I'm thinking of buying a musicman bongo. It has a basswood body. Basswood seems to be used In cheaper instruments, and from what I've read is softer and more prone to dings. I'd like to get others opinion on basswood.
Basswood sounds great on a Bongo IME.
It does dent fairly easily, but it isn't crazy soft.
I wouldn't look at it as inferior wood in any case.
I would never avoid a good sounding and playing bass because it is made of bass wood. Bass wood does ding up quicker and easier than alder or ash, IME, but Bongos are really great basses, so if I had one, I'm sure I could live with a few more dents. :)
Basswood is a good tone wood.
It has 2 flaws.
1 - it does not look good with a clear finish.
2 - the wood is soft so screws don't hold as well as harder woods.
But it is wonderfully light weight.
It sure is nice hanging on a strap.
Its soft, other than that its a great wood. Its used on cheaper basses for the same reason as Poplar. Its cheap, doesn't equal bad.
I had a bongo for a few months. it was a pretty comfortable bass but when it comes to Musicman i think stingrays a sounds better.
But the total PLUS of my Carvin and any Basswood bass is that it is VERY light weight and a dream to have on your shoulder for a long gig.
But lest you think me negative about a bongo (or similar basses) let me say that while the softness things apply, the tone does not for basses that have been SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for basswood as the Bongo is. There is NO "foofy" tone on a Bongo bass. Period. And that gives you the double whammy of killer tone plus great light weight. For example the light soft wood in my Carvin takes the "quacky" edge off the piezo pickup.
The bottom line is Basswood CAN work but it has to be designed into the bass by the builder.
Get the bongo.
Get the Bongo. The wood wasn't even a consideration when I bought mine. Loved everything about this instrument the first moment I played it. It sounds amazing and is incredible to play. I don't really care what it's made from to be honest. It just works.
Problem is I don't get the Bongo as a bass in itself
I'm no Music Man fan, no mistery I don't like the ("toilet") Bongo,
but I ain't here to bash over musicman.
I'm here to help you better consider basswood
Basswood is equally used in quality and in cheap instruments...
Look at Ibanez top players signature electric guitars over the years:
Joe Satriani (every single model)
Steve Vai (all but very own Jem 7)
Paul Gilbert (all but present Fireman)
John Petrucci (ex Ibanez testimonial)
I experienced basswood on Squier Classic Vibe Jazz and Precision basses (every single one) Vintage Modified 3ts
and active deluxe Jazz basses
I had financial problems so sold all of them almost in a row (they sell pretty well) and, for their prices, I really miss'em
They suffer these kinda problems:
- a somewhat modern (in the sense of "neutral" = not that personal) sound. Not bad for me at all for I love classic lookin' instrument that I then employ with pedalboards and different pickup combinations to play even the hardest stuff;
- a fragility with screws in general. Not bad for me again, given that I often used them a full step downtuned so that my hard pluckin' hit less hard... Still, on one of them I had to route screw holes out to insert (then glue in) small walnut cilynders on which screw back bridge on.
only thing I don't like is screw holes are easy to strip as its such a soft wood.
I did this some years back, even though it was not that fair since the blue basswood body had more fresh strings.
That said the tone of the 2 bodies is very similar with the basswood lacking a little low end but having a more focused bottom in overall. All in all the tone is very close and also the basswood body was not that lighter than the alder body.
I actually cannot comment on the softness of the wood.
But regarding the looks, the Tilia trees where the wood comes from are very common here in Germany so there is a very big amount of wood available and many different qualities. I have actually seen some highly figured basswood that looked quite similar to spalted maple.
Moreover here in Germany it is considered the go-to wood for Harp construction.
Last but not least a really big part of the wood being cheap has to do with the fact that it can dry a lot quicker than other popular tonewoods.
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