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When do Basses die?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Stupidnick, Mar 7, 2003.

  1. Stupidnick


    Mar 22, 2002
    ...my room...
    Basses.. are made of wood..(well most of them)
    So i gotta question.. When does a bass die? or does it live forever? I wonder if something happens to it? does it shrink?
    It would be very intresting to find out but kind of a bummer if its something really simple.
    Do you think they just stop growing and stay as is for ever?

    What got me thinking this was, the other day i was in a music store playing a geddy lee jazz. The sales rep says "Thats what i like about fender so much is there inconsistancy." I was like "HUH!?" he said.. "well you can go and pick 10 MIM's up and 1 or 2 will be better than alot of MIA's so you are getting a better deal!"
    He explained how some just feel different and said to the point: "They feel like its almost made for you sometimes." Well they are alive. They do feel different. Sometimse you just gotta get the bass or gu*tar that fits you. So...yeah .. I never thought of it that way.. THEY ARE ALIVE!
  2. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    They die when the bassist gives up on them. Like when somebody's bass got hit by a truck last Xmas and they burned the remains. All other basses, even ones that are broken and left in a closet, are not dead, they are just hibernating, waiting for someone to come along and give them the love and devotion they deserve. I wouldn't burn my bass even if it was hit by a truck. I'd salvage parts and turn the rest into wall art or something.
  3. natasmi


    Apr 30, 2002
    basses never die, but the strings do.
  4. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I would challenge the premise that basses are alive. They're sort of like a steak. The wood is organic and used to be part of a living thing, much like a steak used to be part of the cattle that "donated" it. A tree had to die to make the bass.

    Since they are organic, their physical condition can be altered by their immediate environment. That's why necks bow and warp and cause subsequent inconsistencies in tone.

    My two cents...


  5. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Classical guitars die, violins get better with age (and playing).

    I guess basses get better too, or at least don't get worse.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    It's a complex question because it has to do with the skill of the luthier, how long vibrations are sent through the wood (how much the instrument has been played), the boards selected, and the species used.

    The following from Zavaletas Guitarras doesn't refer to bass tonewoods, per se, but the principles are the same;

    "Cedar and redwood are also more responsive than spruce at least initially, but they do not improve with age to the degree that spruce guitars do. Spruce, because it is a more resinous wood than cedar, takes more time to break in. With age resins become increasingly brittle, and with play, as these resins are fractured by sound, the guitar becomes increasingly responsive and mellow. Guitarist talk about this in terms of a "green" guitar "opening up" with time. How fast this happens depends on how much one plays and the age of the woods used in the top. The more aged the spruce used in making a top is, the more quickly it opens up. Again, there are some difference between types of spruce. Some open more quickly than others. German spruce takes one to two years open up, and will continue to improve though out its life. Englemann spruce being a less resinous wood opens more quickly. Sitka like German spruce takes more time to develop."

    In short and simplistically - a less oily/resinous wood improves less over time compared to oilier/more resinous wood, assuming both instruments are played about as often.

    The finish has quite a bit of impact,too, (a reason that old Fenders with nitro finishes that have miniscule cracks sound so good....from Kendrick Amplification);

    "Nitrocellulose lacquer is considered superior to the polyester and polyurethane lacquers used by the majority of guitar manufacturers. Nitrocellulose lacquer is porous, thus allowing the wood to "breathe" and "age" ' It is this gradual drying process that improves the tone of a wooden instrument over time. As the wood dries, the resins in the wood crystallize."

    This link - http://www.acousticguitar.com/gear/advice/vibration.shtml discusses a machine that vibrates wood to "age" it and improve its tone.
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Good basses don't die. They're killed.
  8. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    James, a steak will eventually get broken down by microorganisms and no longer exist as a steak. :D

    As far as basses being alive, my bass speaks to me and other people as well. :D
  9. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I figure with the rate at which instruments are being made now a days (i.e. Samick!!) coupled with the fact the instruments rarely cease to exist (instead they just migrate from host to host) we should be up to our elbows in guitars by 2048.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    My calculations confirm that date. More specifically, July 12, 2048.
  11. In a whispering voice... I see dead people. :p
  12. Which is bad enough .
  13. slick519


    Aug 11, 2001
    Salem, Or
    nitrocellulose?? isnt that gun cotton, and the stuff they use in pyrodex?

    i know that at one point they used to make cue balls out of nitrocellulose, but a few of them blew up, starting some wild bar fights in the old west. They would think that the explsion was a gunshot, and start shooting for no reason other than the notion that someone was shooting at or around them.

    jsut my tid of usless information

  14. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    It's a plank of wood. It won't die.
  15. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    Yes they do die, and sometimes they come back as zombie basses. Happened to both of mine. Dripping zombie goo on my foot as I type this.
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    When I just started out, I had two that were DOA.
  17. Many basses get better with age and some need to be put out of misery (it's and ours). But as far as vintage instruments go they will play as long as they are well maintained and not buggered with. I have customers with instruments made in the 50's and early 60' that are sweet beasties, every one.
  18. Nah, that'll be March 18, 2003. George Dubbya Bush'll get bored with attacking Iraq, so he'll go after all the basses and guitars in the world, and BOMB THE HELL OUT OF THEM!

    Silly beareucrats. :spit: :spit: :bassist: :bassist:

    P.S. Basses never die!!! WOOOO!!!!
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    You can't argue with science

    Well, actually you can but it gets real testy.
  20. OneCoolDog


    Oct 15, 2002
    Alabama, USA
    All basses go to Heaven.

    ...I wonder what kind of bass Jesus plays?