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Is this possible to make with a vintage bass wood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rubo, Apr 28, 2004.


  1. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Since many praise the sound of a vintage bass specially 1960s Fenders, there must be something in a 40 year old bass wood that a new one can't produce. I was wondering if any one tried buying a 30 - 40 year old Bass then sending it to a Luther for a complete modification - meaning the Luther will try to make it as close as possible to his own model, but only using the wood from that Bass. For example what if we give Rob Elrick 1964 Fender Jazz Bass and ask him to make it very close to his NJS, specially to get that nice neck. I know it wont; be 35" scale, but jsut to get the feel of his neck on a vintage bass woudl be killer playing instrument.

    Another questing I have, is there a retailer who sells vintage woods, for example they stock it for 30 - 40 years only then sell it?

    Cheers
     
  2. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    I have a piece of 140 year old maple. It's about 12' long, 24" wide and 1" thick. It came from a barn that was torn down last year to make way for a new subdivision.

    I'm planning on making a bass body out of it. I'll cut the board into lengths of 40", take the two best pieces and glue them together. Then i'll cut the body shape and go from there.

    I figure I can buy a new Fender style neck for it, or buy a old used one from a P or J bass that's been destroyed.

    Should be a hell of a bass if all works out.

    Cheers,

    TD
     
  3. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Yeah, but is it dry?
     
  4. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    It's perfect. My biggest concern is it being to dry. It was never exposed to external weather, being located inside the barn.

    I've left it outdoors (sheltered in my garage) this past winter.

    Cheres,

    TD
     
  5. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    It is bordering on sin to destroy a vintage Fender Jazz or Precision. You can easily find old seasoned wood to build a body out of. In fact many instruments are made out of well seasoned wood. Especially acoustic instruments.
     
  6. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    Try some of the canadian companies , I understand they are using some 200 year old woods to make some of their acoustic guitars.I did see a special on the discovery chanel the other day that suggested that Stratavarius was very lucky that the woods he used in his instruments were obtained from a region that had undergone a 40 year cold spell causing the trees to grow slower, with tighter growth rings and this is in part the reason his instruments sounded so good.This is another reason to look to canada, where it is much colder.My Two cents on the wood, but I think the sound is more in the pickups on a bass than the wood.Try different basses in different price ranges and let your ears do the talking.I have both a '64 and a '68 presision bass, and I think the "vintage thing" is a perception rather than anything concrete.The necks do wear in nicely, but they made good basses and junk then ,just as they do now.It's all in your ears and hands, forget the names, forget the prices, forget where they were made.Let your ears do the walking.
     
  7. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Mel, I'm in Toronto, so wood wise we have plenty, just have to find someone who stocks old stuff. This was jsut a curiosity question, rather then pursuit. I own an Elrick NJS-4 and recently played a 1968 P-Bass, now playability, construction and feel Elrick smokes that Fender (and this P-Bass was a good one with straight neck), but Fender sounded so good it sang, to my taste of course. then again Elrick has Barts in it, so who knows how will it sound once I put some Van Zandt single coils in it.

    Oh yeah does anyone know if Warmoth allows you to send them your own wood and they cut it for it to your specs?

    Cheers

    P.S. Any idea how much a 50 or 100 year old wood would cost, based on the size needed for single bas guitar.
     
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Not for nothing, but when those "fantastic vintage bass tones" were made on those "vintage recordings where the basses sounded so good," the basses were brand new. Not 40 year old aged wood.


    Part of the tone was from an ordinary, new Fender bass.

    Part of the tone was from playing through an Ampeg fliptop, SVT, or other old-tech (but not old at the time!) amp.

    Part of the tone was from the recording techniques and mics.
     
  9. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Peter, you misunderstood, I said I recently played a vintage Fender and loved it, I'm not taking about vintage recordings. Those were recorded on a good old 2" with people who actually knew what they were doing and not a pro tools automation wiz kid.

    Cheers
     
  10. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Toronto
    The 140 year old board that I got came from the Barrie, Ont area for free. The barn owner even delivered it to my house because of the length of it.

    When they took the barn down they cut the huge beams which were 12' - 16' in length and 2' square into 1" thick strips. Thus making new pieces 12' x 2' x 1". It was one of those that I was able to get.

    You might get lucky like I did and find a piece for free.

    Good luck with the hunt.

    Cheers,
    TD

    :cool:
     
  11. si-fidelity

    si-fidelity

    Apr 13, 2004
    Australia
    The reason why people (including myself) will tell you that Fender basses from the 60's sound good is a lot different from what you may think. Of course, not all vintage basses are great- some of them have been treated without much care and not looked after, there is a point when "character" is no excuse for a rusty input. Firstly, the lacquer, and the way it was applied. Fender used Nitrocellulose... a deep penertrating lacquer that requires at least 3 coats, in which many weeks are required for each coat to dry. (the only fender basses that have the same lacquer today are the custom shops, highway 1 and 'vintage' or classic series, all others either have polyester of polyurethane) Over time most of the impure chemicals are dissipated from the lacquer into the air. In addition the wood settles and moves less over time. all these factors contribute to the wood sounding a lot better. If you got a luthier to remove that lacquer you'd be losing a lot of tone. and you'd be better off leaving such a gorgeous bass as a 64 jazz to someone else and investing in some of these older woods the other poeple are suggesting.
     
  12. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    When did you get it and any chance you can check if there is any more.

    Cheers
     
  13. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    I'm far from being an expert here, but isn't the wood ( beside the pick up) that mostly gives it it's sound and not the lacquer or finish. I do think that with time wood settles more, that's why some of these Fenders sound so good. so if I were to ask a Luther to do a mod, it woudl not include taking anything a part just shaping the wood slightly. I don't think it will change the tone drastically , if we keep the original pick ups & bridge. But again, I'm a newbe, so you guys are the experts.

    Cheers
     
  14. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    LOL.
     
  15. Actually, over time thousands of microscopic insects -- celluoid buttnoids, to be exact -- eat away at the wood, producing tiny acoustic chambers which resonate and give vintage basses their unique sounds.

    Also, Leo Fender used a special finish, which he accidently discovered while eating a Jack-in-the-Box burger at his workstand, and some secret sauce dripped into a vial of lacquer.