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Question for luthiers that live in remote areas

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jonny5bass, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    I'm curious about how luthiers that don't have easy access to lumber yards get their wood. Do you mostly mail order pieces or do you travel somewhere and stock up on raw materials?

    Thank you in advance for any input.
  2. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    while I prefer to shop as local as I can, I've driven from north of Seattle to southern Oregon to secure the woods I was in need of. that was a 7 hour drive each way, and included an overnight stay in the area so I could maximize my time at the wood supplier's facility.

    it's more typical to drive 90 minutes each way to the nearest wood yard with a selection worthy of the drive time.

    mail order is also an option, but I reserve this for reputable sources and limit using newer eBay sellers due to many bad experiences (hint: 10% moisture content wood should not include a considerable amount of puddled water in the plastic wrap of the matched top set, and the set shipped should be the exact same set that was pictured in the eBay item)
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I agree with Rodent, eBay is a miserable option. And also that if you have a decent option within 90 minutes (Portland, OR has some great options), it is far better to drive and hand-select than to leave it to someone else to select your lumber.

    I think this is probably something that often gets overlooked by people commissioning a custom bass or by people getting started making instruments. You wonder why the upcharge for certain woods is so high, but sourcing wood can be a significant investment of time as well as money. If it takes 90 minutes of driving each way, and an hour or more at the yard selecting wood, then it will by necessity have to cost much more than the board foot cost for that upgraded top. I think a lot of builders overlook it themselves, too, since it's one of the more enjoyable parts of the job.

    Cast a wide net and find someplace you can select by hand, if at all possible.
  4. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for the responses. Currently I am spoiled. I'm about 5 minutes away from a Woodcraft and 2 decent lumber yards and 15 mins away from a Rockler. The reason I ask is that we are considering a move to Eastern Washington and, since I've been bit by the building bug pretty hard, I was curious what other people do.

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