  Having owned neck through Alembic basses and a set neck Alembic guitar, there is plenty of sustain in an Alembic set neck, easily equating or surpassing any Les Paul I have played. 

Of course, a call to Mica for a discussion about your concerns is alway available.

T
2005 MK Deluxe SSB, 2006 Custom Amboyna Essence MSB, Commissioned Featured Custom Pele

hammer

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1054
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2016, 07:49:44 AM »
I would agree with everything that has been stated thus far, but want to assure you that the people at Alembic are among the most willing to try new things if they make sense.  They will clearly tell you when something doesn't make sense even if it at the cost of their doing a less expensive build. They will also let you know exactly how and how much a modification is likely to impact the tone of your instrument.  There is no company I have found thus far with whom I would rather work.

jazzyvee

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5389
    • NotStrictlyJazz
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2016, 08:04:10 AM »
The other thing to consider in addition to comparing neck construction is where the pickups are located on the bass. That will also have a dramatic affect on the tone and may even change the properties you are seeking. For example I have a series II and a series I bass that are essentially the same body woods, mahogany core and maple tops but the necks are different. SII neck is maple and ebony and the SI neck is maple and purple heart. The other main difference is the pickup location which on the S1 is closer to the end of the fretboard and that gives me a more pronounced bottom end in the sound with a lot more of the warmer overtones present in the sound. Both basses have an even tone and no over emphasis on anything. As for the loss of neck material by having a book match to centre top and/or back laminate I can't say for sure but I'd think you would have more contact between the neck and the top wood so I would expect there to be some difference in the sound but how much is probably guesswork unless you are someone like Mica with experience of listening to many basses.



Like has been mentioned earlier, it would be good to chat with the experts at Alembic  as well as seeking views here.
The sound of Alembic is medicine for the soul!

David Houck

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12404
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2016, 09:06:59 AM »
It's an intriguing idea.

One thing that comes to mind for me is how much contact the bridge block is making with the neck woods and how much with the body woods.

Another thing that occurred to me is that you could have the overall thickness of the body increased from today's standard to that of the 70's basses, and allocate all of that increase to the top wood, bookmatched to center.

A third idea is that the neck could perhaps stop halfway through the bridge block, so that the front half of the bridge block is in contact with neck woods, and the back half of the bridge block is contacting body woods.

But I'm not a luthier.  The person to ask, as the others suggested, would be Mica.

jazzyvee

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5389
    • NotStrictlyJazz
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2016, 02:31:02 PM »
Relating to your thoughts of having the through neck occupying only part of the thickness of the body. Some of us have series instruments with a bookmatch to centre but with the neck showing at the back of the bass so you lose less of the neck. What difference that makes to the tone is not something I can comment knowledgeably about.
Here is Rusty's Series II



and also my Series II bass



Both are in the Custom Archive as Blue Orca & Almost Twins.
The sound of Alembic is medicine for the soul!

keith_h

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2626
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2016, 07:32:44 PM »
I made the same choice on my Series 1 as I like the racing stripe look. I also wanted to show more of the flame in the neck that a full back would have covered.







cozmik_cowboy

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2380
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2016, 08:24:25 PM »
Just to confuse things more, a gentleman who used to frequent these parts (you still out there, Mark??) had his built as a neck-through, but with the outside neck lams one piece with the body.


Peter


ps - if you're wondering about all the knobs, see the 9th post down in this thread
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 08:30:06 PM by cozmik_cowboy »
"Don't take life so serious; it ain't no ways permanent"

Pogo

StephaneBuchon

  • I'm New Here
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2016, 10:16:38 PM »
First of all I would like to thank all the participants to this thread, the relevance of the answers convince me that I'm knoking at the righ door.
I forgot to mention in my first post, and I apologize for that, that my project is about a 6 strings guitar and not about a bass.
Nevertheless I think all considerations exposed here about bass are mostly true for a guitar.

So, I've retain the following points:
a. I'm not completly in the unknown here as something similar has already been done by Alembic.
b. It's not a simple tone/sustain trade off. Such design might introduce new parameters to take into consideration.
c. The "body-around-neck" idea
d. call Mica !

Thanks all again :)

keith_h

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2626
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2016, 06:25:00 AM »
With a guitar some of the differences in top and body woods might not be as noticeable with the higher frequencies as they are with a bass but I think in general terms what applies to one would apply to another. I suspect a guitar built with a maple top and purple heart laminate would still sound brighter than one with just a walnut top. Likewise I suspect myrtle body wings will be mellower than say vermilion. We have a number of guitar players here but there are definitely more bass players and some would say a bass guitar bias.  ;) Also from my experience it is the basses that tend to get experimentation with construction techniques as opposed to the guitars where the construction doesn't vary much. Instead with guitars the variance is more in the wood selection and inlay work.

adriaan

  • club
  • Senior Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3376
Re: Neck thru & true body
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2016, 06:40:25 AM »
Us bassists seem to outnumber the guitarists a little here at the Club, but Mica posts lots of skinny string stuff at http://instagram.com/alembicguitars and https://www.facebook.com/AlembicGuitars/ that should give you plenty of eye candy (and ideas).