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Walnut for building a bass...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gweimer, Aug 14, 2000.


  1. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Just as we all dream (well, some of us) of building, or designing, our own bass, I came across something this week-end that may be the start of that. Has anyone here ever used walnut in a bass? I'm also curious about what walnut would cost? A friend of mine had to cut down a large chunk of a walnut tree, and the grain appears to extremely clean, not to mention very tight. At the moment, he plans to stock his fireplace with it, but he's going to save some pieces for me. So, to make a long story short....
    What's walnut like as a bass-making wood? Sound? What's it like to work with? What would it cost to have someone cut the body/neck for me? What dimensions should I use for my starting stock? John, you seem to have done the most with the exotic woods...what's your experience? Would a luthier be interested in this wood? I hate to see nice wood burned, so anyone who has any ideas, let me know. Thanks to all.
     
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Carvin makes walnut basses, and Ken Smith does too!

    Flamed walnut is a beautiful wood, I think JT has a couple of basses with walnut or partial flamed walnut tops.

    My guitarist has a Gibson Les Paul 'The Paul' made of solid walnut, including the neck! The only non-walnut on the thing is the ebony fretboard.

    As a tone wood, they say(and you know how THEY are! :D ) that walnut is pretty bright, due to the density, but warmer than lot of harder hardwoods. .

    Hard? Woods? Where's throbbinnut, ikickuintheballs and Brad JOHNSON when you need them?

    :D
    :eek:
     
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Walnut isn't exotic, GW ;) It's the tree those things come off of....walnuts:D (sorry)

    My 78 Tobias is Walnut with a Purple Heart fretboard and Walnut/Purple Heart neck. It's very tight and articulate, kind of the opposite of Alder. Takes an oil finish very well, tight grain. My bass has been the model of stability, I last set the trussrod during the first Reagan administration (with very low action).

    There's a used Walnut/Purple Heart Warrior at Atomic Music in College Park, Md. It has the same basic characteristics as my Tobias.

    I guess it depends on what kind of sound you seek. Walnut, to me, gives a hi-fi vibe, devoid of serious lower mids.

    Embellisher, you naughty boy.
     
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Where's that d@mn blush smiley at?

    :D
     
  5. Biski2Dope

    Biski2Dope

    Mar 26, 2000
    ::half smile:: Reminds me of the good 'ol Long-Johnson joke.. ::sigh:: i miss him. Oh well. Back to bass discussion...
     
  6. You have got to get over on the FDP and take a look at the bass made by Bob under the thread "It's finally finished". It is an all walnut Jazz and is absolutely beautiful. He even went so far as to make the neck also. That, to me, is real dedication to the craft cuz it's the hardest part of doing your own. His handiwork has inspired me to get in gear with my own project.

    The only thing about walnut that I don't particularly like is it's rather bland brown color. Of course, that's in it's natural state. You can stain it any way you want. I think I'm probably more partial to a wood that has some lively color tones. I'm not just thinking flame, or quilting though those are certainly awesomely beautiful. I just mean an exciting color.

    As far as your wood pieces, you must begin now to prepare the wood for eventual use in a bass. It will have to cure for quite awhile before it's moisture content is in the range that could be useful for a piece of furniture like a bass. The big but is whether it cures without seperation or warping. Most of the wood offered by exotic retailers has already undergone this process and is kept in a friendly atmosphere while on the rack. I would be disastrous to go to the expense and work of making a body that curled up like potato chip after the bass was together.

    And since we are on the subject of bass projects...I saw an interesting item on ebay tonight. It is a custom headstock logo kit. Apparently it is a special paper offered by the seller that, when printed on a good inkjet printer, can be use to make a decal for adding custom logos to your guitars. It was pretty intriguing. He had an enlarged photo on the ad that showed a nice logo he had designed on a guitar. It looked very good. I immediately thought of you and the "Green Lantern" project as a possible use for the material. Of course, white is not an option with this type of process so putting something on a black bass would be hard.

    I just posted a description of the plans for my new project using CAD/CAM equipment for making a body. If you want, get with me off board and I will describe in detail my capabilities and perhaps there is something I could do for you with this new wood.

    [Edited by Hambone on 08-14-2000 at 08:23 PM]
     
  7. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks for the info. I may just contact you offline, Hambone. I've already hit the FDP (that was the thread that made me think of doing this). I've also found a decal paper designed for dry-toner printers (like mine) that the manufacturer claims will wrap around curved edges. I'm keeping them in mind for the Green Lantern bass.
     
  8. oo0o00o0oo

    oo0o00o0oo

    Apr 30, 2000
    Chicago
    Walnut isn't that expensive, I got a huge one in my backyard. I would guess about 100 bucks for enough to make a body.
     
  9. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Well, as for its sounds, i agree with people...articulate, and warm. But thats my experience with it.

    As to cost, i believe standard walnut runs about $6 a lineal foot? Yeah, sounds correct. Depending on the grain though, it can run about $9 to $15. So its not TOO bad. But its not like 70¢/lineal foot like pine though.
     
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    This brings up something most people don't realize. The biggest cost of building an instrument is not the raw wood. The wood is usually less than the electronics, definitely less than the labor (unless the labor is you).
     
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    my fretted 8 string is a neck through, flamed walnut body. the neck is purple heart with walnut stringers. and it is sitting on the electronics table at conklin guitars. i could tell you a lot about how walnut sounds if i ever get it. :sigh:
     
  12. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Makes ya want to cry doesnt it? Dont worry! Youll get it soon, and youll be flooded with compliments! Hey, what kind of frets are you getting on that baby? I would have to assume tiny tiny frets, because there would be no space between the jumbos in the highest few frets! Gonna be an awesome bass!
     
  13. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Thanks for the info, peoploids! You have enlightened me. Hambone, email me.
     
  14. MtnGoat

    MtnGoat

    May 7, 2000
    MA/NH
    If I were you, I would not try to mess with treating a piece of wood, unless you just want to. I believe that a beautiful, high-grade slab of walnut is readily available and by talking to a few specialty wood suppliers or luthiers you would be able to find a chunk of the stuff. I have a Surine fretless bass that has walnut body sides/maple neck/ebony fingerboard that sounds pretty damn good. The tone, in my opinion, is more mellow that maple.
    Good luck.
    Digs
     
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, this is old hat for me - every one of my conklins has had a wait attached to it, but this time, with two basses - the hollow body 7 string and the 8 string fretted, i am getting my patience really tested.

    oh well.