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Flamed Birch

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Bassism, Oct 26, 2003.


  1. I've stumbled upon a deal where I can get some flamed birch that has been on the bottom of the (Mississippi? I think it's Mississippi) river for about 100 years. The best part of the deal is that it would be free.
    Anybody have any ideas on whether or not this would be a suitable wood for use as body wings, or possibly top?
    While I'm thinking about it, my Dad owns a body shop, so I have cheap access to automotive clears and paints. I was thinking it might be cool to finish a bass with automotive clear mixed with a small amount of ebony. Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. Skorzen

    Skorzen

    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    It's free go for it, heck forget that send it to me :D . I really don't know what the acoustic qualities of birch are, but I do know that it is reasonably hard so I would think it would be fine for tops. As for a whole body it would probably work. I havent seen one, and have never used it in this manner so take my advice with a grain of salt. You might want to try a search in the archives over at MIMF I bet somebody over there has asked the same question.
     
  3. Yeah, that's about what I figure.:D

    Also, I checked at MIM, and I couldn't anything on flamed birch. A google search on flamed birch brings up a few webpages that either don't have any info, or don't work.

    All this adds up to me thinking it would be really cool. I haven't seen the wood yet, so I don't know what it's gonna look like. I tihnk it'd be cool though.
     
  4. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    How long has it been out of the water?
     
  5. It's been out for a few years, I think. If I was to go with this wood, I'd make sure it's kiln dried. I've been told to make sure it's dried into the low teens.
     
  6. TRU

    TRU

    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    Some local luthiers use figured birch as an option to flame maple. It looks somewhat similar but the flames are usually larger.

    Go to www.ruokangas.com, birch is an option in the virtual workshop section.

    Tonally birch is described to sound harsh and brittle, so I don't recommend a full body out of it.
     
  7. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Flamed birch looks pretty much like flamed maple, and has similar acoustic properties, at a *slightly* lower weight.
    It's absolutely right for a top, but I'd not use it for a body.
    With a polyurethan or epoxi coat, it will be OK for fretless fingerboard. If fretted, forget the coat...

    Just make sure it's dry, <6%!
     
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Actually, the flame birch that I have seen has a much broader curl than maple. More like curly redwood.

    I think in the states, birch is generally thought of as a "cheaper" wood. It's used for flooring and trim, also doors and lower-end solid wood furniture. The flame stuff, especially red birch, can look pretty impressive though, in my opinion.

    6% is a good target to shoot for but also is very low. Wood will take on moisture to come to equilibrium with the environment, so if you were to check the moisture content, 6% might not be achievable for any length of time. 8-10% is perhaps more reasonable to aim for this time of year with average humidity and temperature.
     
  9. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    well...i've got a usa curbow rockwood bass that has a rockwood body, neck and board...it sounds great, and rockwood starts off as void free laminated birch that's impregnated with resin and cooked under pressure. it's heavy, though...
     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I think any of the "resin impregnated" woods are going to be very heavy. The resin, AFAIK, is one of various plastics, which are heavier than nearly all the woods. Example: acrylic is twice as heavy (dense, actually) as swamp ash. And in this process, you are taking wood, and replacing some or all of the contained air with plastic, so you have the full weight of the wood plus additional weight due to the plastic.
     
  11. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    <i>all</i> of the tone woods that Stadivarius used came out of the water -that's how wood was transported in the the 17th C.
     
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    True, but these logs, like the ones you can get that are from the bottom of Lake Michigan, have been submerged for 100 years. Old growth timber and all that, plus whatever effects of being waterlogged for that period of time.