Your opinion on jatoba, ipe, and stabilized maple?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by [CRTL+ALT+DEL], Feb 22, 2014.


    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    I am no luthier. But I plan on building a bass this summer. I'm virgin to building a bass.

    That said, I've read almost every thread I can find on ipe and jatoba.

    I'm building this because there is no super long scale bass like a quake that I can afford. I will be using someone else's tools. I don't care about weight. I want a nice stiff, thin but wide neck thru construction.

    Originally I want to make an all carbon fiber, no wood bass. But wood is cheaper. I then was planing on getting ipe but found from a thread where wilser built one that was so stiff it broke the truss rod and couldn't be adjusted.

    So now I'm wondering the same about jatoba. If I make a 3 piece of jatoba/ipe stripe/jatoba with an ipe FB, will that be to stiff to adjust with a truss, or dual truss?

    Obviously I won't be using cf or metal rods if the wood is this stiff.

    I'm also toying with the idea of using maple and stabilized maple. Anyone know what the Janka is on stabilized woods?

    And lastly, what are the tonal qualities of ipe, jatoba, stabilized wood? I've heard very few descriptions. And please don't argue about wether woods effect tone. I'm not totally a believer that it makes a big difference when it comes to electric solid bodies, but I think it makes some amount

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    I guess the world may never know
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    From what I have read, ipe is very hard and heavy. It would probably make for a fine fretboard, but may be a bit heavy to be used for the whole neck. I doubt it was the reason for the truss rod breaking though, I would be more inclined to believe it was just a bad truss rod.

    I have used jatoba one time for a neck, it was pretty easy to work with, plenty stiff, and also a pretty attractive wood. The only think was that it got a few burn marks from my router that were very difficult to sand out, and that particular board smelled like vomit when cutting it.

    I have no knowledge of stabilized maple, or even what it is. Maple is a pretty stable wood already, so I am not sure what the stabilization process involves, or why its needed.

    I will refrain from comment about tonal qualities.

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    Thanks, from what I read a dude made an all ipe neck and it was to stiff to adjust. When I meant stabilized maple, I meant the acrylized stuff. Never dealt with it but, it looks cool. And I hear you don't have to put a finish on it. And it comes in any color you want
  5. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    The jatoba and the maple will both probably be relatively hard but workable. Ipe is another thing entirely. It's definitely far too heavy for a reasonably weighted neck and it would be pretty difficult to carve. The real issue is somewhat related to your comment about not being able to move the neck with a trussrod. Not only is Ipe capable of that its capable of something worse, unstoppable movement. I've had the misfortune at my current day job to have to build some doors from Ipe for a well meaning but questionably designed kitchen. On average we had to replace about 50% of the doors due to movement and some of the doors cracked themselves open at the glue joints.

    Part of the problem is the wood itself but another issue is that most Ipe is brought here for use in long term outdoor construction and isn't dried to the degree it would need to be for furniture or luthiery. As others said, it would make a great fingerboard but using it in a neck is asking for trouble.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I guess the goal is to have stiff strings. With such a long scale you don't need much from the wood to get stiff.
    Stiffness is mostly in the neck assembly anyway. Make sure the link between neck and body is superstiff and you'll be fine even with regular maple.

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    What's a good moisture percentage for kiln dried woods? The place I was going to get ipe from said they dried theirs to something like 12-14%. But it was a decking place.

    Also I'm working on getting stiffer strings. Just got a custom set that I've been waiting forever for. And as far as I can see, they sent me a duplicate set of the ones I wasn't happy with. There is a hundred wasted bucks. It sounds all fieldy over here.... Damnit
  8. I'm not a luthier, but my experience with turning blanks is that it depends on the wood and the stabilization process. I've worked with open-cell stabilized woods that were like cork, and I've worked with closed-cell stabilized woods that were almost impossible to cut without sharpening my tools constantly. The times I've worked with stabilized maples, they were very much like a hard plastic, however.
  9. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Ipe does make a fine fingerboard material sadly customers don't want it because it does not have a fancy name and is not expensive.
    kkaarrll likes this.
  10. [CRTL+ALT+DEL]

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    i'm making my own, for me. i was looking at woods with the priority of strong/stiff/cheap.
  11. [CRTL+ALT+DEL]

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    i don't care about fanciness. or fancy names. i like all black and plain as plain can be. i'll be ebonizing the whole thing. so i don't care if the wood looks like vomit. i couldn't play some fancy figured rare wood, with gold hardware, and my name written in some special shell design dyed with virgin tears on the fretboard. other people might like that but i think it's gawdy, tacky, and won't make me sound or play better.
  12. I would think that more people wouldn't want it because it tends to be ugly as hell, and clashes with most other woods and finishes.

    That being said, I have seen a few spectacular Ipe fretboards that made me rethink my opinion. If you get an attractive piece, and can plan a build that complements the snot green, it's a unique choice.

  13. JayGunn

    JayGunn Supporting Member

    <<What's a good moisture percentage for kiln dried woods?>>

    It's an odd fact of nature that wood moisture content tends to stabilize at around 1/5th of relative humidity. This holds true for most woods in the 20%-80% humidity range, but at the extremes the curve is not straight. I read this in an old wood textbook and have found it to be true with a moisture meter as well.

    [Warning--I don't know if extremely hard or extremely oily woods follow this rule of thumb, e.g. rosewood].

    The kiln I have bought wood directly from dries to about 5-6%. Why so extremely dry I don't know, because to keep it at that moisture content you'd have to store it at about 25-30% relative humidity. In North Carolina that's a lot of dehumidifying for a shop or warehouse. In Phoenix or San Diego, drying wood to 6% might be ideal.

    I'm setting up a shop in NC that'll have my Honeywell DH90 dehumidifier in it (max 90 pints of water removed per day) to keep the r.h. around 40-45%, which will hold the wood around 8-9%, which to me is ideal.

    It is much better for the wood to be dry and take up moisture after you make something than to be wet and lose moisture. Keeping ipe at 12-14% is designed to make no big movement as you install it on your deck outside.

    If you buy wood from your local hardwood dealer it also may be that wet from sitting in their unconditioned warehouse for some months, even if they bought it at 6%. The main thing is that if you keep wood in a more humid place--your garage, basement or unheated shop--then you make something with it and then bring it inside, the likely sudden shrinkage can really be a problem, especially when the heat is on. So bring it into the heated/air conditioned/dehumidified space for several weeks before you start cutting it to its final dimensions, longer for thick pieces.

    Hope this helps!
  14. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    Jatoba is unstable and doesn't weather well. Janka hardness doesn't measure stiffness or overall strength, just how easy it is to marr.
  15. [CRTL+ALT+DEL]

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    Even kiln dried jatoba(Brazilian cherry)? I'm doing a multilaminate, regardless of what stingers I do. With truss rods. The dude above said ipe moves about too. But all those wishbass guys have ipe fretboards.

    Just curious, if the wood you speak of is properly dried.
  16. [CRTL+ALT+DEL]

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    I should specify that currently I aggressively play a $150 dean with massive custom strings. It's not working for my subcontra tuning. The low strings are floppy and clanky, the neck feels floppy. So I'm planning on building something with maybe a 45" scale. Again, I don't care about weight. Im 6'2" and 250lbs and my day job has me dragging around 100' 4/ø 14 hrs a day. I think of the whole subcontra bass as a different instrument than a bass. Just as a ukulele player can't complain that a jazz bass is too heavy. Tubas weigh how much? And they march around a football field.

    Also, I'm not married to my wood choices.

    Also, anyone who wants to argue that subcontra is inaudible lunacy. There are countless other threads for that argument. So no reruns please. Anyways, my low string is the same as a borsendorfer's lowest black key. Look that up on YouTube, watch the crappy quality video and tell me you can't hear anything.
  17. HaMMerHeD


    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    If you're looking for cheap, strong, stiff, and heavy, I would really think more about a Hard maple neck, a Northern ash body, and something like Katalox for the fingerboard. Katalox is harder than Ipe, and is pretty cheap if you look around enough.
  18. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Janka is hardness. Important for fingerboards.
    Modulus of elasticity is deflection under load. Closest to what you want for a neck but fingerboard also contributes to stiffness.

    Well seasoned jatoba will be fine, I have used it in necks many times.

    If you can believe published numbers, here are stiffness in lb-f/in2 and density (lbs/ft3):
    maple (hard) - 1.83M / 44
    ipe - 3.17M / 73
    jatoba - 2.72M / 62
    swarzia (wamara, katalox) - 3.5M / 72

    I do not have numbers for "stabilized". There are many processes called "stabilized". Acrylized is a process by which a resin is forced into wood fibers under pressure & heat. Much improves janka and luster but idk about MOE. Ask your supplier.

    Buy your ipe from someplace with indoor storage. Ask them how long they have had it. Let it acclimate to your shop. Nothing can spoil a project like impatience.
  19. [CRTL+ALT+DEL]

    [CRTL+ALT+DEL] mad scientist

    May 25, 2008
    cool. thanks for all the info guys. i think i have a good idea now. and further reading made it seem as though acrylized wood is just like this guy described it. and as much as i loathe the feel of whatever plastic-y crap the put on maple fretboards. i'll just forget that one. though it looked really cool. especially the dyed stuff

  20. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I have one cool piece I never thought of it as snot green but that does crack me up. :O)