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One-piece bass - pros/cons

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by animal52, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    Let's assume for the moment that one could find a piece of wood that is free of imperfections (knots, warpage, etc.), large enough, and cheap enough for an entire bass build (neck, body.. the whole enchilada), are there any technical issues that would make the building of said bass more difficult than, say, the typical neckthru build?

    And it's probably better to leave any discussion of tone out of it for now. Not only is tone subjective, but many woods (walnut, rosewood, ash, mahogany, maple, to name a few) work perfectly fine as a neck or as a body.

    I know Jens Ritter has been making one-piece maple basses, so it's not a question of whether or not a one-piece build can be done, but rather that if such materials were widely available, would there be an advantage to building a one-piece bass?

  2. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I don't see why there would be any more problems than with any neck-through design.
  3. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    that's what I'm thinking too, but I'm a noob where building is concerned, so I might be missing some obvious drawback.

    I'm also bored at work and thinking about basses entirely too much :)
  4. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Finding a suitable chunk of wood might be the biggest issue.
  5. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    It's no question been done. The other remains, it takes a long time for a huge chunk of wood to dry naturally. Grain orientation? If it's a huge piece, it'll probably be of a mixed grain orientation (Both 1/4 and flat unless it's a pretty huge tree, that's for sure).
  6. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know... There's a reason that woodworkers like to cut a piece of wood down the middle, flip one side and then glue it: It counteracts warping. And on musical instruments, warping is *bad*.
  7. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    Talk to Jens Ritter. If you take a look in his Royals section, you'll see a few.
  8. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    Agreed on all counts. I'm sure that Jens Ritter has to be very choosy about the maple he uses for a one-piece instruments.

    Is there any aspect of the build/woodworking for which it would be more difficult to go the one-piece route?
  9. Armacielli


    Oct 16, 2008
    One big drawback I see is that cutting on a bandsaw (if u can find a bandsaw big enough to cut this piece) would be crazy difficult to control since its so unwieldy and awkwardly big. unless you used a coping saw to hand cut your curves.
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    - Needs a large, nearly perfect piece of wood
    - A large, nearly perfect piece of wood is hard to find and is very expensive
    - A lot of wood is wasted
    - It's easier to do some of the build operations on a smaller sub-piece , without an entire "rest of the bass" attached and in the way

    - ???
  11. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    This is the main thing I've been concerned with. At the risk of making a dumb suggestion, how about routing the instrument out using several passes of a hand-held router?
  12. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    I plan to make one large "piece" of wood by laminating strips together, so finding a piece of perfect wood, free of warpage, etc...these will be non-issues.

    Now will it be heavy? Yeah maybe... again, not an issue for me so whatever happens with the weight is fine. IMHO, balance is the more important factor.

    The pros, as I see it, are identical to a well-constructed neck-thru design. For a building novice (to put it mildly :) ) such as myself, approaching the bass as a single piece of wood seems somehow simpler. I can't explain explain it much better than to say that there is a certain appeal in stripping a potential build down to basics.
  13. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    One big con as far as I'm concerned.

    One mistake and your project is toast.
  14. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Yup, and wonder how long they'll be playable for before doing their own thing :)
  15. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    can't argue with that... good food for thought
  16. There was a user just recently that did that. One piece neck through, headless, basically bodyless as well. It was a cool project.

  17. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    I know the one... really impressive build. One piece of bubinga.
  18. Cy_Miles


    Feb 3, 2005
    I mentioned this on a similar thread recently, but I think it's worth bringing up again.

    A friend I am building with suggested that if you could find:
    Figured maple board with flat sawn grain down the middle of the board, where the grain goes vertical on each edge. Traditionally a very unstable piece of wood that will want to cup with time.

    Now take that same board and rip it right dow the middle of the face. Then glue the two outside edges together. That would give you a 'solid' board with vertical grain running down the middle (of the neck,) and flat sawn figure on the edges, The board would also be much less likely to shift with time.

    I am actually going to keep my eye out for the right piece to try this with some day.

    fwiw, I think I'd still use a seperate FB.
  19. Apart from the (far away) re-fretting problem, I see a major potential drawback: the neck might warp a lot. I don't know how you could strengthen it.

    But the project sounds cool. And somehow, more difficult. Like others wrote before, it's easier to cut etc smaller pieces of wood.

    The Ritter Royal is crazy though, and strangely compelling.
  20. animal52


    Jul 1, 2006
    DC area
    We can call it two-piece bass if the fingerboard is considered a second piece. I never meant to imply that it wouldn't have a truss-rod (& CF stiffening bars)

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