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"Tone" "Wood"

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by alder, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. alder

    alder Inactive

    Feb 17, 2012
    I got this pretty slab of wood for free ( underneath the Telecaster. ) I need to determine if it is a "tone" "wood", and would therefore have superb properties for luthiery, or if it is just a cutting board. I am not an expert on "tone" "wood", but I understand the "tone" properties of a "wood" can be ascertained by a "tap" "test".

    I want to be as scientific as possible about this. I know that the "tone" of an electric guitar is 99% the wood and 1% everything else put together. I have already learned that the size and shape of the piece have nothing to do with the "tone" of the "tap" "test", as long as the "test" is properly administered. So, before embarking on this, I would like to pose a few questions to the high masters of "tone" "wood".

    Firstly, which finger should one use for the "tap" "test"? Also, how many "tap" "tests" should one perform in order to objectively perceive the desired result? What happens if a "tap" "test" is performed on a piece of wood that is not "tone"? ( I don't want any accidental fires or explosions! ) And finally, how many "tap" "tests" can be performed on a piece of "tone" "wood" before it is "tapped" out?

    There are many experts on "tone" "wood" here at TalkBass, so I hope someone can turnaround some answers for me. Also, I would appreciate if someone could perhaps recommend a fretboard wood with a nice midrange push, that also enhances the lows and the highs.

    I ask all "tone" "wood" authorities to share their knowledge and expand on the subject begun here. Perhaps one day this humble thread could become a definitive resource on the subject.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
    rymiraflores, Gazman, Felken and 9 others like this.
  2. If you've not heard, tone is in your fingers. You can use any finger for your test, but you first have to calibrate the finger by tapping on all kinds of different materials and recording the results. I'd recommend at least 6 materials for your calibration:
    • maple, alder and ash (the standard tone woods)
    • a refrigerator sized cardboard box (for the low frequency content)
    • aluminum or galvanized steel sheet metal (18 gage for the highs & upper mids)
    • tap a small diamond with your fingernail (this will be the highest frequency content your finger can produce)
    Then once your finger is calibrated, it will be easy to compare your wood sample to these reference materials. Make sure you use the same finger for all tests!
  3. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Tone is in the Fry-O-Lator. photo_5_0.jpg

    Bad tone sticks to french fries and fried fish.

    Good tone sticks to fried chicken.

    The jury is still out on fried alligator - tastes like chicken, but....

    Studies are not yet complete on the sort of tone picked up from the Fry-O-Lator by snickers bars, butter, and various other odd things fried mostly only at fairs.
  4. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    My Hondo is made out of crappy "plywood", yet it still has the "tone" of something made out of "tonewood" ... or maybe it has "ply" instead of "tone". "Ply" sounds good, man.
  5. twinjet

    twinjet WASH YOUR HANDS Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Troll post, OP's name is "alder". Results from "test" will be biased!
  6. I believe that tone is in the pickups/strings and the resonant frequency /vibration/construction of the neck.

    It's not in the fingers. If it were I wouldn't be spending the inordinate amount of time that I do searching for and experimenting with all things related to tone.
  7. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Please do NOT share pictures of you tapping out your wood.
  8. My main concern is would be if the tone cutting board is glued with tone glue or not. It's really the glue that makes the difference.

    I think that's what happened for @hondo4life. Lots of tone glue in the tone plywood.
  9. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Erm... just to clerify... it's pronernced "tern werd"...

  10. mwbonsall

    mwbonsall Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2000
    Casa Grande, Arizona
    It's a cutting board.

  11. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    I would just build a body out of it since you got it on the cheap. This would be keeping with the Leo Fender tradition ; and we know how that worked out...:D
    Jaymo, Son of Wobble and andruca like this.
  12. LT131


    Jan 25, 2015
    Deep South
    If you build a bass form that you should have no trouble cutting through da mix.
  13. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    Shoot, and I thought tone was in the tone knobs. Learn something new everyday.
  14. Only if the tone knobs are made of "tone" wood... or tone plastic... or tone whatever...
  15. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I prefer the terms "timbre" "timber".....:woot:
  16. ThePresident777


    Oct 6, 2013
    If you make it with love, they will come.
  17. pappabass

    pappabass Suspended

    May 19, 2006
    Alabama !! Roll Tide
    No,,, TORT tone knobs !!!
    I thought if the wood is not some ancient rainforest super rare wood, cut down by ancient tribesman, hand shaped by monks, sanded by residents in the Swiss Alps, dried in Arizona by American Indians, stained by John Hall, it did not sound worth anything !
  18. SNCpre


    Jan 20, 2016
    Tapping wood technique

    GlennRH likes this.
  19. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Wow, at first I thought it was tongue in cheek, but nope. He just writes whatever he feels like and puts it out there as having some actual merit. The internet is unbelievable sometimes... :)
    Old Blastard, Leiria and SNCpre like this.
  20. alder

    alder Inactive

    Feb 17, 2012
    This new learning amazes me ...

    I never considered tap testing knobs, but clearly the tone knob should be tested. And of course, this raises the tap testing of pickguards, and the tonal effects of single vs three-ply.

    The tone effects of finishes and colors is also worthy of investigation. I was tap testing cans at the hardware store ( using the knuckle on my middle finger, as instructed, ) and I was amazed at the difference between lacquer and polyurethane. The lacquer can really rang out, while the poly can sounded dead.

    As for the board in question, I notice that it has some open pores. This, as any knowledgeable luthier knows, is critical for resonance. Just listen to the pores resonate in this video:

    and this:

    this hurts:

    '78 4001 still my first love, but this guy is absolutely right - horrible design

    The Ric's tone clearly comes from the solid maple body and through-neck, it has nothing to do with the pickup placement.
    Loring, Josh Kneisel and andruca like this.

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