wood ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by VoodooChile, Sep 16, 2001.

  1. i'm not sure where this belongs so i just put it here the moderators can move it if they want but anyways, my question is what cause the different types of wood such as burl, quilted, spalted and so forth?
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Call Ken Smith @ Ken Smith Guitars. If anyone on this board has talked to him, they can tell what I'm going to tell you. He LOVES discussions about wood. He'll talk to you about wood and it's tonalities for hours if you let him! :)
  3. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Throw this question to the wolves of Setup, and Rickbass will tell you within one breath:D

    Actually, Rick knows one or two things about wood ,,, including how they grow! Impressive.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    WHOA, Suburban!!!..."one breath" ??? :eek: !!! This could be a thesis!!! Thanks very much for the build up, though.

    But I'll try to stick to abbreviated, quickie, explanations.

    Burls - Why? No one knows the root cause but it is believed to be a combination of some or all genetic/pathogenic/environmental/physical injury factors. Whatever the root causes, burls do occur in trees under environmental stress and occur in some species more than others.

    Burls are wart-like growths that are the result of breaks in the growth layer (cambium) between the bark and the older growth of the tree. Instead of healing at the break, the tree sends out new growth through the break, but the new growth doesn't grow in the controlled, patterned, consistent, way the normal wood develops.

    Quilts - are genetic, likes flamed/fiddle back/tiger stripe/curly. The optical illusion of quilts' alternating mounds and hollows are separated by ridges. When the areas enclosed by the ridges are longer across the wood grain than parallel to the grain a quilt results.

    The ribbon/striped figures are the result of the spiral growth of wood fiber cells around the central axis of the trunk periodically reversing. For instance; growth in a left-oriented helix reverses to a right-oriented helix; a twist.

    Birdseye - Prof. Hoadley of the U. of MA Wood Tech Dept. theorizes the causes are fungal and genetic. These factors cause miniature growth buds to form below the outer growth ring, (cambium), on the trunk. They push outward but fail to reach the surface. In old growth maple, it occurs so often it's practically the norm but it occurs in such small amounts birdseye is considered a defect in that wood. The commercially desireable stuff you see used for basses is really rare.
    For some reason, birdseye occurs most often in trees at the northernmost range and highest elevations for their species.

    Spalting - Really, just a by product of the decay process carried out by stain, mold, and decay fungi found on the forest floor. Colorations may be due to chemical reactions between the wood fungi and insect deposits. Drying stops the fungi growth from rotting the wood.
    Some wood sources/luthiers spalt their own wood by leaving it damp on shaded ground and covering it with damp sawdust/leaves in 60-90 degree weather. Then they check on it periodically and pick it up in the next two-three months for drying before use. Sometimes it doesn't spalt, sometimes it rots.

    I'll leave mottled, swirls, buttons, bee's wing, angel steps, pommele, peanut shell, and other figurings out of this already long post.

    But it is interesting that more than one figuring can occur on the same board (I have a photo album online of some wood with more than one figure being used for my custom bass). Here's a board with quilt, birdseyes, and swirls that's up for sale at the moment - GOOT GAWD!!!

  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Wow! Zowie! Shazam! Good golly miss Molly! Holy Toledo! Boy howdy!
  6. Bah, wood sucks.. Luthlite basses for ever !! :D
  7. thanks for all the info rickbass. also great looking wood there, are you gonna use that as the top or is some other bizzare way?
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Not this go around, Voodoo. That's maple and my neck will be mostly maple. I already have a bass like that. Besides, the neck woods for the new bass are already glued and clamped and dry. My top will be swirly cocobolo (looking at some today because the original boards couldn't be used because they were mistakenly cut too thin).

    This kind of insane wood often pops up for sale right at the beginning of a week and by Mon. night, it's usually sold.