Spanish Cedar as a Bass Neck
I'm curious as to what everyone thinks about the possibility of using Spanish Cedar (Cedrela Odorata) as a neck on a medium-scale 4-string neck-through-body bass.
Spanish Cedar isn't an actual cedar. It is actually in the Meliaceae family, which means it's related to Mahogany.
I'm looking to use it for the primary neck and body core stock of a 32" scale 4-string fretless bass. I'm planning to put carbon fiber rods in the neck for stiffness, as well. I don't *think* there'll be stability or strength problems with it, but I wanted to ask my betters their opinions first.
Mostly I'm looking at it because it's half the price of Genuine mahogany, and I like how it looks.
So what say you guys? Is it usable in this fashion, or am I setting myself up for failure?
Mechanical properties vary a lot within a species. Family doesn't mean much when you are looking to pin down a working property.
I probably wouldn't. I haven't. It tends on the low end of stiffness. I know there are probably guys who will have used it or genuine mahogany (I have, but laminated) and will want to say that if you pick the right piece you'll be fine. Maybe. Maybe it will be a touch rubbery and you'll kick yourself. There are other woods that look like Mahogany, that are cheaper and have higher Modulus of Elasticity and that's the direction I would go.
Sapele is an option, almost as stiff as maple (based on average, published numbers), about 30% stiffer (average) than spanish cedar. Look around, there are woods that might be close enough in looks for you but have much higher stiffness.
Spanish cedar makes a fine body and can be ultra lightweight. It dents easily and is not the most fun wood to sand but if you are looking for a low finished weight it is a nice option for the body.
My least favorite part of Spanish Cedar is the smell. It's quite pungent and once it gets in your sinuses you can taste it for hours. :hmmm
Thanks guys. I think I'll stick with regular Hond. mahog.
I'm using cedrela on my uke-bass build without a trussrod. I'll let you know how it works out.
Agree with you on the smell/taste like aspirin. It also doesn't take an oil finish well.
As for the oil finish, you're right. It's awful trying to build up a smooth finish on cedrela. However, if you slap a coat on with a rag quite heavily, then sand with 320 or 600 wet-or-dry paper whilst it's still wet, the slurry fills the pores and makes for a smoother finish.
If you get a piece with good rippling and a straight enough grain, it's fine. Classical guitar makers have been building necks out of cedrela for years, and they seem to hold up pretty well.
I like the smell of spanish cedar, but the taste is unpleasant and hard to avoid.
No, you're completely right. On a bass guitar the neck probably wouldn't be strong enough without reinforcement. I used it on my uke bass because the neck is about 10" long and u-bass strings aren't very high tension.
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