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is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Mario Proulx » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:28 am

But black walnut IS exotic.

To me. Ain't no walnut growing this far north...

See the point? What's exotic and local to any one person can be very, very different to another.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Barry Guest » Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:52 am

True, true, true. Hey Mario, have you heard of Gidgee? (botanical name is Acacia cambergei) Aussie of course! It is an arid land wood that is more dense than ebony and I would like to know what you think of it for nuts, bridges, tailpiceces etc. If you email me internally and give me a mailing address, I would happy to post you some gratis samples to get an expert opinion.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Jeff Brooks » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:51 pm

Hey guys, can either of you tell me about macassar ebony for a solid body wood? I am planning an 8-string bass build, and I am looking for a sound that is bright and growls like walnut, but has a stronger bottom end. I wasn't sure if I could get a stronger bottom end than walnut, but I read a review somewhere that macassar ebony produced a "thunderous" bottom end... ??
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:13 pm

Oh! Now there's a tough question.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Jeff Brooks » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:29 pm

So what are your thoughts Chuck? Ever used it?
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Mark Swanson » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:12 pm

I don't know about the tone, but it would weigh a ton and a half.
Harder, dense woods give a lot of sustain, and often give a brittle tone with a lot of snap. If I wanted bottom I'd go with something like walnut or mahogany.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:28 pm

Hey Jeff, I build acoustics ... and we in the acoustic world ... and you in the electric solid-body world, we don't seem to have the same language - for wood and its ... er ... "characteristics".
Quite frankly, I don't understand what you guys are talking about when you say that maple is bright, or such-and-such is dark.
For example, a walnut back-and-sides acoustic would not necessarily have a "strong bottom end".

That's why I said it was a tough question :P

And I've only used Mac ebony for a fingerboard
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Barry Guest » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:36 am

I'm with you Chuck, but a "strong bottom end" might mean you need big strong legs to carry it. "Dark"??? well ebony is dark, and "bright" .....well,.......... but seriously, I do think that we "characterize" wood too much. Sure, the hardwoods provide a more crisp and bright tonal quality, and the softwoods are more mellow in isolation. However, we adorn our instruments with other materials, especially in the case of electric guitars where copious amounts of metal and plastic and heavy gloss finishes damp, or at least alter the original tonal quality of the wood.
Acoustic instruments like the guitar and violin are probably the closest thing to realizing the original tonal quality in the finished article, but even then there are variables that provide subtle changes that are unavoidable.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:11 pm

Acoustic instruments like the guitar and violin are probably the closest thing to realizing the original tonal quality in the finished article, but even then there are variables that provide subtle changes that are unavoidable.


Yes - What Barry said.

The words still confuse me, but I think at a fundamental level acoustic instruments and electric instruments differ in the overall scale of wood characteristics that are being "expressed" by the instrument.
In other words:
Electric instruments work at the "plank" or "block" scale of the wood. Think 2x4.
Acoustics work at the thin, flexible sheet scale of the wood. Think shingle.

My brain is all wrapped around how a sheet of maple that is 0.090" thick x 16" x 21" plate sounds, and an electric builder is concerned with how a 2" x 3/4" x 24" neck sounds.

Two very different pieces of wood.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Jeff Brooks » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:01 pm

Thanks guys for your input. Never really put that much thought into the differences in wood selection for acoustics vs. solids. I mean, I guess I assumed a lot of acoustic wood selection was based on the overall strength of the wood; and I also assumed the same basic tonal considerations would span the entire realm. You've really got me to thinking...
I have never been a huge fan personally of overstated active electronics in my instruments. I am a wood lover, and don't even prefer thick glossy finishes. One of the best sounding basses I ever owned had the two pickups wired to two separate outputs, and only a single volume knob on each one. The finish was wax over sealed ash. It was an incredibly good looking, good sounding, good playing bass. Until someone else decided they liked it better than me, and stole it right out of the church sanctuary. :cry: Anyways...
I play a lot of notes of the low B string. Even the 8 stringer I am planning here will be a 4 string with the added harmony strings, and tuned B-E-A-D. Thus, I am hunting for a "deep, dark, growly, thunderous" natural tone without too much electronic aid.
Sound like anything from the land down under Barry?
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Mark Swanson » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:52 pm

The wood that makes up a solid body instrument really has very little to do with the sound. It can reflect some of the woods' characteristics, but that's about it. Far more difference is made by the pickups (active or not), bridge and the setup. I think you'd do better by choosing a wood that will make a comfortable and playable guitar, and getting the sound you want by choosing the right electronics.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:58 pm

Now there's the answer I was waiting for. Thanks Mark.
I don't build solid-body instruments so I can only hit it from the theoretical angle.
I got no cred. :roll:
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Greg Robinson » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:24 pm

Jeff Brooks wrote:I play a lot of notes of the low B string. Even the 8 stringer I am planning here will be a 4 string with the added harmony strings, and tuned B-E-A-D. Thus, I am hunting for a "deep, dark, growly, thunderous" natural tone without too much electronic aid.


Your biggest problem here is that even despite the popularity of 5 and 6 (or more) string basses tuned low B, most amplifiers and speaker cabinets are simply not designed to reproduce frequencies that low. It takes significantly more power, and physically larger components and cabinets to reproduce frequencies that low, and in a lot of cases, it's simply not practical to make something that will perform down there.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:41 pm

So if a guitar E string is at 82Hz (which, BTW, is very low for a guitar to generate), then a standard bass E is 41Hz.
B below that is ... about 31Hz.

Yea, that is very far down there in the audio spectrum. Your really only going to hear the harmonics above that.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Greg Robinson » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:55 am

Not to mention that most people older than their mid twenties don't hear too well down there either.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Mario Proulx » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:00 am

Ah, but those of us who -can- hear it, love the tone of that low B.... Actually, you feel it as much as or more than you hear it.

I agree that it takes a great amp to do it justice if you're after volume, but at lower volume levels, most decent bass amps can handle the task reasonably well. The "house" system in most halls, on the other hand, typically can't handle it.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Rodger Knox » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:54 am

For notes that low, the speaker becomes very important. Most full-range speakers don't go much lower than 40 Hz, for those low notes a dedicated subwoofer would be the ticket.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Raudonis » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:32 pm

Mark Swanson wrote:I don't know about the tone, but it would weigh a ton and a half.
Harder, dense woods give a lot of sustain, and often give a brittle tone with a lot of snap. If I wanted bottom I'd go with something like walnut or mahogany.


The majority of the wood in the body of the five string that I built is walnut and it really has a nice low end. Based on the weight/boom ratio, I think I would stick with the walnut. Besides, if you can find some claro it just looks so damned pretty. I usually shy away from claro due to the price but if you're willing to spring for Ebony, claro should be walk in the park.
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Chuck Raudonis » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:41 pm

Greg Robinson wrote:
Jeff Brooks wrote:I play a lot of notes of the low B string. Even the 8 stringer I am planning here will be a 4 string with the added harmony strings, and tuned B-E-A-D. Thus, I am hunting for a "deep, dark, growly, thunderous" natural tone without too much electronic aid.


Your biggest problem here is that even despite the popularity of 5 and 6 (or more) string basses tuned low B, most amplifiers and speaker cabinets are simply not designed to reproduce frequencies that low. It takes significantly more power, and physically larger components and cabinets to reproduce frequencies that low, and in a lot of cases, it's simply not practical to make something that will perform down there.
You're looking for the deficiencies in the wrong place!


I built one of the fEARful 2 x 12 cabinets for my amp and loaded it with two twelve inchers that were designed as subwoofers and then added a 10" cabinet with a couple of horns/mids and it moves things inside my wall when I let the low B rip. It is an amazing design and pretty easy to build.
Attachments
Finished.JPG
Finished build before I put on the grills. It is all mahogany.
Build.JPG
During the initial glue up in the build
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Re: is tradtion holding us back wood wise?

Postby Jeff Brooks » Thu Nov 01, 2012 5:30 pm

Ah.. Thank you Mr. Proulx. I completely agree. I have become so accustomed to playing 5 and 6 strings that I cannot even play a 4 string anymore. I am lost on it searching for my B string. When I said I play a lot of notes on the B string, that is precisely what I mean... I chord the B string all the way up and down the board. So, it is not only the bottom end B note/frequency being played. However, I do find myself playing the low B, C, and D quite often.

I don't have any issues hearing it, reproducing it, and Feelingit :mrgreen: So I am at a loss of understanding with the comments of impracticality. I do agree that the equipment's frequency response is critical, and I have experienced some equipment that will reproduce the lower signals better than others, even with the same stated frequency response. Maybe its resonance issues... I agree with your comments concerning full range speakers; it has been my experience that we typically roll off FOH frequencies below 50 Hz, (and sometimes 80 Hz), which does create a problem.

As far as wood selection, I do wholeheartedly agree that the characteristics of the wood tend to "shine through", and probably more so than the actual tonality differences; however, I am new to scratch building, but I am not new to playing, and I have to respectfully disagree that wood selection does make a noticeable difference in tone, howbeit much more understated than what the electronics produce. Yet, I have to say that I think some of the tonal differences we hear are rather a perceived derivative of the wood's characteristics. Maybe I am feeling the tone in addition to hearing it?

Hope I don't sound contradictory. I do agree with some of your points, and I appreciate and welcome them all.
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