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Building a bass with Aussie woods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wRaith, May 2, 2006.


  1. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi all,

    Soon I'm going to start making my first bass and I figured that seeing as I'm an Aussie, I should use Australian woods, they're cheaper here and easier to find. Here are the specs I am considering:

    35" scale 6-string fretted
    Dual 24" trussrods, carbon fiber reinforced 3 piece neck; Australian maple, Ironbark, Australian maple
    Single piece Lacewood body (Australian Silky Oak is a breed of Lacewood)
    Hipshot bridge
    Gotoh tuners
    2x EMG passive dual coils pickups

    I'm considering going with a body shape similar to the Carvin IC6 by Carvin.

    How does all of that sound? Can anyone see any possible problems with this type of setup?

    All comments encouraged.
     
  2. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    Hi there :)

    There's nothing wrong with that. I've never seen silky oak used as a complete body before but as a top pretty often. You can tell us after if you like it. You didn't mention a fretboard. May I suggest Cooktown Ironwood? I've got a friend that made a few basses with them and he really likes it.

    good luck with your project. :bassist:
     
  3. Marlat

    Marlat

    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I have a custom 6 string made of Jarrah, Tasmanian Blackwood and Camphoraurel facings for the body. The neck is all imported timbers, but the body is all aussie! :D

    11425_p471301.
     
  4. maybass77

    maybass77 swm

    Feb 26, 2006
    southeast michigan
    You're lucky, you "Aussie's" get a lot of cool wood species. I attempted using lacewood once and it pretty much exploded even after it was glued up. I understand that some woods just don't cooperate, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I have seen a few basses successfully made with solid lacewood ( and i'm sure the builder's made more than a handful ). Good luck to you!
     
  5. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks for the advice and encouragement guys.

    I was talking to my boss (a family friend I work with) today and he mentioned that sometimes Ironbark doesn't glue well because it's so dense that the glue has trouble finding purchase. Is that a possibility?

    He also owns or has access to a LOT of wood-working tools and machinery that will make things easier. Stuff like a table saw, thicknesser (which will save a lot of planning/sanding) scrollsaw etc., which he has given me unlimited use of, anytime. My lucky day I guess

    Also, I might not be able to make the body as a single piece. I can get a piece of Silky Oak for free from a friend (the dust makes him sick, so he wants to get rid of it) but it is only 5mm x 180mm x about 1200mm. So I'm thinking of making a maple/Ironbark core (similar to my neck laminates) with Silky Oak wings. Would the Maple/Ironbark core have a bad effect on the sound at all?

    Phil, apparently most breeds of Lacewood give a growly low-end while keeping nice clear mids and highs. I read that somewhere (maybe at www.thelowend.net. Not sure though).

    Mark, that bass is beautiful! Did you build it? Was the Camphoraurel easy to work with? I was thinking of using it if I can't use Silky Oak.

    maybass, what do you mean by "exploded"? Believe it or not, when I first saw a Lacewood covered bass, I thought it looked great, but the guy who built it (an American) said that it was really expensive, so I discarded the idea. It wasn't until later that I discovered that Silky Oak was a kind of Lacewood, and grows in my local area. In fact, about 4 years ago, the council maintainance teams cut about 20 of them down and burnt them when they redid the landscaping in town.
     

  6. Ah.. the Neil Kennedy bass again. Dammit I want one.
     
  7. The bass was crafted by a local luthier in Melbourne.
     
  8. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Going with local wood is the single way to go. IMHO.

    I don't know aussie speices, but I know the rules:
    Neck: stiff-stiff-stiff (MOE less than 15MPa is suspicious, <13MPa is no good). Hard is a nice-to-have.
    Fingerboard: stiff and hard.
    Body core: light.
    Body surfaces: pretty and fairly hard.

    Does what you propose fulfill this?
     
  9. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    I hope so :) .

    Rock maple is the stuff used in a lot of necks, so that should be OK.
    Ironbark is actually a term used for few different species of Australian hardwood and is (as the name suggests) a very hard and stiff wood. It's a little difficult to shape because of it's hardness.

    Silky Oak isn't particularly hard, but I'm careful and love the lacewood figuring :) .

    Are there finishes you can use that are hard when applied to the body and help protect it?

    EDIT: I picked up the piece of Silky Oak today and it has a big knot in it so I can't make the wings out of it like I wanted. Now the bass will have a Camphor Laurel body with Silky Oak top and back piece, with the body shaping done so as to show off the figuring around the edges of the camphor laurel.
     
  10. maybass77

    maybass77 swm

    Feb 26, 2006
    southeast michigan
    i use a "ct" style scrolled upper horn and the scroll had completely cracked off. im sure it could have been my lack of experience or an existing problem with that particular piece, but like i said...it left a bad taste in mouth. no other woods i've worked with gave me any kind of problems.
     
  11. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Oh OK, thanks for the info maybass. The Silky Oak will only be for top and bottom pieces now, so I shouldn't have to worry.
     
  12. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    When I see the term 'maple' I get nervous, and you stated 'australian maple in the original post. I urge you to make sure it is acer nigrum or acer saccharum, otherwise you will end up with material that is not up to the load.

    The rest seems OK, from the far north horizon.
     
  13. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    It's not acer saccarum but Australian maple (eucaliptus godknowswhatelsus) is an australian tonewood and used very frequently in necks and bodies :)
     
  14. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    What he said :) .

    Hopefully it sounds as good as I've been told.
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    As long as it is used in bass necks-- they must be stronger than guitars-- both more tension, and more significantly, greater beam length and higher action. Hence the common use of mahogany for guitar necks, and rare if ever use for basses.
     
  16. Ah come on now..stability and individual piece selection for proper grain is the first pick either single or multi piece blank designs. While it's certainly true that bass neck tension is higher strung up than standard guitars it's all about the addition of carbon fiber or rods or whatever carbon choice with a truss rod that beefs up the strength. You can make jell-o stiff with enough carbon. Stone age thinking :D

    Australian maple AKA Queensland maple belongs to the satinwood family and is a beautiful, lustrous wood with a long history in instrument building.

    Acer nigra (black maple) is a very minor species in the eastern USA and when encountered isn't a separate market, but lumped in with sugar maple AKA rock maple AKA hard maple. Lumped in because it's presence is unlikely to be known by either the sawmills or the lumber yards and if so the amount is to small to separate out.
     
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    True, with enough carbon composite in there, you could build a balsa neck. And certainly a mahogany one.
     
  18. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    how about a balsa deinforced carbon fiber neck? :D

    all the best,

    R
     
  19. wRaith

    wRaith

    Aug 22, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Well, the plan is dual trussrods (this is my first hand-made bass and I want to make sure I can correct minor twists in the neck if I need to) and at least 1 24" length of carbon fibre, maybe more.

    But as Phil mentioned, this Aussie maple is good stuff.

    Today I squared and planed all of my wood ready for measurement and cutting. I got a piece of Ironbark for stringers, body laminates and a fingerboard. It's gorgeous, a beautiful deep reddy-brown, similar to Koa but with a finer grain. I picked it up and whacked it with my knuckle and it held a tone for a fair while. I can't wait to get it cut and finished :) .
     
  20. FYI. I have a neck made from Mahogany and Maple and is reinforced with 2 carbon fibre bars one either side of the truss rod. The neck has never moved. It was been all around Europe and back and never went out of tune.
    The bass was built by Ian NOYCE in Ballarat. He's always open for a chat. He told me the bars were hammered into the grooves he milled into the neck.
     

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