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Cedar a suitable wood for necks?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TheCake1997, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. TheCake1997


    Nov 23, 2013
    Hi, Im new here. I really want to make my own bass, and i have the tools to do so. But i have some questions. I dont have access as of now to anything but Walnut and cedar.
    Is cedar a suitable wood for a 32 inch scale bass neck?:D
  2. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    Way too soft.
  3. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    Walnut is a good neck wood.
  4. Cedar is no where near dense enough...
  5. TheCake1997


    Nov 23, 2013
    I kinda wanted to use the walnut for the body. I'm probably gonna make a trip to woodcraft and look at some wood. What goes good with a walnut neck?
  6. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Whatever looks good aesthetically. Personally walnut goes great with walnut

  7. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Modulus of Elasticity (kg/sq.mm.)......Density (lbs/cu.ft.)

    Western Red Cedar.....819................21.48
    Eastern Red Cedar......612................30.72
  8. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Port Orford Cedar?
  9. Cedar is not going to have the tonal quality one wants. If it doesn't ping/ring when you flick it with your finger, IT'S DEAD.
  10. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    It would help to know what kind of cedar you have. Though I would never actually use it, I think western red cedar would probably work for a neck. While I wouldnt call it optimum its a wood that is commonly used in load bearing construction like decks and gazebos. It is very light and dents quite easily but with a nicely quartersawn piece and a couple of carbon fiber stiffening rods I suspect it would be ok. Aromatic cedar (eastern cedar, the really smelly stuff we use to line closets) on the other hand is a wood I would avoid for necks, though it would work for a body. It almost always has swirly grain, knots and pitch pockets that will present problems for a builder. It also contains a fair amount of oils that can make gluing problematic. In my experience aromatic cedar is prone to move somewhat and my main concern would be that it's a wood that I dont feel can be relied on for stability over time. Another thing to consider with aromatic cedar is that the vibrant pinks and reds you see when freshly cut will fade to a pretty dull brown over a relatively short time.

    As far as the tone of cedar, I'd not be concerned considering that many varieties of cedar (except for aromatic cedar you'll notice) are used for soundboards in some of the highest quality acoustic guitars on the planet.

    My first thought would be to use the walnut as the neck and cedar for the body but considering the weight difference you would probably need to be careful with your design to avoid issues with neck dive.

    If you are considering using the walnut for the body then I would consider a maple neck. (insert shocked gasp here :D)

    Its classic, stable, and in my opinion looks fantastic with a walnut body.
  11. I think cedar is too soft. It smells good though.
  12. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    Port Orford Cedar is great for it, and is about as stiff as black walnut.

    Red cedar is not.
  13. lbridenstine


    Jun 25, 2012
    If you do a walnut neck, I agree that it would be perfect with a walnut body.

    I put Eastern red cedar strips (1/4" each) in my first neck, and it's holding up fine, I wouldn't use it for more than that though. It is really hard to find pieces that long without knots too.


    It's only been about 1.5 years, but the color of my red cedar hasn't changed.
  14. Hi.


    As well as the species, the growing place of the tree has a tremendous impact on its properties and its suitability as an instrument building material.

    Judging wood for instrument building, I for one would view stability to humidity changes more important feature than density.

    The way the stock is cut and the part of the tree the stock comes from matters a great deal as well.

    I wouldn't hesitate to use any tight grained (knot free) wood for a build.
    Knot free in parentheses because Fender and Gibson amongst others are known to have used knotty wood for decades.

    If in doubt, modern technology offers a great variety of various ways to stabilize or reinforce critical areas.

  15. TheCake1997


    Nov 23, 2013
    It's the aromic cedar in a log about 3 feet long and 8-12 inches in diameter. I have several pieces with what seem to look like crotches. I kinda thought it would have some cool grain. its also not too knotty. But after reading some of this I think I'll make the long trip to my nearest lumber place. I'm thinking maple neck OR ill just stick with walnut. As of now I'm undecided. When I'm finished ill post a new thread about my first build
    Thanks guys!
  16. Maple if you want contrast,walnut if you want to match the body,laminate maple and walnut for another option