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Birch neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by dave-chaulk, Jul 7, 2010.


  1. Hey guys, I was thinking lately about making a bass with a neck-through, the neck being birch - maybe with a harder (chestnut, padauk) center-strip.

    I cut some beautiful straight birch today (I know about drying time and all, that's not part of the question) and I feel like I could use it.
    Birch is one of the hardest woods on my island (Newfoundland.. we don't have much).

    Anybody have a birch neck?
    If not, do you think that - with proper support - one would work?
     
  2. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Disclosures:
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    A friend of mine used birch to make a banjo neck, no problems.
    It seems to me he researched it and birch is harder than maple. I could be wrong though.
     
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  4. Surprisingly, yes, Yellow Birch is stronger (in most aspects) then sugar maple. Yellow Birch is weaker (by a small amount) in compression perpendicular to grain and sheer strength.
     

  5. I don't imagine the strength perpendicular to grain would have to adverse an effect on neck strength, though, if proper truss rod was used.
     
  6. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Disclosures:
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Luthiers have been using Birch for necks for a long time, it's quite stable, only drawback is it is heavier than maple. Go get em Dave.
     
  7. Not until it necks dives and hits the floor.(heavier wood weight duly noted) :eek:

    And I doubt ANY sheer failure has ever happened to an electric bass.
     
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    What's your source for wood properties perpendicular?
     
  9. Hi.

    Back in the day when I was building, birch was the wood for me.

    Never had any problems, but people do claim that birch is not a tone-wood :meh:.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  10. Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley

    pg.79 table 4.1 -Strength properties @ 12% mc of some commercially important woods grown in the United States.
     
  11. NO tree grows with the intent of becoming an instrument.
     
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I've heard of Birch being referred to as "Mountain Mahogany" when it's used in furniture making. The grain really does look similar.
     
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Thanks.

    Just to be clear, I wasn't challenging your figures. I was wondering where to go to get them myself.
     
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Disclosures:
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    That is a great book and anyone working with wood should read it.
     
  15. Oh I didn't think there was any ill will in your post. And I gotta say that the book is easily the best woodworking book I've read to date. Definitely pick up a copy. And in no time you'll be looking at trees in a different light.

    +1
     
  16. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Disclosures:
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
  17. OK, this seals the deal. in two to three years I will build a birch neck, hahah.

    if Ican't wait, I'll find some longer-down stuff, or just buy some.
     
  18. Hawkbone

    Hawkbone

    Mar 23, 2009
    Newfoundland
    haha, googled birch as a neck and got this thread. I'm convinced. The 5-string I'm planning will be all Newfie birch.
     
  19. pie_man_25

    pie_man_25

    Jun 28, 2007
    Windsor, ON.
    I would use it myself. Most of the Pre-war Gibson mandolins were made with birch instead of maple - and nobody can tell the difference. Birch is VERY similar to maple in many ways, from my small experience.
     
  20. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Disclosures:
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    I much prefer Michigan Birch, for it's stability, growth structure away from the salt water, and of course the ability to understand everything it says...LMAO

    This was a joke, intended for humor and no real or intended properties of birch were harmed in the making of this:D
     



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