Plum Neck?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by MostroDB, May 5, 2012.


  1. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    This is my first thread, so I hope I put it in the right place...

    Several years ago I had to cut down part of a very old plum tree in my garden. While the piece that I cut down had many bent pieces, I saved about 6' of a rather straight piece of the trunk. This piece I left to dry outside, bound standing upright between other trees, for 3 years, followed by some 3 more years of drying in my cellar. Of a small piece which I'd saved too, I took the bark off a few days ago, and made a radial cut - to discover beautifully coloured, dense, very fine-grained wood. On working the wood I had the impression that the physical properties are not dissimilar to those of hard maple. On tapping, the sound is bright & loud. There are unfortunately no flames.

    At the time I had no specific plans with the piece, but I could not just let this go to waste, already noticing with the chainsaw what a beautiful wood it was. In fact, a friend of mine took a few pieces home for his lathe.

    However, by now I'm starting to make plans for it, and I'm thinking: either back, or neck. The small piece I'll be using to make a bridge from (but not for a DB - too small), but the big piece should be used for something more substantial. Unfortunately I don't think I'll have enough for a DB back, but I do have a need for a neck for a quite old (~180y) Hungarian flatback.

    Hence my question: would you have any advice on using plum for the neck (inc. scroll & heel) of a double bass?

    Thanks, Koen.
     
  2. it could be suitable for a neck,but for the most part fruitwood tends to be smallish in size and therefore presents problems such as clear defect free cuttings,and limits the size of a quartered blank for neck,heel and scroll. it is heavy and dense and once dry loses a lot of weight. have you identified the plum yet?
     
  3. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    Thanks for your thoughts forester. Yes, I may not get a 1-piece heel out of it, I'll have to see once I get the bark off.

    I do not know the specific species of plum. The tree produces very small (~3/4" length, 1/2" dia) plums, and is ancient - so my neighbor told me. Is it important?

    Any ideas on using this wood for a fingerboard?

    Thanks, Koen.
     
  4. uprightben

    uprightben

    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    The quartersawn surface on a neck is on the sides. This means that your tree will have to have been more than twice as wide as the length of the neck heel you are making to make it out of one piece of wood, otherwise you will have to build up the heel. Three years in a cellar in log form with the bark on would not be enough seasoning for me, and there is always the danger of wood boring insect larva just waiting for you to make something out of your wood to show themselves and ruin your day, especially since the bark is still on. If you are wanting to use this wood within the next few years, I would have the log sawn and then have it kiln dried by someone you trust to do a good job. This will take care of the seasoning and the bug issue. Other than that, the only issue with using plum to replace a neck in my mind is aesthetic. Personally I would use the plum for fittings, tailpeices, tuning pegs, maybe even try a finger board.

    best of luck- ben
     
  5. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    Thanks Ben, there's a lot of good advice in there.

    I had already figured that the diameter of the trunk should at least be twice the length of the neck heel. Now this instrument has a short heel, but that will be very challenging. I don't actually understand what you mean by the "quartersawn surface". Is that the bark side? I was going to put the bark at the side of the fingerboard, or maybe at the rear of the neck, if I could make it fit better that way.

    No, it is indeed not nearly dry enough. I measured a density 0.80 - 0.85 gr/cc, while fully dried it should be ~0.63.

    I'll have to see if I can make it a db neck fit, otherwise I'll indeed be looking at using it for fingerboard & tailpiece. That would be fitting as it is indigenous wood, sort of.

    Thanks, Koen.
     
  6. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    btw, the course bit of the bark is off, I stopped when it became difficult.
     
  7. uprightben

    uprightben

    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    That's good that the bark is off. If you have to build up the heel it won't be a big deal if it is done well. The quartersawn surface would be at a right angle to the plane of the bark, in other words it is a surface that has been cut so that the growth rings meet it at a right angle. Many people intuitively think the neck wood should be oriented so that the quartersawn surface faces the finger board, but that is incorrect. That kind of orientation encourages the neck heel working itself loose over time.
     
  8. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    OK, I get your drift & that's how I intended to cut it - the (ex) bark @ the fingerboard side. In view of the physical properties of wood along the 3 directions, that makes for a stronger heel & pegbox.
     
  9. MostroDB

    MostroDB Guest

    Apr 18, 2012
    By now I've taken off all the bark, cut it into suitable lengths and quarter-cut it lengthwise into suitable pieces. It's too small for a DB neck.

    It is still beautiful & hard wood, I'll find other purposes for it, in due time.

    Thanks for all advice,
    Koen.
     
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