Soundgear-Type Bass Build Wood Choices and Sourcing Questions

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by davegardner0, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    I'm thinking about building a new 4-string bass for my bass-player wife. I'd really like to clone her Ibanez SR700 in a short-scale and lighter-weight version, so I thought I'd reach out for some opinions on wood choices and where to get said woods.

    In general she really loves the super tight tones of the SR700 as well as the neck profile. However the bass weights a ton and the 34" scale is a bit too long. I'm unsure if she would like a 30" or 32" scale better, so I'm looking to do a bolt-on neck for swappability. I'm going to use the same Bartolini pickups and preamp as the Ibanez, and I'd like to choose wood and construction techniques to achieve as tight and clean of a tone as possible. I know the short scale works against this, but I'll do the best job possible.

    For reference she also has a Warmoth G4 SSB bass I built her (build thread here Warmoth G4 SSB Build).
    The warmoth is super nice but the maple neck and alder body produce a VERY Fender-y tone. The bass is really a Fender-style cut into the shape of a more modern bass. I think choosing the "extra light weight alder" option from Warmoth pushed the tone even further into this direction. Also the neck heel/pocket is a standard fender bass size I think, which makes the neck pretty chunky close to the body.

    I've been practicing my lutherie skills on a few different builds since the Warmoth bass so for this bass I'd like to try building both the body and neck from scratch. I'm not opposed to buying pre-fab parts either, but I think my build objectives might be a little too "out there" to find much from the likes of Warmoth, etc.


    Anyway, my general plan is to do a center maple block in the body just like the SR700. Even with the bolt-on neck I'm thinking the maple center block will lend some thru-neck qualities. Then I'll use a maple top and mahogany back for the body wings. I could also possibly hollow out the maple/mahogany wings before gluing them together, for weight relief, if needed.

    For the neck, I want to make it pretty thin like the Ibanez so I'm thinking a laminated neck would be best. I'm not sure what woods to go with though? Maybe torrefied maple and something exotic? Whatever wood I use, I'll also add in 2 x carbon fiber rods for reinforcement along with the truss rod for stability. Also I think it would be great if the neck could be unfinished.

    It's worth noting I have limited machining capabilities to resaw wood blanks, etc. (I don't have a good bandsaw) so it would be great if I could find wood that's roughly the dimensions I need. I do have a nice hand plane, and I could probably track down a bandsaw or table saw to use if needed but it would be nice to not have to.

    Also I wouldn't be opposed to building a bass with cheap (not fancy/figured) woods first to check out my design, etc., then buying some nicer woods for the "mark 2" version.

    So my questions:
    • What wood types would you guys recommend for the neck laminations and fretboard keeping in mind my tone and weight goals?
    • What are some good wood suppliers online to check out? I see Stew-Mac and LMI sell body and neck blanks, etc., but they're pretty expensive and not exactly what I'd want. For instance a Mahogany body blank would be way too thick, and the maple neck blanks would have to be cut, turned, and stacked. I've seen a few other places selling 1/2" or 3/4" thick mahogany boards for instance that aren't marketed specifically for musical instruments, is there a difference? One example I saw is here: African Mahogany by the Piece-3/4" Thickness | Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
    • What are the "maghgany" substitute options out there? I've seen sipo, khaya, korina, sapelle, and others mentioned but it's hard to get an accurate idea of cost, weight, and tone.

    Thanks so much for your help!
    mnats likes this.
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    WRT "tight and clean" consider what we refer to around here as "Bruceification" in honor of Bruce Johnson.

    Succinctly, Headless four string ”Brucefied”

    (headlessness is a choice, not part of the package)

    Less succinctly, see more of things Bruce has written, such as why TOW (properly placed) is better than "carbon bars."

    Wood-wise, if it doesn't say "Luthier" or "Guitar" it usually costs a lot less for pretty much the same wood.
  3. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    Wow very interesting read. Lots of good things to incorporate into my design for tone and tightness.
  4. mnats

    mnats Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Had to like your thread to two reasons: one is that you made that earlier bass for a bass playing friend and this one you're making for you wife. It seems they are one in the same person. Also, a medium scale SR was going to be my first build before I decided not to start with the nice piece of swamp ash I bought. I think you have way better skills than I do though so I'll be watching with interest.
  5. davegardner0


    Mar 27, 2016
    Haha yep they're one in the same! Was wondering if anyone would notice.