Probably the most interesting thing about Ashbory basses is how close their tone comes to that of upright basses played pizzicato. Spectrographic analysis reveals that the silicone rubber strings of the Ashbory bass readily damp out high frequency harmonics and have pretty high damping for the lows as well. Building an acoustic Ashbory style bass presents an amazing challenge to the luthier. The strings are short and under very low tension, and vibrate in the bass range. The instrument has to couple well to the strings but the plates can’t be so rigid that the low forces exerted by the strings can’t move them. The plates have to be big enough and the body has to be capacious enough to support the low frequencies expected of a bass instrument. And of course the instrument has to be robust enough so that a player can’t readily destroy the thing by bumping it against a wall every now and again.
Last updated: Tuesday, May 08, 2012
The Elastico (Italian for rubber band) bass is constructed more or less like a classical guitar. The top is very lightly fan braced. The top is made of spruce plywood and the back is made of birch ply. The ribs, neck, fingerboard and bridge are made of eastern soft maple. The upper bout of the body is very narrow compared to the lower bout. This seems to work better visually with the Ashbory’s short neck and doesn’t seem to have much of a negative affect on the tone. It has two sound holes in unconventional places, also to no obvious influence on the overall tone. The acoustic tone is rather quiet, very upright-like, and a little muddy in the lowest couple of notes.
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Elastico Acoustic Bass Plan (.pdf)
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Acoustic Bass Plan (.pdf)
This is a tiled version of the plan above. It can be printed out on any printer and assembled into a full-sized plan.