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Ebony neck laminates

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by A9X, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Hi all,

    I'm interested in your opinons and experiences in using ebony neck lams. My interest is because I'm speaking to some luthiers about getting a 4 and 5 made and am considering all aspects of the spec at the moment. I'm also a big Alembic fan and lately there has been a lot of talk over there about the tonal improvements the ebony lams make. However, I thought I'd ask here to get some less biassed viewpoints than a manufacturer's forum. One punter's opinion

    Opinions? Is it a waste of money? Is there something else that would substitute well and give 95% the same effect for less money? I though Pau Ferro (or Ipe?) as it's close-ish to the same density and stiffness as best I can tell. Other substitutes, suggestions, bouquets or brickbats?

    Construction would likely be 5 laminate (3 maple 2 ebony), neckthrough, medium scale. Or perhaps purpleheart substituting for the maple. I know it will be heavy, but that's not too big an issue.
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I can't really say one way or another, but I question the author of that post's ability to determine that the ebony resulted in a bass boost at and below 200Hz. Without actual measurements I don't know how you could say that.

    If you use a significant amount of it in a neck, in replacement of a wood with significantly lower density it could make some kind of tone difference. I'm leary of saying that changing one neck laminate for another will make some sort of specific difference in tone.
  3. If you have a good ear, and recognize that middle C is 262Hz, then it is actually quite easy to tell.
  4. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I've also been thinking about ebony, as opposed to wenge. Ebony lams are just a little too much $$ for my paper thin budget.
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Then it becomes easy to tell that the ebony was responsible for the bass boost at and below 200Hz? What about differences in the rest of the wood between the two basses he was using? I'm not saying that he can't tell if the bass has more bass component in it's tone, but rather whether he can just listen to two basses and say "hmmm... more bass... that's the ebony." If there's more than the two basses involved saying this consistently then I'll accept that the ebony may be responsible, otherwise it's a crap shoot, IMO. That's what I mean by measurements. I'm doing physics for a living at this point. I can't make two measurements, draw a straight line between them and say that that's the result of my experiment. If it's consistently seen that ebony neck laminates in a bass result in a bass boost compared with basses with some other wood, then I'll buy it.
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Woods that are similar in density and stiffness:

    Heavier and stiffer than ebony: ipe, Swartia spp. pau ferro, African blackwood (grenadilla)

    Heavier and probably stiffer: Honduras rosewood, cocobolo

    Similar stiffness, not quite as heavy: purpleheart, jatoba, bubinga, jarrah (jarrah is probably too unstable for neck use), shedua

    Lighter and possibly as stiff (no figures available): Machaerium spp. pau ferro

    Similar weight, but not quite as stiff: bloodwood, goncalo alves

    These woods do have overlapping ranges of properties though, and a heavier board of a "lighter" wood could be heavier that a lighter board of a "heavier" wood.