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Pear tree coming down

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by George700DL, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    I'm getting ready to cut down a very large bradford pear tree, and I'm thinking about a few years down the road. I love pear wood, and I've made things out of it on a smaller scale (smaller than a bass). It's hard as nails, tight grained, cuts and turns easily, etc etc.

    How would this work out for back/sides? The trunk is not large enough for a 2-piece back, but perhaps a 4 piece back could be done. I'm thinking more like violin/viola wood.

    How about making a bridge out of pearwood? Fingerboards? Nuts/saddles? It seems to be even harder than hard maple, at least the wood that I've used from my neighbor's bradford pear (which we cut down about 7 years ago).

    I'm definitely planning on keeping the lumber, I'm just trying to figure out how to cut it (quarter/flat, etc).

  2. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Pear makes for a great sounding guitar. Most of the purfling that I use starts out as large sheets of pear. It has a beautiful color and cuts / planes like a dream, even on end grain.

    'Definitely keep some around. If nothing else, you'll get some great james Krenov style infrastructure cabinetry.

  3. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I have also seen a couple of fine older cellos made of pearwood. European pear obviosly, but they sounded nice.
  4. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    I have made several pieces of furniture out of European Pear Wood that was not very dense - works like Black Cherry. Very beautiful wood and a joy to work with. This electric bass I just finished, the top wood is European Pear I have been sitting on for several years. As for how to cut your logs, that depends on the diameter of the log - the larger it is the more options for quarter sawn versus flat sawn.

    Attached Files:

  5. mpm


    May 10, 2001
    Los Angeles
    +1 on the end grain! Amazing wood...I'm doing a large order of tailpieces, using steamed Swiss Pear and am really impressed with this wood..its working characteristics are very similar to hard maple...
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There are at least a couple of Italian period Panormo's that are made of pearwood (back and sides), one of which was profiled in an issue of DOUBLE BASSIST.
  7. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    that's right, I have played also some other italian basses of unknown maker with back and sides of euro-pear, sounded beautiful.

    I remember the luthier commenting on the ribs being very thin, perhaps because the wood is so heavy.
  8. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    If you contemplate the shape, texture, and density of the fruit from the pear tree, it's no wonder that it makes a great tone wood for double basses.
  9. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Gasparo da Salo used pearwood on some of his basses. And that guy made some nice basses.
  10. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Mmmm, I'm getting thirsty for a perry.
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    That is an interesting way to put it, but I think I'm with you all the way.

    Mike mentioned steamed European pear- you'll get two very distinct hues out of the wood from steaming vs regular air dried. The steamed has a beautiful pink hue to it and works like a dream, and the other is lighter in color and works a bit more coarse.

  12. but...bradford pear is junk.splits easily,weak crotches,and lots of breakage, showy street tree..not the fruitwood we imagine.
  13. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    True on all accounts. That is why I am getting rid of it. The wood is awesome though, I already verified it (neighbor had one too). It bears pears, but they're only about 1/4 inch in size - squirrels eat them, then crap on my car underneath;).

  14. maybe wait till fall...less of a mess,and the sap will be down.;)
  15. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    Yeah, just planning ahead, that's all.
  16. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    in addition to the other suggestions, consider tailpieces. Laborie makes a pearwood tailpiece. I've got one. pear is not only strong but extremely lightweight. with this tailpiece, the bass sounds fuller and louder than with the heavyweight ebony tailpiece it came with.
  17. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    Good point. I made my tail piece from maple - so it's already lighter than ebony. Going to pear probably won't make much difference for me, but it's a good idea for variety's sake.

  18. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    Thanks for the replies everyone. Looking at the tree now, I might be able to have enough wood between the knots for some sides, and maybe a few pieces that could make up a back, but most likely, I'll have better luck thinking about a viola :)

    Like Forester said, the tree split a bunch of times and there are many knots (it grows more like a shrub, less like a tree).

  19. PJMiDi


    Feb 27, 2009
    Columbus, OH
    I've got 3 bradford pears, had 6 my grandfather cut up parts of one into a clock, one into a cabinet, and one's still sitting in a stockpile of wood since he passed away a few years ago. He always had wonderful things to say about working with it. How big are your pears trunks? Ours were all roughly 6-8 inches in diameter
  20. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009
    The tree is over 40ft tall, so the trunk is like 2 ft wide. Unfortunately, the tree becomes 2 trees about 5 ft from the ground (my neighbor used to call it the "@ss tree").

    I need to start thinking about cost-effective ways to mill it...

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