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where can i get cheap body wood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by steve-o, Aug 24, 2002.


  1. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i want to get some wood to make a bass body.
    but every where that has guitars is way to expensive! i am looking for a place that just sells it as wood.
    i went to home depot to try to find some maple for a neck and i couldn't even find any maple!
    what other woods would work?
    and where can i get them cheap?
    thanks

    steve
     
  2. patrickj

    patrickj

    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    laminate poplar strips for the body.. cedar works well (check those Roscoe cedar basses), but I don't know if a certain variety is better than others.
     
  3. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    the cedar was a little rough. and i can't laminate popular that is totaly ugly!

    steve
     
  4. patrickj

    patrickj

    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    Poplar is a commonly used tonewood.. it's ugly sure, but you can paint it, or if you laminate it creatively (lengthwise in 20"x2" strips, alternating darker / lighter shades, etc), you'll have an interesting look beast.

    Also, cheap body wood is just that.. cheap. You can use it just fine, it's just ugly ;)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Poplar..

    or maybe Pine..

    [​IMG]


    (not my instruments, all from www.MIMF.com)
     
  5. Lets clear up a few things here.

    If you are going for a naturally finished body with some exotic wood, the raw material will NOT be "cheap" in comparison to lumber yard specimens. Figured maples, walnuts, koa's, and others are going to run in the $8 - $12 per board foot range easily. For a blank to build a bass you can count on about 2½ board feet. To buy it raw will also mean that you will have to purchase more than the actual blank quantity so there's some more cost. As the quality of the figure goes up, the cost goes up to - sometimes way up. If you can only do with these type of wood, you will have to shop extensively to find a great deal. I looked for 3 months for the material for my first bass and was rewarded by finding an 2" x 8" x 96" board of AA grade flame maple. It wound up costing about $58 but was a steal at that. That board has yielded one body with enough left over some other things. Do a search for exotic woods on the web or go to ebay and enter "lumber" for a search. I buy a lot from ebay since I can get smaller quantities of great woods and there's always a cool selection. I scored a pair of 2" x 9" x 22" pieces of quartersawn mahogany boards for about $20 that I'm savin' for something special.

    The basic woods used for bass bodies by the biggies are Alder, Poplar, Ash, and Basswood (less expensive models). These are the most readily available species for DIY'ers. Of these, only the Ash is used in transparent finished instruments that show the surface grain. The others either don't have remarkable grain patterns like Alder or they are just not very pretty like Poplar. But, these woods make great bodies when they are solid painted and that's what you'll find under most of the finishes out there. The suggestion by PJ about Poplar is excellent. The wood is easy to work with, shapes nicely, has great tone and can be found at nearly any Home Depot. You can buy inexpensive wide 1" boards (¾" nominal thickness) and glue 2 layers to make a 1½" thick blank or cut enough 1½" wide strips, turn them on edge and glue them together to make a blank. Poplar has a green/gray tint to the heartwood and it isn't too pretty so just finish it solid. Now, if you've just gotta have that killer quilted maple top to go with your Blink 182 stickers then maybe going the veneer route is the way. Veneer is made by literally peeling a log around it's circumference with a very sharp knife. What you get is a 1/32" or 1/40" layer that has all the characteristics of the thicker lumber. If your choice has flame figuring, it really shows in the veneer. You would glue this to the face of a ho-hum blank and finish it to show off it's beauty. That's how some of the cheaper instruments out there have quilt tops like the Washburns and Samicks. You can find veneer on ebay just like lumber by entering "veneer" in the search. Look for the wider pieces since you would want to do a top in no more than 2 pieces. Often you can find consecutive pieces that will allow a "bookmatched" arrangement of the 2 pieces. This is how the big boys do it.

    Good Luck.
     
  6. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i meant is there a place where i can get cheap wood as in price not quality.
    i din't know pine would work.
    maybe i can do that.
    i don't know.

    steve
     
  7. And then Patrick goes and finds an example of how Poplar can be made to look really good... :rolleyes:
     
  8. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i know most of this.
    it is just that stew-mac sells alder body blanks for way more than it is worth. and i know how everything works. and what everything is. and what blink-182 stickers?
    i was just looking for some alder or something.
    i plan on getting a flamed maple top and a birdseye fingerboard.
    i will look on ebay tho'.

    thanks
    steve
     
  9. Geez MP281 get yer story straight. You want cheap but you want figuring. You want alder but a maple top. The veneer will work fine but you are going to double your body cost since Alder isn't an inexpensive wood - sure it's less than mahogany but it's more than Poplar or Ash. BTW, I haven't seen much if any Alder on ebay (I don't know why). If you intend to put a ¼" top of maple on then get out even more cash. Your neck selection of birdseye is admirable but again, it's gonna cost you premium for a nice specimen. My point is that your only gonna get what you pay for. Deals CAN be found but it takes a lot of research and patience.

    And the price StewMac asks for a Swamp Ash blank isn't out of line at all. It may be out of line for YOU, but it is a reasonable price for a selected, joined, and sanded blank ready to cut a body from. It's also Swamp Ash which is the lightest species of Ash in terms of weight. To take raw wood and create such a blank would take at least 3 or 4 hours of time considering the matching, sanding and joining. Since StewMac has to make money there is a profit built in. I would imagine that it costs them just about what you will pay in raw materials ($20-$40) to make the blank. Add the cost of processing - hey your times worth something isn't it? - and you'll soon have an $80-$90 blank before you've made your first cut on the shape. And there are quite a few folks that are willing to pay for the convenience of having a blank ready for their design.
     
  10. patrickj

    patrickj

    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    I aim to please ;)
     
  11. patrickj

    patrickj

    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    Check
    www.exoticwoods.com

    based out of NJ.. pretty close to me, I've dealt with them a few times, very good people.

    They've got decent prices for jointed/planed blanks (3 pc. lighweight ash (paint quality, looks ugly) ~$30). Most flame/quilt/birdseye style you see on low priced guitars is photofinish. It's fake. The real wood is $$$.

    If you get anything from exoticwoods, don't get basswood (weak wood).
     
  12. Carey

    Carey

    Jan 18, 2002
    Redlands, CA
    Moparpunk, where do you live? In most metro areas there are hardwood lumber yards that will have most of what you want. Look in the phone book. I go to a place called Reel Lumber in Riverside, CA. They have everything from hard maple for necks to alder, ash, and poplar for bodies.
    It's tough to find clean light weight alder though. I can go to the lumber yard and only find acceptable wood one out of three visits.
    They also have a lot of exotic stuff too. I've seen wenge, zebra wood, lacewood, walnut, padauk, curly and birdseye maple. Of course those species can get very pricey!
    As far as price for alder I can get a board big enough for two bodies for about $40. But there's a lot of labor to get it to the stage where you can cut the body shape out of it. You have to lay out and cut to length. Then you have to surface the glueing sides and glue them. Then you have to plane or thickness sand the body to the right thickness. If you figure about 2 hours to do all this a blank from Exotic Woods or Stew Mac isn't really a bad idea. Especially of you don't have the tools you need.
    Good luck,
    Carey Nordstrand
    www.nordstrandguitars.com
     
  13. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i want to apoligize if i confused some of you.
    but all i was looking for was a place that sould wood that could be used for body planks that was the cheapest that you found. not cheap wood.
    and i might do a laminate i might not.
    exoticwood.com was just what i was looking for.
    now is there a place that sells the same stuff for cheaper?
    you always want to try to find the cheapest.
    i found a nice flamed bkmatched top with enough birdseye malpe to do a finger board and both for a wopping $60. no i just need a neck wood.
    something different than maple.
    and i have all of the tools to do this. planner is included.
    thanks

    steve
     
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    JEEZ PATRICK!!!....Sunday is the one day of the week I eat breakfast!!!..... Just for that......

    Mopar - Go behind your Home Depot and look in the dumpster for wood. That's where the guy who made this guitar he made of knotty pine said he got this wood...maybe it was a loading skid -

    [​IMG]
     
  15. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    i don't think that is my cup of tea.
    intresting tho'.

    steve
     
  16. patrickj

    patrickj

    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    no, unless you have the hardware & tools to turn lumber into a blank yourself.
     
  17. Nocturnal

    Nocturnal Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2002
    Chandler, Arizona
    When I've entered the word "luthier" in the search on ebay it usually brings up about 200 items, most of which are body blanks or tops for bodies. They usually give a fair description of quality and size of the wood. Good luck. Andy
     
  18. I went to Lowes this week and picked up some Redwood for the body I'm building. Home Depot had nothing that would have worked. I got a nice thick and wide 8' board of redwood for $30, enough to make 3 bodies from.