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Wood for new bass in spring

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by friedtransistor, Dec 10, 2013.


What method would work best

  1. Cut a chunk of maple from the giant log in our yard, for body, neck, and fretboard

    35.3%
  2. Use 2x4s for the neck and glued together for the body, and something else for the fretboard

    5.9%
  3. Cut some of the maple for the body and fretboard, and use a 2x4 for the neck

    5.9%
  4. Some other combination (please explain in your post)

    52.9%
  1. friedtransistor

    friedtransistor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    Location:
    Nebraska USA
    I'm planning on making my own bass this coming spring, and would like to see what my best route is to obtain the wood...
     
  2. joseplluissans

    joseplluissans

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    You'll get a heavy instrument with maple, depending on body style. I am making a Gibson Grabber influenced neck through build and the body is quite robust and made of maple. On the other hand, the boy will be thinner (32 mm) than the usual (45 mm).
     
  3. Luthier Atlanta

    Luthier Atlanta

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2013
    Location:
    Atlanta, U.S.A.
    Maple isn't that bad at all, I make stuff out of trees all the time!
     
  4. 6stringpanda

    6stringpanda

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Considering that when making your instuments even the electronics and hardware cost a bit of money so there is no point in using inexpensive wood-I know someone that spent alot of time on making their first instument and it came out unbelievable-they were pissed that they used wood bought from Home depot to make it (He later re-made it from wood bought online) but that first one came out so good he is still pissed.

    Its up to you but I would just warn that if you are going to really put blood, sweat and tears into it (not to mention tools are very expensive) invest in some decent wood.

    Sometimes even local lumber yards carry nice wood for furniture makers, check it out online.
     
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  6. reverendrally

    reverendrally

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Whatever you use, make sure it's dry, stable, straight and responsibility forested. I use local timbers from a timber yard round the corner. You can go in, choose what you want and often they'll cut it to size and thickness it for you for a small charge. ;)

    I'd favor something lighter than maple for the body too. Ash, alder, mahogany, douglas fur (pine) etc. Depends where you live as to what's available easily.
     
  7. KramerDon

    KramerDon

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Location:
    Southwestern Michigan
    If you're cutting this now it wont be stable/cured by spring.The general rule is at least 1 year curing per inch of thickness,unless you have access to a kiln to dry it.Also if you do have anything sawn from a log seal the board ends with any old latex paint or the board ends dry out much faster and split.Also if you're talking about using regular construction 2"X4"'s that's not at all what you want to use for an instrument!!
     
  8. friedtransistor

    friedtransistor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    Location:
    Nebraska USA
    Hey, thanks for the suggestions. I forgot to mention, I was planning on a bolt-on style neck with 24 frets, so the style of the body will be on the small side. 35" 4 strings. The log I was thinking of using I was gonna cut in the spring, as it's frozen under an inch of snow, and I don't think and chainsaw will cut it too well under said circumstance. And if the only downside to using maple for the body is the weight, I don't mind. First of all, I need the excercise, and second, my les paul is heavier than my current bass, which has a bigger body than I plan on making. I have all the plans drawn out at quarter scale, frets and all, and I even drew out a full size mockup, albeit with the frets slightly off. Which brings me to another question. Should I even bother with a fretboard, or just set the frets straight into the neck? If the former, what should I use for the fretboard? Mind you, I have not the almighty drum sander, or even a router, for that matter. All will be done with a random-orbital sander, a jigsaw, maybe a circular saw, and boxcutter. Oh, and maybe a chisel if I get some money this christmas (and don't blow it all on building a ten-band eq).

    Oh, and almost forgot. I live in Nebraska, so wood choice is kinda limited. The maple log is from a large tree in our yard that was on it's last legs. I might see if we have an ash tree that's nearly dead. Um, actually, would elm work? We just had and elm tree cut down cause it died from the dutch-elm disease. Pretty large logs there...
     
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    The log you have in mind will be unusable for what you have in mind. It would need to be milled, and dried for at least a couple years before even thinking of it as useable for a musical instrument.

    Secondly, as far as I am concerned a router is an absolute necessity for building a bass. With the right jigs it can take the place of a planer and a jointer. I would consider a band saw almost as important, but you can get buy with a jig saw. If you are really interested in taking on this hobby, use the money you get for Christmas to buy a book or two about building guitars.
     
  10. friedtransistor

    friedtransistor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    Location:
    Nebraska USA
    So if I were to cut the wood now, it'd be 2015 before I could use it? Damn. I was just thinking it would be something I could do just one time to make a bass how I want it, without spending $K on a custom bass.
    Is a jointer what you'd use to attach the headstock to the neck? I was thinkin of just using a thicker piece and make the headstock as a part of the neck.
    Well crap, since this isn't a hobby (my hobby is electronics), and I have little woodworking skill (helped make our chicken coop and build raised beds for our garden, that's about it.), should I even bother? Or should I just make a fretless neck for the bass I have now? I can't justify the cost of a fretless bass, nor do I think it'd be worth making a fretless bass, as I don't even know how to play one. I just like the sound, and have thought about defretting my only bass. But since I play at church and don't know fretless playing yet, that would mean I wouldn't be there a few months. Just want something for at home.
     
  11. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    The problem is that the log is not dried yet, and wet wood would warp, twist, and move like crazy while it was drying out. I'm not saying not to do it, but maybe try and build a body out of a cheap wood like poplar or even pine, and find a used fretless neck. That is a good way to get started.
     
  12. joseplluissans

    joseplluissans

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    First thing you should do, like already suggested, is to get some good literature. Read and study the subject well and plan it. Making your first instrument hastily and even screw it up will just kill a hobby before it even got started.
     
  13. friedtransistor

    friedtransistor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    Location:
    Nebraska USA
    I've done a lot of reading on the net and looked at more instructional blogs than I can count. I was just finalizing the planning before I get it done. Gotta clean the barn out before I can do anything (so my parents stop nagging me about it). That'll be in the spring when it's not 10 degrees with a -2 degree windchill. And again, this isn't a hobby, I was just gonna do this one time and be done. Who knows, maybe I'll just make a fretless neck. A lot less work involved. Then sometime down the road I might make a bass. Or I may only get halfway done and condemn it to my pile of half-finished projects. Like my gokart, my metal body acoustic guitar, my dod280 compressor, my guitar amp, the list goes on...
     
  14. kevinldn

    kevinldn

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2013
    If you don't have any real wood working skills and/or experience, You are probably better off just buying a bass rather than butchering a piece of wood into a shape that generally resembles the approximate shape of a bass with no real musical qualities. I think you might be getting in a little over your head. Start with a jewelry box or something simple. Trying to do a build like you are talking about with no tools or experience is like trying to save the Titanic with a pool patching kit. Just my humble opinion. Hate to see you waste money on something that wouldn't turn out well.
     
  15. Hapa

    Hapa

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Tustin, CA
    Go to your local hardwood supplier, just google your area. They will have plenty of materials for guitar construction. Its what they do as a business and supporting it is a good thing.

    You can frequently order cooked woods as well.
     
  16. lbridenstine

    lbridenstine

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    MI
    I don't think there's a such thing as making one instrument and being done with it. It's super addicting.

    Also, I think the body is way easier to make than the neck, not that the neck is that bad either. You could look on guitarfetish.com if you want to buy the body, I looked and they don't seem to have fretless necks, but they sell bodies for pretty cheap if you wanted to make the neck or buy it somewhere else.
     
  17. reverendrally

    reverendrally

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Man, finish that gokart! :hyper:
     
  18. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    Totally disagree, if everyone had this attitude then we would learn nothing. There was a point where everyone had never built a guitar and had no woodworking experience
     
  19. kevinldn

    kevinldn

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2013
    I see what you are saying, however, is a guitar something that is a good idea to start woodworking on? It seems to me that it would be a better idea to work your way up to this level. He has NO tools. He has NO experience. He has NO understanding of the effect that unseasoned/wet wood will have on a project. I am simply suggesting that he gain some experience, tools, and knowledge before he jumps into this. Isn't that how almost everyone started? We didn't get our first hammer and saw and run out into the woods, cut down a tree, and start building a house. No, we made a bird house, a jewelry box,...you get where I am going with this. I think the excitement that he shows is admirable. I would hate to see it stifled by a poor end result. That's all. I meant no disrespect.
     
  20. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    I know where your coming from, and I didn't take it as disrespectful at all. But actually, bass building was my first real wood working experience and is pretty much the only wood working I do, except for scroll art. That being said, my dad and grandfather are both carpenters, so I already knew how to use tools, and had access to a few things.

    When I built my first bass, I went out and bought a porter cable router, ordered some router templates from Stewmac, and bought a 15"x24" piece of 8/4 sapele. I got all of my measurements from jazz bass, and used a Warmoth neck. I had a cabinet maker resaw my body blank on his gigantic 34" band saw (that I so very much covet) and cut the body out on a P.O.S. craftsman bandsaw that my dad had. I didn't start out building bird houses, in fact I have never built a bird house.
     
  21. lbridenstine

    lbridenstine

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2012
    Location:
    MI
    To add to that ^ you never really know what people are capable of until they do something. Look at Suraj's first build, he had no woodworking experience and it turned out really professional.
     

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