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Birch OK for a neck?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bill h, Feb 20, 2006.


  1. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Is it OK to use Birch for a neck? I have some laying around my shop, I don't want to spend the money on maple as it will be my first try at a neck.
     
  2. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I dont see why not, in the janka hardness ratings, it is harder than maple. But on the other hand u may have a heavy neck on your hands. I don't know the warpage factor of birch, but i would recommend using laminates with your birch. If u don't know what i mean, do a search on neck building in the Luthier's forum.
     
  3. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Sure, give 'er a go. Worst case scenario is that you used some cheap wood to build a practice neck that didn't work out. Best case you've got a perfectly working neck that cost you next to nothing. It's pretty much win win.

    Personally I'd also use this project to practice some jointing and laminating. Not only will your neck be stiffer, but you'll sure be happy you at least went through the motions of a glue up before using expensive exotic wood.

    -Nate
     
  4. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I have some real tight grained Birch and have been wanting to do a neck too. I hope yours comes out nice good luck....t
     
  5. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Thanks for the info guys.
     
  6. I wouldn`t.It`s hard wood, but russian woodworkers love it for other reason- best bending wood around.
    Traditional sledges ( aka **troyka*)skis, wooden buckets-all made from birch-
    you bend it- it stays this way forever.
    I remember my birch fishing rods from my childhood.
    Put it next to the wall overnight- you`ll get McDonalds arch
    in the morning.Oh yeah, and I used to love archery when I was a kid- I was building lots of bows with my granpa))
    Once we made a bow from birch, beautiful one.Next day it was useless.
    I`m affraid, bass neck made from birch is going to behave the same way.Unless it`s some kind of different birch.
     
  7. mrphattay

    mrphattay Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Hi
    Alembic, during the early years, often used Birch Woodfor their Necks. Of course, they have always used laminates of various woods mated to the primary wood (Birch), in their Neck-thru construction. Whether or not these laminates are necessary to stabilize Birch, I have no idea.
    Attached is a photo of an Alembic'76 Series 1, which used Birch as its primary Neck wood with Walnut stringers.
     
  8. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Thanks for the post!!!
    I will take a piece of stock 3/4 x51/2 birch and glue it up to make the neck, so I don't think I will have to worry about it not being a laminate. I will prob have four or five pieces of wood in it. I will have to keep an eye on how the grains macth out.
     
  9. mrphattay

    mrphattay Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Glad to be of help. Post the photos when the project's completed. I'm sure they'll be of interest. Best of Luck.
     
  10. make sure it's quater sawn, (as all necks should be) otherwise the string may well likely bow it forward way to much.
     
  11. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Simply put: there are too many birches around to give a simple answer! Just as there are too many maples...

    Betula Pubecense, I believe it's called Downy Birch, is a splendid neck wood. In my mind: the optimal.

    In the US, there is another birch, called Paper Birch, which I would never use for a neck.

    What's your birch?
     
  12. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Thanks for all the help!!!

    The birch that I have I got at the lumber yard. I'm not sure to tell you the truth. Its left over from a set of cabnets I made.
     
  13. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Chances are in the US it's either Red or Yellow. If it has dark heartwood then it's more likely Red. Red birch is actually quite attractive and sometimes has a wide curl figure to it. It smells great when you work it!

    Yellow has a more uniform light color. You see it a lot in moldings and architectural millwork. It often turns yellow-amber after finishing sitting around for years. This stuff is sometimes curly but it just doesn't look as cool as red.

    Chances are it's not paper birch. The stuff does not get very big. I don't have stiffness numbers for yellow or red but maybe Suburban does. The lumberyard may not know the latin name but they should be able to tell you a little beyond birch if you call them.
     
  14. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Thanks mine must be the yellow. It has very tight grain. I would be interested in the numbers on it too.......t
     
  15. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden