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Properties of ply

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by trotters2, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. trotters2

    trotters2 TDPRI Member

    83
    Jul 23, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Recently I asked about the merits of mdf and ply as building materials. I have been tasked with building a CHEAP but GOOD QUALITY and HARDWEARING bass. Which is something of a challenge. So I'm thinking of using ply, but what effect will that have on the guitars tone? How Hard wearing is ply? And if both of these are negatives how can I counteract them?
     
  2. nofrets

    nofrets Tele-Meister

    209
    Nov 14, 2010
    West Virginia
    MDF is dimensionally stable, dense, heavy as crap, and can be hard on tools (its full of glue and shop floor sweepings). Plywood, on the other hand, is lighter, easier to work with for flat surfaces, but it's hard to get the edges to look good without tons of filler. Also, unless you buy hardwood plywood (i know woodcraft sells birch) there are likely voids between the plys that will show up at the most unlikely places.

    Any particular reason you're looking at these materials?

    P
     
  3. CRaSHDownUnder

    CRaSHDownUnder TDPRI Member

    23
    Nov 27, 2011
    Cairns, Australia
    Prolonged exposure to MDF dust can be bad for your health too - it's full of formaldehyde of one sort or another ( at least here in Oz), so when working with it, at least use a good quality dust mask - especially when routing.
     
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  5. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2011
    Southeast Florida
    Also, MDF is basically resonance free, so it will sound dull, and the edges can break very easily, especially if it gets wet.
     
  6. Pips

    Pips Tele-Meister

    469
    Dec 3, 2010
    Bournemouth England
  7. trotters2

    trotters2 TDPRI Member

    83
    Jul 23, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Thanks for all the info bout mdf but could u tell me more about ply plz? Should I "frame" it in hardwood? I.e put thin hardwood covers on the top and bottom and a thin hardwood outline around it?
     
  8. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    41
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    Plenty of hardwoods are just a little more expensive than plywood, especially the decent hardwood plywood you're likely to need to produce a nice-looking guitar. I'd just buy some poplar. Your "hardwood frame" idea sounds like FAR more work than it needs to be just for the sake of making the edges look good; besides, good luck gluing your hardwood frame to the end-grain of the plywood.

    A very cost-effective solution with good tone? IKEA shelving. It will dent, but not as easily as you'd think... and no moreso than plywood.
     
  9. Maricopa

    Maricopa Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    50
    Feb 4, 2009
    Phx, AZ
    Why would you want to use either of them? Given the work that goes into an instrument and the availability (I assume even in the UK you can find ash, alder or sycamore) of good woods there's little reason to waste all that time using materials better suited for cheap bookcases.
    Save the MDF for your routing patterns.

    Edit: Picton, you're too quick for me!
     
  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I think good plywood is actually higher priced than cheaper hardwoods. I think I'd go the hardwoods route unless the player of the instrument requests plywood.
     
  11. trotters2

    trotters2 TDPRI Member

    83
    Jul 23, 2012
    United Kingdom
    Ply because a friend of mines garage is full of the stuff so that I can get loads for free. However he has a rather small amount of hardwood that is needed for necks and fretboards
     
  12. 20721

    20721 Former Member

    446
    Sep 28, 2012
    San Diego
    Plywood works fine for guitar - I've got a ply Bullet that sounds great. But bass is going to be a problem, I suspect - my one beef with the Bullet is that it lacks bottom end, and that could make the future bass owner very unhappy.

    But hell, if you're getting it for free, give it a shot. Worst thing that can happen is you'll have to do it all over again with hardwood. For a beater bass, there is only one, BTW - swamp ash. A bonus is that it's a great sounding wood for bass.

    Let us know how this goes if you do the ply body. I'm interested in how it works out for bass.
     
  13. Abu Twangy

    Abu Twangy Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2012
    Rocky Mount, NC
     
  14. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    59
    May 25, 2010
    North Alabama
    For cheap, I'd just go to Lowes or Home Depot and get a nice 2x6 of Southern Yellow Pine.
    Or some 1" poplar boards and glue em up.
    Pine sounds pretty darn good, esp if you get a light piece.
    Poplar sounds kinda neutral, prob closest to Alder.
    Yes, both pine and poplar ding easily, but so what?
    Paint with several coats of cheap enamel.
    Both are easy to work and easy on tools too.
     
  15. Bellybuster

    Bellybuster Tele-Meister

    438
    Aug 29, 2012
    Wasaga Beach, Ontario
    I'm confused, isn't there several commercially available plywood and MDF guitars? Including Fender??
     
  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    I use a lot of poplar and I'd say swamp ash dings far more easily.
     
  17. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    57
    Feb 23, 2010
    East Tennessee
    +1 ;)

    For what this is worth (if I recall your other thread) this project has to have an "acoustic" component to it, correct? If this is true, find some masonite, not MDF, build a "rim" with the plywood, and use the masonite for the top and back (Danelectro style :)). I'd make a decent size body, 2 to 3 inches thick, to let the bass have at least some acoustic properties (if kinda quiet. Also, like the Danelectro, do a "short scale" bass, 30 inches max. If you have a regular bass to go by, mark your fretboard from the 2nd fret of the standard bass neck (34 inch scale) down toward the heel, and you will have your 30 inch scale, bass fretboard. With a decent sized body, you should get a decent "thump" from it. You can add a simple piezo under the bridge (hollow body, remb?) and even amplify it fairly decently.
    I hope this helps............it's damn near convinced me to build one :lol:
     
  18. Shepherd

    Shepherd Friend of Leo's

    Jan 17, 2008
    Maple Ridge, Canada
    Wait till you try to get a nice finish on plywood.
     
  19. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    Canada
    The plywood is free so try it. Heck, forget about being nice about it if and just make a rough body, slap a bridge and pickup on it and make some noise. Could have your answer in an afternoon.
     
  20. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity

    At my local hardware store is knot-free pine perfect for a nice light 5 piece guitar body for under $20.
     
  21. Radspin

    Radspin Friend of Leo's

    Mar 7, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    For what it's worth, I've owned and played four plywood bodied Strat copies in the last couple of years--a Squire, two Peavey Raptor I International Series and an Ibanez Gio. Got all of them in garage sales or Craigslist for cheap. All of them actually sounded very good; the Ibanez had such good sustain that I was surprised to find out it was plywood when I took the tremolo cover off. None of them weighed any more than your average solid-bodied Strat or Strat copy either.

    I kept one of the Peaveys as a beater and either sold or gave away the others--absolutely nothing wrong with any of them, and in fact, the Ibanez was an exceptional guitar--because the necks were too thin for my taste. (The Peavey, which I paid $50 for, has one of the best-feeling necks I've ever played.)
     
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