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bass body wood

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jbabs688, May 20, 2005.

  1. jbabs688


    Apr 21, 2005
    does a solid black walnut body sound too ... muddy or does it sound ok? I have the walnut but don't know if i could put a maple top on it... please help>>!!!!
  2. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    There's alot more factors than the body wood that affect how muddy a particular bass is going to be. I've played several walnut bodied basses that I thought sounded great, but there's alot of other factors to consider. It's all opinion too, what I think is great, you may not like. You can certainly add a maple top. IME a maple top that is at least 1/4" thick will tend to bring out the high mids somewhat, but it won't necessarily make the low mids and lows any more defined.
  3. jbabs688


    Apr 21, 2005

    ok thanks. i'm new at this stuff so i like to ask questions before just doing it the way i think it should be done.. i think im going to just use the solid walnut but might cut it down and put a maple top on it if it sounds junky.. thats possible right??
  4. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Anything's possible if you've got a bit of patience and a whole lot of money. Too bad I've only got patience.

    Cutting the body down to put a top on shouldn't be too hard, but it'll sure be easier to do before the entire guitar is built. Personally I think the electronics and construction quality have a whole lot more to do with the sound than the body woods do. Heck, I've even played a plywood bass that sounded great (which has, of course, inspired me to do some more hack lutherie).

    All that being said, I'd vote for aesthetics. If you like how a solid walnut body looks, go for it. Personally I love a good quilt, but it sure adds to the cost.

  5. jbabs688


    Apr 21, 2005

    I wanted to do the walnut body because the wood is from a tree that was cut down in my yard and air dried for like 8 years.. i thought it would be cool to build a bass that was truely "homemade"...
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    BLACK walnut is both hard and stiff. Pretty cute for necks!
    It will not, repeat not, mud your sound up.
    However, I would use some lighter wood for the main part of the body and use the black for top and back.
  7. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    I'm building a 5 string with Kent Armstrong soapbars, wenge neck, not sure about fretboard yet or body wood. There's an amazing dealer in the UK who can do a deal on about £30 per body for exotic woods, and I'm tempted by the Walnut or the Bubinga bodies.
    1: Which would give more growl, and work good with a low B?
    2: What's the difference between UK, USA and African walnut??

    Thanks muchos!
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Well, for one, IIRC only the first two are true walnuts from the Juglans genus. African walnut (AKA dibetou) is from the Lovoa genus. (I only know this because my Jon Shuker basses both use African walnut as the body wood.)
  9. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Thanks alot! So there's not too much difference between UK and USA walnut? They're all priced the same amount. I think I'm probably either gonna go for the African walnut (It looks nicer too!) or for the bubinga body...

    What's the tone like from those basses with the walnut bodies??
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Don't worry about walnut sounding bad or almost any other wood for that matter. Using a tree from your yard is an excellent idea. I just finished a fretless bass that has solid walnut wings and walnut mains in the neck. The fingerboard and peghead veneer are ebony and there is a wenge laminate in the neck. The sound is great: open and deep, not muddy at all.
  11. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Depends on the rest of the instrument! Both would do the trick good enough - at least!
    Most walnuts are pretty similar, but in the US, there is a spicies called Black Walnut, which is a lot stiffer. This is definitely better for necks.
    However, there are several items out there, sounding very nicely with european walnut necks. And considering that there are people who make necks from mahogany...why not walnut? :bassist:

    For body wood, I frequently state that anything goes. I might repeat that, at request :D
  12. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Thanks alot!! I called the local lumber yard again and they don't have any walnut with the kind of figure I'm looking for, so I'm gonna see if they've got any bubinga instead.

    Larry sent me the neck and fretboard blanks, both beautifully figured, (both made from wenge) and I've already got the bridge and the bridge pickup. Can't even start designing the templates till the end of the summer though! :rolleyes:
  13. I've built 3 basses that were either all walnut or used walnut as their main wood and they all present a well defined and articulated tone.

    You only have to look around for a second or so to see the high quality basses that get built with walnut. These come from Ken Smith, Darrin Huff, Alembic, and others. Those names alone should be reference enough to the quality of that tonewood.

    Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the woods that go into a bass instrument react and mix together like the ingredients of a soup. You won't be able to discern the presence of every different species of wood you include in the tone of the instrument like you might be able to taste the different flavorings in the soup. Most of the tone that comes from the wood will come from the main body wood and neck/fingerboard combination and the construction technique. Putting a little of this wood in a top or a little of that wood in a couple of center stripes won't brighten or warm a tone to any perceptable degree in most cases. It WILL make it look bitchin' but that's another thread. :D
  14. Techmonkey, could you share your source for these woods?
  15. i am also interested in a walnut body for my neck through and was wondering if i could perhaps put a layer of lighter weight wood in between the walnut so it won't weigh so much and if so what wood should i use?
  16. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    Bitchin', eh? :p ;)
  17. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Low weight? Poplar. Or very old spruce :eek: Yes, if it's been off its root for a few decades, it works well, cf. violin and guitar tops. And Nordstrands "Spruce goose".

    Or you could go with alder, light ash, aspen, lime tree, chestnut... Really, any plank that has good resonance.
  18. Zetora


    Aug 16, 2004
    £30 for a exotic wood body, thats not bad, you care to share, though I would suspect thats not for all exotic woods or thats wouldbe an amzing deal. From Craft Supplies in Derbyshire you can get 1" x 21" x 14" Walnut bodies for £20 but thats just A grade stuff. Go to their website to download a pdf catalogue of their's, its good.

    I believe the web site is http://www.craft-supplies.co.uk, I'll hopefully be visiting them later this week getting the wood for my bass.

  19. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    Craft-Supplies were indeed the suppliers I was talking about, their Soundwoods division... Although I've never had a call back from them yet :(

    Ah well, no matter - I've got £53 to spend on a body wood now so I can get something a little higher quality. I'm fairly sure I'm going with bubinga, seeing as I know that bubinga with a wenge/wenge neck works on Warwicks really well
  20. Zetora


    Aug 16, 2004
    Ahh good, What top wood you going with or are you just going to have it 1" thick?

    I've emailed/used their enquiry form a couple of times and they seem to reply, but it may take a few days. As I mentioned above I think I will be going there sometime this week to buy my bass body wood. They have quite a range but I'm unsure if they have the fretboard sizes I want in the wood I want so I may have to change my wood palette a bit when I'm there which isn't something I'd want to so but it happens.

    Good luck with ya bass.