Fully Carved Basses



Traditionally all basses before 1900 had to be made fully carved because the technology of wood engineering had not allowed instrument makers to use plywood or synthetic glues to make a more durable instrument. These basses are constructed as follows:

1. Internal blocks made of spruce, willow, or other soft woods are shaped to make the upper, lower, and corner points of the rib structure (garland)

2. Thin sheets of wood (usually the same hardwood that the back is made from, Maple is the most common) are bent using heat and steam to the curvature of each bout. The ribs are then glued to the blocks to form the rib garland. 

3. Two or more pieces of spruce are joined together to form the top plate. It is then roughed out, sawn to shape, carved to the final arching and graduation measurements.  This process is one of the most influential steps in determining the characteristic of the bass.

4. Similar to the top, the back is joined, shaped and finished using precise measurements.  Depending on whether the back is a flat-back or round-back determines if bracing needs to be installed.

5. The neck and pegbox are usually from one piece of Maple. It is cut out, the neck must be carefully measured and shaped, and the volute of the scroll is carved by hand using special carving tools called gouges.  

6. Once all these parts have been crafted (which probably takes an experienced maker around 300 hours) the bass is assembled using hide glue, and the neck is carefully set into the body.  At this point the maker can start the varnishing process



The Rib Garland

Ribs bent to shape, ready for assembly