neck woods

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wotnwhy, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. as some of you may well know i'm building a bass, and i have now come to spec-ing out the neck and i have a few questions

    i was thinking of having a koa neck with a pau ferro fret board, this is based solely on looks as i live in a very remote area and have to travel for hours to visit places with a very limited selection of basses to try out, so i have little experience of wood tones

    so can anybody tell me, is this a good combo?
    wot are the advanteges/disadvanteges of it?

    could you try and describe the tone of this combo?

    if it's not a good idea, could anybody reccomend a decent combo thats really good looking and has a tone that is as all-round as possible

    thanx for any help


  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    For stability, I wouldn't use koa unless you are planning on making it a 5 piece laminated neck.

    Birdseye maple is very stable, and very nice to look at. It would look great either with a birdseye fingerboard, or pau ferro.

    Wenge is also very stable, but is a very difficult wood to work with.

    Another nice look is a 5 piece laminted neck with either birdseye maple and purpleheart, or wenge and purpleheart.
  3. thats some good info, thanx!

    i'll have to look into the birdseye maple and purpleheart, or wenge and purpleheart ideas

    again, thanx


  4. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    i have had 2 basses with wenge necks- i love them!! i also have a maple neck bass- but i think i dig the wenge better
  5. Paduak is known for its stability and growl--Trey Gunn's tone on The Joy of Molybdenum defines the sound of that particular wood.

    I considered it for my FBB, but since I wanted a thick neck and was worried about balance, I went with maple for the mains and bubinga for the stringers. I'd still like to try a padauk neck.
  6. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    I'm going w/ Wenge on my FBB that's in the works. My Conklin GT7 gave me a taste of it, & now I gots ta have it!

    Great stuff. Like cold chocolate for your fingers...
  7. I have a 5 peice neck with maple and walnut, sounds great, and is very balanced and stable!

    But koa's awesome, im gonna get my next bass in koa!
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Hey y'all.

    Maple and wenge are both staple neck woods because they're stiff and stable. Anything stiff and stable will work. Padauk, jatoba, whatever. Koa doesn't usually make the list, but Carvin uses it....

    Whatever you do, get the annual rings perpendicular to the direction of stress (quartersawn) and straight grained if possible. Remember, you can get quartersawn wood from flatsawn wood if you turn it 90 degrees.
  9. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    I have a used Carvin LB75 with a two-piece koa neck. It seems to be plenty stable.

    My next bass will probably have a maple/walnut 5 piece neck. I'm trying to talk my father into building it for me! (No, I'm not a kid; Dad is retired and really likes to work with wood.)
  10. Ovankol and wenge . there is no substitute, period ! :D
  11. wow this is wierd!

    no replies for over a month and then 3 in 1 day :confused:

    anyway, the project has been posponed (sp?) for a bit since i have no money after buying the yamaha.

    my main concern is getting hold of the woods, it took me AGES to fing a decent size piece of ash for my last bass and i found that in a mates shed so getting hold of woods may be a problem, u know any tips? perhaps a mail order wood site :D ?

    thanks for the info


  12. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Mr wotnwhy of Wales, why art thou searching for neck wood so far away? What grows around your home?
    Perhaps you can find a nice birch, beech, hornbeam, oak or even walnut at a local sawmill. Or at your neighbours, to chop down and saw up - eh, after buying, of course...
    These are really, really great woods for necks, though beech and hornbeam are not too lightwieght...
    Imagine a oak/beech/walnut/beech/oak neck.

    But, as Schmill pointed out: straight grain, quartersawn, properly dried. That is important!
  13. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    In my opinion, maple is the best and the more laminations the better. Some people add laminations of wenge or babenga for looks.

    Personally I think wenge is a second rate wood because of it's coarse grain but walnut is a good substitute as character wood in a lamination because it has a nice dark shade and tight grain. Babinga is really nice and makes a good fret board as well as a neck lamination.
  14. You can buy wood on e-bay. A couple of seller have e-bay stores. Do a search with the type of wood and also put in the words "luthier" or "neck", etc. Good luck!
  15. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    For those who are interested...since you project is not on hold, the tone of Koa is somewhere between maple and mahagony. It is somewhat on the bright side, as is pau fero. From a tonal standpoint, there probably wouldn't be anything wrong with this combination on a bass neck, as it would yield a fairly bright and accurate tone. However, Koa is probably not as stiff and strong as would be needed for a bass neck, as most have said, and you would probably be better off with a different choice.
  16. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer, Builder
    wrote this about 5 years ago and have never been back to read it until I saw your posting. Its been on my site, but honestly the only thing I visit on my site is the forsale pages when I'm updating :)

    its alittle rough, but it might help you some.

    The infection of wood.... whether you believe in its strength in tone or not. Woods is the beginning and driving force of any instrument and the realm in which the tone is held. Different woods bring different tones to any and all instruments, the same way that every instrument is different, is the same way that every piece of wood (even the same type) is too. If you’ve ever stop and thought that this bass doesn’t sound like I originally did is because your now finding out the electronics while being wonderful, hide many tones that the woods have to offer in time. And until the more & more you have played a bass is only then you will begin understand and find the woods undertone. Not to get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of onboard preamps, but know what your instrument does in passive before buying it in active. People pay huge amounts of money for instruments with NAMES that bring big money, while all in all the bass isn’t what it was expected to be when it was bought. It was bought only on the tone of the electronics, which don’t come through in a store, but in recording and through your rig after time. The feel you instrument puts off or the groove that you and the audience feels can be a direct line to the types of woods implemented in the building of your instruments.
    Wood is the driving force behind the creative tone and strength of an instrument. Laminates are a factor in the strength aspect while combining different woods creates different tones in-and array of beauty. The strength in a neck comes from lamination of woods whether it is 2 or 3 or 13, the fact is that strength is created by vertical lamination of wood Vs horizontal pull of the strings. The added laminates begin to create tones when thinner laminates separate large pieces. Similar to the all-familiar tone plates on the body of instruments.... Well they do the same in a neck!
    Maple – The all-fabulous maple has been honored in almost every instrument ever built. Maple produces a bright and high midrange tone that projects. This is also a wood that has been used for its strength many times over in multi laminate necks. Maple is also used as tops on bodies to provide snap to the tone of the instrument.
    Wenge – Being one of my favorites adds many dimensions to an instrument with the bottom or depth that many try to tweak in with electronics and is easily solved by the use of wenge! Wenge produces lowend midrange and bottom, this also being bottom which makes yours move! Wenge is a very- very rigid wood and is very good in the construction of necks. This wood can be used in place of or with maple and each produces and provides different qualities.
    Mahogany & Koa – These are two of the best know body core woods available. Many might not like the two combined because Koa is thought of as somewhat higher quality (which can be argued) needless to say they both are extremely productive. These two woods produce a punch and the smoothness in the tone that we all look for. They also work well in the neck lamination process and adding these qualities to the instrument.
    Alder & Ash – These too like the Koa and Mahogany I might be criticized but like mahogany and Koa you usually use one or the other and not both together. Unlike Koa & Mahogany, Alder and Ash have very different tone producing qualities. Alder is along with Ash more of what vintage and Jazz/P bass use. These woods give off tones in more of the growl qualities and not as much in the punch area of tone.
    Rose Wood – The source from the beginning in fretboards has over the years evolved into a wood that is used any many other aspects then just fretboards. Rosewood comes in many types and each produces different types of qualities in tones. Rose woods is a very important wood in the bass building world and produces a warmer tone then its counter part ebony. Rose wood is a great tone transmitter for fretboards and has been used many times and will always be used in the construction of multi-laminate necks.
    Ebony – More of the high-class bass fretboard woods, while in most cases lives up to that being harder and denser while lasting longer and provides a brighter more intense tone. Ebony too, has been used in the construction of neck, as it is a hard wood that is used well in thin laminates between bigger woods like maple and wenge. Ebony too, like maple is used as a top on instruments because it provides a bright snap aspect to the instrument.
    Bubinga – Bubinga while being one of the more heavier woods brings with it tightness or solidness to an instrument. Bubinga at times is a very beautiful wood and creates a very pleasant tone and can be used in most any part of the instrument construction. Bubinga tones are bright mid range, but most important provide solidness to the feel on the instrument.
    There of course are many other woods out there that bring other qualities and tones to an instrument that are a must in finding your tone. Each and everyone has their on ears and hear other tones differently. Its great that way, because there wouldn't be any need for as many of us if we all liked the same tones! Finding your tone can be a cost endeavor and be very frustrating. Many might need to actually contact a custom builder and talk one on one with he/she on how to achieve your tone and what combination of woods will produce it. Of course you won’t have any luck with big name companies. That is why I support our custom builders out there and those that want to build for the love and not just the money and fame... while being famous is nice, don’t slap your name on cheap instruments just to make a fortune off poor souls that don’t know any better until after the fact. Everyone needs to live and I'm not in no way agianst anyone making a living or being very wealthy, but don't cheat people! There are a few out there!
    I hope this has been helpful and please contact me about any questions or help with building a bass or finding a great builder to create your bass and tone. And a thought to leave you with, always play a bass in passive mode and remember electronics and pickups are easily changed!!!!!!!!!
  17. I have a WOOD section in my spreadsheet. Get it from my signature.