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DB wood sources

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by wilser, Feb 1, 2006.


  1. Hello All,
    This is my first time posting in this forum. I am in the process of starting to build a double bass. I am making the mould and have already purchased a nice spruce top. I have had no luck locating a place that has back/rib sets in stock. internatioalviolin.com up in Baltimore, MD said they requested some sets but they are not sure when they'll arrive. Does anybody know of a dealer or maker that would sell me wood for a 3/4 sized panormo styled DB back and rib set? I don't need (although it would be nice) flamed maple, I'd build it out of any of the woods that have been used succesfully on a DB (cherry, sycamore, etc).

    Thanks,
    Wilser.
     
  2. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Is there a hardwood dealer in your area? You could use 8/4 soft maple or walnut. Your first bass is going to be your worst, so don't break the bank (i.e. spend more than $400) on backs and sides. Are you planning to carve a scroll/neck?
     
  3. Yes, I'm going to carve the scroll myself. I don't claim to be an experienced builder, but I am quite confident on my current skill level. I've got a few dealers around, but my main problem is that I don't have machinery to thin the sides. That's why I was looking for a dealer that specifically supplies wood for. double bass
     
  4. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    When you buy sides from a dealer they are left thick. You are going to have to thin them yourself. Find a local cabinet shop that has a thickness sander, and ask them to help you out for a few bucks. Do NOT try to put your rib material through a planer! I did my first few bass' ribs with a hand plane and a hand-held belt sander, with good results...
     
  5. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    If you want to wait, Int'l Violin might have pre-thicknessed rib stock... dunno. It would save yourself time/money to find a local millwork. Many professional makers have their bass ribs re-sawn by a larger shop.
     

  6. good call. I'll try to find some local shops and see how much they would charge me for that kind of job. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  7. jb6884

    jb6884

    Jan 30, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    So where do you professional luthiers buy your wood from? Or is that a trade secret? I'm currently searching for a maple neck block, and have found the cheapest to be about 250.00 for "D" quality, with about twice that just to move up to "C". The local hardwood dealers look at me like I'm crazy when I say I want a piece of maple that large. This morning a shop offered to "make" me a block that large, and when I said no it needs to be solid they argued with me and said I would never know the difference. pfft. Do you luthier types have any lower quality chunks laying around that you wanna sell? :-D

    Or, what other wood could I use? Anything?
     
  8. mpm

    mpm

    May 10, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Reel Lumber in Riverside, CA sometimes has 16/4 Big Leaf Maple.
     
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There are other lumber companies in the midwest/south that carry 16/4 maple. They advertise through Fine Woodworking...
     
  10. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Where would you find spruce in DB sizes? And how big a piece would you need to carve a top?

    Chad
     
  11. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I just bought some western red cedar from the local hardware shop. I looked at every board in the pile, chose very carefully.

    40mm thick, 20cm wide, dead straight, very close even grain, very light, and although "slab" cut the pieces I chose were from the centre of the log and have the grain running almost vertically. So, almost as good as split quarter sawn.

    I see no reason why I can't make up a three or four piece top from this wood ... I'll just have to get good at jointing. I have about 6 metres of it, enough to make up a large top and have enough left over for blocks/bassbar/pads/wedges/firestarters.

    Its now stacked carefully in the shed waiting for me to get my **** together. Now, to find something for the ribs and back.
     
  12. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    In my neighborhood there is only one place that sells anything other than pine. Its an old cabinet shop that has very few customers. Its good for several things. You can find good Walnut and Birch there. A few large pieces of Ash and Mahogany, but nothing that I could see that would work as a top wood. I asked about quartersawn lumber and the guy said that they haven't had anything like that in years.

    I feel comfortable (perhaps its a false sense of security) picking out good pieces but there are no places around here that have anything like that. I'll obviously need to expand my search.

    Also, I haven't found any online stores that sell wood in the necessary sizes for DB.

    Anyone know of any places in the Baltimore area to start looking? Any places on the internet?

    Chad

    P.S. I was under the impression that quartersawn...or at least vertical grained...was a necessity. Is this true? Seems like it would be.
     
  13. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Many great old basses were made with slab cut spruce or pine tops and even pine backs (look at stefano's pear shaped bass somewhere here) and many were made in three or four pieces. Have a look at Ken's basses, several have multi-piece tops or backs. Ribs and backs also are made from a huge variety of woods cut all sorts of ways.

    If you want quartersawn ... even if you cut a log into slabs, the centre planks will have vertical grain or very close to it. So look carefully at the lumberyard wood, look down the plank, look at the end grain of the plank from both ends, look at the way the grain runs. Its the same thing. The advantage of real "split" quartersawn I guess is that there's possibly less waste, you get a true bookmatch on the centre seam if that's what you're after, and any odd grain will be revealed in the splitting.

    I've been puzzling over this whole subject for some time, as here in Oz you just don't get spruce and maple. So I'm going to try to make do with what I can find here for my first bass.

    Need to find good neck, back and rib wood now. Thinking cap on!
     
  14. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    My very uneducated impression of Oz was that there were plenty of hardwoods, but not many softwoods like pine, spruce, etc. If this is so then I would think that the neck wood would be easy to find, but not the top wood. Am I totally mistaken?
     
  15. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Ain't as simple as that. Or maybe, it IS as simple as that?? Yep there are hundreds of types of hardwood trees, mostly eucalypts, acacia etc. In fact, they're chopping down all the hardwood rainforests and planting pine for woodchips. But not spruce!

    But practically nothing "traditional". There are guitar makers here using local woods with success, there's a bit of tonewood research available, but not all that many really successful violin/cello/bass stories that I have heard of. Most of the makers seem to go back to spruce and maple.

    So, its pioneer territory, I think. What the hell, can't be worse than plywood.