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best wood for bass necks

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Anonymous7, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. Anonymous7


    Oct 21, 2012
    I know that wood doesn't really effect much anything on tone, but I was more so curious of what sort of woods would be strong and last years upon years, I was think fretless ebony and swamp ash body, not sure how long those would last though, opinions on neck woods and wether or not ebony fret and swamp ash body is any good?
  2. Phendyr_Loon


    Sep 4, 2010
    Oh boy.

    Ill try to put this in a way I won't be beating a dead horse.
    Wood selection has a definate effect on the tone of an instrument, mainly by way of different woods weight and density.

    Case in point, when Les Paul experimented with the creation of the modern electric guitar he mounted a microphone coil to a steel railroad rail and fixed a string above it. Why did he use a steel rail? because of the density of the material which directly effected the sound produced by the coil. To me that translates to different density, different tone characteristics.

    Most instrument makers will tell you that wood is selected for other reasons than appearance and workability.
  3. Anonymous7


    Oct 21, 2012
    So, the harder and denser said wood the better? What other hard dense woods are there, the only ones I truely know of are maple, wenge, and ebony
  4. Stinkoman20xx


    Oct 19, 2003
    Ash is a great neck wood that is rarely used.
  5. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I have some Birch I have been getting ready to use.
  6. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham

    Dec 19, 2005
    I don 't think he did actually.
  7. Phendyr_Loon


    Sep 4, 2010
    As far as wood selection there is no "better" in comparison to another. The different characteristics of wood in regards to seletion for tone are very much to the taste of the individual.
    Now with that said there is a reason why not too many builders use a wood like pine as a neck wood. Structural integrity plays a role in wood selection too. As a standard though maple is popular neck wood for hardness and stability, where maple is also used for fretboards to produce a certain type of tone.
    Body woods can be comprised of every wood from poplar to ash to mahogany. This is where the players goals of tone, access to types of wood, budget, and workability come into play. Research in this subject can benefit in the quest for the right wood for you.
    Lastly, factors like pickup placement/selection, active or passive tone circuit, and string selection will reaction differently on regards to tone to the combination of wood the instrument is built with.
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I don't know but I believe that story and I may have to recreate that experiment if I end up with a Darwin Award please start a thread in my honor thank you.
  9. Dave Higham

    Dave Higham

    Dec 19, 2005
    He called his experimental guitar 'The Log' and made it from a 4" thick railroad tie.
  10. Phendyr_Loon


    Sep 4, 2010
    Ok then, tie not rail.

    I stand corrected.

    A trial in density, mass, and resonance non the less.
  11. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I am not going into the whole tone argument, because I think you can take just about all "tonewood" arguments with a grain of salt.

    Maple is probably the most common wood used for guitar necks, because it is stable, readily available, inexpensive, and its tight grain makes it easy to work with.

    Many woods are suitable for neck building, mahogany, walnut, wenge, padauk, ash, ect. I have even seen oak necks. The best material is personal preference.

    My personal favorite are probably padauk, its very stable, doesn't require a finish, and is easy to work with. The only downside is it turns everything orange. Walnut is another that I am quite fond of, and good old maple is also great.
  12. Grizzey


    Mar 29, 2009
    I love my wood necked basses, but I really love the sound of my old Kramer.
    elkkid2 likes this.
  13. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    Wood , even of the same type, can vary greatly, even from diff. parts of the same tree!
    Having said that, my favorite neck is a 5 piece flame maple, w/2 walnut skunk stripes, topped with a thick quarter-sawn ebony board. I haven't touched the truss rod in years, it's that stable. Actually the truss rod has virtually no tension on it....no need!

    Note to self....work the truss rod a bit so it doesn't seize up! DOH!
  14. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  15. +1
    Hands down graphite has the potential to be the longest lasting, most durable, lest susceptible to weather changes, and best strength to weight ratio of any neck material. If you don't like the way it looks? Paint it to look like your favorite wood grain.
    As always YMMV :cool:
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  16. Anonymous7


    Oct 21, 2012
    So about the padauk, how heavy would that be, and should I put steel or carbon rods in it (plan on buying a custom one from warmoth) and what's swamp ash like from someone who's played it, tonally, weight, and wear wise. Additionally the graphite sounds like a good idea, anyone want to explain what its like?
  17. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    When you get into wood, you get into voodoo. Every last plank is different than the next. Both luthiers and baseball bat manufacturers still rely on the century's old voodoo of 'tap tone'. What you have is probability. Maple has been widely used, so it's probability is high. Quarter sawn maple's probability is even higher.
  18. And graphite is AWESOME for the enviroment too. :rollno:

    As long it's straight, stable, dry and available, it's been used for a neck successfully. Personally it stuns me that Gibson used Mahogany being so soft, but it's worked well enough for them. I see no reason why you couldn't use pine if well dried, stable and laminated well. Trussrods allow all sorts of evil things. ;)
  19. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Its no heavier than maple. I have a padauk, Warmoth on my first build that I did a few years back, and I have used the steel stiffening rods from Warmoth in a few necks that I have built. They aren't very heavy, I would guess they are just a few ounces heavier than the wood that is routed out to install them.
  20. Liam76


    Dec 28, 2012
    My favorite is Wenge with an Ebony fingerboard. I don't really have a basis for a tone comparison, however the feel of Wenge to me is weird but intuitive. Unfinished, the neck feels like you're holding a log, but it's fast, comfortable and smooth. Plus, when new, it has a very tropical smell (since ruined by me greasy mitts).