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How in gods good earth to pick a core wood from a pile of mahogany?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by modulusbassist, Mar 28, 2003.

  1. I want to build my own bass and I visited my local luthier and there's a pile of mahogany, koa, etc for core wood. How in gods good earth do I know which one will be suitable for my bass, I mean tone wise?

    I know there's a rough guide line regarding weight, color, age, etc.

    But how do luthiers grade their tone woods from mediocre all the way to master grade? How do you come up with the conclusion that the wood is the best that you've ever seen before the bass itself is made?
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    You worry less and pick the one you like.

    "Master grade" versus "A grade" refers to the structural and visual properties of the wood. The presence of figure, the tightness of the grain, the lack of defects. The structural properties are most important for acoustic instruments, where thin wood has to have good strength and resonant properties for the instrument to work. The difference between two pieces of mahogany in a solid body instrument is going to be negligable.
  3. Thanks for your time FBB Basses, I liked your basses and was going to purchase a bass from you, but now that I don't live in the U.S anymore, maybe someday.

    Thanks for the tip
  4. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I watched this TV-programme with a violinbuilder that tapped the wood he was choosing from with a felt-clad hammer. The clearer and more resonant note he got, the better he thought it to be. I think Mike Tobias mentions this on his website too.

    The programme was quite interesting, as the builder demonstrated the process on two pieces of maple of the same weight and with similar grain, but with the difference that one was a hundred years old. The new one had a dull sound to it, while the old one sounded like a bell!