2 Ways To Fix Guitar Neck Dive For Bass Players That Sit

February 29, 2024
Guitar Neck Dive - Image of a duck diving its head into the water by Ian Edokov

Guitar neck dive happens when the headstock of your bass has a tendency to drop when you’re wearing it on your shoulder or sitting. And the only way to keep your bass guitar from “diving” is to use your fretting hand to hold the neck up.

When you have to hold the neck of the bass, in order to maintain balance, problems can occur. This effort causes unnecessary tension with your fretting hand, slows down your fingers, and can lead to wrist pain later on.

I predominantly play my bass sitting down due to a bad shoulder. And since bass guitars often have a short lower horn, I almost always experience neck dive.

I’m going to show you what I’ve tried and 2 ways that helped get rid of guitar neck dive, without damaging my bass or the need to add weights to your guitar.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which provide me a small commission at no cost to you. These are merely good solutions for holding your bass guitar. You can read my affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy.

TL;DR

If you’re short on time, watch my “How To Fix Guitar Neck Dive When Sitting And Playing The Bass Guitar” video. In this video, I do a Performaxe demo and I also share what I believe to be the ultimate solution for solving neck dive for any bass player that sits when they play. This solution has worked for ALL of my basses.

YouTube video
How To Fix Guitar Neck Dive When Sitting And Playing The Bass Guitar

What is neck dive? And Why Does It Happen If You Play Sitting?

Bass guitars are designed with a short lower horn. When you add in the longer neck scale and heavy headstock, most basses will “dive” toward the ground when you sit and play.

Bass guitars were designed to be worn on the shoulder. Yet, more and more bassists are starting to play the bass guitar sitting. Especially, studio musicians.

For me, it was a shoulder injury that led me to play sitting.

If you want to confirm that you have neck dive, place the bass on your leg like you would if you were to play it. Then, let go of the neck with your fretting hand. But, keep your hand close by in case the neck suddenly falls toward the ground!

If your bass does not balance on its own and topples over, you have guitar neck dive.

What causes it?

Here are 4 main causes your bass guitar won’t stay balanced during playing position (sitting or standing).

  • heavy headstock in comparison to the weight of the body
  • longer neck scale length
  • short lower horn (this only matters if you’re playing while sitting)
  • upper horn doesn’t reach 12th fret (if you’re wearing the bass on your shoulder)

There are a lot of ways to combat this. I’ll show you what I’ve come across. The best part is that these ways won’t damage your instrument. In other words, no drilling holes on your instrument!

How neck dive makes it harder to play and may lead to injury

When you have to hold up the bass guitar with your fretting hand, you limit your range with your fingers and introduce tension in your wrist.

Wrist tension for a prolonged period of time can cause pain in the wrist when you play the bass and even tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

But, when your fretting hand is free from having to hold up your instrument, you’ll have great freedom to glide along the neck.

I’ve been playing the bass guitar for more than 2 decades and from my experience, when you don’t have to hold the guitar to keep it up, you really start to have physical freedom with your instrument. It’s totally worth it to solve the problem, find a true center of gravity or solution that works.

Ways to combat guitar neck dive when you sit

There are many ways to fix guitar neck dive if you play the bass sitting.

Here are a few ways that I tried, but didn’t quite work out for me. However, they still may work for you. After these, I’ll show you the approach I came up that works for every single bass guitar that I’ve played.

Classical Guitar Position

A popular approach is to play the instrument using classical guitar position.

Classical guitarists hold their instrument between the legs. If you’re right-handed, the left leg is also raised by placing a foot stool under the left foot.

This works great for classical guitars, because the body of the instrument has some depth to it.

But for me, when I tried this method on a bass guitar, I found it to be very clumsy.

There are other reasons too that I didn’t like:

  • The bass would often slip off my left leg.
  • I would sometimes have to clasp my bass with both of my legs to keep it from falling.
  • I often found the posture of my body to be very poor.
  • Playing low notes was a far reach with my arm.

Dynarette Guitar Cushion

The Dynarette guitar cushion is a leg cushion that I used for many years. It works well and is an inexpensive solution.

By placing a cushion under the bass guitar you can shift where the bass guitar balances on on your leg.

This is because the Dynarette has a non-slip surface and the cushion is very big.

I actually loved this solution and it got rid of neck dive problems for all of my basses. But, I really didn’t like the way it looked.

It’s a really big cushion and looks funny when you’re playing it live.

Click here for links to guitar cushions, like the Dynarette.

Performaxe Guitar Leg Rest

The Performaxe is a high quality well made guitar leg rest. Keep in mind, it is intended for electric guitars, not bass guitars.

I still bought the product, because my neck dive issue was enough of a pain for me to try it out.

You can adjust the angle of your guitar very easily and the metal is solid.

I’ve used this product for more than a year and I absolutely love it. However, it only works with my Fender Jazz bass.

I’ve tried this on:

  • Reverend Decision 4-string bass (doesn’t work)
  • Fender Precision Bass 4-string bass (doesn’t work)
  • Modulus Quantum 5-string bass (doesn’t work)
  • Fender Jazz 4-string bass (worked for me)

Finally, the solution that’s worked for EVERY bass guitar I’ve tried

Here is a solution I’ve come up with that didn’t come at any additional cost from what I already had, and didn’t require modifying my instrument.

It requires a shoulder strap. But, you won’t be wearing the shoulder strap.

Since I have a bad shoulder, wearing the shoulder strap is not an option for me.

Instead, what you’ll do is connect the strap the the lower strap button. Then, take the strap and sit on it.

Yes, sit on the strap. Bing Bang Boom. Done.

The weight of your body sitting on the strap will counter act the bass guitar from any neck dive.

You can even push down on the neck and the bass guitar will not dive.

This solution fixed guitar neck dive for me with all of my bass guitars. What I really like about this solution is that you can pull the strap to change the angle of the bass too.

The only problem I have with this solution is that your leg will start to feel numb after some time.

Now it’s your turn

Guitar neck dive is a huge pain. And it makes it feel like you’re fighting your instrument.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve showed you a few options that can remedy this problem.

Give them a try.

I hope that you find a balanced playing position and experience a new found freedom with your fretting hand.

If you liked my tips, check out my other bass lessons.

PosidoVega

Hi! I’m Posido Vega, a multi-passionate creative. I’m an artist, bass player, jazz theory enthusiast, children’s book author and illustrator, and SEO 😅.

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