Discussion:
tone-sucking Fender neck
(too old to reply)
Burnham Treezdown
2011-06-19 22:14:58 UTC
Permalink
I've got 3 partscasters here, 2 Strats & a Tele, all with Fender necks. One of
the Strats is MIA rosewood, the other two are MIM maple. I've been doing some
swapping around and it's obvious whichever guitar has the rosewood neck has less
sustain and just sounds deader than the maples. (BTW the Strat neck will fit on
the GFS paulownia Tele body without modification - I know it shouldn't, but it
does, and nicely too). I realize rosewood is expected to be a bit mellower than
maple but this is not a good mellow - it's a real loss of liveliness. Too bad,
because I like the feel & shape of the RW neck better than the MIMs.

So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
Bruce Morgen
2011-06-19 22:54:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
I've got 3 partscasters here, 2 Strats & a Tele, all with Fender necks. One of
the Strats is MIA rosewood, the other two are MIM maple. I've been doing some
swapping around and it's obvious whichever guitar has the rosewood neck has less
sustain and just sounds deader than the maples. (BTW the Strat neck will fit on
the GFS paulownia Tele body without modification - I know it shouldn't, but it
does, and nicely too). I realize rosewood is expected to be a bit mellower than
maple but this is not a good mellow - it's a real loss of liveliness. Too bad,
because I like the feel & shape of the RW neck better than the MIMs.
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
My experience with MIM
Fenders, fwiw, is much
like yours -- 2000 MIM
Standard Tele, all-maple
neck = lively, ringing
tone; 2000 MIM Deluxe
Nashville, maple neck
with rosewood fretboard
= "tone-sucking" (but
very comfortable to play
-- the best Tele in that
respect I've ever had)
neck.
Burnham Treezdown
2011-06-20 02:00:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bruce Morgen
My experience with MIM
Fenders, fwiw, is much
like yours -- 2000 MIM
Standard Tele, all-maple
neck = lively, ringing
tone; 2000 MIM Deluxe
Nashville, maple neck
with rosewood fretboard
= "tone-sucking" (but
very comfortable to play
-- the best Tele in that
respect I've ever had)
neck.
This rosewood is a 1999. The maples are newer I'm pretty sure. I don't remember
if I even checked.

Before buying the rosewood neck I bought a '90 Strat Plus from a friend also
with a RW neck. Strangely I'd been playing 40+ years at the time but it was my
first genuine MIA Fender Strat. But I wasn't happy with it so I picked up a
black alder body & the RW neck and built a better machine. Since then I've built
2 more "Fenders" and each one is better than the last. I also have a MIA '52RI
Tele from the late 90's I've never been too pleased with either but that's
another story.
boardjunkie1
2011-06-20 03:14:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
Post by Bruce Morgen
My experience with MIM
Fenders, fwiw, is much
like yours -- 2000 MIM
Standard Tele, all-maple
neck = lively, ringing
tone; 2000 MIM Deluxe
Nashville, maple neck
with rosewood fretboard
= "tone-sucking" (but
very comfortable to play
-- the best Tele in that
respect I've ever had)
neck.
This rosewood is a 1999. The maples are newer I'm pretty sure. I don't remember
if I even checked.
Before buying the rosewood neck I bought a '90 Strat Plus from a friend also
with a RW neck. Strangely I'd been playing 40+ years at the time but it was my
first genuine MIA Fender Strat. But I wasn't happy with it so I picked up a
black alder body & the RW neck and built a better machine. Since then I've built
2 more "Fenders" and each one is better than the last. I also have a MIA '52RI
Tele from the late 90's I've never been too pleased with either but that's
another story.
Higher mass fretwire can bring out more sustain and clarity. I used to
have a 1988 Gibbo SG that had this really low fretwire. It made the
guitar sound absolutely dead and lifeless. After a refret with Dunlop
6000 wire, it came to life and played effortlessly. The 6000 wire is
quite tall and not for everyone, but its my preference.
Flasherly
2011-06-20 04:59:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by boardjunkie1
Post by Burnham Treezdown
Post by Bruce Morgen
My experience with MIM
Fenders, fwiw, is much
like yours -- 2000 MIM
Standard Tele, all-maple
neck = lively, ringing
tone; 2000 MIM Deluxe
Nashville, maple neck
with rosewood fretboard
= "tone-sucking" (but
very comfortable to play
-- the best Tele in that
respect I've ever had)
neck.
This rosewood is a 1999. The maples are newer I'm pretty sure. I don't remember
if I even checked.
Before buying the rosewood neck I bought a '90 Strat Plus from a friend also
with a RW neck. Strangely I'd been playing 40+ years at the time but it was my
first genuine MIA Fender Strat. But I wasn't happy with it so I picked up a
black alder body & the RW neck and built a better machine. Since then I've built
2 more "Fenders" and each one is better than the last. I also have a MIA '52RI
Tele from the late 90's I've never been too pleased with either but that's
another story.
Higher mass fretwire can bring out more sustain and clarity. I used to
have a 1988 Gibbo SG that had this really low fretwire. It made the
guitar sound absolutely dead and lifeless. After a refret with Dunlop
6000 wire, it came to life and played effortlessly. The 6000 wire is
quite tall and not for everyone, but its my preference.
I did the job and put stainless steel fretwire on a tele, but its a
maple neck in the first place. My other, a Nashville tele I haven't
converted to stainless yet but will, is rosewood. Stainless is
basically indestructible to wear from play. Though I've measurements,
it would offhand be basically jumbo wire for a practical fit (I used a
two-faced plastic/rubber mallet). Not sure aside what Dunlop has
going, but that big an overhead in jumbo fret size has its drawbacks
in keeping the notes from drifting off from even cents. The fix is a
smaller profile or in jumbo sizes, again, a special triangularly
shaped SS crown with a little more precision for note to pressure
shapes. No idea how it feels and sounds, nor have I seen it lately in
the guitar shops since ordering wire for the first job. I've noticed
frets also a popular option many choose among the pro-grade nylon
classical. Silk and rosewood and sweet and full and all that stuff,
just totally unforgiving about notes that aren't played without
exacting control over both hands. Aside from tension, fretwire then
being the only slack I'm aware of that a classical cuts.
Bruce Morgen
2011-06-20 14:33:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by boardjunkie1
Post by Burnham Treezdown
Post by Bruce Morgen
My experience with MIM
Fenders, fwiw, is much
like yours -- 2000 MIM
Standard Tele, all-maple
neck = lively, ringing
tone; 2000 MIM Deluxe
Nashville, maple neck
with rosewood fretboard
= "tone-sucking" (but
very comfortable to play
-- the best Tele in that
respect I've ever had)
neck.
This rosewood is a 1999. The maples are newer I'm pretty sure. I don't remember
if I even checked.
Before buying the rosewood neck I bought a '90 Strat Plus from a friend also
with a RW neck. Strangely I'd been playing 40+ years at the time but it was my
first genuine MIA Fender Strat. But I wasn't happy with it so I picked up a
black alder body & the RW neck and built a better machine. Since then I've built
2 more "Fenders" and each one is better than the last. I also have a MIA '52RI
Tele from the late 90's I've never been too pleased with either but that's
another story.
Higher mass fretwire can bring out more sustain and clarity. I used to
have a 1988 Gibbo SG that had this really low fretwire. It made the
guitar sound absolutely dead and lifeless. After a refret with Dunlop
6000 wire, it came to life and played effortlessly. The 6000 wire is
quite tall and not for everyone, but its my preference.
That definitely wasn't
the issue here -- the
MIM Standards had low
frets back then and
the Deluxe Nashville
had medium jumbos.
Nil
2011-06-19 23:40:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
Bum neck. I've owned a wide variety of maple and rosewood fingerboarded
Fender necks, and there shouldn't be that much of a difference in the
sound or sustain between them. Any difference would be fairly subtle.
For me, the difference is more in how they feel under the hand. I
prefer rosewood fingerboards, but adjusting to either one isn't
difficult.
Squier
2011-06-20 00:09:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
I've got 3 partscasters here, 2 Strats & a Tele, all with Fender necks. One of
the Strats is MIA rosewood, the other two are MIM maple. I've been doing some
swapping around and it's obvious whichever guitar has the rosewood neck has less
sustain and just sounds deader than the maples. (BTW the Strat neck will fit on
the GFS paulownia Tele body without modification - I know it shouldn't, but it
does, and nicely too). I realize rosewood is expected to be a bit mellower than
maple but this is not a good mellow - it's a real loss of liveliness. Too bad,
because I like the feel & shape of the RW neck better than the MIMs.
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
probably a bum neck. insider info suggests that sometimes during
a production run of rosewood necks there are a few things that occur
which can detract from sustain... tone... or whatever...

1. In recent years Fender buys the maple wood stock already 'cured'
which in reality is quickly air dried (and it has been reported that
some suppliers are ummm... well... almost kiln drying them using a
drying room/warehouse with blasted... heated dry air). Sounds like
a kiln to me... close enough. In other words - Fender is taking responsibility
less and less of its own company to cure/dry the wood and contracting
out 'ready to go' wood stock.

2. This has much less an effect on solid maple necks - however there is
a double whammy coming up for rosewood overlayed fretboards.
A) the maple necks within the last few years and in current production
seem to settle in (ie. warp slightly) if that production run used maple
that was not properly dried or cured. (it is happening more and more as
Fender contracts out 'ready to go' wood and does not do its own curing).
B) Fender contracts out adhesive (glue) supplies to the lowest bidder and
does not 'standardize' on its adhesive products (ie. the same glue to bind
the rosewood to the maple neck might change from year to year or even within
the same year or production run). And so a less than desireable adhesive
or one that doesn't quite work so good is only a contract away (and it does
happen but Fender just figures... after a few thousand of these Strats we'll
get another supplier... no problem...)

C. So add up less than stellar adhesive + maple neck that is going to
slightly bow and warp and you have rosewood fretboards ever so slightly
not making perfect contact with the maple neck. You are almost never going
to actually see it - and the edges of the fretboard might look good and tight
but there are spots in the contact zone that might be a few hundredths or
thousandths of a inch away from the maple neck. Perhaps in the middle area
of the fret zone - in the middle of the fretboard where you can't see it
and you could press down on the fretboard and not really feel it - but it's
there - that area of no contact. This can deaden the sound and sustain since
the fretboard is not 'hooked up' with the neck. It seems to be happening
quite a bit lately with Fender rosewood on maple necks. But, like I said,
it is not a universal thing. Along the year in the production runs, the glue
might come from a different supplier and the wood comes from another contract
player and that production run has everything working right with regards
to the mating of rosewood on maple. Maple and rosewood behave very differently
with regards to temperature and humidity and it is a mating of 2 types of
wood that bend and warp differently. It is the same in machines that
might mate up aluminum with steel and then have to figure out the difference
in expansion and contraction of both metals so things don't come apart or bind up
when the metal parts have friction/heat or are cooled/contraction.

And so you need excellent adhesives and careful attention to the curing
of the maple neck to make the rosewood fretboard install and work as it should.
If the maple is not cured right, if the fretboard adhesive is sub par etc...
then all these variables add up to a dead neck eventually.
And of course as the rosewood becomes loosened from the maple neck (again we
are talking about contact points... 1/100 or 1/1000's that's all it takes)
you lose fretboard to neck contact.

So it's not some bad 'mojo' - it's just poor production that is
driven more and more by profit margins and production costs
rather than quality instruments. You may not believe me - but it's
a fact that when Fender can save a nickel, even though that nickel
might get a much better part - they'll save the nickel and build a lesser
guitar and keep the retail price the same or more.

Up to around 2007, Fender was building good stuff in MIM and MIA.
After 2007... in fact it was the year they dropped the stainless
saddles from their MIA Strats and Teles (see - they saved a dime there)
and then had their marketing and PR team come up with the spin that
the 'vintage bent saddles now in MIA produce vintage tone.. blah blah'
I knew it was going to be all down hill from that point.
The 'bent saddles' are now the same ones used in MIM strats and teles
and Fender just wanted to cut costs and use the same saddles.
Thye saved a few pennies and made it sound like they were doing the consumer
a great favor by 'increasing vintage tone'. Sell a sow's ear as silk and
you too can become part of the Fender marketing team.

If Fender can save 2 cents on cheaper adhesive -they will gladly do so.
I think the post CBS Fender FMIC company has done a great job from 1987 - 2007.
For twenty years they really had a great come back and built good standard MIA
guitars. But the MBA's are completely running the show there now and it's
all down hill. So they are milking the Fender brand name cow just like CBS
did (although FMIC did a good job for 20 years taking care of it).

Hopefully FMIC will be bought out by some group that cares again - but
that fender brand name carries such a price now that probably any buy out
would come from some monolithic giant and it would all get even worse.
perhaps some south american amazon lumber cutting giant might buy them and have
a vertical source for their lumber products.
Burnham Treezdown
2011-06-20 04:43:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Squier
Post by Burnham Treezdown
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
If Fender can save 2 cents on cheaper adhesive -they will gladly do so.
I think the post CBS Fender FMIC company has done a great job from 1987 - 2007.
The neck in question is from '99. It does seem to work better on the paulownia
Tele than the alder Strat. The paulownia is naturally bright, but toneful,
especially with the pickups from my '52 RI. But the MIM maple neck on the same
Tele makes the notes jump out and I can get that elusive hollow twang from the
bridge I don't from the RW....or from my 52 RI, for that matter.
Twibil
2011-06-20 17:40:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
Bum neck. But that can happen with any sort of neck/fingerboard
combination. (All it takes is a bunch of cellulose fibers that ended
up in a configuration that damp the frequencies which define the
tonality you're looking for.)

Ideally we're looking for a neck that is tonally neutral, allowing the
full frequency range of the vibrating strings to report for duty, but
very hard necks tend to damp lows, very soft necks tend to damp highs,
and necks that have sections of inconsistant hardness from one end to
the other can do both.

Alas, you can't tell how -or if- a given neck is going to affect
your guitar's tonality just by looking at it.

Trial and error is the only thing that works in the end.

~Pete
The Repair Guy
2011-06-20 22:01:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Twibil
Ideally we're looking for a neck that is tonally neutral,
allowing the full frequency range of the vibrating
strings to report for duty, but very hard necks tend to
damp lows,
Ah... this explains my experience with a graphite
neck. Swapped it onto a strat thing (all other parts
were unchanged) and there was absolutely no
bottom and accentuated highs/high mids. Only
one I ever tried, so I wondered if I had a bizarre
sounding fluke on my hands.

The Repair Guy
http://repairguy1993.netfirms.com/
Twibil
2011-06-20 22:30:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Repair Guy
Post by Twibil
Ideally we're looking for a neck that is tonally neutral,
allowing the full frequency range of the vibrating
strings to report for duty, but very hard necks tend to
damp lows,
Ah... this explains my experience with a graphite
neck. Swapped it onto a strat thing (all other parts
were unchanged) and there was absolutely no
bottom and accentuated highs/high mids. Only
one I ever tried, so I wondered if I had a bizarre
sounding fluke on my hands.
Probably not.

Many years ago, Modulus sold me one of their very early Graphite-
necked Strat-style NAMM prototype guitars (bright orange) at cost,
wanting to know what I thought about it and knowing that a lot of
people would see it at my shop.

Good points were that it was absolutely bulletproof in terms of
strength, it utterly ignored temperature and humidity extremes, it
never needed a neck adjustment (in fact, it had no trussrod and didn't
need one), and it *did* give you an almost perfectly equal response -
in terms of volume and sustain- for every note on the fingerboard. No
"dead" spots at all.

But no matter how I played with different pickup combinations, I could
never make it sound "warm" under any conditions: the graphite neck
seemed to impart a brittle, bright, crisp tonality that worked okay
for some things but not at all for others. Eventually one of my
customers fell head-over-heels in love with it -he thought it suited
his style better than anything he'd ever heard before- and took it
far away (Florida) where I never had to listen to it again.

Which only goes to show that it would be a boring world if we all
liked the very same things.

~Pete
DeeAa
2011-06-24 04:43:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Burnham Treezdown
I've got 3 partscasters here, 2 Strats & a Tele, all with Fender necks. One of
the Strats is MIA rosewood, the other two are MIM maple. I've been doing some
swapping around and it's obvious whichever guitar has the rosewood neck has less
sustain and just sounds deader than the maples. (BTW the Strat neck will fit on
the GFS paulownia Tele body without modification - I know it shouldn't, but it
does, and nicely too). I realize rosewood is expected to be a bit mellower than
maple but this is not a good mellow - it's a real loss of liveliness. Too bad,
because I like the feel & shape of the RW neck better than the MIMs.
So - typical rosewood or bum neck?
I'd say of course an all-maple neck will be more lively, at least if
they're one part necks. That's what I've found in all guitars I've
tried, and why I ordered my last custom neck made of maple entirely.
Interestingly, the new neck is now 3 parts maple and to me clearly
less sparkling than the 1-piece maple neck that really has sparkle.

I don't think it has to be a bum neck, it's likely just a darker
sounding one. I don't much care for body materials, I think the
differences between wood types for sound in bodies is very negligible
but necks make much more of an impact. You can put a darker neck into
a very light and resonant body and a really spanky 1-piece maple neck
into a very dull and dark body to balance it out, but the neck is what
governs the overall sound, IMO.

I love my frankencaster with the 1-piece maple neck, it really screams
for leads, but I have a custom-built rosewood neck strat as well that
is VERY much less sparkling and sounds quite dull even in direct
comparison, but after all, the less sparkling one is the one I prefer
in the end for sound, it has much better clarity to chording and much
stabler and powerful sound in the end. The sparkly one sounds
terrific, but it works best for lead and such, used all the time it's
a bit like, I dunno, using too much spices in your food. All glitter
but in the end less substance.

Cheers,

Dee

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