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Alder vs. Swamp Ash

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pica, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. pica

    pica Supporting Member

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    Is there any difference in sound in basses made with Alder vs. basses made with Swamp Ash?
  2. MarthaSamira

    MarthaSamira

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  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Supporting Member

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    Personally, I'm always ready to tap some ash! I think ash tends to be brighter and lend itself more towards a scooped tone. Swamp ash can be pretty light, Northern ash tends to be heavy. IMO, alder leans more towards a good midrange, but to be honest, I have played a whole bunch Jazzes made from alder that seem to be as bright as any good ash bass.
  4. EricF

    EricF Habitual User Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes. However, the difference would be very minimal, if you can hear it at all. In any kind of mix with other instruments, any tonal difference you might hear will be buried.
  5. C.Linton

    C.Linton Supporting Member

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    Not enough to make me buy one bass over another.
  6. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

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    Yes. Alder is warmer, ash is brighter and a tad scooped. The difference is small but noticeable, even in a mix (to some). YMMV
  7. oboylebass

    oboylebass

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    Yes...and I say this having used both ash- and alder-bodied basses for years, literally hundreds hundreds and of gigs with each.

    Ash has a brighter more "scooped" tone, with less emphasis on mids.
    Alder has a punchier low mid tone that seems to "cut" better live, often perceived as louder, especially when you're not running into a P.A.

    Think Marcus Miller vs. John Paul Jones (on Zeppelin II, the non-distorted bass tones).
  8. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

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    Endorsing Artist: Brubaker Guitars
    I'm going to step on it. Yes there is a vast difference, I have two Jazz basses. One made from Alder and one made from Ash. While both sound good to me the one made from Ash is more in your face and upfront. Tell Marcus Miller you're taking his bass and redoing it with Alder.
  9. MarthaSamira

    MarthaSamira

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    He'd sound exactly like Marcus Miller...
  10. SolarMan

    SolarMan Supporting Member

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    Better yet, remake Marcus Miller's bass in Alder and don't tell him.

    Or, no, make it out of Basswood and don't tell him!!!
  11. MarthaSamira

    MarthaSamira

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    Make it out of plywood...

    He'll sound exactly like Marcus.
  12. frankieC

    frankieC Supporting Member

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    I have a alder bodied Carvin B40, and besides tone quality, it's also much lighter than my Ash Fender, and my maple Rick. It's even lighter than my short scale Gibson EB3.

    That allows me to play much longer and much more comfortably.
  13. mizedog

    mizedog Supporting Member

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    I had an alder American Standard Jazz and never could get a good rock growl from it (think bridge on full, neck rolled off 15%). I even replaced the bridge pickup, which helped, but there still seemed to be a lack of density to the sound. After loosing it in a house fire, I bought the exact same bass with an ash body. BINGO! The ash bass really seems to push a dense mid range growl. Warm, dense, not too bright. I've had many compliments on this basses tone.
  14. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member

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    Yes. This.

    Although I've not owned a swamp ash bodied instrument, I've owned and played a few of the "Northern Ash" big-grained HEAVY bodied basses. But I recognize the warmer alder tone easily.
  15. mizedog

    mizedog Supporting Member

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    Well, having posted, now I'm not sure if my Jazz is swamp or Northern ash.
  16. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas

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    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    More difference in the same bass with a different set of strings IMO.
  17. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper P is the Key. Call me Marc or Marky Potatoes. Gold Supporting Member

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    Agreed. I do love the look of Ash though.
  18. miketallica315

    miketallica315

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    I have an American Deluxe Jazz bass that is made from alder and a EBMM SR5 and a Warwick $$ that are both made from swamp ash. All three strung with the same brand and gauge of strings there is definitely a difference in tone. Like the other guys said above, my Warwick and SR5 have this really aggressive tone that is slightly scooped. My American Deluxe Jazz Bass is really focused in the mids and low mids. It definitely cuts through the mix a bit better than the other two basses IMO.
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Hilarious discussion!
  20. ulynch

    ulynch Supporting Member

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    Depends. What kind of music will you be playing? If you use any effects, including overdrive, likely not enough to be heard. If you'll be playing with a full band, likely not enough to be heard. If you're playing in small, quiet combos, then maybe. Maybe.

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