Neck-thru vs Bolt-on

Following a previous post on Cort basses, I’m debating whether I should go with a neck-thru model (like the A4 plus) or a bolt-on bass (B4). In Europe the price difference is about 200 USD or so. Does the difference in construction justify the price in terms of tone?


This guy is a true genius.

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Short answer - no, generally, but depends, but not in the way you might think.
Pros and cons to both, but mostly it’s a design feature marketeers can talk about vs doing anything actually valuable.

I’d say on a lower end bass I tend to stay away from neck through basses as they need more care and quality of build, which, generally isn’t paramount on lower end things.


Short answer, yes, there’s a difference in tone but you won’t be able to tell. You’d feel that you have more sustain. It’s definitely feels better up the neck by the neck “pocket” and provides better reach ability than bolt on neck.

Neck through bass definitely has better perceived value and usually built better because neck is part of the body. I agree with @John_E to stay away from the low end neck through, if it’s not done right it can be a disaster.


At video is really interesting! So all that marketing about the effect of the body wood, the neck wood, the fretboard wood on tone is just BS!

I have one bass that is a through neck, one that is a set neck and one that is a bolt on. The bolt on (a Dingwall) is, by far, the most expensive. It’s lovely! But I also love the set neck (a Steinberger) and I use the through neck (a Spector) for its punky grunt. I think the tone of these instruments has more to do with the pickups and whether or not they have an onboard pre-amp, than how the next is attached.

Clearly, there are differences in how the basses feel. The Dingwall’s fan-frets, how the Steinberger hangs when standing, the weight of the Spector…

Ultimately, you’ve got to play the basses to see if you like them! The order I’ve listed my basses is deliberate. It’s my playing preference…which is nothing to do with how the neck is attached.

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Opinions differ:

Easily one of the most controversial subjects when it comes to (bass) guitars.




Only slightly related… on every neck-through bass I’ve owned I’ve really enjoyed the neck-through construction. However, I’ve always wound up selling them because I worry about the ramifications of something happening to the neck. It’s not like you can swap in a cheap Amazon replacement or summat.

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I’d say that what is BS is this fallacious video.

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I don’t buy what this guy is selling. Mostly I am skeptical on internet things. I don’t take random internet guys as gospel, and it doesn’t matter the subject. In doing research, no one else has replicated this. That’s a flag to me.

Has nothing to do with whatever opinion I have on tone wood.

nothing wrong with a bolt on. they sound great and are lighter in general. A good bolt on is just as good as a good neck through.

To me it’s like the hi mass bridge debate. Does it affect the tone? Yes. Is it better? arguable - it’s different. Do you get more sustain? Yes. Do you need more sustain? No.

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How so? He basically got his ‘air guitar’ to song like an expensive guitar by using the same stings, pick up etc.

My basses all sound different because they have different pick ups / electronics - 2 are active, one passive. The pick-ups are EMG, Steinberger and Dingwall. Different stings - one uses normal strings, one uses strings with balls at each end and the last one uses loooong multi-scale strings that are of a thinner gage. The heights between the strings and the pick-ups are different - I have neither the time, nor the inclination to try to normalise between the basses.

They feel different because the set up is different between them, the scale lengths are different - two have normal scale lengths, but one is, as I’ve said, a multi-scale, the shapes are different. The quality of the finish is different (while the Spector is very nice, it feels quite heavy and agricultural compared to the Dingwall).

Would I put the differences down to a through, set or bolt on neck? Or the wood? No idea, but looking at that video, probably not.

Thing is, in the real world, I don’t have the money to buy, say another Dingwall, but with a different neck wood, or body wood, keep everything else the same, and test the difference…

As with many things in life the marketing is going to tell us that A is different, better than B. I’m also a cyclist, every cycling magazine seems to be dedicated to telling you how you will get faster if you buy x, y or z. With bass, many of us chasing that elusive perfect tone, so that we can sound like person green or person blue? Anyway? My favourite bass has a bolt in neck, the bass that comes in at #3 has a through neck. I’m not sure their order is a function of how the neck is attached to the body… :metal:


We discussed this on the tonewood post. His guitar is not a “air guitar”. The body is made out of two tables and a floor, it’s not a guitar without a body. To me this video is just a big lie. Pure anti-science.

Also it’s very easy to go to a shop and try similar instruments made out of different woods. You will easily notice that different woods sound and behave differently. How could it not be, anyway ?


I’m not willing to take a position on whether tone wood makes any difference, but I am willing to say the impact is practically non-existent. By the time you get through different pick-ups, string types, string gauge, pre-amp pedals, eq, an amp or amp sim, etc. there are dozens of things I’m certain make more of a difference in tone. For an acoustic instrument, absolutely, although again the plate tuning and how it’s built gives a whole lot of room to change sound again.

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But I can easily notice that instruments made out of the same wood sound and behave differently.

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Absolutly, because each piece of wood is different. There are more or less variation depending on the wood type.

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That’s not science either, too many variables, as I previously listed.


The perception might be that a through neck is better than a bolt on? They can certainly look great, but are they better, tone wise? Ummmmmm…….


One thing interesting : change the neck on a guitar or a bass. For example on a Stratocaster, change the Fender neck with maple fretboard for another Fender neck with rosewood fretboard. It will change the sound of the instrument, and there won’t be any change to the other variables.

Honestly I’m a bit tired about this debate. I’ll stop there. Everybody can believe what he wants.

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Ok, I’ll bow to you exhaustive, scientific testing. BTW, what was your null hypothesis and how did you statistically verify your results?

I think this is the end result of most internet debates, really.

Neck-thru vs. Bolt-on.

Will it make a significant difference to the bass?
Will any and all changes to the bass effect the bass, how it sounds and how it plays?
I think so.

I kind of equate it to wine tasting.
If you’re beginning, it all tastes like wine.
If you’re a dedicated aficionado, you can start to tell the difference and the small changes will be much more important to you.

It really depends on where you are on the journey in terms of your:

  1. Experience - will you be able to tell a difference when playing?
  2. Ears - will you be able to perceive the change in the sound?
  3. Budget - will it effect sound/playability enough to warrant the extra money?

For beginning to intermediate level basses and players, I encourage simplicity over all other things. It’s helpful to remember that any decent bass will sound good, will do the job, and will get you playing to the point where the other details will start to become more apparent and important.

I mean, unless you have the money. Then buy lots of basses!!