Just out of curiousity . . .

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. Reading an offhanded comment in another thread aroused my curiousity about the beginnings of plywood use in basses. Someone may have addressed this at some point but I don't ever remember reading it. So, when did laminated (somehow that sounds better than plywood) basses first appear? What maker came up with the idea?
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well along time ago someone posted something here about the start of commercial plywood. Wew must remember though that wood lamination has been going on for centuries. I had an Italian Bass recently that has a 3-ply laminated Back, pressed to match the form of the top and also has a 3-ply center cross bar support. This Bass is labelled Naples, 1802. The Varnish all over the Bass matches. Naples was a big center for Mandolins and the pieced together the multi-strip bowl-backs for the Mandolins back then. This Bass has signs of being made by a Mandolin maker rather than a Violin Maker from top to bottom. Seee here;http://www.kensmithbasses.com/DoubleBasses/SoloBass/solo_Bass.htm

    The Back may or may not be from 1802 as the Label written in English with a made up un-documented name is in question. In either case, the Bass is Neopolitan and 19th century regardless of the name or exact year. The Back is an early from of plywood but higher quality wood than we see today. the Back is also in 6-pieces outside and inside. I don't know about the center layer. The lack of 'Curl' on the inside layer was the way I discovered this. Not even the seller or former owner knew it was a laminated back as the varnish covered the laminations up around the edges.
  3. eh_train

    eh_train Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004
    Hi all

    I raised the issue yesterday, in regards to the fellow with the bass labelled 1914 (who asked 'what have I got?'). My question, which might be of interest to many TBers, was about when the large-scale, commercial use of laminate began for DBs. Ken, your description is "ply" in the strict sense, but it definitely doesn't sound like common practice...

    There's lots of talk about Kays, Kings, and Czech ply basses from the 1930s and onwards, but are there commercially produced examples from the 20s or teens? If we accept that 'what have I got's' bass was likely made in 1914, I was wondering whether that date alone would make plywood unlikely...

    So, what about it? What are TBers earliest knowledge of commercially produced ply basses?