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Acoustic Bass


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Hey, I dont really post on here in this section because I dont do a whole lot with acoustics. That said, I was at practice and the band was working on a memorial song and they coyly looked at me and said, "YOu don't happen to have an acoustic?" Uh, no. Well I headed on over to Musicians friend, Guitar Center, and a buddy's shop for a look. I dont see a thing I like. Well, since I built a few solid bodys, any advice on building an acoustic bass. I was thinking something with bloodwood or some other exotic species.

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Hey, I dont really post on here in this section because I dont do a whole lot with acoustics. That said, I was at practice and the band was working on a memorial song and they coyly looked at me and said, "YOu don't happen to have an acoustic?" Uh, no. Well I headed on over to Musicians friend, Guitar Center, and a buddy's shop for a look. I dont see a thing I like. Well, since I built a few solid bodys, any advice on building an acoustic bass. I was thinking something with bloodwood or some other exotic species.

Are you wanting a bass that will keep up with other intruments without an amp? If so you are going to need a real acoustic bass. If you want a bass(like an oversized acoustic guitar), you will need to amplify it to keep up. I couldn't even start to give advice on a real acoustic bass, but your oversized acoustic type basses are built much the same as acoustic guitars (just a bit heavier and kinda oversized). Not too much point in getting too tricky(efficient) with the design as it will not be large enough to produce good bass volume. Your neck building experience will help you out(just a little different from acoustics- mainly in the heel and neck block to neck joint). The box is going to be new to you, but not too bad. Building jigs,molds, bending tools and such will take more time than building the box itself (for your first). Look around at some of the builds on this forum, look around at the Online luthiers forum, MIMF, Frets etc.... Lots of info out there, but a good book is really helpful for your first build.

If you have any specific questions. It would be easier to give you a responce. Asking for "advice on building an acoustic bass" is a very broad question.

Peace,Rich

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A quick thought on acoustic bass guitars.

The responsiveness and “loudness” of a guitar is directly coupled to the stiffness of the top. To be able to counter the massive pull of four bass strings the top is going to be VERY stiff. This makes the volume suffer. One way to remedy this is to build a (yes I know that this might sound like a strange suggestion) 3-string bass. The sting pull on a 3-string bass is much less. This will make it possible to make a much more lightly braces top and possible a much more responsive instrument. I think that there used to be a very interesting article about this over at (yea I read that you don’t like it but anyway…) MIMF. Couldn’t find it right now but maybe you can find it.

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A quick thought on acoustic bass guitars.

The responsiveness and “loudness” of a guitar is directly coupled to the stiffness of the top. To be able to counter the massive pull of four bass strings the top is going to be VERY stiff. This makes the volume suffer. One way to remedy this is to build a (yes I know that this might sound like a strange suggestion) 3-string bass. The sting pull on a 3-string bass is much less. This will make it possible to make a much more lightly braces top and possible a much more responsive instrument. I think that there used to be a very interesting article about this over at (yea I read that you don’t like it but anyway…) MIMF. Couldn’t find it right now but maybe you can find it.

Peter,

Your right that you can make a top more efficient by making it easier for the strings to move it. Removing strings would allow you to cut the static tension and lighter bracing to make the top more efficient. The limitation is still there though. Think in terms of speakers. You need to move a lot of air. You can group several high efficiency speakers with smaller cones in an enclosure to get the surface area to move a lot of air. Howver if you have a single 12" and a single 18". The 18" will have the potential to move the air better. Given the travel or throw is similar the 18" has more potential to do work per cycle. It takes more power to push the larger surface, but bass strings have the energy to do so. Given that we can't couple multiple high efficiency soundboards in a large box(as with speakers) we need that larger soundboard to work with. If you want to build in efficiency it is better to start with a design that has greater potential.

P.S. Now that I said that you will probably design some geodesic shaped box that couple many smaller high efficiency soundboards :D .

weaponepsilon,

Study up on your piezo systems. My B-Quad(solid body) can achive a nice acoustic-esc sound with its piezo system. That will probably be the best direction for you.

Peace,Rich

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Yeah, I know. I just thought that I would mention this idea that I read somewhere a long time ago. Acoustic guitar builders are sometime bad at thinking outside of the box (pun intended). Most of the acoustic bass guitars I have ever seen are simply slightly oversized guitars and I would like to see some genuine new ideas that derive from that. Removing one string on a bass is one great idea that might help acoustic basses deliver more/better sound.

P.S. Now that I said that you will probably design some geodesic shaped box that couple many smaller high efficiency soundboards :D .

Hmmm, wait a minute. Geodesic box, multiple sound boards…muuuust draaaww, muuuust build

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SwedishLuthier, I know what you mean. I couldnt help sketching out a rough design for an acoustic bass. Wouldn't a stronger bracing placed under the bridge section help out? I kinda would like to build either a four or five string.

He is suggesting the opposite. Lighter bracing to improve performance (ideally you want minimal weight and bracing, just enough to keep the soundboard from deforming or collapsing). That is where removing strings comes in to play. Lighten the tension being applied to the soundboard, allowing for lighter (more efficient) soundboard bracing). A five string will make the situation worse, but again the reality is that you will be amping this type of bass. So I would focus on it being structurally sound and looking cool.

Peace,Rich

Peter, I bet you are racking your brain to come up with a radial design :D . Wouldn't it be cool if you could work out a way to couple multiple boards and develop some crazy shapes. :D

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