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Is this body made of plywood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Avalon, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    OK, so this is an old Japanese made bass. It was probably manufactured by Teisco, Kawaii, Firstman or Greco in the late 60's to early 70's.

    The wood top and back are flamed maple, but is the wood underneath a single piece or is it plywood?


  2. gigslut


    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    From those pics it looks like your beveled edges aren't showing plies other than caps and solid core. An edge view would tell more.
    Often what appears to be plies when looking into pickup and control cavities is offsets and burrs from multipass routing.
  3. It looks like solid wood from the pics, but a close up of the pickup cavities would be helpful. Are there ply ridges on the sides?

    Were they even making plywood bodies back then? Not sure.

    Extremely cool bass, whatever it is :)
  4. sdoow


    Jun 22, 2010
    First of all, wicked cool looking bass!!!

    Secondly, it appears to be solid mahogany, but I can't be 100% sure from those pics. If you look in the neck and pickup pockets at a more acute angle you should be able to tell if there are multiple layers that would indicate plywood. From the pics that you posted I can't see enough of the cross section to be sure. I don't see any layers in the perimeter bevels that would indicate plywood.

    Regarding the top being flamed maple. It sure looks likes like it must have been a very thin veneer, foto-flame, or faux finish. Cause that is certainly not maple now.

    Thirdly, Why'd you strip it?!?!?! It looked gorgeous as is!!!
  5. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    I have one of these basses, but none of the basses in the pictures is actually mine. I found the first picture on an old eBay auction and saved it. The next two pictures I pulled from The Guitar Refinishing and Restoration Forum that is hosted by ReRanch.

    I've never opened mine up as yet. I hate to take chances on stripping screws etc..., but I want to shield mine and replace a noisey input jack, so eventually I will.

    EDIT: OK, so with the back plate removed, I can see that there is a seam in the middle. So while it is not exactly plywood, it is two slabs, front and back, glued together.
  6. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    It's the Avalon "Shaggs" bass, right? Kawai/Teisco, circa 1967. - I think it's low-grade mahogany, the kind that splits easily and was also commonly used for packing crates.
  7. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    Not to derail, but related, wasn't using plywood for cheaper grade instruments something that started in the 80's ? I know when I got back into playing in the 90's, I was shocked to find out the 80's pawn shop axe I bought was plywood! I never heard of such a thing even on Asian instruments in the 60's and 70's. I'm curious to know the answer.

    I may not have been aware if there were because in those days I wouldn't even look at an Asian instrument, cause 99% of them back then were junk. Not like today when you can get an inexpensive instrument that is good quality and getting better all the time.
  8. bigalbass


    Dec 12, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    My buddy had a beat P bass copy in 1983 that definetly had a plywood body, so you can date plywood earlier than that.
  9. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    The only plywood basses that I have seen were made in the 80's-90's and all made in Korea ... VERY light basses they were, had a mid 80's Korean P about 7.5 lbs ...
  10. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    +1. The wood is called "Agathis" by Ibanez and other manufacturers. Wikipedia says: "The wood is commonly used in the manufacture of low priced guitars due to its good resonating properties, yet relatively low price of production."

    I have found it to be incredibly soft and therefore it's easy to strip the holes for strap buttons, pickups and pickguards.
  11. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    Yes, that's the very one and I'm pretty pleased with it. I thought I needed to replace the input jack because the amp was popping everytime the cable moved. But I just cleaned the inside of the jack with a bit of white vinegar and a Q-tip. Now it sounds solid as a rock and no popping.
  12. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Easiest way to spot plywood body is in neck pocket, pup routes and control cavity. If you detect signs of fine line every 1/8 inch or so like layers, its plywood.
  13. I had Japanese guitars from the 60's that were plywood. Heck I had a '60s Teisco that had a plywood NECK.

    ...so I just now googled "plywood neck", and sho-nuff, theres a teisco with a plywood neck.
    Plywood neck image by Ianreed99 on Photobucket
  14. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Does it sound good? I have a plywood bodied J bass that sounds great. My advice: fuhgeddaboudit! :D
  15. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    I do now remember one of the cheapies like kay or Kent or ? that had plywood necks. Oh, 'scuse me "multi lam". :bag:

    @ woody g3.. I have a project bass made form a cheap 80's Kramer body and a cheap SX fretless neck and some cheap nondescript tuners and pickups from my parts boxes.It sounds and plays remarkably good. Did I say it was cheap ?

  16. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    The neck on the Avalon is actually a beautiful maple and could be confused for a Louisville Slugger. Is it plywood? I always assumed that it was striped with the wood grain pattern. Now that you mention the plywood necks I guess I'll have to go back and take another look. As I recall, the pattern of the grain looks very similar to the plywood neck in your example.

    P1020266.jpg P1020273.jpg
  17. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    Wow. I never realized it, but I guess this one may have a plywood neck too.

    So, now the question becomes; do you guys think that this is a plywood neck? My guess is yes. Although, I would have to say that it is the finest looking plywood I have ever seen. A year ago roughly, the truss rod was maxed so I had a guitar tech apply heat to it to bring it back to true. It did not affect the plywood if that is what this is.

    I have the page from the original 1968 Harris Teller Musical Supply catalog and it states that the Avalon has a "Canadian Maple fingerboard". Whoever wrote the sales description was prolly spending most of their time in the brass & woodwinds department.







  18. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    The plywood and masonite Danelectros are great sounding basses. Don't assume that because they have plywood they are no good. I have one and it sounds great.

    Danelectros, whether the original 50s/60s or the newer reissues, prove that cheap materials and construction can still make good instruments, and "tonewoods" are not needed.

    This is a bad picture of mine:

  19. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Better called a wood laminate - thin strips glued together under pressure, similar to how hockey sticks used to be made before composites. Nothing wrong with it structurally at all; it's stiff, consistent and warp-resistant, compared to cheap and perhaps badly cured whole wood. Framus in Germany used the same kind of material for many of their necks throughout the '60s.

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