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has anyone ever used Teak?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pgurns, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. pgurns


    Dec 26, 2003
    Northern, IL
    I was wondering if teak is a viable option for bass building, either as a neck laminate or for body wood. I saw some really nice pices at the local wood supplier and they look beautiful, but very "oily" feeling. just curious as I am in the planning stage of my first bass.

  2. I've built 2 neck blanks that use twin teak "skunk stripes" down the back. Yes, it is an oily wood and it will clog sandpaper with little more than a couple of passes. For this reason, I used epoxy when I set them in the maple. It is also a brittle wood so be careful with using it in very thin pieces. One more caveat is that teak will change color with exposure to sunlight and air. What you see as a color when it cut likely won't be the same when you get around to finishing.

    Hope this helps
  3. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    Last fall I found a piece of teak that had some really nice flame figure in it so I bought it. So far I have used it in a neck on a 5 string I'm buildling (http://www.gwbasses.com/projects/DC1_teak_walnut/index.shtml) and I really like it. It has been very easy to work (and yes, Hambone is right on about clogging up sandpaper in a stinkin' hurry...). I would describe the feel as more "waxy" than oily, but hey....

    Teak is supposed to be one of the most stable woods out there, with very little movement or "warpage" once properly dried. It really chattered going through my jointer, too. The neck blank I glued up has a great tap tone, and hasn't budged one bit, not even after glueing on the fingerboard. That sucker is stable.

    When I first cut this piece it has a very defined green-ish tan-ish color, but again, Hambone is right and it develops a very nice mocha-brown patina after exposure to air and light.

    Bottom line for me, I like teak, and plan on using it on more basses in the future, especially in necks.
  4. Yep, that's a better description - "waxy" - rather than "oily". :D
  5. Teak is very similar to Ipe, both have very similar properties in that they are extremely hard, stable and dense. I made a 6 string neck out of Ipe (ouch!). It glued ok after cleaned up with acetone. It is waxy/oily or how ever the heck you wanna describe it. It's very heavy. Both these woods are used for decking because of their resistance to the elements and because they are so stiff.
  6. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    having worked both, i'd say teak is much easier to work than ipe, and much less dense. a more common comparison to teak is iroko, though iroko rarely looks as nice, and isn't quite as durable.

    i think all of them would make good instrument wood from a visual and structural perspective... i'd be curious to learn their effect on tone.

    take care of your lungs around all of these woods... each one is notorious for causing allergic reactions.
  7. I've been thinking about this question throughout the day and something has occured to me. I've seen teak fittings and cabinetry on boats and ships that have been in service for a long time but not exposed to much sunlight. What I remember is the characteristic dark brown/green (?) tint and other common charactreristics but it was very light and dry - even in 3/4" thickness. THAT would be a nice condition for teak to be in for making a bass. I can only imagine the tap tone pieces like that would have. I wonder if they had been treated to get like that and lose the heavy, waxy feel of the pieces that I've worked with?
  8. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    My very first bass was all made out of birman teak, neck, body and fretless board. It has been pretty tought to work with but it's still in very good condition!

    super nice wood.

  9. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Teak is a little on the expensive side where I am. It runs in the high teens to $20 a bdft. For that money, I can generally get something I like better. The stuff is really waxy. You could make crayons out of the dust. I have a board of flame teak that I have used on one bass. People usually guess koa with their first guess.

    I think the salt and moisture have a lot to do with how teak ages in marine applications.
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Is that this one?
  11. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE

    man those pics are still on the internet!!!!!!!!!


    yes peter, the left one is the teak bass. The guitar is SIPO

  12. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    Hahahaha :) The Internet never forgets!

    Still, it looks like great work! :D
  13. pgurns


    Dec 26, 2003
    Northern, IL
    Thanks for all the replies. There are some really nice pieces at the local wood supplier. Those who said the prices are high are absolutely right they are, but they just look so damn cool to me. I went and looked at them again today and after reding the posts you are right, defintely "waxy" more than "oily". One last question, I am new at this so forgive me if tis is a dumb question but what does "tap tone" mean?
  14. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    You knock on the wood while holding it in one hand and see how it rings out.....Some body else will proply expain it better.....t
  15. I used to work at a place that finished cabinets and things for yachts and we got a lot of spare teak pieces that I got for free. I decided to try it for a fingerboard in order to practice on cutting fret slots because i t was so cheap I didn't have to worry about messing up. It turned out quite nice and I also oiled it with some type of oil thats used for floorboards (got that for free too).

    Anyways, good luck but I don't recommend anyone to make a whole body from teak since its really heavy.