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wood choice for a Jazz neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jerry J, Dec 11, 2002.


  1. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I have one of the Jaco Signature basses that is fretted. I really like the tone and feel of the bass but I've been thinking that I'd really like to have fretless neck built up for the bass.

    I'm kinda set on ebony for the board but I wanted to run some cool wood ideas past our guest luthiers to get some idea which way to go.

    My choices are: Goncalo Alves, Wenge, Padouk or Bubinga.

    The body is a medium weight Alder so I'd like a neck wood that isn't too heavy. Since the bass is for playing finger-style, a la Jaco, I'd like to get close to that kind of tone.
     
  2. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I was in a somewhat similar situation - wanted to make a Jaco-ish fretless jazz. After some research, I went with a Warmoth all-wenge neck and a 5lbs alder body. Bass turned out really great! Check out the link in my signature. It is now my main gigging bass with 2 accoustic guitars.
     
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    All those woods are pretty heavy. But jazz bodies are pretty big, and if brooks doesn't have balance problems with a wenge neck, then most of them should be fine. They are all moderately oily, dense woods.

    in order of specific gravity (average):

    padauk .72
    bubinga .88
    wenge .91
    goncalo .95
     
  4. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    As I said, I moved the back strap button higher, and am using a 3 1/2" Levy strap - no balance problems at all.
     
  5. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Thanks Matt. It's been a while since I took chemistry and or worked with, relating to SG, items less dense than water. So from the chart we are seeing that the padouk is lighter than goncalo.

    Where does maple fit into this chart? Could we assume(?) that because wenge and goncalo are so much more dense that this would be the reason for their tonal qualities being different and tauted as very special?

    Brook, thanks for the info on Warmoth. I'm thinking that I would rather go through a Luthier to have the neck built as I would have better control of the board wood appearance and profile.
     
  6. Brooks

    Brooks

    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I took my neck from Warmoth's Thrift Shop, so I could see what I was getting, and I must say, it's a really nice piece of wood, that sounds even better than I hoped.

    Recommendation re. what would match best with the neck came from guys at Fender Forum - they suggested both the alder, and the correct body weight to avoid neck dive, and the advice I got was spot on. I think you'll be very pleased with wenge, no matter where you get it from.

    BTW, the total bass weight is still less than my G&L (hard ash) or '75 Jazz (swamp ash/maple neck with rosewood board).
     
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Yep, low specific gravity = low density.

    Hard maple is on average around .70.

    Density, oil content, and a few other things probably go into tone.

    I think wenge achieved popularity because of Warwick. There's some weird connection between Germany and wenge. When the Congo stopped cutting wenge a couple years ago, Germany was the only place that still had the stuff. At any rate, the price of wenge eventually went through the roof and even Warwick stopped using it.

    By then, Tobias, and Matt Friedman, and lots of other guys were already using it, and so it was out there for everyone to see and hear. Like swamp ash, there is still a demand for it based on those original basses (built when wenge was cheap) to reproduce that look and that tone.

    In reality, all these woods have a sound, and they're all only subtly different when you attach them to an alder body.

    So, what I'm saying is... go nuts. Any one of those necks will rock.