Top woods

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Taustin Powers, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Would Olive Ash Burl make a good top wood? I've been looking at different woods on the web, and I noticed that this one looks really pretty, yet I can't find any evidence of it being used for instruments. Same goes for Mapa Burl. Is there a reason for that? Do these two woods not work well on instruments?

    Another wood I really like is horse chestnut, but that stuff is really expensive. What other woods would you recommend that have similar characteristics to horse chestnut? Maple Burl? Myrtle Burl? ________?
  2. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I assume by horse chestnut, you mean the burl. Buckeye burl is root burl from the horse chestnut.

    The stuff is super low density, structurally weak, and full of voids and dirt pockets and bark inclusions. There doesn't seem to be much going for buckeye burl, in terms of resonance. And yet, it can be a laminate top for a great sounding instrument. Bottom lines are: you can choose a top based only on looks with some degree of confidence, and don't necessarily look for a wood that shares characteristics with buckeye burl (except aesthetically).

    All burl is expensive. Olive ash is probably the japanese stuff (tamo)? You can't find pieces big enough to use on a bass. Ditto for a lot of burls. I've never seen a mappa burl to buy; some burls are rare enough that you'll never see one, or if you do, it will be paper thin veneer.

    If you're having a bass built, work with your luthier(s) on what they have or what they think they can get. If you're building one yourself, you might consider something easier to start off with. Burls are hard to work. If you've done it before, talk to Larry at Gallery Hardwoods.