The bass neck is the long skinny part of the bass.
The material used to make bass necks plays a fairly large role in the tone of the bass. Most necks are made out of wood. They are usually made out of harder woods to withstand the tension the strings put on them. Maple is a common choice.
Some necks are described as 1-piece, 2-piece, 3-piece, or 5-piece. This means how many pieces of wood make up the neck. Multi-piece necks are glued together lengthwise. Again, this is done to help balance the tonal characteristics of the woods.
Neck-Thru and Bolt-On
Neck-Thru means the neck goes through the body of the bass all the way to the end. It is just one long piece of wood (or several long neck pieces glued together lengthwise). Wings are then glued to the sides of the neck to form the body of the bass.
Bolt-On necks are bolted on to the body of the bass. This forms the ‘neck joint’ as it is called. Often 4 bolts are used. Sometimes 6 bolts are used for added stability. Neck stability is important. If the neck moves the bass will have tuning and playing issues. This is a critical part of the bass. Remember some of the tone is traveling through that neck joint. The ‘heel’ of the neck refers to the part of the neck sitting in the neck joint. The ‘tongue’ refers to the part of the neck resting on top of the body.
Neck-Thru basses have a mellower, softer tone and more sustain. Bolt-On bass guitars have a bright, snappy, percussive tone to them with less sustain.
I remember lusting for a neck-thru bass. I thought it was the holy grail. When I finally got one I was very disappointed. I hated the muted tone it had! Try both and see what kind of sound you like. I don’t think sustain is that much of an issue. How long do you ever play a note for anyway? Four beats? Eight? The attack (beginning) of the note is far more important. Again, the tone will vary from bass to bass.
Next: Bass Guitar Necks Part 2
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