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Carved or Laminated?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by stevenmriley, May 3, 2004.


  1. How might one tell the difference in a carved and laminated bass? Thanks.
     
  2. Check out the edges of the top and the back of the bass. If you see something resembling wood grain, its carved. If you see layers of wood sandwiched together, its plywood.

    Sometimes the top will be carved and the back will be plywood.
     
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    You could play it. The sound is usually pretty obvious.

    Short of that, you can look at it. If the finish is fairly translucent, follow a grain line in the top to the edge. If it is a carved top (solid wood) the grain lines will continue around the edge. On many plys, you can actually see the laminates at the edges. Same idea goes for the back.

    If you can get some light inside the bass, with a mirror you can usually see some sign of the wood working marks where the top was carved. A ply top isn't carved, but molded, so it is equally smooth on the inside.

    Often, the plywood used for basses has several seams in the exterior laminate, whereas a carved top most typically has a single seam down the middle. Even if the ply has only one seam on the outside, it will likely have several inside.

    A few other hints be the top edge. A carved top is often has a nice, rounded relief on the edge whereas a ply top is usually pretty squared so the laminates don't show.

    Often, ply tops have no purfling.
     
  4. emielow

    emielow

    Jan 18, 2004
    what is purfling?
     
  5. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    It's the lines inlaid around the edges and sometimes decorated under the Neck button. Some Basses have only painted lines. This occurs in all classes of Basses from Plywoods to old Italian and English as well.

    See examples here; http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/5str_imgs/m2_hp.JPG
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/MorelliBass/images/705.jpg
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/GilkesBass/165.jpg
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Mystery2/5str_imgs/m2_corner.JPG
    http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/Dodd/images/dodd8.JPG
     
  6. emielow

    emielow

    Jan 18, 2004
  7. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Why yes it does. Look at the picture of the back and you will notice two fine parallel lines just above the Hofner logo. That is purfling. It is also around the top near the edge similar to the back. The pictures of the top are poor and it just looks like one line or a pinstripe but I bet it is two just like on the back. Some basses have it painted on just like a pinstripe (Kay basses) and some are a shallow cut into the wood with a piece on veneer inserted. Real (not painted) purfling serves a purpose. If the edge of the top or back gets caught on something and breaks it is supposed to stop at the purfling (and usually does). It may have another purpose but someone more learned that I would have to explain that.

    az
     
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Cracks come from stress, shrinkage and physical damage. The Purfling helps more on a Violin than a Bass in proportion. It is basically the same purfling but the Bass is 12x bigger and 2x thicker. It is weaker overall and prone to damage due to it's size. Basses crack thru the Purfling all the time. Three of my best Basses including the Dodd and Martini do not have any purfling at all. My Mystery Bass (old English) and Italian Solo Bass have purfling on the top only. This is common with older English and Italian Basses. Do not buy an older Bass just because it has purfling.
     
  9. Zat basse look like a fine Glaesel model with light brown varnish instead of red. I do not know if those fine Glaesels are lamined or carvinated.
     
  10. azflyman

    azflyman

    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    The beauty of a laminated bass with real purfling is that is if the edge does get caught on something and it is the top laminate it usually stops at the purfling and only that chunk is damaged. On a carved bass this is a perfect example. Look where the neck joins the body.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=200993

    The bass looks like it took a structural hit and the edge of the top broke fairly clean at the purfling (I should have bought that bass, damn :( ).

    I know cracks are caused by a myriad of things that purfling can't stop but it can help with the inflicted damage from edge hits.

    az

    P. S. - And I agree with Ken, the last thing I would look at in buying a bass is if it had purfling or not.