Rosewood as a neck?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jerry J, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Has any ever owned, seen or played a bass that had a neck that was built of strictly rosewood? Not just the fingerboard but the actual neck.

    Is so, what were your thoughts? Is rosewood really heavy? What would it compare to...i.e. maple, wenge, purpleheart, ebony...?

    Does anyone know why it's not used as a neck wood on a regular basis?
  2. Never played or heard or seen a bass with a rosewood neck.

    I've seen it used as part of a multi-piece neck though, I think. On its own it'd probly be getting a bit up there in the weight factor, which would leave you with an instrument that'll tend towards being a bit heavy in the head.

    Depending on what sort of rosewood you use, it may not be stiff enough for a neck. If you use a piece of high quality stuff it'd probly do fine but it'll have to be a lot of a high quality rosewood. Could get pricey.

    Thats about as much as I can offer. Except that generally if something hasn't been done, its for a reason. Either it hasn't been considered or it has and wasn't found to be viable.

    Josh D
  3. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    I think it's not uncommon as an acoustic guitar neck.

    I had a Martin acoustic bass guitar with rosewood back and sides and a spruce top. I'm pretty sure the neck was rosewood too.
  4. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Rosewood is very heavy, I couldn't imagine a neck being made out of rosewood, especially for an acoustic, that thing would be so top heavy it would be ridiculous.

    But, then again, weird things happen in this world.

    I did hear about a bass that was constructed 100% entirely out of rosewood, but I don't know anything about it other than that.
  5. this isn't much help, but warmoth makes necks out of rosewood, if your interested Im sure they would give you an average weight along with expected tonal qualities and what not.
  6. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Inactive

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Wasnt there some fender telecasters made entirely out of rosewood? George Harrison model?

    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  7. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Warmoth weights won't tell you to much because their steel stiffening rods add so much extra weight to the neck.

    You might want to try USA Custom Guitars and ask them about it. Or even better, there are a bunch of good independent luthiers that could give you info. Off the top of my head, I can think of Jack Read, Karl Hoyt and Michael Dolan. All are great guys and very knowledgeable.
  8. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Inactive

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    1968: 1968 Fender Telecaster solidbody: This guitar, rosewood with a maple middle, was a gift from Fender and one of only two made, and arrived at EMI Studios one day in December, having made the trip from the U.S. in its own BBC coach seat. Used extensively on the Let It Be sessions and prominently seen and heard at the Beatles' last public performance -- the rooftop concert. After the breakup, Harrison performed a bit with Bonnie & Delaney and gave this guitar to Delaney Bramlett. In 1998 Bramlett offered it for auction through Bonham's but withdrew it after his asking price of $200,000 was not met. Bramlett still has this guitar.

  9. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Rosewood can't be any heavier than wenge, can it? And wenge is used by quite a few luthiers for complete necks. I know that Warmoth makes rosewood necks.

    I remember that Tele that the Custom Shop built for George Harrison. I'm pretty certain that it was built from the lightest rosewood they had to make it reasonable.

    I was just hoping that somebody might have a bass with a rosewood neck since rosewood is known for it's great tonal properties.
  10. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Actually, mahogany is used on the vast majority of acoustic guitar and bass necks, including the Martin basses, though it is sometimes stained to match a rosewood back and sides. Maple and walnut are used sometimes, but a rosewood neck on an acoustic is very rare. Del Langejans is the only maker I can think of off the top of my head who regularly makes acoustics with solid rosewood necks.

    On electrics, Fender did make the rosewood Telecaster special edition pictured above, and PRS uses rosewood and even Brazilian rosewood for necks on some of their top of th eline instruments. I'm pretty sure Schecter made solid rosewood necks for some of their basses and guitars back in the 70's, but I don't know of anybody doing solid rosewood bass necks now.

  11. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I wonder if it was the cost of the wood or the weight that is the issue? Or maybe the overall tone from the wood, which I doubt.
  12. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    In fact, I had the impression that tone was part of it. Many of the old Schecters were basically Fender copies made with exotic woods (back when Fender replacement parts were a new thing!), and I think that what you get when you make a P-bass of rosewood and bubinga and whatever other combinations they were trying simply didn't get the sort of sound folks were looking for from a P-bass. (I seem to remember Roger Sadowsky saying something to that effect, though I don't remember where and I hope I'm not mis-quoting him...)

    Of course, it also may have had to do with the pickups at the time not really complementing the darker, more mid-heavy tone of oily tropical woods, and so forth.

  13. If it's high quality rosewood, I doubt that too Jerry. Baker guitars, Klein basses, and PRS have used rosewood for necks (see pic below). PRS and Baker say they sound great.

    What little I've seen of it used for necks doesn't look very attractive to me - matte black. Plus, rosewood, and that includes the many kinds of rosewoods, is particularly oily. So, the neck maker would have to take pains to make sure it's sealed well (no natural finish for a neck, I imagine). Add that to the fact that it's tough to work with, (dulls tools quickly).

    A Baker w/rosewood neck -

  14. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    This sounds logical to me. And it pretty much answers my question. Thanks Mike!
  15. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Thanks Rick. I'm still thinking of getting a fretless neck for my Jaco Signiture Jazz and was looking at the Warmoth site. The had an ebony on rosewood neck that looked pretty cool. But the possible weight issues would not be a good thing with this body. Plus the dark tone would not make me thrilled.
  16. FWIW - I think that would be dayumm cool, Jerry! You know I make no secret of the fact that I think heavy basses just sound so much better, at least to me. Tim Cummerford, (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), said the same thing in the latest "Bass Player ".

    Where I think he and I may differ is that I don't think it's a matter of just having a heavy bass. To me, it's HOW the luthier makes it heavy....... (e.g. using fine tonewoods, bridge mass, construction techniques, et al,).

    About the dark tone - IMO, that depends on the rosewood used. A lower-grade Indian Palisander or Indonesian rosewood always sounds muffled and lackluster to me.
    However, my custom has a full 1/2" of Panamanian cocobolo (another rosewood/dalbergia) as the top plate and it is as clean and articulate as birdseye maple but with way more lower end "balls." Others who have heard it say it slugs you in the chest while sounding gorgeous.

    And those resins/oils dry and crystalize over the years, so a good piece rosewood only sounds better over time. A wood with little oil/resin content tends to sound as good as it ever will when it is still factory fresh.

    Hope I didn't sound pedagogic. That's not my intention. You're a seasoned vet.
  17. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    That's probably what it was then. I knew the back and sides were rosewood. And the neck just looked like the back and sides. Thanks for clearing that up.
  18. hoytbasses


    Mar 30, 2003
    Cape Cod
    I build stringed instruments.......
    Almost 20 years ago I built a neck through bass with mexican rosewood as the center neck/body piece but it had an ebony fingerboard and curly maple wings: Still one of the best playing basses I've built BUT it weighed in at around 12 lbs

    sure, it can be done, but weight is the deciding factor. soundwise, it would add some nice midrangy brightness to the sound of the bass: you'd have to have a relatively heavy body with a long horn and light tuners, like hipshots, to keep the neck from diving on you on the strap.

    it would look tres cool, however.

    oh... indian rosewood is about 10 times the cost of maple, so cost would be a big factor too

    karl hoyt
  19. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    There are many different kinds of rosewood, and they vary quite a bit.

    Weight: most "rosewood" (Indian or palisander) isn't any/much heavier than hard maple, which is what most necks are made of. Definitely not as heavy as wenge. Cocobolo and Brazilian Rosewood are heavier, though still variably.

    Oily: well - not all rosewoods are that oily. I think palisander/indian rosewood isn't that oily - if it was, there's no way Fender et al would use it for mass-produced fingerboards. Again here, cocobolo is indeed very oily. Not sure about brazilian, though I think that, given it's (ex-) popularity for guitar backs, it's not so oily (hard to glue).

    Tone: not sure - it's hard, dense, and fairly stiff, though it is oilier than maple. So I'd guess not as bright as maple.

    I have a Klein guitar with a rosewood neck. It's got a satin finish on it. Not oily at all.

    I think, in general/average, the weights breakdown about like this:

    lignum vitae
    cocobolo / ebony
    hard maple / rosewood
    padauk / heavy mahogany / hard ash
    soft maple
    light mahogany
    swamp ash
  20. Where's agathis on that breakdown?