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Laminate top question...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Sundogue, Apr 5, 2006.


  1. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I'm going to be making my first Jazz body in quite some time (like twenty plus years) and I've never used a laminate top before.

    A local lumber place has some really nice quilted and birds-eye maple that they will cut special for me...very cheap (plus I get my pick of the best figuring they have). I'm going to get a body blank of alder, but I'm not sure how thick to have them cut the body blank and how thick to cut the maple laminate.

    I want to glue the maple laminate to the body and have it follow the arm rest contour, so if I want the body to be a finished 1 3/4" thick, what would be the ideal body blank and laminate thickness?

    Also, does quilted or birdseye maple bend very easy for gluing to the contour part (I know thickness affects this)? Would I have to get it wet, and depending on what the ideal thickness is, is there a risk in breaking/cracking the laminate while bending it? I've never worked with quilted or birdseye maple so I really don't know much about it's properties.

    I was thinking 1/4" thick for the laminate as I'd like to have some leeway for rounded the top edges a bit without going into the alder body.

    Any suggestions, ideas...or things I should look for?
     
  2. Why don't you get the top cut at 1/2", That way you don't have to worry about bending the birdseye maple. You can just the contour the birdseye. I would put a piece of dark veneer in between the two layers also. It gives the light colored wood a nice separation and accent line.
     
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
  4. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    You know, sometimes the obvious isn't so...well, obvious!

    Duh! Yes, I could just get the maple top cut to 1/2" and the alder cut to 1 1/4" thickness.

    I'm not sure about the veneer, but it's something to consider. I'm getting a maple neck with an ebony fingerboard and I want to just clear-coat the body and use all black hardware.
    Maybe an ebony veneer in between?

    Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  5. Purpleheart or bloodwood would look sweet as a veneer inbetween the maple and alder.

    lowsound
     
  6. Greenman

    Greenman

    Dec 17, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    I'm not possitive but I think the forearm contour on a jazz bass goes deeper than a half inch. If you put a half inch top on another wood, when you shape the forearm contour to jazz bass specs you will be into the lower wood. Just a thought.:)
     
  7. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I won't be making the forearm contour quite as deep as the traditional contour.

    The back of the body will have more of a "belly" curve to it. Since it's my custom bass and I'll never sell it, I"m going to make it so it contoured with a perfect fit for me.

    Some basses have no contour at all, where the top is completely flat. On my new one, the entire bass body will be designed with complete ergonomics in mind.

    Another thing about going with a 1/2" top is that I won't have to route out much of anything. I won't have to route out the neck pocket or pickup hole in the top piece, as the thickness of the top is the same as the depth of the neck pocket. I can easily just cut the openings for the pickup (I'm thinking of going with a single MM pickup).

    I can just cut out the control cavity out of the alder body (with a slight bit of recess routing for the cover), and only drill the holes for the control knobs in the top...with just a bit of routing on the back side of the maple top for the pots/controls and then a little bit in the alder so the pickups go a little lower.

    Using a 1/2" top will make it all so much easier to do.
     

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