Birch neck?

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


  1. dave-chaulk

    dave-chaulk

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    Newfoundland, Canada.
    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

    Joined:
    May 17, 2009
    Location:
    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.
  3. Ruckus_Instrmts

    Ruckus_Instrmts

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Location:
    NSB Central Florida
    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.
  4. dave-chaulk

    dave-chaulk

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    Newfoundland, Canada.

    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.
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  6. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2005
    Location:
    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. Ruckus_Instrmts

    Ruckus_Instrmts

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Location:
    NSB Central Florida
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2001
    Location:
    US-NY-NYC
    What's your source for wood properties perpendicular?
  9. T-Bird

    T-Bird

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Location:
    Finland (Northern Europe)
    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. Ruckus_Instrmts

    Ruckus_Instrmts

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Location:
    NSB Central Florida
    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. Ruckus_Instrmts

    Ruckus_Instrmts

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Location:
    NSB Central Florida
    NO tree grows with the intent of becoming an instrument.
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Yeah, I've got the moves like Jagger. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Location:
    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

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    Location:
    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

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    Jul 22, 2007
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Disclosures:
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    That is a great book and anyone working with wood should read it.
  15. Ruckus_Instrmts

    Ruckus_Instrmts

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Location:
    NSB Central Florida
    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. Woodpecker

    Woodpecker

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    "Newland", Finland
  17. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood

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    Cincinnati OH
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    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Love the knobs!
  18. dave-chaulk

    dave-chaulk

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    Newfoundland, Canada.
    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.
  19. Hawkbone

    Hawkbone Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Location:
    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.
  20. pie_man_25

    pie_man_25

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    Location:
    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.
  21. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2005
    Location:
    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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