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Bass fiddle wood

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by matt macgown, Jun 28, 2004.


  1. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Now for my nest question - which again will show you how little I know about building basses - If I build myself a bass with oak or hickory back - and maybe even neck - will I live to regret it (at my tender young age of 60 something)? Oak or hickory is abundant and easy to work. I'm doing a tailpiece as I inquire, from chestnut oak. Never heard of it, so I presume there's a good reason why not.
     
  2. A lot of different woods have been used for bass backs over the centuries. I have heard of one made of White Oak (or chestnut) but not Red Oak, I can't remember where now. The thing about those woods are that they are very "grainy" open pored woods including Hickory. I think you would live to regret it. After going to all that trouble it may not get the resonance you need support the top (major sound producer)much. The cross grain stiffness is what I am worried about. Also the finishing process will be much different since it is going to suck the finish and take a lot of coats to level it.

    Do not by any means make a neck out of any of those woods. Hickory and Oak are "free bending" woods and will bow over time with string tension. That is why you never see a neck made of them in any stringed instrument.

    There has got to be some Willow or Poplar in your area, Cherry, Walnut, Beech, Maple all come to mind as a better choice.
     
  3. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Thanks for those comments. I figured there were good reasons for not seeing oak, hickory on instruments. The chestnut oak tailpiece I've got in progress is as far as I'll go with that. And it's shaping up. As stringy as that is, it works easily, which was a surprise to me.

    I've talked over willow and some other woods with my brother, who is a master builder (but not of instruments - boats, airplanes, and finish work, and all sorts of other stuff) in Maine, and between the two of us we will come up with some good wood. Now I see that Shen has a willow bass. That's encouraging.

    Again, thanks.