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Laminated Wood?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by EAdanikDG, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Hi, would laminated wood work for a bass? It's 5 pieces of Blackwood laminated together vertically. Do any bass company's do this? I think i've seen an option on Warmoth's site for one piece bodys which i'm presuming means that they're not standard. It also says that this option isn't available for exotic woods, but i've never seen a Warwick Thumb or Spector Euro EX with anything but a one-piece body (or maybe i just haven't looked hard enough.) Also, if Fender and all the other companys that paint their body's a solid colour DO use more than one piece bodys, i'd have to paint the Blackwood to hide the laminated pieces, but I don't want to hide the grain, and I like natural finishes. Any opinions? Thanks in advance.
  2. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Laminated wood bodies can certainly work and look good without having to cover up the grain with paint. There have been basses made this way but not in large quantities. Naturally it's more expensive. More work involved and expensive woods used. Any of the good builders here on Talkbass could make one.

    Whether your particular piece will work or not will depend and it's impossible for anyone to tell without getting a look at it. Your description doesn't give me much of a idea of what it looks like. Can you post a picture?

    I remember once in some issue of one of the bass gear magazines, I think it was Bass Player, they had a short article on a custom bass made from laminated pieces of the old floorboards from the stage of the Grand Old Opry when the old building was torn down. It looked quite all right.
  3. Sorry, i don't have pictures yet, but there's an old solid blackwood kitchen that i'm thinking of taking two of the doors off, gluing them back to back and using it for a bass body. It's not mine yet, but if i want it, I have a good chance of getting it, unless someone else takes it by monday.
  4. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    As long as the glue joints are holding up well it should be okay.
  5. Thanks, and would it be ok to build the whole body out of Blackwood, i never see basses with exotic bodys, only the top. Why is that anyway?
  6. bassy7


    Jan 29, 2010
    Here are several reasons...
    A number of exotic woods are very heavy and would result in a super heavy instrument if used for the entire body thickness. it is more cost effective to only use "the good stuff" as thinner a top. You simply get more yield if it used as a top only, most of us like to conserve the rare stuff a little bit. It is often difficult or rare (sometimes impossible) to find exotic lumber that is thick enough to use for the full thickness of a body, if you have to glue it up for thickness anyways, why not create a little more contrast and use two kinds of wood?

    I am not familiar with "blackwood" or its attributes. But make sure you wont end up with an uncomfortably heavy bass if you want to use it for the entire body. If it is really heavy, and you still want to use if for the full body thickness- then consider routing some cavities on the "inner side" before you glue them up. If is a rare wood with some unique coloring or grain then I would opt to find a way to get as many 0.25"-0.50" thick tops out of it.
  7. Shmone


    Feb 16, 2009
    Actually, They are all 2-piece and 3 piece bodies.
    Check this Thumb on the Warwick site:
    quite visible here that its not a 1-piece.
  8. Sardine


    Feb 2, 2009
    If it's African blackwood, it'll be one heavy bass! Blackwood is pretty rare and expensive, so I would suggest trying to use it for laminate tops. But if you're set on making a solid blackwood bass, I see no reason it shouldn't work, but it will be heavy.
  9. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    African blackwood Dalbergia melanoxylon is the heaviest wood I've got on my list of luthiery-related woods. By published numbers, a body (for example) made of it would be 3.2 times as heavy as one made of alder.

    If you ever pick up a clarinet (above the student-grade plastic ones) you might be very surprised how heavy the damn things can be.
  10. I'd only use it for the whole body because I don't want to spend money on other wood, and i'm getting this for free. :D How would some woods not be able to be thick enough? Is wood for instruments cut from the base of the tree or across the tree? If it's the latter, is it because some trees aren't thick enough? Also if it's the former, wouldn't there be a more distinct, exotic-looking grain. And excuse my stupidity, but what's yield?
  11. bassy7


    Jan 29, 2010
    You may be getting it for free- but the cost for a piece of ash, alder, mahogany, maple or walnut is really low compared to the man hours spent planning and executing a build. Spend a few more bucks and get some lighter wood to go under the blackwood top.

    I still have lots to learn about all the varieties of woods and their characteristics, but there are some species of wood that you will only be able to find in 4/4 thickness, or less than 6" wide. Like- snakewood, bocote, or ebony. Now some of these are only available in small sizes because they are just normally milled down down to that size- but sometimes they come from trees that are very rare and small- like snakewood.

    Wood is nearly always cut from the vertical orientation of a tree. Burled wood is one exception I've seen, as sometimes it so burled the grain really doesn't really seem to have favored/dominant direction.

    Yes, the grain orientation defintely can give a different look to the wood grain. But that has to do mostly with quartersawn vs. flatsawn than whether it is a vertical or horizontal slice of the tree. Birdseye maple and oak are good examples of the different grain patterns that can emerge when viewed from quarter sawn or flat sawn perspectives.

    Yield? In the context I used it I meant OUTPUT... getting more use out of a fixed amount of material. In order to get more yield out of that black wood, you could use it to make several 1/4" to 1/2" thick tops instead of one body.

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