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wood configuration?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by C-5KO, Apr 8, 2005.


  1. C-5KO

    C-5KO

    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Hi,

    I've checked out a couple of search on Wenge necks, and also checked out the Warwick site on the wood selection. Very informative, YET.....

    I'm still looking for other opinions on a bass with the following wood selection:

    6 string neckthru

    wenge neck
    swamp ash body wings
    walnut top/back
    ebony fingerboard
    bartolini soapbars

    ...

    I've read about the problems with wenge necks (mostly with construction - splinters etc). And a few posts about warping after applying oil finish. I was concerned about it being more fragile, since it's stiffer? Will a wenge neck be more prone to snapping then a maple neck? Or more prone to cracking or splitting later on down the road?

    As well, I'm not fully decided on the swamp ash body. I would like a full tone (why I chose ebony and wenge), and I thought that a lighter body would balance out the denser fingerboard and neck. I'd be happy to dial in some growly jaco mids, AND switch to some marcus miller crystal clear punch and snap (okok yes, i may be in dreamland). But is swamp ash the choice?

    Any input is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. C-5KO

    C-5KO

    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    c'mon guys....

    still looking for some helpful advice.

    i'm sure somebody here can help me.

    thanks
     
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    If the neck is reasonable well reinforced, then I don't think it will snap in half. Wenge is hard, but it is prone to deliver smaller cracks. It's in the nature of that wood.

    I think ash will do just fine. MM's bass is ash, though IIRC, it's maybe medium ash.
    If you are still unsure, then use a thicker top and back and chamber the ash core.

    BTW I'm in the process of planning mine :cool:
    Thick figured bubinga top, medium ash back, b/o wenge neck with pau ferro FB
     
  4. I think if the numbers were in front of us, we would see that there have been relative few incidents like you've described compared to the number of instruments in use with that combination. And that combination is a very important part of the equation here. The ebony fretboard contributes a good deal to the stiffness of this unit. Your trussrod (or 2!) should also be considered. So I think, when you ask a question like "Will a wenge neck be more prone to snapping then a maple neck?", it sounds like you've making a mountain from a molehill.

    IMO however I think wenge would suck as a neck wood. Don't want any on top of my necks either.
     
  5. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    What don't you like about Wenge as a neck wood Mr bone?...t
     
  6. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I'm curious about this as well.

    There are pictures on the internet of a Warwick dude (the president) standing on a wenge neck with the headstock on one chair and the body on another. The neck is flexing a lot, but it ain't snapping. There are tons of wenge necked basses out there and they won't snap unless you do something very ill-advised to them (like run them over with your car).

    Frank - not sure what you mean by "little cracks". Wenge has interlocked grain, so it tears out on quartersawn surfaces. It will also chip out on really, really flat sawn surfaces where the grain runs out. Is this what you mean?

    Wenge has been used on many, many necks and I think it has withstood the test of time. I'd guess it is the #2 wood in bass-building, in terms of basses-in-service, behind only maple. I could be wrong.
     
  7. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    My wenge fingerboard has a very open grain on the top, but there are some openings on the otherwise smooth side that look more like cracks then grain. But they have not expanded over time, so I think they are okay... maybe they are just the grain showing/ continuing on the side too that I didn't notice when I received the bass.
     
  8. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Maybe it does suck working with wenge... but their tone is very nice!
     
  9. It's pretty simple - don't like it's looks, don't like the way it works with tools, don't like the way it feels, don't like it's grain characteristics flatsawn but I can live with it quartersawn, and I think it's one of the uglier woods available.

    If you were looking to me to start some war about the suitability of wenge as a neck wood, walk on by... ;)
     
  10. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I am not looking for an arguement I think you know that. :D I was just wondering. Each to his own.t
     
  11. I've spoken to a few luthiers I respect about wenge because it's such a great tone wood. their biggest complaints are its splinter factor and the pores. if you ever check out the Gecko site within the Warmoth site you will see solid wenge necks, so I think they've found ways to overcome the problems that concern you. the cats at Warmoth have been good about answering questions, too, so I'd recommend emailing them as an option.
     
  12. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    Wenge is both stiffer and tougher than just about any other neck wood out there. Ebony is a bit stiffer, as I recall, but not as resilient or shock resistant. If you subject your bass to enough abuse to snap a wenge neck, I suspect your bass would have much bigger problems to worry about, like truck tire tracks across it. :)

    With a 5-piece (or more) laminate construction to imrove enviormental stability, I don't think you can beat it. IMO, of course.
     
  13. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    "truck tire tracks across it"

    I repaired a MTD Wenge headstock with just that problem :rollno: .t
     
  14. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    ouch :rollno:
     
  15. Handrix jumps to mind...

    '... tire tracks all across your back / I can see you 've had your fun...'

    :rolleyes: :rollno:
     
  16. C-5KO

    C-5KO

    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    thanks guys,

    I think i'm going to go with a wenge neck, walnut body. My main concern was the reliability, factoring in repairs, etc. If a maple neck were to be "more stable" than a wenge neck, which would make sense since there are many more maple necks out there, then it would be a consideration. But, it was also possible that a wenge neck just wasn't that popular because of the problem with construction and handling it, as opposed to it's reliability.
     
  17. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    ... will maybe be weight. Wenge is a very dense and very heavy wood. Walnut is no lightweight, either.
    Balance might be another issue. Make sure you have a long upper horn.


    Well if Leo Fender had a pile of wenge just sitting around, then we'd see more basses with wenge necks ;)
     
  18. bwbass

    bwbass

    May 6, 2002
    WA
    Well, wenge is heavy, but not as heavy as you'd think.

    Our maple Gecko necks with ebony fingerboards weigh more than the wenge necks with wenge fingerboards - wenge is a bit heavier than maple, but ebony is MUCH heavier.
    Definitely! And if wenge were cheaper and easier to get...

    It always cracks me up when people go on and on about alder as a tonewood. Yes, it sounds great, but it also happens to grow like crazy all up and down the west coast of the US... it's one of the cheapest domestic woods if you happen to be in California, like Fender is. Coincidence? I think not!