Idea ... what do you think?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by danhorne, Aug 20, 2004.

  1. Hey there,

    I'm thinking of constructing a Jazz bass (probably a 5'er) out of Black Limba, or similiar style grained wood maybe (ie. zebra, etc.) I've never seen a jazz bass with a body wood like that with a pickgaurd (yet). I would like to put one on it if its made and was wondering what color you people would put on it? for some ideas.

    Aswell what kind of a neck combo would you throw onto it? not sure if it will be fretted or fretless yet.

    thanks, Dan
  2. I think that once you set up such a strong linear flow visually with the zebrawood, it gets dicey putting something across the grain in an irregular fashion like a pickguard. You could always use a clear guard to avoid this.

    I tend to look at my instruments as a whole with the neck included in the mix of visual elements. The neck begins lining the eye up and bringing it into the body. Once there, the eye is naturally stopped by pups and the bridge but generally it would continue sighting right down the strings. Your zebrawood will reinforce that. I have a Kawai with a zebra top so I can look at this with a good reference in front of me. No pg here and the neck helps with a coherent look because it's the lightest rosewood I've ever seen - close in shade to the zebrawood itself so it doesn't compete at all with the grain of the top.

    So, I guess that my choice would be no pg. Then, I would go crazy and make a set of matching pup covers from the zebra to camouflage them in the middle of the body. THAT would be a cool looking combination!

    Ooo, ooo, I just had an idea. Instead of breaking the linear thing up with round knobs, how about using sliders lined up with the grain? Nothing more than a small dot of a knob and a slot for movement. Huh?, anybody? :bag:
  3. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    If you have to use a pickguard I would think 1 ply black so as to be as simple as possible to not take away from the look of your wood. I have never used a pickguard though..t
  4. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    i agree with ham, slightly!

    first off, im biased against zebra, i hate working with it, reminds me of oak to much.

    second, if i did use it, id go with a nice dark WOOD pickguard, either like a ebony, stained oak/mahog, something along those lines just to make the break, zebra gets kinda gnaly lookin when used in that big of a chunk.

    also, i would keep with a ash/alder body, and use the zebra for a laminte top.....biased on tone : )
  5. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    What caught my eye was,, Limba is soft, & warm sounding... Isn't Zebrawood, superhard,, almost like Wenge?

    I'm thinking, that more though needs to be put into the sonic qualities of the woods being used,,, not just because they look nice.

    I've thought Zebra would look great as a top,,, ON limba, & then go w/ a tru-oil finish. BUT, I wouldn't PG that.

    I gotta tell you, now that I've seen Black Korina w/ a darkish trans finish, you could put a pg on it no problems... In fact, go look at Nino-Browns red jazz bass, or that blue trans p-bass. Sure, they're swamp ash,, but I think it illustrates the effect.
  6. Zebra is also very, very porous. That makes the oil finish a bit more work than the usual wipe on/wipe off approach. You'll have to do some major pore fillling and your choice of filler color will have a major effect on the look.

    Don't discount the look of a walnut back and zebra top. The walnut appears a little grey compared to the warmer tones of the zebra but all it takes is a coupla coats of shellac on the walnut and the darks will look nearly identical.
  7. I never even thought about following the grains of the wood and the "flow" of the bass. Your right, it would look strange to have grain of the Limba pretty much cut off by a pic gaurd. Oh well it was just an idea, i'll give it some more thought. thanks guys.
  8. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    i love contrasting woods to go with it.....breaks up the plain-janess of a natural bass, unless the grain in it is really something special.