Woodophiles Invited

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickbass, Aug 23, 2001.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Some Talkbassers requested I put up pics of the basic components that are being used for my custom bass, mainly, the crazy woods.

    Thanks to Jeff Rader, there is an album he has started for me about this bass....one helluva nice guy. I don't have the means nor his savvy to have started this album.

    So far, just the neck woods are glued and clamped (pics of those in process will be added in the next day or two).

    Anyway, if you're interested in the exotic woods, here's the link to the album -
  2. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    That's AWESOME! That'll be one hell of a bass when it's completed! I'm considering getting one of my basses re-fretboarded, and if i do, it's gonna get some inlay work, definitely with the ablam. Beautiful stuff! Can't WAIT to see it!
  3. oo0o00o0oo


    Apr 30, 2000
    Very cool, I had some problems with that website though.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Angus - Thanks for the kind words!

    I didn't mention another thing about Ablam because it didn't seem appropriate there in the album - It is markedly less expensive than the whole shell slices of abalone you often see used for inlay, too!
  5. nice wood rick1, you know how to stress a man out, now all i'll think about is the top for my 6 :(

    maple or not to maple, THAT is the question.
  6. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    VERY sweet. That's gonna be a hell of a piece when it's done.
  7. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Beautiful boards, Rick...

    That'll one gorgeous bass when it's done, especially if you can get the knobs and pickup covers done in cocobolo...

    What's the timetable for the bass to be done?
  8. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    Your site mentions "walnut burl" and lack of info about it.

    Walnut has been used for rifle stocks for hundreds of years. Burl is found only in the lowest root section of the oldest trees. The more exotic burl is traditionally found in trees that were grown in an adverse climate (high wind, low water) over a long period.

    Needless to say, it's pretty hard to find anymore.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    On behalf of the wood, I thank you, odd. I only spent countless hours over a period of 6 months to get these woods together on one instrument. :D

    I don't have a completion projection from Dave and I don't know if I will have one. The only comment I made to him in regard to building the bass was, "Take all the time you need. I want this to be an instrument we can both be proud of." From what Dave says, he gets customers who dream up unrealistic completion timeframes, (e.g., "It took me several months to spec this bass, but I want you to build it in about two weeks.") :rolleyes: IME, a rush job always reflects the short time given to it.
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    steinberg - I don't get what "rifle stocks" and the location of burls on the tree have to do with the cause of burls. :confused:

    As I said in the album, "No one knows what causes burls." Like birdseye and and fiddleback, the causes are believed to be some combination of genetic malfunction/environmental stress/physical injury/pathogens. Climate alone doesn't cause it. Otherwise, walnut stands would be planted where adverse conditions prevail and someone would make a bundle of cash, growing burl virtually on demand and by design. It appears you are inferring that it's just climate, or maybe you weren't.
  11. steinbergerxp2

    steinbergerxp2 Guest

    Jul 11, 2001
    Merely commenting that although luthiers have been using rosewood, spruce, ebony, and the like for a long time, gunsmiths have a similar level of experience with walnut, should anyone want to research it further.

    I have no idea what the absolute mechanism of burl creation is, but reading on walnut in the past has indicated that it most commonly occurs in the environment I described. I believe a lot of highly figured wood was harvested in Turkey in the first part of the last century.
  12. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yeah, stein, they get all of our leftovers and rejects :D
  13. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Very nice. The wood info is interesting.
    Is birdseye maple less dense or stable than regular maple? Someone told me that once.
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    RS - Thanks for the kind words!

    No, many high-end bass builders offer a birdseye neck option. (Which, to me, infers it is stable and solid). Some folks wondered about the quilt affecting strength/rigidity. That's an unkown, really. To my knowledge, no one has ever used it for a neck before. Maybe the reason is the cost and cosmetics of quilt. One of my basses has a quilt top and I know I sure don't want it hiding behind the fretboard.

    And no one has ever used this birdseye quilt for a neck before, IME, because it's like finding a four-leafed clover. But then, to me, what's the point in getting a custom if you're only going to use components and designs you can get on basses at Guitar Center?
  15. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    rick, that sounds like a really unique and beautiful hunk of wood. One thing nags at the back of my brain, though. My understanding has always been that the wood used for necks is eastern hard rock maple (or whatever the right name is), and that the birdseye usually seen is a variant of this that is in no way inferior to it in terms of strength or anything else.

    Now, I've also always understood that the figured maple we usually see (flame, quilt) is a somewhat different variety, that is, western bigleaf maple, which is supposed to be somewhat softer than hard rock maple. This makes me wonder if it might not be as good for a bass neck, which is a fairly high-stress application.

    Do you know if this quilted birdseye is eastern or western maple?

    Of course, I could be all wet on this ... but it would be a shame to get a beautiful piece of wood that wouldn't hold an adjustment.
  16. Richard, the use of this type of wood in a laminated neck has virtually no affect on it's strength, or rigidity. As a matter of fact you can use much softer woods in a laminated construction and gain rigidity that would normally only be found in much harder species.

    As far as "burl" is concerned, steinbergerxp2 is correct, in that burl figure is usually found in the lower part of the tree around the beginning or as a part of the root section. This is the area in particular species that spawns "volunteer" growth. You can sort of think of burl as small root buds (not unlike birdseye figure) that grow, are encompassed or never make their way to the surface, and are then absorbed under and alongside other buds that do the same thing. As this continues, these sprouts are packed into dense formations of intense color and figure. The way roots grow through the soil by twisting, turning, and angling around obstacles contributes to the complexity of the figure. Some of the most intense burl figure is found in the sections of these root systems that emerge from under the ground like the back of a whale in the ocean. Sometimes these roots are several feet across and the portion above the ground is as large as a washtub. These are harvested as "caps" by cutting the lump off level with the ground. These are prized by bowl turners and other artisans for their figure. If one of these smaller buds were to be successful in maturing, it would create another root branch or another tree from the original root system. Of course, due to slow growth of these species, it would be many years before an actual tree would be recognizable. There is one species that we are familiar with that does a similiar thing with it's root system - the cypress tree. In a cypress swamp, trees are spotted here and there but there are many "knees" that sprout between the trees themselves. These "knees" are the "buds" mentioned before and grow like stalagmites out of the marsh. If allowed to mature, they will make trees themselves. The knees are prized as decorative additions either alone as an interesting shape or sectioned into furniture or clocks. Just ask anyone that lives in Florida.

    I don't believe "burl" to be a genetic anomaly. Oak, Walnut, Maple, a few other species exhibit burl in their root system just about all of the time. Of course, it is in an area that isn't usually considered for use as lumber and is only seen when harvested for the purpose and in the manner I've described. Burl IS different from other forms of figure like quilt, flame, tiger striping, flake, and it is much more common than these other, equally beautiful conditions.
  17. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Good question, RL.
    It's rock maple, a.ka., sugar maple, northern maple, hard maple. Dave located it from one of his suppliers. And, you're right, bigleaf/Pacific maple is soft and would be a worry on a neck.
  18. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Shouldn't be.
    The structural properties of a neck is stiffness and strength, and the different maples have about the same properties in that respect. More variation is to be found between two different pieces of any maple, than the statistical variation between two kinds of maple.
    Looking into the structural parameters you will soon find that the optimal neck wood is birch....

    Hardness, however, does have an effect on the sound. Like hard woods absorbs less of the higher frequenses, giving more attack and sustain. Softer woods delete their non-resonant freq's, giving more thump and stronger fundamentals.

  19. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Rickbass1 - very nice woods!!!

    Thanks for the album - the commentary was very educational. I have learnt more about different types of wood - quilted maple, purpleheart, walnut, cocobolo, mirindiba, even paua ablam (!)...

    It is going to be one beautiful bass which should sound sweet! :)
  20. pmkelly


    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    WOW.... I don't know what to say, some of the woods you have there are stunning.... I can't wait to see the finished product....