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Username: 1stbass

Post Number: 72
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 4:19 am:   Edit Post

I was woundering what some of you thought about graphite necks. Pros, cons.

I have never player one but i like the idea.

Username: karl

Post Number: 29
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 4:47 am:   Edit Post

Hi Doug,

I own a Status KingBass ( a graphite neck which I'm very happy with. The pros are:
1. It never moves - tune up once and it damn well stays in tune, pretty much set until you have to replace the strings. Honestly, very very stable and doesn't change with temperature - I haven't needed to touch the truss rod since I picked her up brand new from the Status workshop two years ago.
2. Very light - no chance of neck dive! In fact maybe the opposite . . .
3. Punchy sound. The KingBass has a bit more honk in the midrange and a lot more top than my wood neck basses. If you EQ it right, it means it's great for punchy slap stuff.
4. Durability. Rob at Status uses phenolic (whatever that is) to make the fretboard and it's practically indestructible - probably gonna take you more than a lifetime of playing to make any significant wear and tear on that sucker.

The cons:
1. That extra midrange and top seems to come at the expense of a certain warmth. The graphite neck can sound a bit, uh, 'clinical' somehow. I guess you need wood to get that nice organic sound - you can put this right with some judicious EQing and good choice of amp, but you still can't really get that 'old-skool' thump out of it.
2. The feel of it may take a bit of getting used to. If you're used to a good solid wooden neck, then the graphite may feel a bit insubstantial, even toy-like.

All in all, I love my KingBass: it's a lot of fun to play and it excels for certain playing styles (percussive stuff, 'hi-fi' sounds). But it doesn't give me the satisfaction that I get from playing a good wooden neck Alembic. An Alembic seems to sing in your hands as the woods vibrate in harmony. Graphite just doesn't do this.

Just my two pennorth (that's 2 cents to you guys! :-)

Username: beelee

Post Number: 28
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 4:53 am:   Edit Post

Hey Doug,

I don't own any basses with graphite necks..(yet ) but I did try a Modulus Quantum 6 string bass and a Zon Sonus 5 string recently, they both sounded really nice, although I thought the Zon sounded better than the Modulus........ I do really like the Zon Legacy Elite, I saw/heard one being played on the CMT channel a while back, it was a 6 string through an Ampeg amp, it really sounded great, and I saw Blues Traveler, he was playing a Modulus Quantum 6 and it sounded great as well, I've also had my eye on the Status Buzzard I and King bass Artist ( I wish there were one by me so I could test them out)

I've heard of some Alembics with graphite necks, Phil Lesh plays a Modulus Quantum 6 and Mark King uses a Status now, even some Chapman Sticks are made of graphite now.

From what I've heard graphite necks have no dead spots and play very evenly across the entire neck and don't react to climate change like wood does.
I prefer wood over synthetic material myself, but I would one day like to try/buy a bass with a graphite neck....... IMO the 2 I did try, I didn't really play long enough......if I could have borrowed them for a gig or rehersal..........
Advanced Member
Username: rogertvr

Post Number: 297
Registered: 1-2003
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 6:08 am:   Edit Post

I own a Status Graphite Stealth headless 4-string which I've had for about three months now.

1). The neck NEVER moves - the only reason it's moved since I've had it is because I've gradually been adjusting it to get it to where I want it. I went on holiday for two weeks, came home, lost my job, didn't play it for about another three weeks. After five weeks, it was still in perfect tune.
2). It's a one-piece graphite bass, incredibly light, sustains forever and has real attack and punch.
3). Sounds fantastic - the range of sounds it has leaves everything (including my DW) that I've ever played way behind. And for the cost, I've not played anything that comes near it for range of sounds. The sound is also squeaky clean, which I think is the reason a lot of people think that graphite lacks warmth. I must say that I don't think it is any more or any less warm than any other bass I own.
4). Plays beautifully - very even sound and playability all over the neck.
5). The neck NEVER moves - oh, I already said that!
6). I get just as much satisfaction from playing the Stealth as I do the DW. No competition for which one is prettiest though!

1). None that I've found. Not yet anyway.

12 days to go to next new bass - 02 February, bring it on!

Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 53
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 6:12 am:   Edit Post

i once had a graphite neck p-bass, "now all i use it for is protection!"
Senior Member
Username: bsee

Post Number: 713
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 9:29 am:   Edit Post

I played Modulus neck-thrus for a while and can say that they sounded kind of sterile to me in retrospect. With enough tubes, it worked out well, but not with a clean and tight amp.

I played Zon for many years before recently going Alembic and they sound and feel great. The sound was very much like a vintage Jazz Bass with a maple fretboard. In New England with continuously changing weather, the action never moves. Over several years without touching the setup, you can get sort of spoiled.

If my Sonus had more versatile electronics and I didn't seek a shorter scale, I might never have switched. Of course, the electronics could be fine and maybe the ash body just doesn't do well for a B string. If I could have custom neck dimensions on a Zon with Alembic electronics, I think that might be my ultimate gigging five string.
Username: neyman

Post Number: 11
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 11:04 am:   Edit Post

Let's have another testimonial about Status!

I have a Status Stealth 5 string, and it is by far the most comfortable playing bass I own. It has a warm, thick punch, and clean, clear highs. Not at all sterile or "cold" feeling.

My Steinberger XL sounds just as good but it can sound sterile in certain conditions, and it does feel "cold".

I run all my active basses directly into a power amp, no outboard preamp.

And, for the record, I do switch between the Stealth and my Orion 5 constantly. The Orion has a certain "woody" vibe that the Stealth just can't get. (Plus the flame maple top is da bomb!)
Advanced Member
Username: kungfusheriff

Post Number: 250
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 11:49 am:   Edit Post

My Alembic has a graphite neck, and so far I've found two "cons:" one, it is possible to have a dead spot, the 11th-fret E flat on the E string just disappears. No sustain at all. Two, graphite seems to limit dynamics--when I really lay into a note, instead of being growlier/punchier/louder, it goes "clank," a tiny weak one at that. I had the same issue with my ex-Steinberger XL-2.
As far as sterility of tone goes, just use a warm-sounding amp.
Username: valvil

Post Number: 629
Registered: 7-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 1:22 pm:   Edit Post

One big drawback for me is the fact that you can't have custom neck dimensions without making a new neck mold, which can easily cost as much as an entry level BMW.

Advanced Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 363
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 7:31 pm:   Edit Post

I think that's more a matter of having ridiculously low action than the graphite. I keep my strings high on the Alembic to avoid that problem. Didn't have it on the Steinberger L2A either, but I sure do have it on my Lakland, whose action I've been too lazy to raise.
Senior Member
Username: rami

Post Number: 448
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 7:46 pm:   Edit Post

I own several Fender Jazz Basses with graphite rod reinforced necks. As previously mentioned, the necks are super stable with no dead spots. They easily handle the increased tension of the strings passing through the body. The resulting sound is a tighter, punchier, brighter string with increased sustain. I think that graphite reinforcement offers the best of both worlds; the warmth and natural "ring" of wood with the consistancy and stability of graphite.

Advanced Member
Username: bigredbass

Post Number: 361
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 10:14 pm:   Edit Post

In my experience, the graphite necks were astoundingly even, the same tone on any note on any string on any fret. Ultimately for my ears however, they became almost ceramic sounding. The clean part was fine, I just never could quite get past that tone. I liken it to lots of folks who buy digital recorders/workstations who then buy lots of Joe Meek or Avalon to get that tube warmth back into the process.

From a maintenance standpoint, refrets, action adjustments, etc., can be a major pain. And in the aftermath of the Steinberger/Modulus/Moses lawsuits, etc., these guys can be pretty tight-lipped if you need to get some information. Val VERY correctly points out that for a custom builder, you can buy LOTS of sandpaper and exotic wood to fine tune shapes and profiles for the price of several molds and an autoclave.

Ultimately to my hands, I just love wood. Somehow graphite/composites lack a certain nobility for my soul.

PS Ned is doing an updated range of Steinbergers for Gibson that are wood bodied with large cylinders of composite buried in the neck, attempting to keep the structural constancy of graphite while gaining a certain level of wood warmth.

J o e y
Advanced Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 360
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 10:31 pm:   Edit Post

If we're going to talk about reinforcing rods, rather than solid construction, then the primary advantage of graphite (or more generally, carbon-fiber) is the strength to weight ratio.

If you used the same size reinforcing rods of steel, the neck would be even stiffer and more stable, but it would be way too heavy. Graphite rods allow you to use a smaller diameter and less weight to add equivalent stiffness and stability, and therefore also allow you to keep more of the wood in place, preserving more of the woody characteristics that many of us seem to prefer, tonally.

Carbon fiber is pretty amazing stuff for some purposes (sailboats happen to come to mind). In fact, I saw something on the web about a year ago, where as part of a research project, someone had built a violin entirely out of carbon fiber - very carefully adjusting the plate thicknesses to approximate the same complex harmonic vibration patterns observed in reference instruments.

Supposedly, this worked pretty well. At the same time, I played a couple each of Zon and Modulus basses (though more than ten years ago now, and only in the stores) and found them to be limited in capability. Yes, you can try to warm up the somewhat cold, sterile, brittle sound (just my opinion) with electronics, but I don't believe you can make it more flexible and expressive.

That said, if you can get the range of sounds you care about, go for it.
Senior Member
Username: bassman10096

Post Number: 713
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2005 - 10:35 am:   Edit Post

I tried a Modulus Genesis recently. Its neck is structurally anchored by a graphite "skeleton" that bears all the tension. But it is encased in a wood outside (which is non-weight bearing). It had a wood fingerboard. The sound was a blend between graphite (all the evenness of tone) and wood (warmth, greater and more usable harmonic range). It felt like a wood neck to play. I liked it. Modulus makes 34" J and P replacements in the Genesis, wood/graphite design. I'm considering making a project of a J neck, a Warmouth mahogany body and Alembic activators.

Anybody have any experience with the Genesis necks? I'd appreciate your feedback.
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 55
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, January 22, 2005 - 10:57 am:   Edit Post

Stay with the wood!!!
Username: bigbass

Post Number: 47
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Monday, January 24, 2005 - 2:57 pm:   Edit Post

Over the years, I have owned, played and recorded with many graphite necked basses. The experience has narrowed my opinion. Unless the fingerboard is made of real wood, I find the sterile emission of sound repugnant. Amongst my weaponry, I still find use for an Alembi-sized fretless Modulus six with a rosewood board and a fretted Series I Graphite with a ebony board. There is nothing that sonically sounds like these instruments.
Username: 1stbass

Post Number: 79
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 1:59 am:   Edit Post

Thanks guys,
The reason i started thinking about this is i have a jazz bass i like it but the neck moves around a lot. It lives right next to my alembics and they do fine so its the fender neck. I took a look at the Moses stuff and was thinking maybe a graphite replacement.

can you fell the joint where the graphite and the ebony meet?
Username: davekoch

Post Number: 49
Registered: 1-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 5:22 am:   Edit Post

Here's my $.02 worth. I bought my Modulus M-92 5-string (pre-Sweet Spot) in 1993. Right out of the box, I loved it. Great action and fat notes. Without a truss rod, the neck has never moved. Totally even response because there are no dead spots that I'm aware of. I've never had to even tweak the neck. It dramatically changed my playing and sound. I played Fenders for years. To accomodate their various dead spots, I had to play the sympathic octave to ensure the dead spot notes sounded even with other notes. That's was a drag. Yes, they do sound not quite as warm as wood. But to me the trade-off of even repsonse and fatter notes - it's a no-brainer and I never looked back to wood.

I found a great deal on a Modulus VJ (I always loved playing Jazz basses). I did notice some softer notes or dead spots on it, but have since discovered it had to do more with the stock Bart pups/pre and the Eden 410T cab. I've sinced swapped out the Bart rig with SD Pro-Active pups and a J-Retro pre and it now sings all over the neck. In fact it was actually so hot with the Eden in the upper mids/highs, that I suspected dead spots again in the lower register. But with my Schroeder 410, the response is very even across the spectrum. It was not the bass neck.

I did find a great deal on a G&L ASAT fretless a while back, which are considered by many to be a very hot sounding bass with their pups/pre. The sound is wimpy and stark sounding compared to my Modulus basses, but yes, it does sound "warmer". ;-)

I'll take a bass sound that cuts through on stage everyday over a beautifully warm, boutique, studio bass sound that's doesn't cut through on stage. I think the "warm vs. sterile" rap depends on the rest of your rig, and is usually overblown. On stage, they easily cut through the mix. For studio work, you can use a warmer sounding bass. Fenders worked great in the limited studio settings I had. I played a 1960 stacked-knob Jazz for 17 years and it sounded so nice in the studio (without ANY tweaking), but didn't cut through on stage. But with all the advances in basses these days, there are probably a lot of wood-neck basses out there that have hot, fat notes without dead spots. But I suspect that they will probably need tweaking due to the weather changes.

(Message edited by davekoch on January 27, 2005)
Advanced Member
Username: rogertvr

Post Number: 301
Registered: 1-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 11:39 am:   Edit Post

To 1stbass - you can get replacement graphite necks for Fenders from Status Graphite.
Username: bigbass

Post Number: 50
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005 - 9:08 pm:   Edit Post

1stbass: I believe you mean 'can I FEEL the joint at the point where the graphite and ebony meet?' With that question, the answer is yes! As the seasons change, so does the shrinkage and expansion of my fingerboard. It's not a lot. But I do notice it.

I do hope that was what you were referring to.
Username: 1stbass

Post Number: 80
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Friday, January 28, 2005 - 4:51 am:   Edit Post

Thanks Bigbass,
My spelling is not the best first thing in the morning.


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