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RIB MATERIAL???

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by basswraith, Mar 6, 2004.


  1. basswraith

    basswraith

    Mar 10, 2003
    Boston
    What do you guys think about using mahogany for rib wood? I know its used for guitars all the time but what about for double bass?
    What kind of sound characteristics are associated with using Mahogany for ribs? What thickness would they have to be?
    Any nationality of basses use mahogany> Old Italian basses??
    Please let me know..any info would be great. :hyper:
     
  2. I played a small bass in a shop in Bristol. It sounded quite nice and resonant, but was really heavy. The guy there said it was unusual in that it was made by an amatuer maker, and was made out of mahogany. So weight might be the reason that most people don't use it?
     
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Actually, mahogany is lighter than maple. The ideal rib material is strong, resilient and resonant. Though mahogany is a good tonewood, it will take a beating in the form of bass ribs. That's because it is on the brittle side, as opposed to maple, which will bend more before breaking. I've worked on several old Italian basses with mahogany ribs and backs. All were riddled with cracks. Not to say maple is the only appropriate material for bass ribs: poplar, sycamore, willow, ash and several types of fruitwood have been used by makers with great results. I'm building my next bass out of aspen--a gorgeous, figured piece which was found on the stump, left behind by loggers who took the rest of the tree for pallet wood!!!!! :crying:
     
  4. basswraith

    basswraith

    Mar 10, 2003
    Boston
    Thank you for the info.. I found an old antique table over the weekend. Its made from mahogany and its 4 feet long and about 2.5 feet wide and 1 inch thick. Its not laminated and its $25. God knows how old this table is. This table is not a work of art but the wood seems decent. Would it be possible to use this table as for rib material? Its old, its dry and its long enough. What do you guys think?...bad idea?
    What are your thoughts on the using an antique table for rib or back material. I mean for making a flat back bass. I have seen some old tables made from Poplar and walnut that were wide enough and thick enough. Of course i would never cut up a table that was a fine piece of furniture that someone put there heart into making. But some times you can find some old beat up piece if furniture that costs less than what one would pay for back wood from a real wood supply source. Usually its older than 50 years and dry as hell and some times the wood is quite pretty. Some one talk me out of this before I fill my apartment with junk.
     
  5. stiv1

    stiv1

    Apr 20, 2002
    Knoxville
    "I'm building my next bass out of aspen--a gorgeous, figured piece which was found on the stump, left behind by loggers who took the rest of the tree for pallet wood!!!!! :crying"


    Would that be the asymetrical bass you are building or
    something new? Any chance of getting a glimpse of the
    new bass. :hyper:
     
  6. That bass is now in my house, about 4 feet away. :)
    I'm working on pictures.
     
  7. stiv1

    stiv1

    Apr 20, 2002
    Knoxville
    "That bass is now in my house, about 4 feet away. :)
    I'm working on pictures.[/QUOTE]"


    Excellent! will you be posting the pics here?
     
  8. basswraith

    basswraith

    Mar 10, 2003
    Boston
    Lets talk about my question about the antique table wood.
     
  9. Yeah...basswraith did open this thread.....But, being a newer poster, you have to understand the excitement for all of us when Arnold Schnitzer, one of our great bass luthiers, starts a new bass! Especially in terms of beautiful wood.
    If you haven't, do yourself a favor of looking at his last bass under Basses, then The Talkbasses! While there, also take a look at Jeff Bollbach's beautiful basses.
    These makers kinda, at least for me , supercede anything us mortals can come up with subject wise!
    Our apologies....hang in, you'll be glad you did!
     
  10. I'll answer by anecdote:
    Years ago, a wonderful old NYC luthier had a Testore that he discovered had worms in the back. Testore used willow. Julie's neighbor imported clarinets from France. The shipping crates were made of willow. They became the new back of the Testore. With full disclosure, the bass went to a symphony orchestra.
    Moral: wood doesn't know where it came from.
     
  11. A bluegrass player from our association happens to be a university professor on the side. Several years ago, while his college was in the midst of renovations, he found a cabinet that had been torn up and thrown out to make room for some new melamine. Being an inquisitive sort, he discovered that in the trash was a fair amount of 70 yr old Brazilian rosewood.

    Along with a spruce top, he spent a year carving a mandolin out of the BRW. Totally awesome!!
     
  12. Would that be the asymetrical bass you are building or
    something new? Any chance of getting a glimpse of the
    new bass.:[/QUOTE]



    I don't understand this remark.......
     
  13. So, Arnold, the guy probably left the thickness in there to make it more stable and hardy, which made it heavy. Thanks for the luthiers viewpoint. :cool:
     
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Yes, by all means use the old table! Find a millwork shop that can slice it thinner for you and you'll have rib material also. If they don't have a resaw machine big enough, rip the table down the center, resaw, and then glue it up. Consider reinforcing the ribs with cross-grain strips of linen to prevent and/or stop cracks.
     
  15. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    What's the preferred grain pattern for rib wood? Cross cut? Slab Cut? None of the tomes I've consulted seem to specify this - maybe its so bleedin' obvious. But not to me

    !:meh:
     
  16. M_A_T_T

    M_A_T_T

    Mar 4, 2004
    Canada
    Straight grained and quartersawn.
     
  17. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Slab cut is also utilized in bass ribs and backs.
     
  18. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    so what's better for bending? Does it matter?

    I can see why crosscut is, in theory, better than slabcut for tops. But rib wood is bent with heat, and so I'd assume one grain pattern would be better than another for that, and less likely to splinter or chip? What do the tonewood suppliers provide?

    Does "flame" only show up in crosscut wood?
     
  19. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    different species will bend differently, but slab cut maple and walnut bends just as quarter cut maple and walnut. poplar slab is a little tricky, but there are many different kinds of poplar as well.

    I've seen amazing figure on slab maple, but many claim quartered maple produces the most flame.
     
  20. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    thank you Nick!

    -Matthew