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Neck Wood laminants

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by firestorm, Feb 23, 2005.


  1. firestorm

    firestorm

    Feb 23, 2005
    Hello everyone! I'm planning on building a 4 string fretless neckthrough jazz bass, and unsure about the body wood and neck wood. With the neckwood I thought about definately using maple, but I was unsure of a laminant. I am considering either purpleheart with the maple, doing all maple, or doing maple and oak to have a strong neck. I'm considering the maple/oak combination the most but would rather find out if this is good to do or not.

    For a fretboard I'm thinking either rosewood or ebony, any suggestions on that I'm open to.

    For the body, I wasn't sure, but I thought about either alder, swamp ash, and I've heard of something called basswood. Whether basswood is good or not is a different story but currently I'm more worried about the neck than anything.

    Electronics I'm not too knowledgable about so I really need help with that.

    On a side note a dumb question I have is, do you cut the headstock with the wood from the neck or cut separately and join it on with the neck?

    Thank you for your input also :D
     
  2. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    All this stuff is subjective. I would reccomend that you should take all this very slow. It makes for better results. Don't rush anything.

    What I must ask, is, have you ever built a parts bass? Or do you have any design ideas? Sometimes the best designs come from good planning. Draw the body, because you can erase a pencil mark, not a cut in wood.

    You could start with a Carvin neck-thru blank, too, if you are not familiar with building necks. Precision is essential for building a neck to have the proper feel. I think good old maple with a rosewood board would be the way to go. Predictability can be a good thing... Though wood is never completely predictable. As far as cutting the headstock, you can do it either way. If you make a 2 piece neck (headstock, neck) you have to worry about the precision of the joint, and proper clamping. If you have a one piece neck/headstock, you must strengthen the thin part of the neck behind the nut. This is usually done with a volute, which thickens this part of the neck. Alder is good stuff, and easy to get a hold of.

    Electronics are very very very variable. What kind of pickup setup are you going for? How many strings? What do you want it to sound like? Active or passive?

    Judging by your questions, you may want to build some basses with parts from suppliers like Warmoth. Do a search for Valenti basses and see some of the good examples of what can come from that.
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Purpleheart is denser than american oaks. I believe it is harder and stiffer, but I do not have the numbers here in front of me. It is definately less porous. Just some grist for the mill.

    Read up on materials as much as you can and see what is available locally. Or, order it from Larry at Gallery Hardwoods and let him help you along.

    People do headstocks either way. The "joinery" way is called a "scarf joint". Do some web searches and read up to help you decide.
     
  4. firestorm

    firestorm

    Feb 23, 2005
    Well, no I havn't ever built a bass, but I have put much good thought into it, it was just wood types for a good laminant combo for a 4 string fretless neckthrough bass similar to that of a fender. I already have a woodshop open to me for use and can get ahold of any type of wood, it was just a decision of wood types to use. I don't know how to calculate the radius of a neck which I'm not entirely sure what it asks for in that, the bend of the fretboard or the actual back of the neck and how it is rounded. I plan on going with a two way truss rod, and decided to go with the purpleheart maple combo and just cutting a headstock with that in place. Plans, I have considered purchasing plans from www.mimf.com, but like I said I'm more in ideas to get the neck done way before touching the body. Measurements I have a pretty decent idea of what to go with, but right now I am in school and don't have my information on me :cool: and an advantage is that I do have the Melvyn Hiscock book and have not really read thouroughly through it yet.

    In electronics, I'm not entirely sure what to go for and never fully understand the differences of the pickups, for example passive, single coil, etc.
     
  5. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    Here are some numbers. This is the modulus of elasticity (relative stiffness) of the domestic oak species and some more common neck woods:

    Oak, Southern Red: 1.49E+06
    Oak, White: 1.78E+06
    Oak, Northern Red: 1.82E+06

    Eastern Hard Maple: 1.83E+06
    Purpleheart: 2.27E+06
    Bubinga: 2.48E+06
    Wenge: 2.53E+06
     
  6. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I did my 6 neck blank from maple with purpleheart stringers, and a strip of wenge for the middle. Stiff as hell with the trussrod and the graphite bars. I think the graphite would make even a yellow pine neck almost stiff enuff for use... ;)
     
  7. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Personally, I like all maple or maple with walnut.
     
  8. firestorm

    firestorm

    Feb 23, 2005
    It's all based on personal preferance then I guess :) So I think a 5 piece laminant would be good, and I really think the idea of the wenge in the middle is neat. So for now the neck is basically thought up and soon comes the dreaded drawings and measurements :eek: I'll first make a flat template out of plywood before anything and see how it looks, then actually draw it out on the laminants and cut the laminants. This is assuming I get the truss rod in that time lol. My next question was on the graphite bars, do you need them? I always thought truss rod was just needed but if I need to get two graphite bars also then so be it, and its basic function is to give more support in the neck?
     
  9. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    The graphite bars offer more stiffness, and more resistance to warping. I have them in my American Jazz neck, and I think they are just fine. But it's preference as to whether you want them put in or not.
     
  10. popinfresh

    popinfresh

    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Where do you guys get the wood for necks? Especially neck through... I can't seem to find any peices off wood long enough..
     
  11. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Gallery Hardwoods. I think they have just about every wood known to man, and if they don't, they can probably find it. They've got wood for necks, tops, solid bodies, laminated bodies, acoustics, you name it! Oh, and according to their site, they specialize in 48" long birdseye maple necks.
     
  12. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    One thing about the graphite bars- I did the layout of the neck, then once the profile was cut, I sank the channels to run parallel to the edges of the neck. Theory being that it would be that much more warp-resistant.
     
  13. tekhna

    tekhna

    Nov 7, 2004

    How much are their 5 piece blanks, usually? I am thinking I want to do a 5 piece wenge/purpleheart neck, but it would probably be pretty pricey.
     
  14. teej

    teej

    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Their prices vary according to how much they have in stock, availability, etc. If you go to their site (galleryhardwoods.com), you can get a quote. Recently, I asked about a 3-piece bigleaf maple/claro walnut/bigleaf neck blank, unglued, and it was $95.
     
  15. tekhna

    tekhna

    Nov 7, 2004

    Ouch, that ain't cheap.
    Oh well, good wood isn't.
     
  16. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Claro and bigleaf are both more expensive than purpleheart and sugar maple. However, when you buy a glued-up neck blank, much of that cost goes into labor (milling and gluing the wood) and you have to factor in Larry's time pulling the lumber (finding boards that will work) and an allowance for working around waste wood.
     
  17. PasdaBeer

    PasdaBeer

    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    oak isnt stable enough to use unless its a few hundred years old ( cut that is ) or properly treated, just an FYI
     
  18. firestorm

    firestorm

    Feb 23, 2005
    While I go out to start the template process of making a neck out of plywood, I'm looking at hardware and so far I've looked at the hot rod truss rod from stewmac and now I'm looking at graphite reinforcements from www.lmii.com and I think I'll get either the 1/4 x 3/8 x 24, or the 1/8 x 3/8 x 24. Tuning machines I'll probably go with Hipshot Y shaped ones and go for 2 on each side of the headstock or go with Gotoh :D I'm so happy because I feel like I'm making small accomplishments, and then will come the fun part of actually making it! :hyper: So far does this sound like good hardware for a neck?