yet an other wood thread...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Balor, Nov 13, 2001.

  1. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    Hi there,
    i'm having a 7 string build and i don't what i should go for. The main conserns are eveness of output between the lows and highs, crisp and defined tone without to much brithness.

    As it stand right now, it's 35 inch scale, neck-trough design with an aluminium hipshot type B bridge and a maple neck. The electronic is probably gonna be a custom MM frmo Bassline.

    The unknown are the fretbord, body and top woods... any suggestion?

  2. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
  3. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Thanks Brendan, that was a lot of help! :)
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I found it best to start out thinking about what kind of tone characteristic(s) I want.

    After finding the woods known for those characteristics, (through research), it was a matter of;

    - finding the combinations that would get those tones; here's an excellent article
    - getting the most beautiful woods I could find that would produce those tones (if your budget allows it).

    Perhaps the partially completed photo album of my bass's construction will give you some ideas to get started

    Suggestions for fingerboard/top/body woods? Considering the characteristics you mentioned;

    - for body woods, be sure to have a look at a figured rock maple (quilted/flamed/birdseye/spalted) and cocobolo (one source - ) Alembic, Luthiers Mercantile, et al, speak in awe of cocobolo.
    The cocobolo should "smooth out" the rock maple and balance the entire tonal range (it's considered the equal of the legendary Brazilian rosewood)

    - fretboard; take a look at goncalo alves and macassar ebony (I'd stay away from the rock maples with that aluminum bridge).
    If you can afford it, Gilmer Wood is offering some snakewood fingerboards. That stuff is just the nuts! When I was looking for a snakewood fingerboard, no one had what I needed in their inventory. Just look at these bad boys!;

  5. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    I've talked to my luthier and suggested a 2 wook body: walnut for the bass side and alder for the treble... much like the 6 string from Dingwall that bassNW had for sale sometime ago. But since it's a neck-thru, it might not be that big of a deal tone wise. What to you think about that?

    Thanks for the reply, but the guy as a rely big stock of amazing woods (near impossible bird's eye density on a big block of maple, beautiful crotch maple and walnut.... and it goes on and on, it's almost unbelievable :)

    thanks again
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    IME, the wing woods contribute big time to the tonal characteristics of the bass, just by sheer mass for starters.

    That alder will give you tonal balance all across the range. The walnut should give it some more warm lows. Alder tends to have defined lows, IME.
  7. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    This idea of putting walnut on the "bass" side and alder on the "treble" side sounds pretty silly to me. Not that 1. using a mix of the two woods doesn't have merit, and 2. laminating the two that way (instead of horizontally, ie walnut front/alder back) doesn't have merit. Both of those seem OK to me. BUT I think you could reverse the halves and it would sound the same. *Especially* on a neck-through.

    Either way, the vibrations from the string are sent through the neck and the bridge before the body. Each one of these (especially the bridge, even more especially a massive one) is going to transmit the vibrations from any string evenly into the two halves of the body. And if it doesn't, it won't be what you expect, because the bridge will vibrate "around" the points where it is anchored to the body, some some will go some places and others different.

    P.S. What does snakewood *sound* like? :)
  8. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    I always thouth it was the other way around since the walnut is somewhat heavier than alder is. In the end, shouldn't it be a bit brighter, defined tone then alder?
  9. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    Yes Geshel, your probably right, since your giving me almost the same argument as my luthier... the neck is the most important part, it gives te vibration to all of the other wood parts.

    Otoh, he doesn't think that the top wood changes the tone by that much on a neck throu ( the bridge thosen't sit on that particular part...) , unless it's over half an inch thick. Also, don't forget my first post, it's an alunimium bridge that i'll use

    This is probably true, but it could give a nice blend to the whole and to this a nice piece of spalted maple or crotch walnut... also don't forget that it's 7 string bass, that's a very wide range of tone to cover, maybe two relatively big piece different types of wood would even out the responce?

    thanks for the reply and, by the way, could you be more specific...your "no merit" statement isn't very clear.

    thanks again
  10. I'm not sure how relevant this is, but my specs would be:

    7 pc. Neck: Flame Maple/Wenge/Flame Maple/Purpleheart/Flame Maple/Wenge/Flame Maple

    Body: Cocobolo body core, Claro/Flame Walnut top

    Snakewood fingerboard(ebony if I couldn't afford the snakewood)

    Claro/Flame Walnut headstock overlay

    Abalone Star inlays

  11. I think that on the Dingwall this makes sense, given the mounting of the bridge, which is mounted on 4 1/4" hex bolts that go right through the body. The Dingwall 5 I have right now has a dual density swamp ash body (the sixer that is coming has the dual density walnut/alder body). On my bass the upper half of the body vibrates significantly more than the lower half when playing the B and E strings, and the lower vibrated much more than the top when the G and D strings are played. So I can see how having different tone woods on each side of the body can make a difference in this case. So I would have to say that having the walnut and alder reversed would likely make some difference on a bolt-on bass (like the Dingwalls).

    I can see, with it being a neck thru, there being no real difference as the bridge will be anchored to the neck-thru, and thus the body wings will vibrate as a result of the centre vibrating,meaning there should be little difference in where the alder and walnut are placed.

  12. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Sorry, double negative: "Not that (thing) doesn't have merit" meaing "I could see (thing) having some definite effect on tone". :)

    Also, duh you're right dingz2! Individual bridge saddles. Well, then I have to respectfully bow out, it seems possible now that that would really do something. And of course Sheldon knows what he's doing, where I couldn't build a 2x4 :)
  13. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Cocobolo body core: Expect it to weigh an absolute ton. Cocobolo is the densest wood out there short of Lignum Vitae, which is only used for nuts. It's something like half again as heavy as bubinga! A guess would put a cocobolo-bodied bass at pushing 20 pounds! (cocobolo is denser than water, and water is actully some pretty damn heavy stuff)

    I saw a picture of a pallet of a few cocobolo boards on one of the wood supply web pages, and the caption was "500 pounds of cocobolo!" or something like that.

    (edit) OK, it was a pic of LV, which is a bit heavier than cocobolo. But still, whoah, 1,000 lbs! (bottom of the page)
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    geshel - I did research ad nauseaum before I selected cocobolo for my bass body and my info doesn't jive with yours. The reputable sources I know of put cocobolo's density at less than water (the standard measure, 1.00). Ebony, some ironwoods, hickories, African blackwood, et al, have densities higher than cocobolo. Cocobolo doesn't sink, unless the sample is extraordinary.

    High end luthiers like Ray Rogers, Geoff Gould, Alembic love making bodies with it. In fact there's a Ken Smith Elite with cocobolo top and bottom and walnut core shown here The only reason Gould said Modulus doesn't use it is because you can't tell if it's "certified" wood (endangered species that are certified by gov't as legally harvested). Alembic has this to say about it, "There is always the crown jewel of bass tone woods, Coco Bolo, with it's complex bright and dark mix."

    So, I seriously doubt these guys are making 20 lb. basses or that mine will be. But, you're right - it will be noticeably heavier than most basses.

    I know some sources vary on wood info. That's why I look for the most often cited by reliable sources.

    (Not that it matters, but lignum vitae is used for a lot more than nuts; bowls, mallets, tool/knife handles, ship parts, butcher blocks).
  15. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Sorry if I made it sound like you didn't know about the wood, I had just never run across anyone talking about a cocobolo solid body before! :)

    "Those guys" use cocobolo only for a top or top/back laminate, never for the core, at least as far as I've seen. And I've heard people talk about the extra weight when using it as such (as only a 1/2" laminate). I've never, ever, seen one with a solid cocobolo body.

    You're right about LV, I meant as far as basses are concerned. :)

    Looking up cocobolo online, I do see a variety of values listed for the density, so maybe the >1.00 ones are just people showing the extremes. In fact, the number I see most frequently is .80 - .98, but the air-dry weight is 62-76pcf, which compares to bubinga at 50-60pcf, ebony at 63pcf, LV at 80pcf, Braz. RW 47-56pcf, and mahogany at *32pcf*. So just keep in mind, more than twice as heavy as mahogany! And substantially heavier than bubinga, which makes some pretty heavy basses (even the small-bodied Thumb is considered a "heavy" bass by some people). My 6 has a Padauk body, padauk is in the 42-51pcf range, and it is heavy (12-13 pounds? it does have a bubinga neck too however). And the guy that built it ruled out a bubinga body because it would weigh "a ton".

    (BTW I got these numbers from

    Anyway, I guess the answer is: ask a luthier. They should be able to give you a weight estimate, and if you are OK with that then that's all that matters. I just have a feeling they'll cringe/go wide-eyed when you ask! :D

    Um, also, I just noticed now, my post was a reply to PanteraFan, not you! OK, that clears some things up. You (rickbass) were talking about top woods, not solid cores, right? OK, everything is becoming clear now. . . :D :D
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    geshel - No big deal; it didn't take it as you inferring I didn't know squat about the wood. You were very cool. My cocobolo isn't a solid body, but the cocobolo top will be thick - 1/2"-5/8", depending on what the planing does. Pushic didn't "cringe" or caution me about it. All he said is, "that will be one heavy bass."

    My core point was I don't think PanteraFan should turned off to a wood that some of the top luthiers worship, in terms of both tone and appearance.

    It doesn't matter if it's a solid body of it, a core, wings, whatever. It's thickness that counts and without a decent slab of it, it won't come through in the tone produced.

    Besides, body bevels and contours take away a lot of weight. Not that weight is necessarily a bad thing anyway. These pansy, feather weight, amps and basses still haven't been able to replace what has stood the test of time. ;) But if weight gives someone a hissy fit, your advice to just ask the luthier where your particular board will come out is dead right.

    I've found the numbers used at some wood sources to be suspect. (Righteous' numbers seem cool...but they were a little odd to deal with as a customer). Some use properties based on stock they tested from their inventory or are just plain whack. And their methodology is shaky since they don't keep scientists on staff testing a variety of samples.

    FWIW - Other than Hoadley's book, "Understanding Wood", good sources I've found are US Forestry Tech Sheets and The World of Woods database, if you don't mind registering and downloading the software.
  17. some guy#2

    some guy#2

    Feb 3, 2001
    I've recently been giving serious consideration to having my local luthier (who is very good btw) make a new body for my fretless P/J. This thread has a lot of good info & links!

    rickbass1, I'd like to see that bass when it's finished.

    From the limited reading that I've done on the subject I've come to think that it is the neck woods that contribute more to the tone of the instrument...moreso than the body.
    I have a rosewood/rosewood Warmoth neck on a plywood Squier (Made in Korea) body and it sounds very good & sustains well though I think it is a bit dark...or moreso, that the notes start too slowly.

    Hmmm, what wood/s should I use for the body?
    Time to talk to my luthier!
    I want a lightweight, darker in appearance wood & prefer that it remain unfinished.
    I REALLY DIG the bubinga Peavey Cirrus.

    ...sorry to ramble!
    Interesting thread!!!
  18. Actually, Rickbass is my evil alter ego. he answeres questions on woods when exact specs are needed;).

    In all honesty, I wasn't really talking about cocobolo as a fully solid body. I'd spec my bass so that the body thickness was 1/2 Cocobolo and 1/2 Walnut(expensive, but this is a custom). I'm not sure what this would do to weight(if it were an issue at all), but in all honesty I don't care. I haven't played a bass yet that I thought was heavy, and I've played a lot. A Spector feels just right. An Alembic Series 2 felt a bit bulky, but I could easily pick it up with two fingers. Being 6'4", 210lbs has its merits:D.
  19. Balor said:
    Thanks for the reply, but the guy as a rely big stock of amazing woods (near impossible bird's eye density on a big block of maple, beautiful crotch maple and walnut.... and it goes on and on, it's almost unbelievable :)

    thanks again

    Pardon my ignorance, but what is "Crotch maple?:confused:
  20. Balor


    Sep 24, 2000
    Montréal, Québec
    If the term is correct (and I not wrong...), the crotch figure (be it on maple, walnut or anything else) is a bit like quilt, but the patches are bigger and sort of randomly placed around a knot (for what i've seen at least). I guess that claro walnut can be describe as crotch

    check this URL as well

    check with google, you'll probably find something good!