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How do I tell if a bass is carved?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by jaybo, Sep 12, 2002.

  1. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    Sorry if I missed this in the newbie links, I couldn't find an answer though. Is there an easy way to find out if a bass is carved or plywood? I have been told you need to look inside but I am unsure of what to look for exactly.
  2. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Nah, just look at the f-holes or the edges. On a carved top, you'll see the grain of the wood running across from the front to the back of the top. On a plywood bass you'll either see the layers of the veneers or they'll be stained or painted over.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You can also tell by the sound it makes when you rap it lightly with your knuckles. Plywood makes more of a thud where wood basses make more of a knock.

    Two more things, some basses have carved tops and the rest is ply, and some basses have real good veneer jobs and you have to look pretty closely.

    Of course, a Ford sticker (Kay, Englehart, American Standard, etc.) is a dead giveaway.
  4. A carved top or back table is easier to distinguish from plywood than bouts. No matter how good veneer jobs, usually the edges of the tables are visible somewhere, eiher in the seams or f-holes, and if you see layers of plywood in the edge, there is no questioning about it. The edges of the f-holes are revealing, if they are painted or stained black, this usually is done to cover the layers of ply. Personally I´ve never seen a plywood table with vertical grain pattern same as solid wood. I guess that´s because we do not have many of those Kays or Engelhards around here. The Only Kay I´ve ever seen was a blond owned by friend ( r.i.p. Tom Kuchka ) and it looked so much as a carved one, that I was surprised when he told me it´s all ply...he inherited the the bass from a friend in N.Y., where he used to live before moving to Finland, and flew to N.Y. to get it up here.

    The bouts are a bit more complicated, ´cause the edges are not visible and the top layer can seem very much like solid flamed maple. If nothing else can be done, take the bass to dark room and try to place a very bright and focused flashlight beam through the bout from inside ( e.g. beaming through f-hole ). If the bout is solid, the light will shine through the bout a bit, and the grain pattern will be visible. If the bout is made out of veneer, this will not happen since the layers are cross-glued. My luthier told me this trick...


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