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Figured maple necks and stability

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MAJOR METAL, Mar 15, 2004.


  1. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    Those who play or who have owned basses with figured maple necks have you noticed any stabillity diffrences then those basses that did not have figured maple necks. I personaly havent but the basses i have owned were multilaminate necks that seem to carry extra stability. I have heard of several builders that will only use figured maple as a fingerboard becuase of weak necks that were completly figured.
     
  2. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon Supporting Member

    May 10, 2000
    Lake Forest, CA
    None.
    Also, i've read that for bodies and necks, the straighter the grain, the better the tone transmission.

    probably splitting atoms on this point, but hey, it sounds logical.

    f
     
  3. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    All figuring is a structural flaw, if you have a hardwood store nearby you can see this by picking through a stack and noticing where the boards warp. That said you can still get a highly figured neck to be stable. Birdseye seem to be rather stable where a highly flamed neck is asking for trouble. It may work fine but your chances of problems goes up.
     
  4. Very good topic here! I sold a bass that had a figured maple fingerboard. Very uneven response and sustain. The whole B string was like one long dead spot. The C on the G string AND the C on the D string did not sustain. Bummer!! :mad:

    A builder friend told me that the figured maple is actually quite varied in its density. It is strong and stable in one area and weak even an inch away. It absorbs oil and varnishes at uneven rates (because of the density differences) and in his opinion, is totally unsuitable for a neck or fingerboard. He only uses figured maple as a top, where it's part of an entire body. He also only uses birdseye maple as a fingerboard. He says that is much more consistent as far as strength, density, and rigidity.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    I was reading a whille back because of the extreme preasure on the neck of a bass that G&L found birdseye maple not strong enough to be used for the whole neck but they do offer it as a fingerboard.
     
  6. Weird - because many people use birdseye necks. Mike Lull is the first one that comes to mind.
     
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Like any piece of wood, it depends on the board(s) used.

    Fr'instance, I have a rock maple neck that is partially birdseye, partially curly --- no stability problems whatsoever.

    However, the same can't be said, in general, for fretboards which are typically, much thinner "slices" of wood.
    I have a bass which has a fretboard of highly figured fiddleback..........but the wood species used is incredibly strong, hard, and close-grained. If it weren't for the unusual specie, with all the good things like a high Janka hardness rating....blah blah, I wouldn't have felt secure asking the luthier to use it for the fretboard.

    To my knowledge, burls and spalteds are the trickiest/least safe to use.
     
  8. JPJ

    JPJ

    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Mike only uses birdseye maple for the fingerboard itself....the neck is made out of Eastern hard rock maple.

    I've often heard that figured maple makes for an unstable neck when used as the actual neck material itself (as opposed to a fingerboard). The general concensus seems to be that, if only considering maple for a neck wood, quartersawn two-piece necks are more stable and less prone to twisting than a one-piece quartersawn, two piece flatsawn or one piece flatsawn. However, I have a feeling that the individual pieces of wood have a good deal to do with neck stability (closness of growth rings, degree of dryness, how the wood was dried, etc.), as well as whether a reinforcing agenet was used (steel rod, graphite rod, other hardwood laminate) and what type of finish was used. A heavy gloss, while not the smoothest and fastest, seems to yield a more stable neck as compared to an oil finish or no finish at all if you ask builders and guys that make "parts" necks.

    As for me, I have a jazz bass that has a two-piece AAAAA birdseye maple neck. I was on the fence when I decided to go with the birdseye, but figured with a two-piece neck with graphite reinforcement and a satin gloss finish on the neck itself, I should be OK. So far, this neck has been incredibly stable and the bass rarely even goes out of tune, and that's going through the severe climate changes and changes in humidity Chicago is subject to...but that's just the case for me. ;)
     
  9. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    DC
    The figured maple board might have had something to do with it, but I'm guessing the cause of the dead spots had a lot more to do with the rest of the neck, and not just the fingerboard.
     
  10. I asked this question on the luthier's forum awhile back. Ken Smith (among others) gave me a concise answer... it seems that it will come down to the individual board/neck itself and how well it has been dried, etc. He's used it and it's worked well for him.

    It sounds like it's kind of a gamble unless you know the TOTAL history of your neck wood.
     
  11. smakbass

    smakbass Smakkin basses for 25 years..

    Aug 6, 2002
    Vancouver Canada
    Warmoth's site says theres no diff...
     
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I have a flamed maple neck and have had no problems. Oh, wait, that's foto flame ..... never mind .....
     
  13. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    So it looks like you can get a stable piece of figured maple for a whole neck.
     
  14. I've read the straighter grain is the more stable the neck wil be. Also, you don't see the neck that much anyway so I don't think it's worth the potential risk.

    However, figured maple fingerboards are fine. I have two on two of my Sadowsky instruments and I have no problems.

    Now, if only we could get Sadowsky to do figured wood laminates on the headstocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  15. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member


    That would be really cool on his basses
     
  16. I know. I've begged, pleaded, cried but Roger won't go there as of last time I asked for this. But maybe if enough people ask for it he'd do it.
     
  17. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    We don't see any difference in stability between birdseye and unfigured maple. You will notice from our site that we price flame maple for necks much higher than birdseye, even though you'll find the opposite is true at your local hardwoods store. While flame figure is much more common in maple, very little of it is stable enough for us to use for necks, so we have to pick though a lot of it to find the good stuff.
     
  18. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thanks Brian, where does most of the wood come from that Warmoth uses ?.
     
  19. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    It depends... we have lots of suppliers. Our alder and quilt maple mostly comes from the pacific northwest where we are. I believe our neck stock comes from the eastern US. Other exotic woods come from all over the world though various channels.
     
  20. Trees?

    (sorry...couldn't resist) :bag: