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what woods to choose

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by instigata, Mar 15, 2006.


  1. instigata

    instigata

    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    wood choices.

    i'm either going for the mahogany w/ flame maple top

    OR

    swamp ash with a goncalo alves top.

    which one? and which is easier to work with?
     
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    quick answer is the more figured wood is the tougher to work with......t
     
  3. instigata

    instigata

    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    i hear that goncalo alves is VERY easy to work with. plus its naturally oilly and doesn't require finish. sounds like nice qualities for me.
     
  4. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Goncalo is not too bad but it is hard on tools and can be difficult to glue. I have never had a joint fail but it is oily. The maple is softer and easier on edged tools but the grain lifts easier than figured goncalo so watch out on the planer. Goncalo can be very stable but if not then it will be tougher to wrangle cupped and warped goncalo than maple. If you have access to a thickness sander then overall the curly maple will be easier to work.

    Mahogany is about as easy and enjoyable to work as any wood. Swamp ash, not as much. Ash is ring porous and the porous part wears much more quickly than the solid rings and so sanding is a pain. Swamp ash can even be a bit stringy. I'm not a big swamp ash fan.

    Why not mahogany/goncalo? Either way you'll need a finish. Goncalo will take on a really sweet polish and you definately want some kind of finish with it.
     
  5. instigata

    instigata

    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    yea. thats true. mahogany seems like a good bet. first i'm waiting on some price quotes anyway. because cost is a factor.

    overall, mahogany does seem the better choice for a beginner.

    thanks for the help matt. btw, i LOVE your basses. and if i had the money, and didn't want the building experience myself, i would DEFINITELY be working with you on a custom :)
     
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Thanks for the kind words.

    If you are on a budget, then swamp ash is probably not a great choice. The second "black ash" becomes "swamp ash" it goes up from $4/bf to $20/bf.

    Some great budget woods to consider: butternut, anigre, khaya (african mahogany). I have just started working with the anigre and it is a funny wood to work so far, but khaya and butternut are both fantastic to work with and cheaper than south american mahogany. Sassafrass is about as cheap as wood gets and is similar in appearance to ash.