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Hybrid with a carved back?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Dave Irwin, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. How much of the woody sound is soaked up by the sides vs the back?
    If I were building a hybrid, is it worth going with a carved back w/ ply sides?
  2. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Some "fully-carved" basses actually have laminated ribs. In fact, I believe Paul W.'s Bohmann was built that way. In cases where this is done, it is not to save on materials. In fact, it can require more time and effort on the part of the builder. It's a deliberate attempt to stiffen the ribs and, as I understand it, to funnel the vibrational energy to the resonant back and top. I hope a luthier will chime in here.
  3. thats an interesting idea.

    i dont claim to know much, but it seems like the vibration is coming from the string to the bridge to the top, so i think the most bang for the buck is probably coming from a carved top.

    but we might be surprised by the results if someone goes ahead and builds one.
  4. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I am a furniture maker not UB luthier, so this is my fairly educated guess. I read James Ham's article about his laminating process. Laminated ribs eliminates bending very thin pieces of solid wood which are prone to cracking, twisting etc. With laminated ribs there would be less wood movement to the ribs, eliminating the cross grain stress at the neck, lower bout and corner blocks.
  5. In this case the top is carved. interested in possibly upgrading the back.
    Under normal curcumstances, it would make sense to sell and buy another bass. In this case, it might be the way to go if a carved back really increases the complexity and upgrading the ribs would be "relatively" insignificant to the sound.


  6. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    One of the main reasons for a laminated back on a hybrid bass is to eliminate a lot of the seasonal movement that occurs with a solid back. This movement in the solid back (shrinking, swelling and twisting) often transfers to the more fragile ribs and softwood top tables, causing distortion, open seams and cracks. To me it makes no sense to build a "hybrid" bass with a solid back. The laminated back is inherently what makes a hybrid bass a hybrid.
  7. i suppose it all comes down to the price of replacing the back, then.

    schnitzer has a great point, too.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I sure understand this if your goal is to have the advantages of a hybrid to begin with. Looked at another way, do you see the value in building a "carved" bass with laminated ribs as has been done in the past?
  9. A bass with a carved top, and carved round/solid flat-back that has laminated ribs, in many players ears/eyes would not be a 'hybrid' bass, but a regular solid wood bass. (If the veneers are well chosen, a player might not even be able to tell that the ribs are laminated.)

    The ribs are often what gets smacked while rolling in and out of venues, so maybe laminated ribs offer something useful?
  10. Arnold, I get your point, it wouldn't be a great idea for a hybrid but...
    I bought this bass for the practical reasons one buys a hybrid and love the bass but I am longing to hear a woodier, more defined note. (Even though it's very good for a hybrid)
    I know under normal circumstances, I should sell and get a carved version of the same
    but that may not possible for me.
    So I am considering replacing with a carved back.

    I think it comes down to 2 questions.
    Would the laminated sides add to stability vs carved sides, given carved top and back?
    Would I get enough added definition out of a carved back to make the upgrade worth it?

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback

  11. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Exactly. The examples of which we know sure are thought of as "carved" basses.

    See here.
  12. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    Couldn't having a new top carved make as much of a difference in terms of possibly getting a woodier or more defined tone?
  13. I hope not. I think the current carved top is pretty good.

  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    To your questions, I would guess "no" and "no". I think you are looking for a different bass. Expecting a specific change from a major modification seems to me like a probable waste of time, money and wood. Sorry if that sounds harsh, certainly not meant that way...
  15. Damn that sounds harsh :)
    No I appreciate it Arnold. It sounds like the benefit of your experience. Not harsh at all.
  16. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Although I don't build basses myself, I feel like making a new back for an instrument would be some pretty major surgery coming with a pretty high price tag as well. As mentioned, you might not end up with what you're really looking for, but you definitely will spend a lot of cash trying to get there.

    I agree that you are headed for an upgrade. The money you would have had to spend on a new back and the money you could make selling a good hybrid should put you into a range where you can find a bass with the sound you like.

    Happy hunting!
  17. I'm going to enjoy the bass as it is for now and re-evaluate at an opportune time. Maybe the next ISB...
    I really love the bass but got greedy thinking about what "could be". Fact is I have an old german carved that resonates all over and gives me that woody sound. It's easy to become impractical when all these great basses are out there.

  18. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I started a post asking about bass shops in Canada. It was somewhat hypothetical, as I am not currently in the market, but I got a lot of great responses, and people suggesting basses and where to look. There definitely are great basses out there, and it's tough to remind yourself that one or two of them might already be in your own home.

    I definitely feel the itch now. Hopefully it fades along with the sunburn from the street festival I played all weekend.
  19. Schoolhouse

    Schoolhouse Thomas Andres- Bass Makers

    Dec 7, 2006
    Northern Virginia
    Many of the great old basses have had their ribs entirely doubled, and they sound great. I've made several basses with laminated ribs and solid plates. I don't think it's a terrible idea.