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Some questions(possibly silly ones)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by sethdavidson, May 23, 2002.

  1. sethdavidson


    Mar 11, 2002
    Hi, I just had some questions about a bass I've been thinking about building sometime later in the summer once the finances come through, and I was hoping to get some help from somebody with some experience.

    1. I've seen some figured crotch walnut that I really liked the look of, and want to make a bass topped and backed by it. I was wondering what a few well matched core woods might be, considering I am going for sustain.

    2. I've played both neck through and set neck basses, but always very different models(don't ask which ones- bad memory for names) and haven't been able to make much of a independant comparison of the two. Are the differences really as pronounced as I've heard, or can someone get away with a bolt on neck without giving up to much in sound?

    3. can a guitar have be both neck through, and topped and backed by a different wood, in effect "hiding" the neck through? if so, would this make the bass overly heavy, or hurt the sustain?
    To reword that in case I wasn't clear, I'd like have the neck go through the core, then be covered on either side by the figured walnut I had described before, as I don't like the look of neckthroughs.

    4. do satin finishes work well on walnut necks?

    I appreciate any help I could get on this.
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    1.Typically people associate heavier and denser woods with sustain. I would suggest maple as a good core wood. Maple has good properties for basses and it would also look nice aesthetically IMO with the walnut top and back. I would try to get soft maple, the name is misleading, it is soft compared to hard rock maple.

    2.IME, the quality of construction is more important than the neck attachment method. You can have great sounding bolt-ons, neck-thrus and set necks, and terrible sounding with the same attachment method.

    3.I have seen basses that were neck thru and had a full width top and back. It will take a lot of work fitting the top correctly, but it can be done. You have to worry about cutting out the top wood correctly to fit around the fretboard and other tedious work around the fretboard. The full width back is easier, and I have seen it on quite a few basses, namely Alembics, which I have often seen with full width backs and laminates only on the wings, making the neck-thru joint visible.

    4.Are you intending on using an entirely walnut neck? I may be wrong, but depending on your scale length, you may be better off to go with a more stable wood, or at least laminates of something that is more stable. I would personally go with something like a maple/walnut/maple neck if you really want to get the walnut in there. I just feel that there are far better woods for a neck than walnut.

    Hope this helps,
  3. sethdavidson


    Mar 11, 2002
    I'm not dead set on the walnut neck, no. actually the original plan was to have a walnut neck with a ebony fretboard, but its not really a hard and fast point.

    The body is actually what I've considered most. I'll check into maple, sounds like a good idea(the aesthetics sound good as well, I may not paint the core black after all.)

    thanks a ton for your help, too. I appreciate it.
  4. You may also want to consider Ash for the core.

    I'm making a body with an ash core, and a walnut top. This being my first attempt, it's going to be a bolt on. I've played basses with the same woods in the body and they sound excellent. It's all a matter of taste of course, but I prefer an ash core over maple.

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