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High-end Bass – Pet Peeve

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RE:PEAT, Aug 12, 2005.


  1. RE:PEAT

    RE:PEAT

    Jun 24, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    As soon as I figure out exactly what I want in the next bass, I hope to get something real nice (a keeper). In looking at some of the high-end boutique basses, I notice that some luthiers use matching wood covers for the rear cavity and some use plastic. Aside from quicker access with a snap-on plastic cover, why would a luthier not use wood? Why not be consistent [with the attention to detail] and make the back side of the bass as beautiful as the front?
     
  2. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    A matching wood cover plate is a difficult and time consuming task. I assume that builders that choose to use plastic may be attempting to quicken build time and reduce cost in delivering their instruments.
     
  3. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    As obvious as this sounds: Because most people (in the audience) don't see the back side of the bass. And if they do, they don;t really care what the cover looks like.
     
  4. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada

    Exactly, why a costumer would pay a few hundreds extra for something nobody will see?
     
  5. tplyons

    tplyons

    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I guess if it REALLY matters, you can ask for it to be done for an extra fee.
     
  6. Why would it be that difficult, wouldn't you have to cut out that part anyways for a plastic control plate?

    (Not trying to be a smart ass, I'm just curious)
     
  7. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    both wood and plastic cavity covers require removal of screws as far as i know, except for an ingenous design by Dingwall , and that was a wood cover. It's cost and labor...
     
  8. I consider that on a boutique bass the back is as important as the front. To me it is about attention to detail. I want a bass that can be looked at from any angle with no area of criticism.

    I remember reading that before the Russian revolution in 1917, the Tzar used to go on tours around his country by train. To make the view more pleasing for him, "show" villages were constructed which he would see when he went by. The problem with the villages is that they were constructed with one wall only [much like a hollywood film set], to be seen from one angle only. The back would be a mud field or a building site, a sham village.

    No I am not saying that basses not finished on the back are shams, but to me a bass that cannot stand scrutiny from every angle is lacking something. In my opinion it is letting itself down by not being the best that it could be.

    my 2c ymmv imo etc etc
     
  9. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    The difficulty and time come from the word "Matching" with regards to the wood cover. This requires the luthier to scroll cut the cover plate out of the basses back laminate with extreme precision otherwise it looks very shabby. Alternatively it can be done the way Mike Pedulla does it.

    Even with a wood plate that is non matching there is extra time owing to need to apple finish to the plate. But I agree that this method is not that much more difficult than plastic.

    Matt
     
  10. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    Yvon. I don't know about you but I don't buy basses based on what other people are going to see. Matthew Foote explained it perfectly in that when you buy a boutique bass it's all about attention to detail. The same usually applies to anything high end.
     
  11. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    i can appreciate a matching wood cover for sure.. here's mine
    [​IMG]

    and the front.. just cuz i'm a proud papa
    [​IMG]
     
  12. TL5

    TL5

    Jun 27, 2005
    Nashville
    Depending on the guitar construction and size of the cavity, it could simply be routed away. If that's the case, then all that would be left is sawdust. You couldn't make a plate from that.

    Yes you coud still make a plate from the same type of wood, but the grain would not match perfectly.
     
  13. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I'll tell you why I don't use wood for covers. Since I'm a small time builder I only buy wood when I need it. I don't stock a lot of material. The place I get most of my wood from sells its rough stock in 12 foot boards. They'll cut off four feet and let me take that, but they have to put 8' back in the rack. So if I want some ash I'll find a good 8/4 x 12' x 7"-8" wide board and have them lop off four feet. By the time I get it home and cut off the split ends and plane all the defects out of it I've got just enough material to glue up a body blank. I'd have to buy another four feet off of a different board to make a matching ash cover. Same goes with a back. If I was going to glue up a back on to the body blank and make the cover out of that I'd have to buy more wood than just what it takes for the back, since I don't have a slick laser cutter like Carey Nordstrand. The other aspect is some thin wood tends to cup or warp unless it's laminated to or with something. It's just a lot of work and expense to go with wood control covers for me verses 1/2 hour and $2.00 worth of plastic.
     
  14. that is an insanely close match. It took me a second look to realize that it was off.
     
  15. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    Intense looking! That's the nicest F Bass I've seen. The Macassar top is really classy.
     
  16. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    it HAS to be off! you see, there is no way to route out the exact piece from the body. At least i now of no toll that will "graft" a cavity from the body- what i suspect happens is the cover comes from a slice of wood that was directly above the cover ( does t his make sense/) so the grain pattern is similar to what is going on in the body, but not 100% exact!even with a laser cutter. how do you "lift " the cover from the body? not possible, i think... so it comes from a slice of wood from the same blank, dig?
    :D
     
  17. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    Adrian. The cover for a bass with a laminated back IS exact. They cut the cover prior to gluing to back on.
     
  18. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    yes, if it has a laminated back, i agree, that can , and has been done. Carey Nordstrand comes to mind- i stand corrected. The difference is if its laminated, if not, i strongly stand by my previous statement! :D
    for example, the F is not laminated ( except the top), it is a one piece ash body with top. Given that, i think George F does a an amazing job.
     
  19. The Elrick I had had an exact match on an ash body, but upon closer inspection I discovered that the ash on the back of the treble side of the body was actually a separate piece laminated on. That way the cavity could be cut and it matched exactly. It was sorta weird as it was a solid ash body (no top) with a laminated ash veneer on the rear of treble side of the body.

    It isn't that difficult to get scroll a cover out of wood to match for a bass with a laminated back wood. It is more time consuming, and when you compare it to simply cutting a piece out of plastic... or having a bunch of plastic ones made to your shape by a company I imagine it adds more labour than you'd think. I'll ask Sheldon Dingwall about it next time I'm by the shop because I know he does both.
     
  20. mbulmer

    mbulmer

    Nov 25, 2002
    Feeding Hills, MA
    Without a doubt. He also picked a really nice looking piece of ash. I like how much of a contrast there is in the figure. Not all ash is like that.

    Matt