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Burl as a body wood question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Wyattsgroove, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Hi guys, question for the pros. I saw a thread where an oak burl was used for a body. It had issues with a "dead zone" as it was described.

    Could it be related to the grain pattern in the burl? Can the grain become a "tone killer" in spots as its all over and not like a typical straight grained body wood?

    Just curious as to thoughts on this. If I were ever going to build a bass, a burl would not be my first choice, as I've cut birds eye and flamed maple before and it's not exactly fun to work with!!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. It wouldn't surprise me at all if a solid burl body was not resonant, and, personally, I would have no desire whatsoever to make a body out of the burl of any tree. Burl formation has a very distorted grain, and varies considerably in structure and density. To put it simply, it's not good wood. It just happens to look nice.
  3. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    Burl is far better suited to being a topwood. Due to structural abnormalities, it can exhibit weaknesses you might not be able to see. As for sound, I have no idea.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Use the burl as a veneer
  5. DaanW


    Oct 21, 2008
    The Netherlands
    Jens Ritter makes basses with burl bodies

    So I don't think its a tonekiller
  6. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I think there's a very high probability that the ritter's wood is stabilized...meaning, saturated with epoxy and fully cured prior to working.
  7. That would be my guess as well.
  8. Agreed!

    More trouble then its worth..perhaps as a top..as a body your asking for it...just sayin ;)
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Burl can have voids in the wood. When used as a top, any voids have to be filled in, usually with wood dust in epoxy or something similar. Due to the thickness of the body, there may be undetectable voids in the interior of the wood. That can't be good for tone and sustain.
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    i prefer to think of voids as "tone chambers"
  11. Squinty Jones

    Squinty Jones Bravely eating @ MacDonald's Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    I had a Wal Bass (an Ian Waller) that had a solid Carpathian Elm Burl body that was one of the most disappointing, lifeless basses I've ever had the displeasure of owning... Thought I'd share that....
    BWorm likes this.
  12. Looking at that Ritter ....... Wow! I mean wow! Nice piece of wood there!! Not quite the same as the burl used in the tread ( haha edit thread) I speak of.
    That was I'm sure he selected for many reasons. Not a "hey that looks interesting" "I think that will make an interesting piece".

    Don't get me wrong but... I've used plenty of 1/4 sawn white oak for making furniture and tool box's but an oak burl for a bass?
    Meh... Who am I to judge? I just am curious. I know nothing of tone wood and only how exotic wood cuts ( very difficultly I might add).

    This is the biggest factor (experience cutting exotic wood) that peaked my interest.

    Thanks for the input so far!

  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. Sure - that's where all the tone goes and never comes out.
  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Mike Tobias calls it styrofoam.
  15. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I wouldn't worry so much about a solid burl body being dead or lifeless as far as tone goes. I would worry about how strong the neck joint would be on a bolt on instrument though. Also how strong the bridge mounting would be.

    Burls are really only suited for a top IMHO. It would be a waste of a nice burl to do a whole body anyway.
  16. miziomix

    miziomix Über on my mind Commercial User

    Sep 28, 2009
    Milan, Kuala Lumpur, Paris.
    Bass builder @ MüB.
    this ^^
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    +1 on the bridge and neckjoint.
    You can do quite a bit with your onboard electronics to 'help' a burl body.

    I would not use one one a passive only bass.
  18. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass

  19. Nidan


    Oct 31, 2008
    Duluth , Ga