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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive through January 07, 2011 » Archive: 2009 » Archive through January 05, 2009 » Feel the transitions between neck laminates? « Previous Next »

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Advanced Member
Username: briant

Post Number: 246
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 12:03 am:   Edit Post

I own two Alembics. My JPJ has a neck that is sleek, fast, and smooth as you can possibly imagine. My Rogue 5 has a fairly deep neck (front to back) and I can actually feel the transitions between the maple, purpleheart, and ebony.

Anyone else?
Senior Member
Username: terryc

Post Number: 632
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 6:17 am:   Edit Post

I can just slightly feel the maple/walnut pinstripes on the body/neck interface on MK 93
Could be shrinkage due to age???
Senior Member
Username: kungfusheriff

Post Number: 757
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 7:25 am:   Edit Post

From what I understand, maple loses moisture faster and therefore shrinks quicker than purpleheart -- the laminates in my '82's neck are not flush with the maple either.
Considering how quickly untreated ebony dries out when exposed to the elements, I imagine necks with ebony laminates will show shrink even quicker.
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 1293
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 11:21 am:   Edit Post

I feel the same on my basses but it's never been a distraction whilst playing.

Advanced Member
Username: briant

Post Number: 247
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 12:29 pm:   Edit Post

My Rogue has been this way since day 1 so it isn't something that has developed over time.
Intermediate Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 185
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 4:23 pm:   Edit Post

I noticed that on my SC. It has a 3 piece maple neck (no other laminates). I don't feel it on my Spoiler (also 3 piece maple) or SI (2 PH laminates).
Intermediate Member
Username: 3rd_ray

Post Number: 133
Registered: 2-2008
Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 6:08 pm:   Edit Post

I've noticed this on my '02 Essence and '08 Excel, but it's never bothered me. On the Essence I can also feel it where the top and accent woods meet the body in some spots.

Senior Member
Username: dela217

Post Number: 923
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2008 - 6:14 pm:   Edit Post

I've noticed that the feel of the laminates is much more pronounced with the polyester finish. On the old Polane urethane finished Alembics I cannot feel any transitions at all.
Advanced Member
Username: 5stringho

Post Number: 277
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 - 8:41 am:   Edit Post

How ironic. I was going to bring this very subject up sometime. I just never got around to it, now Brian has! My recently completed Signature 5 has a very pronounced transition on the Ebony Lam, all the way through the body. Maybe it's just me, but, unfortunately, I do find in somewhat disheartening. Not so much on the body, but on the neck. There is a little difference between the Maple and Purpleheart lam's also, but this seems to be pretty much confined to the body. I imagine if it becomes too much of a issue it would be a warranty item, and I'm curious if anyone has had this rectified under warranty. BTW, my bass has the Satin finish neck/ Gloss polyester body.
Thanks, Mike.....

(Message edited by 5stringho on November 28, 2008)
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 1177
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 - 10:05 am:   Edit Post

I don't notice any ridges on my Brown Bass which has an oil finish though I can feel a difference in the wood grains. I don't feel anything on my all maple and pinstriped neck Orions. They have the flat polyester finish.

Username: sjhoffma

Post Number: 60
Registered: 5-2008
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 - 4:14 pm:   Edit Post

I feel the walnut laminates on my Rogue 4. Doesn't bother me, or concern me at all. Im sure it has to do with the hardness of the wood or something along those lines.
Senior Member
Username: tbrannon

Post Number: 944
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 - 8:47 pm:   Edit Post


It's still early days for my new Elan, but I can't feel any difference between the ebony and maple in my neck. Perhaps things will change over the course of a winter, but for now it's perfect.

Advanced Member
Username: keurosix

Post Number: 387
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2008 - 9:07 pm:   Edit Post

Back in '04 when I bought my 6 string Europa, I noticed this unevenness along the back of the neck and body between the maple and purple heart laminations, and sent Mica an email requesting info. She sent me this response:

"The back of the neck sounds like it has some "shinkage" where the different woods have
moved at different rates. If the feel doesn't bother you, don't worry about it - it's very
unlikely that it's actually delaminating (only have I ever seen this once). To repair, you'd
need to send the bass here for a new top coat and rub out. We can leave the neck glossy
or make a nice satin finish on it. Top coat and rubout isn't cheap at $550, but the bass
will appear as new, and will likely not shrink as much in the future. You may want to wait a couple years before doing this, since it may have a little shrinking left to do. We wish we could keep every bass here for ten years then retop coat. It seems to take almost that long to convince those trees they want to be basses ;)"

I elected not to retop coat the bass, and am happy to report that no actual delaminations ever occurred. It seems that this phenomena is most noticable where the dissimilar wood types are adjacent to each other and "move" (shrink) at a different rate. I am not exactly sure if the wood has actually shrank away from the surface, or if the outer finish is "absorbed" into the wood. But I am not worried about it.
Senior Member
Username: white_cloud

Post Number: 515
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2008 - 4:18 am:   Edit Post

This is just one of those things you have to live with when you have a multi wood laminated neck. You can harvest wood, air dry it for many years, kiln dry it, craft it etc but certain species just keep on moving and adapting to their conditions/environments!

Wood is a living material and all serious woodworkers know how to understand, and allow for, this phenomenon in their designs - be it furniture , instruments etc!

Of course, some species are much much stabler than others...another essential for the professional craftsman is to know how each individual species will generally react but this is never an exact science as each individual piece will have its own "quirks" from time to time!

Shrinkage and movement will always occur to some degree in any bass, guitar, violin etc etc for many years after it has been constructed. The reason certain old Fenders are desirable does not only come from the kudos that comes from age - but also from the stability that their 30+ yr old maple necks have attained!

I would strongly recommend that any one who wished to have their Alembic neck laminates re-finished to "perfect smoothness" would wait for as long as possible...it would be an awful shame to go to that kind of expense to find the same problem re-occur at a later date due to FURTHER movement!

Username: pclifton2004

Post Number: 24
Registered: 4-2004
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2008 - 3:54 am:   Edit Post

Yeah I only had this once, on a used 88 Series II but it did bug me - nice to know there is a solution, however costly!
Senior Member
Username: keavin

Post Number: 1524
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2008 - 5:32 am:   Edit Post

i can feel the difference in the laminates on my bass although its an early 1972 alembic, i would think it has stabelized after all these years being i've changed climates from sunny/warm california to the frigid cold of chicago.........but i will admit ive only had to adjust my truss rod twice in 29 years of playing this baby!
Intermediate Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 191
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2008 - 11:18 am:   Edit Post

I just remembered, my '77 Series I had a refinish done on it a couple of years before I got it... thus no transition. Keavin, that's probably the Gorilla Glue you feel(LOL)!!!
Senior Member
Username: keavin

Post Number: 1525
Registered: 12-2002
Posted on Monday, December 08, 2008 - 11:32 am:   Edit Post

you're wright mike that gorilla glue is some good (strong)stuff,however i did sand it down to a smooth finish with some very light sand-paper though.
Username: chris_star

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2008
Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2008 - 11:17 am:   Edit Post

Hi folks, I am now the prowd owner of a 97 Epic 4 with the Flamed walnut top. This is my first high end bass guitar and I am so excited. I too noticed the neck transtion between laminates. Had I not read about this in this forum I think I would of thought something majorly wrong with my used bass.Please curtail my worry that some thing is wrong with my bass. This seperation does not bother me. It is sublte. nothing is majorly wrong right? Why is it that this form of construction is better then one that wont seperate?
Advanced Member
Username: mike1762

Post Number: 205
Registered: 1-2008
Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2008 - 12:46 pm:   Edit Post

It's easy to bend a length of 2x4 if you lay it on its wide side. But try to bend a single 2x4 along its edge. Now glue 3 pieces of 2x4 together and try to bend it edge wise. I think that's a valid corollary for a multi-laminate neck (somebody chime in if it's not because I'm making this up as I go). You will note that your neck is fairly rigid when compared to a bass with a 1 piece neck. I think a more rigid neck translates to a more stable neck.
Username: davehouck

Post Number: 7272
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2008 - 1:00 pm:   Edit Post

Hi Chris; welcome to the club, and congrats on the Epic. As Mike pointed out, a multi-laminate neck is inherently more stable. A single piece neck is more likely to twist and warp and to have dead spots. Without having actually seen your bass, I'm thinking your bass is fine and there's nothing wrong with it.
Senior Member
Username: white_cloud

Post Number: 555
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Monday, December 22, 2008 - 5:27 am:   Edit Post

Nothing wrong with it at all Chris - Dave and Mike are totally correct...a multi laminated neck is infinitely stronger and stabler (usually) than a single piece neck!

Any laminated neck that is new will be finished perfectly smooth - this changes over time as the different species shrink (all wood shrinks and moves for many years no matter how well it has been dried - some species are stabler than others.) It doesnt effect the playability at all and could be resanded perfectly smooth if it bugged you a lot.

Congrats on your new bass.


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