Large pieces of wood


My son plays upright string bass. He is after me to buy him a better one that is a "fully carved" orchestral one.....and not made from plywood. "Better" equals, oh, about $18K. Ack. Fully carved means (typically) two pieces of wood joined/shaped for the front of the bass, and the same for the back.
It's gotten my interest such that I would like to make one....or two, or three until I finally get it right. My mistakes can be sold/given/donated to the local middle school assuming they are not hideously screwed up and moderately playable. Will I ever make one good enough? Not likely, but hey, I think it'd be fun....hence, the draw to try it. Do you realize how -few- bass luthiers there are out there? Damn few. With 3 year waiting lists. Big market for the ambitious and skillful.
That said, finding chunks of wood large enough for a project like this is -very- challenging. At this point I could care less that the first few be genuine "tonewood" (Spruce, Maple). I just want to find some wood to experiment....and make some sawdust! Dimensions are TWO pieces that are 50" x 14-1/2" x 3" and then tapering down to 1/2". These are glued together to form the front...and pretty much the same goes for the back. http://www.hvgb.net/~tonewood/prod02.htm indicates the cost for tonewood of these dimensions. High.
Yes, I'm thinking CNC router here :) I've also thought carbon fiber composite.....but that's another story for another newsgroup.
So, wood-gods.....is it me, or is it just impossible to find relatively inexpensive wood in these dimensions? Believe me, I've clicked/search/googled for quite some time now and cannot find hardwoods in large enough dimensions that don't cost an arm, leg and mortgage.
Sure, I could have more than 2 pieces for the front and for the back, but it just struck me that as odd that there are, well, 'limits' to the size of solid wood! :) I guess what we're talking about however is pretty much taking out the whole trunk of a very large tree.
Random thoughts welcome here. Thanks.
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Sounds like an intresting project.
I often get 12/4 Mahogany in widths up to 16" and 12 foot lengths that I use for tables. Try your local hardwood dealer, if they don't have what you want on hand, they should be able to special order it for you.
Also, just a thought, since you're just doing a prototype why not just glue up some boards to get the width you need?
Mort
Boyd Rollins wrote:

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Boyd Rollins wrote:

Forget clicking, searching, and googling, get out your phone book and find a hardwood lumber yard, most of which have never heard of the Internet.
--
--John
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Try NewsGroups: rec.music.makers.builders, rec.music.makers.bowed-strings. Also try The Musical Instrument Makers Forum: http://www.mimf.com/ In case you haven't done a Google search, here's a start: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q ss+making+violin+OR+fiddle
David Merrill

three until I finally

school assuming they are

good enough? Not likely,

how -few- bass luthiers

the ambitious and

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Good advice, all. Thank you for writing back. Boyd

three until I finally

school assuming they are

good enough? Not likely,

how -few- bass luthiers

the ambitious and

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On Tue, 04 Jul 2006 01:57:56 GMT, "Boyd Rollins"

Well, I'm not sure where you can get the tonewood, however, my Son played a Jon Jusek laminated base all through high school. We tried to buy it (it belonged to the high school strings association) when he graduated, however they wouldn't sell.
We ended up buying him a new base with a solid spruce top. Granted, not the $18K variety, one of those Chinese jobs with a fine Europeon name stenciled on it.
It is a whole lot more delicate than the laminated base. I spend many of my woodworking hours doing repairs on the thing. Partially, I'm sure a testiment to its origin and partially because the solid basses are just more delicate. He has to stuff it in his car to get back and forth to his lessons and playing jobs, and then drag it up to his dorm room.
Wish we had bought an old Kay or some other laminated base. Tried, couldn't find any to buy.
However, the link below may help you out. I've used this forum for a lot of help on the repairs.
http://www.violins.on.ca/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/forumdisplay.cgi?action=topics&forum=Violin+Making+and+Restoration+Forum&number=1&DaysPrune Frank
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On Tue, 04 Jul 2006 01:57:56 GMT, "Boyd Rollins"

You know, a lot of folks in my area swear by wood they get from the Amish. I haven't bothered to track any down myself, as I have a pretty solid working relationship with the local hardwood dealer, and they (the Amish) don't have phones. I don't know if they're in your area or not, but it might be worth a look if they are. By reputation, they're cheap and have nice stuff that is hard to find elsewhere hidden back in thier barns- the advice I was given was that the more patient you are, the better deal you'll get.
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Tue, Jul 4, 2006, 1:57am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@nospamitall.com (BoydRollins) doeth proclaimeth: My son plays upright <snip> He is after me to buy <snip> not made from plywood. "Better" equals, oh, about $18K. <snip> .is it me, or is it just impossible to find relatively inexpensive wood in these dimensions? <snip> Random thoughts welcome here. Thanks.
Came across your thread while looking for something else. Random you wants, random you gets.
For $18k, the kid should get a job and buy his own. He doesn't want plywood - then make one out of plywood, and don't tell him it's plywood. Laminate veneer several thicknesses thick. Check a recycled lumber yard for table tops - you should be able to get some older ones, more than large enough, and solid, not laminated - for a reasonable price.
Read a piece some time back on a guy who makes violas, etc., from scratch. He'd never made an instrument, but decided he would. At least one of his heads, or whatever the strings are wound on are called, was made from a baseball bat. Very nice instruments, and apparently the play very well.
I saw an aluminum violin years back, in a museum, the card said it sounded good.
Check out homemade instruments - and listen to some. Banjos made from cookie tins, guitars made from cigar boxes. And, they sound pretty damn good.
Me, I think I wouldn't put much effort into looking for large solid pieces to make out out of. Not unless I planned on cutting it into strips and laminating it. Look at some of the boatbuilding sites for info on cold-molding, or strip planking. You can always veneer it later if the kid wants.
You make one out of whatever is available, or you feel like. Have the kid try it out, and see how it sounds. Then if the kid opens his mouth to bitch, choke him. No prob.
I ran across my 5-string fretless banjo project the day before yesterday. I've :got" to get back on that. It'll wind up with pallet wood (laminated for the neck and head), plywood, door veneer, hickory, dogwood, holly, maybe a bit of oak, with a tastefull and discrete application of a bit of yellow paint. The only thing boughten will be a screw or two, and the strings. Now if I could only play.
Hell, if it was me, and my kid, and he wanted "me" to buy "him" a $18K giant fiddle, I'd start thinking about finding some nice clean pallets, cut them in strips, and laminate up a nice instrument. I'd want someone to test it to be sure it sounded good. Then give it a really nice paint job, in pink or some other nice color - maybe yellow, and present it to him - making sure there's a whole ot of witnesses when he got it. Either that or I'd make a rectangular one out of 2X4s and plywood - good plyood of course - and tell him me that's what I can afford.
JOAT Politician \Pol`i*ti"cian\, n. Latin for career criminal
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Boyd Rollins wrote:

The president of Grizzly makes his own guitars and Grizzly sells all kind of tone wood and billets for making guitars. Apparently they cut & slice their own wood so if you call them they might cut you some 50 inch instead of 30 inch billets.
--
Gerald Ross
Cochran, GA
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