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What's heavy for a swamp ash bass body blank?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by cstar, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    In general, what is considered heavy for a Swamp Ash bass body blank? I just bought a 9.75 lb blank and I thought that seemed heavy. I have a 7lb Northern hard ash jazz body so I figured the swamp ash would provide a body of about the same weight, but I have heard historically that swamp ash was favored because it was fairly light, whereas I know that Hard Ash is on the heavy side. But I also know that Ash varies a lot in general in terms of weight...

    Also, I have seen a picture of the blank and the grain looks like swamp ash grain. Fairly straight with no irregular patches.

    I strongly doubt that the seller misinformed me and that I am actually receiving a hard ash blank, because they are a wood supplier... so i would hope they would know the difference ;)

  2. honestly, I think that's the best answer you're gonna get. Every tree is different. Every bit from every tree is different.

    If it's just a rectangular slab, remember, you could remove up to half the timber in cutting, routing and shaping. So don't worry too much at this stage. I had the same experience with some koari pine. I thought, "oh no! it's too heavy". But after shaping it's not so bad.
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Ash varies a lot in terms of density, but "swamp ash" does not refer to a species, it refers to southern american ash of a certain quality. That certain quality is its density, and the reason swamp ash is expensive is because it has been selected for weight.

    I have written down that swamp ash average 30 lbs/ft3 versus white ash 40lbs/ft3. That would be a rule of thumb and I don't remember where I got those numbers, so it would pay to do some additional research. Difference sources will have different criteria for grading something as swamp ash versus whatever ash it really is (fraxinus nigra?), but I would say it is reasonable to expect lighter weight ash when you buy swamp ash and if it's not, then it would be reasonable to talk to your supplier about getting a lighter blank.
  4. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Do the math and find out what the blank weighs per Bd ft. Hopefully it is well under 2.5 lbs.

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