Red Oak? Like for realz?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jimmy rocket, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    I don't hate using red oak. I build furniture, cabinets and the like from it. It has its uses although most of the cabinetmakers I know still think of it as a noxious weed.

    This is why I was surprised to see this.


    What say ye TalkBass?

    I'm all for working unexpected species into the mix, but quercus rubra? (Or maybe this is quercus falcata?)
    gebass6 and hs123 like this.
  2. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    I have used a board from HD as a fingerboard...It's been okay so far.
  3. jimmy rocket

    jimmy rocket

    Jan 24, 2008
    Ayden, NC
    Haha, a ringing endorsement! :roflmao:
    wraub likes this.
  4. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    You're going to see more and more uses of 'alternative' woods, what with the CITES restrictions, laws in various offshore countries, and costs rising because of availability and the previously mentioned conditions. I think it's wonderful to have interesting alternatives, as long as the cosmetics and durability are there. I was dumbstruck when I began to see redwood and flame redwood tops.
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  5. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    It's actually good... It's holding up well to string wear and feels good.
    It's still unfinished...was going to try to ebonize it some and finish it somehow, but, again, it feels good, so, haven't.

    The toughest part was the cutting and sanding... many long, pointy splinters.

    washjayb likes this.
  6. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    i hate oak. it's heavy, it smells bad, and it makes me itch. it doesn't seem to want to cut in any direction that i'm interested in. but that didn't stop me from making my first guitar from it 35 years ago. i can still smell that dust today and i still have the guitar.

    there's some nice craft in that bass though.
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  7. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    Shouldn't be any issues other than weight. But I built a bass from purpleheart, so obviously I don't care about weight.
    MynameisMe likes this.
  8. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    I purposefully built my last bass from 100% local wood (maple, cherry, walnut). I think we have A LOT of good guitar wood choices in the US, many of which are under-utilized and would easily take up the slack from less availability of exotics. I think I could happily build from only domestic lumber for the rest of my life and not feel like I was missing out. Right in my own yard I have maple, cherry, walnut, apple, black locust, sumac, oak, pine, and fir trees. Probably some others I don't know about as I've only lived here a year. And I can tell by the bark and branch shape that at least a few of the maples and cherries will have good figured lumber inside them. I could never leave my own property and have lots of great choices! I think sometimes we get so fixated on exotic lumber that we miss what's right under our noses.
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  9. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    My favorite bass I made out of 2 boards, both US domestics. White ash and hard maple. Cost about $30 for all the wood, and it's a fantastic instrument.
    AudioTaper, MynameisMe and wraub like this.
  10. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    Ben & Mick of Crackercaster Guitars build with local wood, including cypress bodies, ash necks, and locally grown rosewood.
    bassinflorida and MynameisMe like this.
  11. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Nothing wrong with it... except it's heavy, takes a long time to stabilize after drying, looks like furniture, takes a lot to grain fill, and it's stinky to work with. :D

    That said, with a chambered design, and some coloured grain fill, it can be really pretty - this is a pair of oak-backed guitars - close to 7.75lbs despite being heavily chambered.

    Or like @Dadagoboi has done, it can be used as an attractive veneer:

    I find most players other than woodworkers mistake it for ash with an amber clearcoat. :D
  12. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Is it cheap to get?
    If so...that might be behind the current trend?
    Beej likes this.
  13. I've got an attic full of oak veneer, I mean a LOT. Hopefully this trend takes off and the price of oak sky rockets. I'll be rich. :hyper: I haven't ever built with it, maybe it's time to do an all oak bass.
    Beej likes this.
  14. Plenty of good wood available domestically. Baked Maple makes a great fingerboard wood. Unbaked Maple makes a great fingerboard wood. Wood makes a great fingerboard wood. Personally, I think the hype over instrument woods has been overemphasized for many decades.
    TrustRod, Haroldo, Beej and 2 others like this.
  15. Kevin Teed

    Kevin Teed Guest

    Mar 8, 2013
    I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, but here in PA the ash trees are getting decimated from the Emerald Ash Borer.
    Polka1 and Beej like this.
  16. Emmett Chapman used to make the Chapman Stick from Oak. It was Oakay.
    stick 167 pickup.jpg
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  17. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Meh. It’s cheap I love q-sawn white oak for flooring and furniture, but red oak? It moves a lot in response to humidity change, can’t see much to recommend it for bass construction with so many better alternatives readily available. It’s the only real hardwood my local HD carries, keep reading about people buying maple at HD, not around here, anyway. I have seen some absolutely gorgeous old growth river salvaged red oak, but there goes your Cheapness factor.
    Beej likes this.
  18. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Yeah, I've had a few infested pieces of ash. It sucks.
  19. Our ash trees are all coming down as well, it's just starting here though.

    In my attic I have red oak, white oak, maple, walnut, cherry, larch, birch and ash, all locally harvested. I have a serious problem with wood acquisition, my wife is my enabler. I suspect I could build instruments and she could build cutting boards for the rest of our lives with the wood up there. Perhaps the one exception is neck wood, you can't use just any wood for necks and I often end up at Home Depot to find straight grained maple for necks.
  20. Drucifer

    Drucifer Not currently practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Endorsements: your name could be here, Mr. Sadowsky!
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