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oak back/ribs?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by toman, Aug 4, 2004.

  1. I'm curious as to how oak would work for a back and ribs; I know I've seen a few basses with oak ribs at least that seemed fine... The reason is I have some large, fairly old pieces of oak that are calling to me and pleading to be turned into a cello... I think I'm up for the project, and not having much to lose it seems like it might be fun and educational. Am I condemming myself to a lot of misery trying to use this oak?
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Oak is very tough wood. I guess that's why it's so common in floors and children's furniture.

    A few reasons why me in my highly novice position might think oak would make a poor instrument wood is:

    1. It's HEAVY!!!!!
    2. It's tough and coarse. Oak is hard to work.
    3. It's isn't very pliable. Oak is strong, but it dries very stiff.

    I'm sure the smart guys will sound off soon enough.

    Maybe you should make it into some bookshelves instead.
  3. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I will be interested in your results. Oak is very easy to work with the grain and might make a decent flat back for a bass. Not as easy otherwise (across the grain)! (We have a lot of oak, is why I'm interested). And then, there is lots of variation among oak species.
  4. I've worked with oak enough to know that it is pretty tough, but i've never tried to bend it or carve it much. That's pretty muh why I'm wondering if it's even worth messing with. I realise it would be heavy, and that's really not an issue since the instrument would just be an interesting experiment/project, and I'm pretty sure it would sound at least acceptable if not very great... again, I wouldn't be trying to create a masterpiece. If everybody agrees it's not a good idea, maybe I'll make a plank bass instead... that'd weigh a ton for sure! :-D
  5. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'd almost guess the stuff won't take well to bending. But I had a couple of oaks knocked down today, in the patch of woods back of the house. One of them is solid as a rock, dead for some time. It's likely gonna become tailpieces, as soon as the weather cools a little here. Not hardly big enough to quarter saw and use for anything else. Maybe I'll bend some just out of curiosity.

    Does a bass need ribs? Wouldn't a few framing pieces be just as good, open the instrument up? Bridgework. Ribs - mostly cosmetic?
  6. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    I bends fine if you know what you are doing, a lot of ribs in wooden boats are white oak. As far as instruments go, I have seen a few acoustic guitars make out of white oak, MIMF is your best bet for info and pictures on this. But for a bass, I have no idea.
    You do know that "ribs" mean sides, not the linings. And yes they need to be there [at the least on the inside]. Bridgework again has a sonic purpose. Why not do the fist one the right/normal/traditional way first then experiment. Sometimes the easy way ends up being the hard way if it doesn't work out as you planned it.
  7. If you are debating making a double bass or "plank" bass based on what type of wood you have available, I would suggest going with the "plank" bass. The hours, and hours spent making a double bass will make choice of tonewood extremely important. Oak is probably not the best choice for bass tonewood, it's properties are just not right. Seems we have been through this before.
  8. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Yep. Ribs = sides. I figure one side should be more or less in tact. Eh. But don't take me too seriously, I don't. And I plan to just doodle around with this, I'm not real serious (in fact it's too late for me to get serious - I hope).. Except for putting together some little kids basses, and that sort of thing, which'll be standard.Mostly from partial assemblies.

    But I should have some time to fool around, answer some of my own questions, lord willing the the crick don't rise... (and we are moving to higher ground soon anyway). I wonder how this chestnut oak will bend, now. Might - so... I gotta lop a few pieces out of it, tomorrow, maybe.

    It hardly seems like anything I'd want to make sides out of, though. Maybe blocks.