Plywood for an electric upright solid body?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by PauFerro, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    So, we use a lot of plywood/laminate wood for upright basses (acoustic). As I've built a few electrics and determined that a bass is simply an appliance for holding the strings (to quote Pat Metheny), and that even inexpensive instruments made of basswood, or even plywood can sound credible if set up and amplified properly, I am wondering about plywood for the body of an electric upright that looks like this:


    Some reasons are a) cheap way of dealing with screwups that might happen. b) the expense and weight of woods like maple, walnut etcetera that I have in my shop right now (they are heavy, and the wrong size) c) easy availability of plywood locally.

    I would probably cover the top and sides with veneer so it can still look nice when finished.

    Thoughts on this?
    Beej and reverendrally like this.
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    You could do that. Plenty of EUBs are completely lacking a "body" being just a neck, nut, bridge, and tuners, most commonly with some way to attach a cymbal stand to hold it in playing position.
    PauFerro likes this.
  3. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I am talking about an upright body like the one at the link above in the opening post.
  4. Seems fine to me. Most of the so-called hollowbody basses people buy a plywood too. Think Gibson 335. Just use decent plywood, not nasty stuff.
    Beej likes this.
  5. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    An SPF 2x8 or 2x10 would be cheaper and easier to work with.
  6. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Pretty sure @T_Bone_TL made that remark to reassure you that body construction is not critical.
    Beej and T_Bone_TL like this.
  7. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    I don't see why it wouldn't work. Plywood is very strong. You may need to double or triple up on your layers to get any kind of thickness though.

    And I would definitely recommend going with high-end solid Baltic birch plywood, rather than the stuff you get at Home Depot or Lowe's. Home center big box birch plywood is just pine plywood with a very thin birch veneer on both faces.
    Beej likes this.
  8. squarewave

    squarewave Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Iowa City, Iowa USA
    If it will ultimately be a solid body, not a thin plywood top on a chambered body, I'd suggest using some sort of lighter-weight solid wood, rather than building up a bunch of layers of plywood. It would be lighter, and much easier to finish. Maybe basswood or alder?
  9. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Hammerhead is dead on about using Baltic birch. It's expensive stuff but it's void free and the veneer layers are all the same thickness so the edge will look even and pleasant instead of the often ugly layers inside run of the mill plywood. The consistent thickness of the layers also helps to balance the sheet against warpage though if you are gluing up in layers that shouldn't be a huge problem.