Source for hardwood soundpost material?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by lnichols, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. Anyone have a source for hardwood soundpost blanks, or dowels? I'd like to try either a maple or birch soundpost in my '51 American Standard. Everything I can find is spruce, which I understand is excellent for a carved bass. I'm guessing 19mm (3/4") would be right for this bass - as opposed to 5/8" or 1". I also assume they should be quartersawn. Or are all dowels quartersawn? Suggestions?

    Thanks, Leni
  2. misterbadger

    misterbadger Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2012
    Northern California
    Any reason not to just buy a 3/4" dowel? They're usually available in birch. I don't see how quartersawing applies to a dowel, or how it would make a difference.
  3. 360guy


    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    If you send me a pm I can probably get something custom made for you. I make exotic wood blanks for endpins ( bloodwood, orange Osage, wenge, rosewood, etc.) as well as custom spruce sound posts . They both are milled on the same machine. My sound posts are being very well received by some of today's top players.
  4. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Home depot or your local hardware store usually sell hardwood dowels in a half dozen different materials. On the other hand, it only takes about five minutes to make a dowel with a simple handplane. If you've got enough skills and desire to install a new post, you can make you own. If not, John (360 guy) does a great job.

    As long as you are experimenting, don't forget to add a carbon fiber post to your list. I've tried about a dozen different types of wood and my current favorite on my carved bass is a thin walled oversized carbon fiber soundpost. Every time I switch back to the spruce one, it only lasts a few minutes and the carbon goes back in!

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  6. 360guy


    Apr 28, 2006
    Lansing, MI USA
    Inichols, I got your PM but was unable to respond via email but you asked about a maple or birch 3/4" sound post and here is my response:

    I could make those but I think it would be quicker and cheaper just to buy those particular woods at a decent lumber/ woodworking shop since they are common.

    I would point you to McFeely's or Woodcraft off the top of my head.

    I work mostly in the exotic woods that you can't find at these places.

    Thanks for the pm. Sorry the email response didn't go back to you directly.
  7. Thanks, 360guy. I'll try that. I don't think I'm looking for something terribly exotic. This is just for an old American Standard bass. ...and maybe for an older Kay bass. Both laminate basses.


  8. dbotkin


    Feb 21, 2011
    Try Woodworkers Supply- 5/8 dia works really well in both my Kays. Maple,hickory,walnut,oak,cherry-all worth trying.
  9. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I'm curious to know where I can get a CF sound post, any suggestions?
  10. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Luthier: Bresque Basses, rep: Paulin EUB
    For what its worth, *I* think any difference in sound due to sound post material is so slight as to be a waste of time chasing after ... unless you are a very OCD type person with heaps of time to spare and can hear the difference between a mosquito fart and a spit bubble popping at 100 paces.

    There are other adjustments that have a far more significant effect.

    But if you really want to play, grab a chair leg or any bit of hardwood from the side of the road, cut it into an 3/4" square stick, trim it to about a foot length and plane the corners off. then plane the smaller corners off until it is round in section. There's nothing magic about the shape of a soundpost. Its just a stick, happens to be round and smooth cos its easier to make, and usually happens to be pine or spruce because its easier to stick a setter blade into. IMHO! And guess why the grain in a soundpost runs perpendicular to the grain in the top???
  11. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    OK I will guess, so that expansion and contraction are in the same direction?
  12. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    You probably don't believe it Santa Claus either
  13. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Luthier: Bresque Basses, rep: Paulin EUB
    Oh Santa Claus is real. I've seen him on the internet.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology: Protecting the Pocket since 2007
    When I restored my Kay from pieces in ca. 1982, the last thing to figure out was the sound post. A book entitled "Violin and Cello" was the only reference we could find in the public library system, and it provided pretty minimal information. We found a spruce (or something) board that was probably as old as the house, and cut it down to square stock. To figure out the angles, we measured with a protractor on the outside of the bass (plywood, constant thickness), and set up compound cuts on my dad's radial arm saw. On the second or third try, we had a post that fit without any need for persuasion, and looked like there were no gaps upon inspection with a mirror. We left it square with slightly rounded edges for aesthetics. Even the thickness was a mystery -- we simply scaled it up from my cello soundpost.

    Don't try this at home. It was purely an amateur repair. Just an amusing anecdote.
  15. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Luthier: Bresque Basses, rep: Paulin EUB
    Simply, when you put a setter blade into a sound post, it goes in one way easily, that's with the grain. (Unless you really want to make life difficult, then you try to insert the setter blade into a hardwood post, or into spruce, across the grain) And when you insert it into position through the FF, unless you are holding it really really weird, the grain will just end up more or less perpendicular to the top grain. There may be serendipitous side effects of this arrangement, but they're not the reason its done this way.

    I believe the same goes for "back face of the bridge must be perpendicular to the top". When you trim the feet on a bandsaw, you put the bridge-blank flat on the table and end up with a right-angle from one face, usually the back. And unless you want to spend three times as long fitting the feet, that's the way it ends up.

    There are all sorts of ways to rationalise why things are done a certain way but usually the simplest reason is the best.
  16. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Occam's razor, FTW!
  17. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    This forum needs a "like" button.
    Swampmuzik likes this.
  18. gerry grable

    gerry grable

    Nov 9, 2010