Woods (pics and tone desciptions)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Metts, Jul 17, 2001.

  1. Hello once again everyone.

    I'm in the final stretch of getting specs done on my 7-string custom, and deciding on the woods is my final hurdle.

    As it stands right now, here are the woods:
    Neck - 5-piece Wenge/Pheart/Wenge/Pheart/Wenge
    Yes, Pheart is short for purpleheart in my little scheme.
    Body - Mahogany
    Body Top - Cocobolo
    Fretboard - Massacar Ebony

    So anyway, here are a few questions I've got about all of this:

    1.) Tonally, are Gabon (black) and Massacar Ebony nearly identical?

    2.) What's your opinion of how the Cocobolo top and Massacar Ebony board will look together? I've been having a really tough time finding pictures of both woods, so if you could point me to some really good pictures of what they should look like in a finished state that would be wonderful as well. As a side note to this, on some sites Cocobolo appears more brown whereas on others it appears more red. Which is it normally?

    3.) Do you have any suggestions at all regarding the woods I've selected?

    Like I said this is the final step in getting my specs decided, and your help is greatly appreciated!
  2. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    #1 - I've read Gabon is harder, but not by much. Since we're not talking acoustic intruments here, I don't think you'll notice a significant difference, other than the cost of macassar. The few luthiers I know of keep Gabon around that they bought at a good prices because they know people will ask for it. Not so with macassar. But if the price doesn't scare you, go for it. It's beautiful and apparently makes fine fingerboards.

    #2 - Wanna see some primo cocobolo? Go to www.cocoboloinc.com and www.cocobolo.net They show grades and how different sawing methods affect it, last I looked. www.righteouswoods.com and www.bereahardwoods.com(click on "Woods" at Berea) have nice stuff too and will work with you. Jim at Berea knows a lot about using cocobolo on basses/guitars. Judith Mattart at The Lumber Lady knows a lot about woods, will exhange emails promptly and often, and offers many woods from all continents.

    That last point about "working with you" is important. If you are as finicky about the cosmetics as I am, you don't just pick a specie, you pick a board. If the luthier can get the wood from their usual sources, find an example of the wood you like, send the pic to them, and say, "This is what I'm talking about."
    What is "quilted" or "fire red" to one person, may not be to you. For instance, have you seen the August Bass Player? They review a Conklin GT-7 with a "quilted maple top." "Quilted" my heiny!!! That looks exactly like the swamp ash in a Carvin catalog. Some cocobolo will appear more brown because it has oxidized more than more freshly cut stuff.
    I also have a piece of cocobolo bought for my custom. Finding it was painstaking. Moreover, I was talking to a guy at Berea Hardwoods today and he was explaining to me how certain finishes make the wood darken significantly in 5-7 months. From what he says, there are some practices that need to be followed to maintain the bright red of the wood.

    IMO, your macassar and cocobolo will be a knockout. The red hues and high, irregular figure of the cocobolo contrasting with the yellowish and chocolate browns of the macassar and its figure.

    You might find www.mimf.com/link2.htm#wood helpful and interesting too. It has tons of wood resources for musical instrument makers.
  4. Hot damn, that is gonna be one dark sounding bass.:eek:

    I think the Cocobolo will look awesome with the fingerboard...whether you choose the macassar or not. You staining the body or leaving it clear and just glossing/oiling it?

    EDIT: After looking at cocobolinc.com, I now must have bloodwood as a top for one of my basses. I must.
  5. Rickbass1: Thanks for the extremely informative reply! I managed to find that cocoboloinc.com site just before I checked this thread for replies. Needless to say, I sent the link the Dave Pushic (who is making my custom - of course) with my newest specs as an example of the coloring I was looking for in cocobolo. Now it's just a matter of waiting for a reply which never takes too long from Dave.

    PanteraFan: I'm actually shooting for a bit of a darker sound right now, so I'm glad you caught that. I just got myself a Stingray 5 not too long ago so I've got bright and growly covered.

    I'm pretty sure I'm going to just go with oil on this bass. I don't want to choke off any of the tone from these woods. I really don't think a thick candy shell would look very good on this bass. If I actually go through with getting this baby built, I'll be sure to post pictures when it's done. I'm sure you guys may find the body design a bit radical, but I figure if you're going to get a 7-string built it may as well be a bit out there. I'm sure John "Look at my double-necked 7" Turner would probably agree with me there! :)
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

  7. Hmm, when I made that reply of mine I couldn't see some of the other replies that had been posted.

    Lemme just say that this isn't a fantasy in the least. I'm going to get this bass built, but I want to keep it all around a certain price point. So if it turns out that the woods are going to drive the cost above where I want to be, I'll simply change the woods to something different.
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    That was my take-away from the "If I'm going to actually get this bably built.....". I guess I put too much emphasis on the "if" and the "actually."

    No offense intended.
  9. No offense taken at all...

    I actually figured that little message might come out all wrong :)

    I think that statement was intended to be an expression of the fact that I can't believe I'm going to have a beautiful custom bass. Of course, it didn't really come out that way!

    Anyway, you've been extremely helpful. Thanks for everything.
  10. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA