Ask 100 people about the differences between through-neck and bolt-on guitars and basses, and 99 will tell you mostly the same story: Bolt-on neck designs sound punchier and are less expensive; set or through-neck designs have a warmer, fuller sound, and are more costly. And while these stereotypes often hold true, we like to buck trends here at Ernie Ball Music Man.
Through-neck and bolt-on neck constructions have unique strengths, and each time our design team builds a new electric guitar or bass, they decide which assembly method to use based on the desired personality and functionality of each specific instrument.
A great example is our latest StingRay electric guitar. Although it is a bolt-on design, its tonal characteristics match sought after set-neck designs thanks to how well the combination of physical and electrical design elements interact. Another example is our John Petrucci Majesty electric guitar; the overall design dictated a through-neck element so that John Petrucci could achieve the high-fret access he needed for his playing style.
There are other ways we craft our instruments to take advantage of through-neck or bolt-on strengths, and one is the addition of a tone block. This design feature – which Sterling Ball refers to as a “tone wood cocktail” – allows us to achieve traditional through-neck resonance with a bolt-on neck by inserting an additional piece of wood, usually mahogany, into the body. This piece connects each string contact point from nut to bridge, creating tonal resonance usually associated with through-neck designs. Like every single Ernie Ball Music Man guitar or bass design element, tone blocks are only added if they contribute to the desired output. Some bolt-on instruments, like our new James Valentine or Luke III electric guitars, achieve a fantastic tone without one.
Our design team has a large variety of design tools to choose from, and bolt-on vs. through-neck is just one decision that ultimately contributes to the personality of each instrument. Each design element, from the pickup types to the body wood to the neck construction, is chosen to ensure you are getting the exact sound and playability our master design team envisioned when creating the electric guitar or bass.
See all of our impeccably designed electric guitars and basses here: http://musc.mn/1pq7rlu