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first time neck through.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by lowendtheory, Sep 3, 2003.

  1. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    i'm a fairly young(ish) bass player that's always had a fetish for fine fives. after recently being inspired, a mate and i have decided to build our own. thing is, we live in australia so all your timbers are a bit pricey, if at all available. i plan on using tasmanian oak, Kirra, and an australian maple. i'm planning on doing it neck through with a 5 piece neck. also, does the neck shape affect the sound/tension of the bass? it'll be 35". i don't know much about the suitability of these timbers so if anyone knows, or knows of anyone who knows anything, please let me know! any info at all would be appreciated. thanks guys!
  2. I'm the mate thats also gonna be building as well (seperate instruments, I'm going a 6er).

    Biggest question is about the Aussie maple, and how it compares to the Sugar/Rock maple. What I've researched suggests that it's a fair substitute but not terribly certain. The Kirra should be sweet, its real hard and stiff as, apparantly. Would the Oak be suitable for use in the neck? I was arguing in the negative because I heard that it wasn't quite stiff enough, but I wasn't real sure. Mostly because I read the other day that as soon as you start using more than like 3 laminates in the neck it ends up plenty stiff enough no matter what sorta timbers you're using (within reason of course).

    I've got most of my designs figured, in my head, and I'll have them at full scale on paper in a few weeks. I have a fair few present buying events in the next month so I won't be starting construction on mine till October or so. I'll start a progress thread as soon as I get the designs sorted (bounce ideas off people).
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Good info is not really available to many of us on these Aussie timbers, so it's hard to say.
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Stiffness is the property that describes how much force is required to move or compress a material a certain distance. So, the higher the #, the stiffer it is. And therefor, the better for a neck.

    stiffness figures:

    sugar/rock maple (acer saccharum):
    "modulus of elasticity 1830 ksi"

    Aussie "maple":
    "modulus of elasticity 1480-1660 ksi"
    not quite as stiff as rock maple

    here's an Aussie wood known not as "kirra," but karri:
    "modulus of elasticity 2760 ksi"
    wow, that's stiff stuff!

    There's a species of Paulownia (Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud.) known as "karritree" or "kiri" This wood is not Aussie, but is natively from China and Japan. At least one species of Paulownia is grown in the US, and is used by Brubaker for bodies. Also used by another luthier.

    If what you meant was "kauri," this is another name for Agathis, an Asian wood used for inexpensive (not necessarily bad) bodies.

    There are a few other Australian members of the eucalyptus genus, including Jarra, that are used in luthiery. A few of these are referred to "Tasmanian ______," although I could not find "Tasmanian Oak" anywhere. See

    You might try talking to local Aussie luthiers to get opinions.
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    As far as whether oak is good for a neck, this has been debated a bit here. But what makes the debate a moot issue is that Asian-Australian-Pacific species referred to as "oak," "maple," etc. are not the same tree as their American and European namesakes. Not even the same families. It seems that as Westerners arrived, they applied common names to different species.
  6. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    thanks heaps for your help on that. it's making me reconsider what timbers i want to use and those links are great.

    the Timber i was thinking of is Kwila. my fault. its a dark, a Aussie wood that is most commonly at home on outdoor furniture. it's pretty heavy but also extremely durable. i don't think that durability will be a problem but anyway...


    that's about the only useful link i can find, it's got a few specs on the timber. i really have no concept of what makes a good Bass timber and i was wondering if the fact that the Kwila is so oily would be a problem? what are the main properties i should be looking for in a good neck timber? the Kwila is strong and all but if i'm looking at at least five laminates, does it matter how strong it is? (obviously within reason)

    the bass will have a satin finish and i was also wondering about what kind of finish i should use. is there one that anyone out there swears by?

    again, cheers for all your help.
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Multiple laminations will not make the neck stiffer, unless the glue itself is thick enough and stiff enough (all by itself) to add its own stiffness to the composite.

    The bending stiffness of a composite is related to the cross-sectional areas of the components, the moduli of the components, and their distances from the neutral axis with respect to the bending moment in question.

    While varying the grain direction evens out the properties to make them more uniform in all directions, it does not add stiffness.

    Here's Kwila:
    "modulus of elasticity 2320-2610 ksi"
    more good stiff stuff!

    At least one luthier "de-oils" cocobolo (another oily wood) with naptha prior to gluing. Several other luthiers said in a recent discussion (you can search for it) that this is unnecessary.

    Glad to help. Maybe you can sell me a bass at a good price someday. ;)
  8. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    you're a legend! thanks for your help with that. i'd love to sell you a bass but lets see how the build goes first! it might be so dodgy that neither you or i would want one! i hope not though. as soon as i get the timbers chosen i will start posting pictures. soon hopefully.
    i intend on sticking a feature strip of timber on the lower wing, just to off set the colour. what kind of glue do you recommend? do you think that the strip would affect the sound much? i've always had a bit of a thing for claypools rainbow bass, it's kind of inspired me to do this. i've had a huge thing for the fretless sound ever since 'my name is mudd'. just the way he can access that percussive slap but also the mellowness, growl and warmth of the fretless. but i digress, just wanted to say thanks.

    so thanks. :)
  9. Thanks a heap for that Pilot. I did mean Karri from the beginning, stupid brain. I did an assignment to do with beaches and theres a beach at a place called Kirra...thats my excuse anyway.

    I've looked for a site with stuff like that one has, but the ones I found were either really good but only for a select range of timbers, or they'd be real vague on a wide variety.

    The Aussie Maple was the big one that I wasn't real sure on, cause I couldn't find anything on it.

    Josh D
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
  11. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    so (forgive my stupidity, but) does that mean that i could use many kinds of wood, but it wouldn't take on the characteristic sound of any of them? or does it mean that it will take on the sound of all of them?

    if so, should i try to use woods that have similar densities and sounds so as to avoid compression problems/tonal properties? i.e. wenge, bubinga and the like, rather than mix maples with wenge and stuff? i know that i love the sound of certain timbers as a whole, but in strips...

    the main reason i am interested in this is because i figure it must be a helluva lot cheaper for me to do it myself over 12-18 months as opposed to purchasing one, like the rainbow bass. if it's a crazy idea, i'm happy to drop it. i just thought that seeing as i'll be gluing some wings up whats a few months to create a gorgeous set of multi-laminate body wings?

    also, i have a large access to some real fine aussie timbers in thin strips, so it's not like if i screw it up it'll cost me anything. but yeh, if it's a stupid idea...

    for sure this won't be the last bass i build so if i'd be better off doing something simpler to begin with... i've got no idea. i just know i want to sit back sometime over the next few years and look at something sweet and not think of how i compromised my desires because i was in a rush to finish the betsy.


  12. I think what 'Jones is saying is that the sound depends on heaps of different factors. When you combine different types of woods you get a mix of the different tonal characteristics that each piece has, how much it affects the tone relates to the relative amounts of each wood, and more importantly, to where the different types are used.

    Using heaps of strips means that you'll get a combination of all the different sounds, relating to where they are and that sorta thing. Using heaps of strips means that you're also using a fair bit more glue, so you may have to take into consideration how the glue affects the tone.

    Course, if you send a few of those strips my way I wouldn't complain too loudly, I'm sure I could find a use for them somewhere.

    Josh D
  13. lowendtheory

    lowendtheory I like the bass

    Sep 2, 2003
    Australia, Brisbane
    what's mine is yours bro.
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    - (Yes, daveze got what I meant.)

    - By combining different woods, the sound will take on characteristics of all of them to some extent. I don't think anyone would debate that. What people differ in opinion about, is whether mixing the woods also has an effect of adding a kind of "compression" to the sound, due to interaction of the different tones, or of the recombining of sound vibrations that have propagated at different velocities in the different woods.

    Many good necks have been made out of a single wood, and many have been made of several different kinds.

    Even the most common "normal" neck has a maple back, a rosewood front, and a steel bar inside.

    - You'll want keep the wood layer arrangement symmetrical, so that it doesn't drift to one side with changes in temperature and humidity.