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Ash neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by cstar, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    Hey guys,

    What can you tell me about ash bass necks? How do they differ from maple necks both physically and sound-wise?

    Would you recommend using an ash neck on an ash body?

    What about an ash neck with a maple fingerboard?

    What about an ash neck with a rosewood fingerboard?

  2. I had a fretless sixer w/an ash & mac ebony neck. Souded phenomenal, but that's because it was a Stambaugh. No idea how the neck material affected overall tone- I was after a wenge-like feel, which the ash delivered nicely.
  3. Triad

    Triad Commercial User

    Jul 4, 2006
    Luthier - Prometeus Guitars
    I think it's not too different from hard maple but probably moves less and looks better to me. ;)

    Attached Files:

  4. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Fairly easy to work with, definitely does not move as much as maple (once you start cutting it up), slightly lighter to me.......

  5. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    if you outsource your paint work ... be prepared for your paintshop to hate you, and to show this deep appreciation for you by charging significantly more to grain fill the neck prior to finishing it

    as far as working it ... be prepared for any dark colored sanding dust to find a way to get trapped in the open grain

    all the best,

  6. thebassbuilder


    Mar 7, 2012
    Spartanburg SC
    guitar builder, Meyers Guitars
    MTD said it adds a nice growl and aggressivness to the tone when using ash body and neck with maple f-board. To many things affect tone to know if this is 100% true but I have never made an ash neck to know but I do think Mr. Tobias would know a thing or two about this.
  7. Agree with Rodent, the ash I worked with was swamp ash and required significant grain filling, tricky to get painted correctly. From what I've heard ash can vary in weight/density significantly, even within the same species.

    Maple makes for a much easier time getting the smooth finish desired on a neck.
  8. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Grain filling is a given, even with Mahogany, Oak, Walnut, Ash (swamp and northern), Most Pines, Poplar, spruce.......there are tons of open grain woods...........

    Acrylic paste, Shellac, epoxy, even a lacquer sanding sealer will overcome the hate :)

    Just ask yourself, is it worth it? ;)

  9. JPMcGuire

    JPMcGuire Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Lake Orion, Michigan
    I hsve an ash neck and body with walnut top. The best growls and low end. Great funky slap tone. Very sensitive to touch. Play light. Smooth and deep. Dig in and get aggressive and growls.
  10. JPMcGuire

    JPMcGuire Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Lake Orion, Michigan
    Oh. It an mtd USA 535
  11. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I think claims of a certain kind of tone being attributed to a certain kind of wood should be taken with a dumptruck load of salt. Focus on things that interact directly with the strings and the audio signal, rather than possible nebulous indirect things. Nut, frets, bridge saddles, fingers, picks, pickups, electronics/preamp, etc. There are a million counter-indicative opinions and innumerable accounts of anecdotal "evidence" about the tonal affectations of various species of wood, but there is no objective evidence to support any of it. There is plenty of objective evidence, however, to support the theories of psychoacoustics.

    The gist is this: Ash is a perfectly fine wood for a neck. It works, and has been used successfully by a number of luthiers. It is not the easiest wood in the world with which to work, in terms of applying a finish, but it is rigid, hard, and stable enough to do the job nicely. It may or may not have an effect on the tone, but there is no way to objectively verify claims either way.
  12. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    As compared to hard maple, ash (normal western ash, not "swamp" ash) is softer and more flexible. If you build two identical necks, one from hard maple and one from ash, the ash neck will produce more lows and low-mids and less highs. It will make a bass with a warmer, deeper tone. The same bass with the maple neck will be brighter with a little more frequency range and sustain. This is assuming that everything else is the same.

    I'm not just speculating. Over the past 20 years, I've built about 850 custom guitar and bass necks from all different kinds of woods. I've made maybe 6 necks from flat sawn western ash. They came out great and the owners loved them. I think ash makes a fine wood for necks. It's not necessarily for everyone, but it works well for many instruments.

    I always fill the grain with West Systems epoxy.
  13. ash is great for necks... i built my last series of basses (6 basses) from ASH... they are stable and have a good feel and sound
  14. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    One other thing about making ash necks: Remember that ash is quite a bit weaker than maple in regards to screw threads. At the neck/body joint (of a bolt-on style bass), you should do something stronger than the usual style four screws into wood. Use metal inserts, or reinforce the wood, or increase the pocket length, or some combination of those. I'm not saying that four screws into ash won't hold a neck on, but it will be a weak spot.

    The ash necks that I built all had brass bars in the heels.
  15. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Check this out on youtube '83 Brubaker Bass Malcolm Hall'. Killer slap tone, nice fingerstyle tone. My custom Brubaker build will have an ash body, ash neck, birdseye maple board just like this one. This the kind of tone that I like and will have.

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