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Oak....... What does it sound like?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Master P, Mar 27, 2002.

  1. Master P

    Master P

    Mar 26, 2002
    Howdy gang!!!!!
    I have a 50 year old church pew from my grandfather's church that I'm wanting to build a bass from. I only get one shot at this so I must do all the recon I can. It is red oak. Are any of ya'll familiar with the sonic characteristics of oak? Like any bass player the sound I'm looking for is everything. Deep, round lows, glassy highs, and that distinctive low-mid growl to help cut through. Depending on what I learn from ya'll I can change fretboard woods, hardware, pickups, etc... to try and find what I'm looking for.
    This project is important to me for all kinds of reasons and any help would be appreciated.

    Remain Rigid.....
    Master P

    and never forget........
  2. I can't speak from experience, but some of the nice Swedish Ares basses - Abraham Laboriel owns a few, listen to the first track on Guidum, that's an Ares right there - are made out of Swedish oak and the sound is described as follows at their site:

    "Oak combines the warm tone from rosewood with the attack from ebony. It's extremely well suitable for necks and fretboards." (http://home3.swipnet.se/~w-31386/aresind.htm , but please keep in mind that this link is for their old website, I'll post the link to the new one as I get back home to my computers in a couple of days, or you could just do a google-search for "ares custom")

    Just one thing I wonder, apart from the sound issue, is: wouldn't a bass with an oak body be extremely heavy?

    Oh, great forum BTW.
  3. Certain older Alembics had oak cores, before the company standardized on mahogany. They were renowned for their weight. Moody Blues bassist John Lodge says that the doubleneck Telecaster bass/guitar he uses now is still lighter than the Series I he had in the late '70s.
  4. Master P

    Master P

    Mar 26, 2002
    Yes....... It will no doubt be very heavy. The shape of the pew dictates to me that the body style will have to be in the Les Paul/telecaster family. As heavy as it will be, the bass will be used for recording and as a back up. Thanks for the info.

    Master P
  5. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    I thought that oak was supposed to move a lot with temperature and humidity changes. :confused:
  6. BlackNeckJspl


    Dec 14, 2002
    I am remodeling parts of the house and may have some 100 year old oak(?) moldings left over how big & thick a piece would I need to start out with if I was going to have a frett board made out of it?
  7. I make my real $$ selling doors, mouldings and stuff of that nature, and I've sold quite a few oak doors and haven't had any more issues with movement or warpage than any other wood species- poplar, on the other hand...:rolleyes: The other thing is if it's older/aged wood, most of the moving has already happened- would will stabilize the older it gets.

    The other thing, with oak, is that there are two main species- red oak and white oak. I would imagine that they each have very different tonal properties as one is a very opened grain type of wood (red) and one is more closed grain (white). Both are fairly heavy but not that much more than some of your mahoganies.
  8. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    The easy part:
    Oak weighs in just below hard maple and ash, 0.69 vs 0.74 and 0.72kg/dm3.

    As neck wood, it should be compared with e.g. black walnut (which is more suited as neck wood than hard maple). It will also do very well as fretboard wood, but be a little too soft for a fretless (untreated) board.

    As body wood, IMO, it is unnecessarily heavy. But would work well. Wht tone you'd get? Depends more on the piece, than on the spieces.

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