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How to fix neck-diving basses

This is a discussion on How to fix neck-diving basses within the Music Man Basses forums, part of the Gear Talk category; I play an EBMM Bongo 5 in a band I gig regularly with. I love the quality and sound of ...

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    c0d3h4x0r's Avatar
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    Question How to fix neck-diving basses

    I play an EBMM Bongo 5 in a band I gig regularly with. I love the quality and sound of the instrument, but it's uncomfortable to wear for any time at all. Not only is it a heavy beast, but it tends to neck-dive (both while standing and sitting). The neck-diving is killing my left shoulder (I'm a right-handed player).

    I know that it's possible to tinker with the balance of the instrument by relocating strap pins (aka strap buttons), usually the one on the butt-end of the instrument. My guess is that adding a second-pin closer to the top side of the instrument might alleviate the neck dive, but I thought I'd consult the experts here before making such a change.

    Who here has experience fixing neck-diving basses? What things work, and what don't? How does different positioning of the strap pins effect instrument balance?

    UPDATE: I should have mentioned from the start that I already use a 4-inch wide padded leather strap, and that doesn't help much with the comfort/balance issue.
    Last edited by c0d3h4x0r; 03-02-2006 at 04:02 PM.

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    I never heard of anyone complaining about a neck diving Bongo but if you say yours does then I guess it does.

    I used to play Gibson T-Birds a lot which are horrible neck divers even with moving teh strap buttons and my vintage Oakland bass is also quite a neck diver and heavy but I don't want to drill any new holes in the bass since I know of only about 3 or 4 of these basses to exist.

    I found an old strap made by a company that's no longer in business called "Fretsling" that solves the problem. It's almost S shaped and it substantially cuts down on neck dive but they're no longer made.

    The good news is that I sent my "Fretsling" to Glenn Cronkhite who makes high quality leather gig bags (Reunion Blues founder) and he made me a duplicate strap that I just got back in from him this week and I'm having him make me up a bunch more and I'll be selling them soon.

    I'll shoot a pic and post here this afternoon so you can see the shape of the straps.

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    Jazzbassman23 is offline Registered User Senior Member
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    I'm quite surprised at two points. I've heard many things said about Bongos, but never that they were heavy and certainly not that they were unbalanced.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzbassman23
    I'm quite surprised at two points. I've heard many things said about Bongos, but never that they were heavy and certainly not that they were unbalanced.
    Well, it's not extreme neck-diving (not so much that it actually causes the strap to slide over my shoulder and the instrument to fall), but it's some (enough that there's more weight pulling on the forward side of the strap on the rear, and it's only the friction of the strap against my shoulder that keeps the bass's neck from actually falling).

    It's definitely the heaviest 5-string bass I've ever played. It weighs 10 lbs.

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    I don't know what other 5 strings you've played but 10lbs is not what I would consider heavy at all. No lightweight for sure but I'd say that's about average for any production 5 string out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Dude Barr
    I don't know what other 5 strings you've played but 10lbs is not what I would consider heavy at all. No lightweight for sure but I'd say that's about average for any production 5 string out there.
    It's heavy for me relative to what I can withstand for the full duration of a gig night, and relative to other basses I've owned previously, and that's all that really matters to me.

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    Understood. I was just responding to your comment that it was the heaviest 5 string you've played is all.

    10lbs is in the "average" range but if it's too heavy for you then it' s too heavy for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Dude Barr
    I found an old strap made by a company that's no longer in business called "Fretsling" that solves the problem. It's almost S shaped and it substantially cuts down on neck dive but they're no longer made.
    So how exactly does the S-shape help with neck dive? From a physics/gravity perspective, I don't understand how this would help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0d3h4x0r
    I play an EBMM Bongo 5 in a band I gig regularly with. I love the quality and sound of the instrument, but it's uncomfortable to wear for any time at all. Not only is it a heavy beast, but it tends to neck-dive (both while standing and sitting). The neck-diving is killing my left shoulder (I'm a right-handed player).

    I know that it's possible to tinker with the balance of the instrument by relocating strap pins (aka strap buttons), usually the one on the butt-end of the instrument. My guess is that adding a second-pin closer to the top side of the instrument might alleviate the neck dive, but I thought I'd consult the experts here before making such a change.

    Who here has experience fixing neck-diving basses? What things work, and what don't? How does different positioning of the strap pins effect instrument balance?
    When i got my first Bongo i played it with an EBMM 2" nylon strap, and it hurt like hell. My basses are 4,3 and 4,6 kg respectively. Now I have one carving leather strap with 9 mm of neoprene on the inside on one bongo and a comfort strapp on the other. No problems any more.
    Also, I remember a rather stupid looking contraption that had dual straps crossed on your back, and that was comfy as hell.
    Relocating the back strap pin won't really make a big difference if your problem is that most of the weight of the Bongo is on your left shoulder. At least it doesn't on the basses I own with more than one rear strap pin.
    bovinehost: Yes, I do agree with that, but if there's nothing wrong then there's nothing wrong.
    Beth: I would compare Bongo to Tommy Lee Jones. Bad a$$ and just hot in a weird way...
    cheezewiz: They should take their lace thongs off and play bass.


    Bongo 5 HH, Black/tort w/ rosewood neck
    Bongo 5 H, Dargie Delight, on a studio floor in Nashville I guess...

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    Quote Originally Posted by c0d3h4x0r
    So how exactly does the S-shape help with neck dive? From a physics/gravity perspective, I don't understand how this would help.
    It should shift how your body "sees" the c.g. of the bass. Not sure of the specifics tho'. Don't have a strap in hand to test.
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    It goes up over your shoulder then curves in towards the center of your body and tends to raise the upper horn a bit. It also shifts the bass a but further back and brings 1st position in closer to your body.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Dude Barr
    It goes up over your shoulder then curves in towards the center of your body and tends to raise the upper horn a bit. It also shifts the bass a but further back and brings 1st position in closer to your body.
    From looking at the avatar, I think that the S-strap will work wonders for c0d3h4x0r.
    bovinehost: Yes, I do agree with that, but if there's nothing wrong then there's nothing wrong.
    Beth: I would compare Bongo to Tommy Lee Jones. Bad a$$ and just hot in a weird way...
    cheezewiz: They should take their lace thongs off and play bass.


    Bongo 5 HH, Black/tort w/ rosewood neck
    Bongo 5 H, Dargie Delight, on a studio floor in Nashville I guess...

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    I own a 14lb Gibson LPB (long scale) as well as a couple of Thunderbirds (all renowned neck divers), and a good 4" leather strap with non slip suede backing makes them as comfortable as any other bass in my herd.
    Cheers
    Mark

    2009 black/tort Big Al 4 SSS

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    On my Bongo-5 I put a strap button near the bridge, pretty much symetrically located to the rearmost EQ knobs. It balances better. The strap tends to creep along the upper edge and touch my arm. When I got my Bongo-4, I added a strap button about an 2/3 inch rearward from the location I chose on my 5-string. This keeps the strap much further than 2/3 inch away from my arm because the curve of the body edge is heading much more downward for that seemingly minor 2/3 inch shift.

    I tried these locations for the buttons as an experiment. Because of the near symetry to the array of knobs, if I abandon using these [black] buttons, they are not visually jarring. They seem about right for sitting down but for standing up I think the best location, which I use on a number of basses, is on the lower edge right behind the output jack. When standing I lift the neck to about 45 dgr, which puts the button-near-the-bridge pretty much directly above the original position [IOW, no change in balance from original]. But with the neck tilted up, the lower edge location [near the jack] moves neckward, much to the left of the original endpin spot, for noticeably better balance.

    For really big players, it may be harder to find a strap long enuf for the lower edge button location. For average size players it's no problem, since most shops stock mainly overlength straps anyway, for wearing your ax near your knees in current fashion. You can test the feel and balance of the lower edge deal by tieing your strap to the plug in the jack. I wouldn't do that *instead* of a strap button there in the long term, but for a 1/2 hour practice session, to get the feel of it, it won't hurt anything.

    BTW, once you relocate the rear button, use the original endpin hole to screw on a rubber bumper [a rubber replacement "foot" for an amp or cab]. Then you can klonk your ax butt-down on the stage when you take it off and not be hammering it. Also, kind of IMPORTANT: If you decide on the lower edge location, you may need to notch your fitted case. If you're willing to drill into your ax to move a button, this shouldn't cause anxiety. But to avoid notching the case, don't mount the button right on the edge but migrate it more around toward the top/front surface. The strap is more secure that way, anyway.
    Last edited by Golem; 03-03-2006 at 06:27 AM.

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