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Purpleheart body

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by The_Jester, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. The_Jester


    Jun 28, 2002
    Asheville, NC
    I'm thinking of making a bass with a purpleheart body and neck. I haven't seen anybody else do this is it a bad idea?
  2. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    I've heard purple heart to be heavy. It is stiff, though, so there should be no structural problems with it - just comfort.
  3. knarleybass

    knarleybass Commercial User

    Apr 6, 2005
    Tustin, CA
    Owner of Ulyate Instruments
    I have been told that Purple heart looses it's color over time.
  4. purpleheart IS heavy...and quite hard...and probably not a good choice for a neck or a body...for a fingerboard and a top, yes...and also great for neck laminates...

    purpleheart doesn't "lose" it's colour, it changes...it goes from bright purple to a richer, darker brownish purple as it oxidises over time.
  5. The_Jester


    Jun 28, 2002
    Asheville, NC
    I thought it was no good for fretboards. I was thinking of chambering the body to keep the weight down. What kind of tone could I expect?
  6. Gone


    Mar 21, 2006
    Cape Town
    Jayda custom basses, builder
    I think this is a bass built by a TBer, but can't remember who it was...

    Attached Files:

  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    It's great for fingerboard. Very tough. Very heavy. It photodegrades, eventually it will turn brown if it gets too much sun.
  8. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I built 1 bass with a purpleheart body never again. 13lb.
  9. Bassisgreat


    Feb 23, 2008
    Dallas, Tx
    I don't know about comfort, but WHOEVER built that bass should know it looks pretty sweet! :hyper:
  10. My Conklin Groove Tools has a Wenge/Purpleheart lam neck with a Purpleheart FB.

    My custom Conklin has a Maple/Purpleheart lam neck.
  11. THSL


    Jun 3, 2007
    New York, NY
    I would caution against using purpleheart for the body of your bass as it is heavy... My bass has a sapele body, and it is fricking heavy... So purpleheart will be even heavier... I would pick a lighter body core and maybe use the purpleheart as a laminate top and or back... Or make the purpleheart body core hollow...

    Or, if you want to use purpleheart for the whole body, I hope you have a strong back...
  12. maybass77

    maybass77 swm

    Feb 26, 2006
    southeast michigan
    t'was me!
    kkaarrll likes this.
  13. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    I'm using a purpleheart body in my current building, and in the state it is in right now (wings connected to partially carved neck and fingerboard) I'm looking at 7.5 pounds, so the piece I'm using isn't all the heavy, but has a very nice ring to it if I try to make it resonate, so hopefully some good will come from this...

    I'll definitely let you know tone wise when I'm done though

  14. maybass77

    maybass77 swm

    Feb 26, 2006
    southeast michigan
    ...and yes, it's heavy!
  15. The_Jester


    Jun 28, 2002
    Asheville, NC
    Well you guys have talked me out of using purple heart for the body. I really shouldn't be playing heavy basses as it kills my back. Think I'm still going to use it for the neck and I might use it at a top over some ash. How does purpleheart compare in weight to padauk?
  16. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    You could make it "neck through", with putpleheart "wings", and hollow them out with a forstner bit. This would lighten things up a bit, and still give you that look.
  17. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    My favorite pre-Gibson Tobias I ever played- which if I ever find for sale I will sell my car to buy- was a signature with a purpleheart neck with maple stringers, purpleheart body and maple fingerboard. Heavy, sounded like a Spector, but was the best sounding Tobias I've ever heard. If I ever find it...

    Purpleheart sounds like maple to me, just heavier. Wood characteristics are totally different, but still sounds like maple to me.
  18. DSB1


    Mar 8, 2006
    Purpleheart is heavy, but not so heavy that it cannot be used as a body or neck wood. It is comparable to bubinga, wenge or cocobolo etc

    I've made several bodies from woods with similar density, and they were never unreasonably heavy basses. By using thin bodies and careful planning, a well balanced bass with reasonable weight is almost always possible.

    Purpleheart is one of the greatest woods for any part of the bass IMO...I really dig how it sounds and the stiffness. The drawbacks are that it is similar to wenge in how it works...it dulls tools quickly and can be a challenge to route outside edges cleanly.

    The only thing that keeps me from using it on anything and everything is the fact that it looks good with so few other woods.
  19. Here's some better pics of the legendary May Custom Pale Moon six w/purpleheart neck and body. An though it's heavier than average I guess, it is superbly balanced.


  20. The_Jester


    Jun 28, 2002
    Asheville, NC
    That is amazingly beautiful!!!

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