Ebony build: WARNING NSFW! Wood porn inside!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mikeyswood, Jul 24, 2011.


  1. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

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    Let's get some more build threads going.

    This is one of many that I'll be starting/updating in the next few weeks. Chris' thread will be updated, a build thread for Alex will be added, and a free bass for Matt will go up. But for now you'll have to suffer this boring thread.

    This Ebony arrived in my shop almost two years ago. It was from an untested supplier and wax sealed; which means that the wood is wet. I had $$$$$ in these two boards and I could not afford to make a mistake and I also might not find 60"x7" Ebony again.

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    After acclimating for a couple years I felt like I could take a risk by removing the wax and cutting the surface which brought me to this conundrum:

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    Do I pair the Ebony with curly or birdseye Maple?

    I chose curly because the birdseye wouldn't be pronounced enough on the quarter to compliment the Ebony. I then split the Ebony open:

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    That's some wide Ebony!

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    Clearly the Curly Sugar Maple is the way to go:

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    This is going to be an exquisite bass:

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    After looking through my wood collection I decided that the Curly Sugar Maple that I had cut wasn't going to cut it. I wanted more distinguished curl to compliment the Ebony. Fortunately I had just the piece in my collection:

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    This will be much better figure:

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    This is how the neck looks with rough pairings:

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    After planing to get the line weights right I'm now comfortable saying that this will knock some socks off:

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  2. stepswork4me

    stepswork4me

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    I've said it before and will continue saying it, Top shelf! Awesome stuff, Mike. The contrast between the ebony and maple is stunning. Do you think that "She's Got the Look" is a good way to describe it? :D
     
  3. Beauchene Implements

    Beauchene Implements

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    I've never used this unsnarkily, but I'ma bout to.

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    Holy crap. Can't wait to see this one.
     
  4. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

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    Looking forward to seeing how this comes out even though I cringe at using ebony in necks. Good Start Mike.;)
    This looks just like a pair of K-Swiss shoes I used to have...LOL:D
     
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  6. TapyTap

    TapyTap

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    Curious...why do you "cringe"?
     
  7. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

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    The cost, lack of supply, rigidity, checks easilly. gabon or madagascar ebony's would not end up in necks in my shop. Too many other woods as suitable for the impact purpose of this type. I build cellos, violins, violas, and EUB's, ebony for FB's is really all I use it for, so when I know how much waste will come from using it in a neck, I cringe. If it were an Asian like macassar, I would cringe a little less(a little...LOL):D
     
  8. Alexander Eddy

    Alexander Eddy

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    Just so you know Mike, I hate you :smug:
    Looking great. It's funny how a simple black/white combo can look so amazing in a world of insanely figured tops.
     
  9. jmorbita

    jmorbita

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    that looks really nice mike!

    Sorry to insist with this musiclogic... if I understand you correctly, it's not just the cost of ebony that makes you cringe, right? If all woods were equally priced and available, you'd still not use it for necks?
     
  10. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

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    JC is spot-on. The check aspect is a HUGE risk with Ebony and even though I've let it age to my shop and have been proceeding with it slowly, it could still go south at any time. Even 20 years from now.

    As for the waste part: stay tuned! ;)

    Thank you, thank you. :smug: Just wait until I start the thread for yours and then others will hate me too! :)

    The rarity of the wood makes it critically important for me to use this for education. The high oil content makes this an extremely difficult wood to successfully work. Fortunately - I'm a chemist and have developed a great way of dealing with that. :)
     
  11. jmorbita

    jmorbita

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    Sorry Mike, there's still something I have a doubt about.
    JC mentioned using ebony in necks. You're saying it's a difficult wood to work with, in general. But what I gathered from JC's post is that he wouldn't use it for necks in particular.
    What's the difference about using it for necks, or fretboards?
     
  12. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

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    To me: I try to use Ebony in a prominent place so that when people see it they ask about it and then can learn about Ebony. Using it as a neck laminate here is going to give this instrument an eye-popping tuxedo look of black and white.

    Some builders prefer to use it for fingerboards since the traditional role of Ebony is akin to an electric bass being a Fender. From reading JC's post I believe that he prefers to use it with the highest efficiency and respect that he is able to impart on this precious wood. I also believe that he will be quite thrilled with the low waste of this neck in just a couple of weeks. ;)
     
  13. allexcosta

    allexcosta Banned

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    Do you always reach for ebony when you're going for this kind of look, or do you also use different dark woods and if you do, which ones?
     
  14. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

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    This is more of a joyride.



    Ebony and ideally Holly for a black and white, but finding 60" clear Holly is nearly impossible. Every color of the rainbow is available naturally and I match the woods with what will work best for the instrument; even if that includes recutting pieces to prevent a error like the Maple of this bass.

    I believe that I've passed 150 species in my collection and many of them are darker. Are you in search of something specific?
     
  15. joeyl

    joeyl Supporting Member

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  16. allexcosta

    allexcosta Banned

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    No, nothing specific, but I noticed you've got some really great woods and was wondering if there's something that can achieve such a great contrast with other woods.

    I do have seen Brazilian Rosewood as dark as ebony, but it's even rarer so it defeats the purpose of the question.

    Do you think staining some more available wood like pau-ferro or purpleheart could lead to a similar look after everything is finished?

    Thanks.
     
  17. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

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    I'm opposed to staining since it falsifies the natural beauty. When you are pairing wood choices you want to use one to compliment the other(s). Mahogany and steamed Walnut is a beautiful pairing, Purpleheart and Padauk is another great pairing. Pau Ferro and Ash would be yet another great pairing. Cocobolo and Beech would be very complimentary.
     
  18. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

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    Cost is definitely a hedging factor, but it's all of the factors listed above in unison for me. I love Gabon Ebony, and I really enjoy working with it, it works wonderfully(I am building a U-bass type build for a customer with an ebony FB right now)cuts clean, routs without splinters, all in all a wonderful wood, I just prefer to use it where it's needed most in MY work.

    I love what Mike is doing with it here
    , it's going to be stunning, it's just not MY preference. I have many other woods I prefer use, just because I do, and because of the scarcity of good really black ebony's.

    I like it for FB's, and of course for those "Rare" tops you see from time to time.....which I believe Mike will be doing with some of this:bag: It's just builder preference, nothing more.

    So let's see where Mike goes with this. I'm watching, like most others....just need some popcorn.:bassist:
     
  19. stepswork4me

    stepswork4me

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    Well Mike, Listen to your heart and i'm sure the build will come out fine.
     
  20. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic

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    I agree with this 100% One of the things most people miss in many pieces of ebony is the very faint curly figure you find in many pieces. Staining completely erases it, and if you look close at ebony you can see the slight curly figure.

    Don't forget ebony and Maple...LOL;)
     
  21. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

    This bass will be...Scrumtrulescent!
     

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