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Domestic wood bass, am I crazy?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rdhbass, Feb 5, 2006.


  1. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Hi since there are so many people who know wood more than I do, I thought I would ask, why don't more people just use the wood that grows in their part of the country. I live in the ozark mountains, and I am constructing a bass with a black locust fretboard. This piece i am using is not cracked and was dried slow. Also i will have walnut wings for body with alternating sasafrass and maple stripes for the center on body. It will have an elm wood back. Have many people done this before and what was the results sound wise. Reason I am doing this, is a local supplier has the boards already planed and ready to go, thanks.
     
  2. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    everything sounds A ok but the black locust f board.
    black locust isnt the hardest wood and its yellow so the oils on your fingers will dirty it up pretty bad over time. Stuff does glow in the dark sort of..(pretty cool though)
    You might consider stabilizing the fingerboard somehow, finish etc.

    not many domestic woods are that hard to be a good fingerboard (maple is pretty much it.) and even that gets pretty dirty and can wear hard over time if its not finished.
    Maybe ebonized Holly?

    what does everyone else think Am I forgetting something painfully obvious? I have had a long day!
     
  3. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Thanks bud on the black locust for a fretboard. You sure you arent meaning honey locust? Well anyway, i probably plan on finishing it with something clear. Someone told me on the hardness scale this is up there with osage orange. I don't know, thats why I ask. The grain on this particular piece was outstanding is only reason to use it. ah, i see you are in the wood business, thankx. later. :bassist:
     
  4. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    It's crazy not to use local wood. There are normally speices available at reasonable distance that meets every demand there is. OK, perhaps not on the back yard, but shurely within a, say, 300 miles radius.

    And if you go for exotic wood, all you get extra is "exoticism". But then, a lot of people do that, so it's actually more exotic with a local piece of wood...:cool:
     
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    No, you are not crazy.
    Matt (or David? Sorry, I'm bad with names...) Schmill of FBB customs also does "all-domestic wood" basses for a discount price.
    You just have to make sure the woods have the necessary physical properties.... (and maybe even tone...)

    Suburban, there's not just exoticism - some tonal and weight properties are rare and usually found on just a few species of woods (e.g. swamp ash), so that may be another reason
     
  6. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Are there any black/dark brown woods like ebony and wenge in North America?
     
  7. I think that it's a good idea to use exclusively domestic woods, or at least as many as it is possible to use.

    Fretboards seem to be the kicker on this. As has been mentioned, maple is certainly suitable, but there aren't too many others. If I wanted something dark, I would get in touch with Larry at Gallery Hardwoods and ask about getting some stabilized walnut. I have plans to do this for an upcoming guitar.
     
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    For domestic (to North America) fretboards, does anyone have any experience with persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)? It's a pretty dense wood, it's the same genus as Ebony, and the FPL calls it a commercial species, so it should be available somewhere. The only place I've seen persimmon used is on a Bastec, although it's unclear which species was used ("sham persimmon" is their translation).
     
  9. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    I remembered this morning about
    a domestic species that could make a fretboard because of its density.
    Desert ironwood its native albeit not local to you in the ozarks (but its usually classified as exotic, as well as mesquite burl, buckeye burl, walnut burl, maple burl, box elder burl, 5A white holly, elm burl- which usually comes from europe though yada yada yada...)
    and it would still need to be stabilized Due to its brittle nature (like snakewood)

    I know a company (not mine) that does vacuum acrylic stabilization for things like that. I send all of my stuff out to them.
     
  10. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I have not used black locust but I think you may be able to get away with it. If this is robinia pseudoacacia, it seems to be a bit more dense than sugar maple with a slightly higher MOE (if numbers off the internet can be believed). I'd probably go for it if I had some.

    http://www.windsorplywood.com/nam_hardwoods/black_locust.html

    I've used native persimmon. It's hard to get because the standing lumber is generally orchard trees and they tend to be smallish and twisted. Lots of them have defects throughout. Quartersawn is even harder to find since the guys who saw this stuff are trying to maximize yeild. It worked well for my application, which was an all-domestic bass. The stuff is generally not terribly exciting to look at. It's grey-green to cream colored with fine grain (like ebony).

    Desert ironwood is probably not going to be very easy to find for the same reasons. That stuff seeminly cracks more during drying as well.
     
  11. Even though my profile says "Queensland, Australia" as a native Western Pennsylvanian (GO STEELERS!!!) I have some knowledge of the American species.

    as everyone is saying...body woods are easy....maple, poplar, walnut, cherry, cedars, and even some pines....don't forget the standards ash and alder.

    Neck woods are also pretty easy...maple and walnut come to mind immediately...

    Fretboards...Well, I've heard of black locust being used, and of course, maple (maple, maple, maple, lol)...I'm not sure how good it is...but, if you're worried about stains, you can always seal the wood with the proper application of a polymer (just as we do maple boards)...

    Hambone's "ebonisation" process using rust is also interesting...I've seen this on TV before...

    Finally, my question for Syberslack...WHERE DID YOU GET A PIECE OF ELM? I thought Dutch Elm Disease all but erradicated the elm population.
     
  12. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    if memory serves...

    elm is like the american chestnut the populations were dessimated by the tree disease but some have survived to replenish the population. (slowly)
    We had the ash borer beetle here that obliterated the ash tree population but from the cut stumps the "leeches" or sprouting sapling are growing strong from the cut stumps!
    natures one tough mother!
     
  13. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    I don't know exactly what type of elm it is but there is still some in north arkansas/southern missouri for all i know. Not as prevailent as other wood, but enough to use carefully. Thanx everyone for the "ebonization" tips, if the locust won't work, i probably would do walnut. I'm excited about it.
     
  14. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
     
  15. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Well, the tonal specifix of swamp ash can be hard to get when using another wood, but not impossible. It's actually due to rather big vessels in rather hard fibres, which can occur in other woods as well. Or it can be engineered into the body in other ways.
    And Frank, to the majority of TB'ers, swamp ash is consiered local, since it is fairly common in parts of the US... Actually, it can be found in Sweden, too, native!

    Re. fingerboards, any hard wood can be used. Esp. fruit woods are very popular among European amateurs, and the result is normaly superb. There is also the lilac-bush, that can be thick enough for a fingerboard, and is then great for that use, and my old fav. the avenbok.
    As Matt points out, these woods turn as they grow. There is rarely a possibility to get true quartersawn pieces out of them, and if tehy are not very meticulously treated, it may twist. But, if you find this kind of wood, get a plank and keep it under surveilance for a few years. Then you will learn how to handle it, and make it work in a stable fashion, as a fingerboard.

    RE. colors, that iron oxide treatment also works on oak, and oak is a great material for fretted boards. And I mean great!
     
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    With Locust I'd be sure it is dried properly/completely. I've heard a few times that to be used as firewood, it has to be seasoned for three years.
     
  17. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The main impediment for me is access (and demand). I went to a yard with as good a quantity or osage orange as I've seen (which was probably only 20-30 bf) and I did not see anything that I really was comfortable using as a fingerboard due to defects, pith, etc.

    I accept donations. ;)
     
  18. rdhbass

    rdhbass

    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Well I was meaning only using this wood as neck stiffeners. Im presently buying a bunch of locust 1/4" (slow kiln dried) that is cut into fingerboards and I will have too much on my hands when I buy it. My dad went and dealed with a local guy about planing some wood for a body or two and some fingerboards and I think he did too much wood. He then tells us the bill is $200 for all different domestic wood he planed and edged for us. So, maybe i will go to evilbay and sell some.
     
  19. I would sell some...also if the FB material is long enough you could consider using the locust as laminated stiffeners in your neck.
     
  20. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Isn't osage orange really oily? I thought I read that somewhere, but I could be wrong.