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metal bass (not the music style)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by htdesigns, Jul 2, 2003.

  1. I was musing earlier today and began wondering about a bass madde out of metal. I have seen aluminium fingerboards on the Andreas basses, and aluminium necks on the Hartkes and old Kramers, also resonator metal bodies on tanglewoods and LeFay's steel fretless fingerboard. The thing I am wondering is which metal has the best tonal properties? I know weight is an issue, but ignoring that what metal would you use? Would it be brass, steel, aluminium? I am just interested if anyone has had any experience with the tonal properties of different metals, and what if any benefits they offer?
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    No personal experience, but I know something like this has been done.

    -There's an American luthier who builds Strats and either Js or Ps out of a metal frame, with a perforated steel "shell."

    -There's an Asian company that makes a guitar and bass where the body is a hollow aluminum casting, like a dish or bowl with a few internal ribs, with a top added. Company name starts with a T, maybe.
  3. As a rule metals are heavy, darn heavy. I'd stick with either light metals or strong metals that you don't need as much of. Aluminium is reasonably good, because its light and pretty cheap too but you'll have to be careful about it rusting away if you have it in a high traffic area, ie body or a fretless neck.

    Sound-wise, I imagine metals would follow similar to woods. Lighter metals will be thinner with a tinny sound, heavier will thicker, more malleable metals (moldable, lead is highly maleable) will be more dead sounding because they'll lose energy easier than something harder. An advantage you have with metals is that you can make them harder, by heating and cooling rapidly (check you blacksmiths make things that need to be hard) so you can manipulate metals properties easier than you can wood.

    I'm just guessing mostly there. Advantages are that you will probly end up with one darn stable instrument, at the cost of your traditional bass tone. It'll sound pretty sterile, I'm pretty sure that graphite probly has more tonal properties in common with wood than many metals do. That could be the sound you want but you'd have to work at keeping away from a tinny sound whilst not being real heavy. Big hollow bits would probly go down well, because you probly have more strength to work with but they'll be a sod to have looking nice.

    Josh D
  4. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    There was a guy once, that made an aluminium bodied axe, he called it Abel axe.
    I also recall a bass built from alu tubes, but I can't find it now....:mad: It sounded quite OK, not much difference from any hifi axe.
    Perhaps it can be found thorugh BunnyBass?:meh:
  5. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I have a British-made Staccato neckthrough (follow the link in my signature) that is made of a fairly light magnezium alloy. Sounds great, and surprisingly, pretty 'woody'. As far as I can tell, it's hollow and extremely stable - there is no truss rod, and it doesn't really need one either.

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