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Redwood - - What's it sound like?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Basso Gruvitas, Aug 26, 2002.


  1. Hello fine Luthiers! Thanks for taking the time to answer my question.

    I see a lot of basses using Redwood as a top (quilted, figured, etc).

    What sonic qualities does it have? Is it bright, warm, dark? What wood does it compare to? Bright like maple? Midrangy like bubinga or koa? Or is it warm like mahogany?

    Your input would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. I just picked up some redwood and am building a body or three with it. :D

    If no one replies soon, I'll let you know how it sounds when it's all finished.
     
  3. Thanks. I would appreciate the feedback.

    Anyone else?
     
  4. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Dunno about basses; I actually have seen more acoustic guitar makers using it. They tend to use it for tops, which suggests that it may be comparable to spruce or cedar.

    here's one luthier who uses it: www.leachguitars.com
     
  5. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    SPOKANE WA
    It is a great wood to use, but it is a SOFT wood. Unless you are using a hard finish (lacquer,poly,etc) plan on it being easily nicked and dinged.

    As for sound, depends on EVERYTHING else you are using. You have to look at the whole picture when building a bass.

    Darrin
     
  6. Darrin,
    Thanks for your input. This would be a fretless with a black korina body, maple neck and a hard fingerboard -- like ebony, wenge, or even diamondwood.

    What would this beast sound like?
     
  7. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    SPOKANE WA
    pickups, preamp and bridge play a big factor also.

    Generally on a question like this I say "it will sound like you playing a fretless bass."

    The bass will have it's own sound, but the way you play, the place you "pluck" the strings, etc. play such a huge factor that I can't give you a solid-"it will have the classic MWAH, with an extra bite from the diamondwood board".

    Barts. typically give you the vintage or warm sound, where EMG's are more hi-fi.

    What sound are you after?
     
  8. I've always desired a bass with a black korina body, for tonal and asthetic reasons. I would want to match it with a top that has some high end to compliment the warmth of the korina.

    Absolutely, Bart soapbars and a Hipshot or ABM bridge.

    I play a lot of jazz (classic, Latin, smooth) so I would need the big round "upright" tone and the throaty Jaco tone.

    Does that help?
     
  9. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    SPOKANE WA
    to me those are the two extremes for a fretless
    Jaco-mwah
    upright-thud :D

    I usually use a wooden bridge when I want the upright sound with some flats.

    But if you are running a pair of bart soapies, wire in a series/parrallel switch on each and a balance between the two, not a toggle. You should have no problem dialing each of those tones.

    Also a active/passive switch helps alot. I have a G&L L-2000 fretless with all those options (minus the balance knob, it has the toggle) and it gets most of the fretless tones covered.

    I have used the ABM bridges, they are nice but in the future I will be using my own milled bridges or the Hipshot Style A bridges.
     
  10. gyancey

    gyancey

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Yes, redwood is way soft. I haven't gotten around to making my acoustic yet, but the spruce top I joined and sanded has a much livelier tap tone than the quilted redwood top I joined and sanded... Also, Darrin is right on with his comments regarding tone prediction. If you use good woods, good construction techniques, and good components you will have a good sounding bass. Your affinity for the tone produced is a different story...
     
  11. dhuffguitars

    dhuffguitars Luthier/Bass Wanker depending on your opinion

    Sep 18, 2001
    SPOKANE WA
    Greg be careful with that quilted redwood as a top on an acoustic. The stuff is very brittle! If you have any scrap try breaking off a corner if you haven't already. Harry Fleishman has used it (I supplied him the curly redwood), I don't think it is up on his gallery yet www.fleishmaninstruments.com

    Darrin
     
  12. Jon Maghini

    Jon Maghini Commercial User

    Aug 15, 2002
    USA Terryville CT.
    Owner / Builder M Basses
    I have been using burl redwood root for quite a while and I find that it sounds very warm and woody but I only use it for tops and backs. The figured redwoods tend to be harder than straight grain redwood which is soft. I have gotten good results with an oil finish, it penetrates the wood nicely and dries hard.
     
  13. Thanks for the input everyone.

    As I stated before, I'd like to use black korina as my body wood and get a top that is a good compliment. My thinking is that since the black korina is mostly warmer, perhaps a brighter top -- say maple, bocate, walnut...

    Your thoughts?
     
  14. gyancey

    gyancey

    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Oh yes Darrin I've experienced the brittle effect already. The grain is too wide and the top is more flexable than I like - really I just glued it up because I was bored so I doubt I'll ever use it (except maybe for a semi-hollow).
     
  15. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Hello all -

    I recently came up on an abundance of beautiful redwood 2x6's and am dying to try my hand at building my first neck-through. When selecting the right pieces for the body sides what should I be looking for as far as grain and knots?

    I know that redwood is a very soft wood - would a tighter grain be preferred? I'd also assume that knots are to be avoided - but are small, tight knots acceptable (and if so in what location in the body are they OK)? Theoretically how might they affect the tone?

    Thanks in advance for any and all input...
     
  16. This is just my opinion, but I think Redwood will be too soft for a neckthrough. If you added some softer woods to the neck through construction to stiffen it, like maybe some maple, you may get some better results.

    Anyhow, as for the body, The redwood I'm using has a fairly tight grain, but I've seen some tighter patterns. Mine has a few knots, but I tried to avoid them. One is down by the butt, practically hidden by the bridge, and the other will be right above the neck pocket. I don't think they will really have any effect on tone, or stability.
     
  17. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Yeah - I was planning on building a 3-piece neck (maple-redwood-maple).
    Do knots have any effect on tone or are they usually just avoided because of possible construction complications?
     
  18. TJC

    TJC

    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Yeah - I was planning on building a 3-piece neck (maple-redwood-maple).
    So tight is the way to go here? Can knots have any discernible effect on tone or are they usually just avoided because of possible construction complications?
     
  19. In my limited experience, I think knots are avoided just because they are ugly. I can see where it could cause stability problems in a neck, but I really can't fore see any stability problems in the body due to a couple of knots.
     
  20. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    If I were you, I'd leave redwood out of the neck altogether. Look up the stiffness of redwood, I suspect it's pretty low. Also, if you use it in the center laminate, the truss rod will be pressing up against the redwood, which is not as strong as the maple. It will be fine as body wings, knots or no knots, but a 3 piece maple neck will serve you best in the end.