Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Does your vintage Fender Bass Suffer From "Fenderitis"?

We had just finished a great recording session today with Caroline Doctorow when fiddler extraordinare Gary Oleyar sighted down the neck of my 1966 Fender P-Bass (which only leaves the house for recording sessions) and said,

"Oh man, this thing has FENDERITIS."


Gary was about to provide a solution to something that had been bothering me for some time about my  P-Bass. Apparently, over time, the neck to a vintage Fender P-Bass (and probably some other basses, for that matter) will pull sideways to the G-string side, pivoting at the bolt-on screws... down, towards the floor as you wear the instrument. (Believe it or don't, kids, there's actually more tension on the G-string side of the neck, compared to the E-string side.) This results in the G being too close to the edge of the neck, and the E being too far away. The further up the neck, the more visibly pronounced this mis-alignment will be. Here's how the bass looked when Gary eyeballed it:

BEFORE: G string really close to neck edge

BEFORE: Too much space between E string and neck edge

Gary suggested slightly loosening the four screws that hold the neck to the body (of course, you would slacken the strings first) to permit re-alignment of the neck. Don't over-do it: Only 1 to 1.5 turns of the screws at the most should be necessary.  By pushing the neck UP, in the direction of the E-String, while tightening back the screws and simultaneously tensioning the strings JUST enough (start with the E to pull the neck in that direction) to see how far to push the neck over, I was able to get an ideal symmetrical re-alignment. Side benefit... I think the action is slightly better. Ha!

AFTER: More space between G string and neck edge

AFTER: Less space between E string & neck edge

Happy owner w/ strings spaced evenly across neck

Bottom Line:
Fun, successful recording session + Fenderitis cure = A good day


  1. Doesn't hurt to add lateral shims. Neck pockets will loosen as wood shrinks. Shimming is good way to prevent the neck from moving out of alignment. Yes...Don't let Fenderitis ruin your day.
    -RAH3, former Fenderitis sufferer

  2. Aha, good point. Planning on procuring some neck wood to make a replacement neck for an Italian "Beatle Bass" I have... I'll probably fold some neck shim wood into that order... Thanks, Randy to the Third Power!



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