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How can I tell if a bass is plywood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Legattabass, May 11, 2011.


  1. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    Hi TB,

    Sometimes while surfing through TB I hear horror stories about the wood used in import-brand instruments. They usually sound something like: "The Epi Website says the EB-0 is made of mahogany ... but I looked inside the control cavity on mine and it was PLYWOOD!"

    How does one detirmine if their instrument is plywood with a top or veneer? Can one simply gaze into the control cavity and find clues? What would one look for? Where else could they check? Are there clues to be found on the external finish?
     
  2. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    One possible indication is that the edges of the body and tummy cutaway are painted completely opaque, no wood grain showing through, especially on a sunburst finish. That's hiding the "laminations" of the plywood body.

    Other than that, the only sure-fire method is to look inside the control cavity or neck pocket to check for laminations, not solid wood in the routed-out area walls.
     
  3. Aspidites

    Aspidites

    Oct 20, 2009
    Berkeley CA
    ^This
     
  4. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    Mr. Ogle, what would laminations inside the cavity look like? A ridged, painted side?
     
  5. Aspidites

    Aspidites

    Oct 20, 2009
    Berkeley CA
    Just like the edge of plywood.

    houseboat-building-or-repair-what-plywood-exterior-or-marine-grade-21291294.
     
  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    ^^^That. LOL!!!
     
  7. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    No chance this would be hidden by conductive paint?
     
  8. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Sure, there's a chance, but 90% of basses don't have that. Probably 99.9% of plywood basses CERTAINLY don't have that. And never in the neck pocket.
     
  9. hdracer

    hdracer

    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    The Epi EB-O's come two ways. The ones that come in the "starter packs" are plywood. The regular ones are mahogany. The necks are different too. The "starter ones have a very shallow and thin neck (for small hands) The regular ones necks are wider & thicker. I think the tone of the plywood ones is great. I have one of each. I put the neck pup from my Gibson SG in the plywood bass and it sounds fantastic!
     
  10. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    Thats interesting; it's also been mentioned that the starter pack EB-0s have an opaque finish, whereas the standalones have a transparent finish. Does this sound true?

    I wonder if plywood instruments (danelectro notwithstanding) seem to enter the market from those nefarious little starter packs...
     
  11. hdracer

    hdracer

    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    The finish is the same between them. The neck & the weight is the big giveaway on them. The plywood one weighs about a pound and a half more.
     
  12. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    Does the country of origin provide any insight? IE is a chinese EB-0 (in this case) more likely to be plywood than an indonesian one? And does this likelihood go across brand lines?
     
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Plywood can be a fine material for instruments. Kubicki even used it to make necks.
    Danelectro use masonite, not plywood.
     
  14. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    Noted. Thank you for the correction.
     
  15. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    this is a mahog laminate over a basswood body, not plywood,
    P1010076.
    but this project bass is plywood as you can tell by the many layers on the edge.
    sorry I do not have any pics of the control cavity but you can clearly see the layers in the p-pickup rout.

    P1010345.
    .
     
  16. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw

    The recent Danelecro RIs have body rims cut from plywood, the originals used solid wood.
     
  17. Legattabass

    Legattabass

    Oct 21, 2010
    Maryland
    What kind of bass is that?
     
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    I built a couple of Eb0 frankensteined basses. This one here has a plywood body.

    b%20181.

    Well at first I thought I got ripped off this bass will sound like crap. But to my suprise the body is light and resonates nicely and has good tone.
     
  19. john grey

    john grey

    Apr 19, 2011
    Oracle, Arizona
    In acoustic instruments, it's very rare to have the whole of the instrument made of the face-board wood, etc. Using a veneer is extremely common and in use in all but the very high end products. Using a block of Mahogany would be not only prohibitively expensive but it simply would not exist in the quantities needed for bulk production. In electric instruments; same deal....unless it's total custom.
     
  20. amimbari

    amimbari

    May 6, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    my 1999 MIK epi tbird.
    we went round and round about basswood or alder, and when I took the neck off that is what I found.
     

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