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Does weight of bass play a factor in tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mikepinkerton, Dec 30, 2013.


  1. mikepinkerton

    mikepinkerton

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Location:
    Ashburn, VA
    I was looking at a Fender PBass on Sweetwater and they have a cool feature where they show pictures and specs of each guitar they have in stock, so you can see the exact guitar you're getting. I noticed that one of the guitars was 8lbs and another was 9lbs. That seems like a surprisingly large difference between two supposedly identical guitars.

    I know for solid-body electric guitars, mass has a lot to do with its tone (think Les Paul), but how much does it matter for basses? Basically, should I go for the heavier one to get a better sound, or the lighter one to save my back because the extra weight makes no difference? Also, why would there be such a discrepancy between the two?

    What do folks think?

    -mike
     
  2. Nobody

    Nobody

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    Jul 14, 2004
  3. Petethebassman

    Petethebassman

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    Finland
  4. kevteop

    kevteop

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    York, UK
    Depending on who you ask, you may even be told that the colour of a bass plays a factor in the tone. :rollno:
     
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  6. Nobody

    Nobody

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    Jul 14, 2004
    Tort affects tone more than anything.
     
  7. davedblyoo

    davedblyoo "All the mayhem and none of the sticky mess." Supporting Member

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    My EBMM Stingray 5 is heavy as hell, and it doesn't sound that good.
     
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass Gnarsty bass tones Supporting Member

    Joined:
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    Maryland, between Bawlmer & DC
    Amen.
     
  9. JellinWellen

    JellinWellen

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    No no and NO. On electric solid bodied instruments (both guitar AND bass) weight and mass have ZERO effect on the tone. If it really mattered then steinbergers wouldn't sound like a bass guitar at all.
     
  10. mikepinkerton

    mikepinkerton

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    Dec 30, 2013
    Location:
    Ashburn, VA
  11. tdizzle

    tdizzle Supporting Member

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    Location:
    Detroit, MI
    I say go for the lighter one. You will notice the biggest difference after 3 hours of playing with a strap.
     
  12. PJRL

    PJRL

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    Location:
    greenfield center NY
    Do they really sound like Bass guitars ?? :p
     
  13. kimokeo

    kimokeo

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    My Ibanez weighs about half as much as my PBass, and sounds twice as good. So, in this particular case, weight has nothing to do with it.
     
  14. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2000
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Sure, in this case comparing two completely different instruments with different pickups and pickup placements.

    Two "identical" instruments will still sound a teeny bit different due to a million different factors. Across those two basses on Sweetwater it's probable that if you were to play them side-by-side in a controlled environment you could notice a very small difference of some sort, which could be due to weight, the particular pieces of wood it was constructed with, construction tolerances, variances with strings or pickups or the phase of the moon.

    Everything matters, but nothing (beyond pickup and pickup placement) matters. Very zen.
     
  15. bjelkeman

    bjelkeman Bass player wannabe

    Joined:
    May 9, 2013
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Mine didn't sound to great so I sold it. :bag:

    But I have an Ibanez Axstar which I play occasionally. It has marginally more body than a Steinberger. Much more comfortable to play... and is not as full sounding as the tone of my full bodied basses. :)

    Anyway, tone depends on lots of stuff and if it sounds good or you like it for another reason it doesn't matter what it looks like. IMHO.
     
  16. Doctor J

    Doctor J

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    Leo got it right first time, 80% of the time and I don't recall any Precisions being made out of lead, so it's a no.
     
  17. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

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    NYC
    Ive found that many heavier instruments sound better than most light instruments, finding a good sounding light instrument is not easy.
     
  18. Dbt25677

    Dbt25677

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2013
    Ask Paul Simonon..
    '[The P-bass] just had such a weight to it... and a thickness of sound.'
    Paraphrasing slightly but it's all subjective. Maybe it does
     
  19. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

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    Sep 16, 2002
    Location:
    Below Ground, Detroit area
    I prefer lighter basses because of the long gig nights.

    My P-V weighs just over 8lbs and has really nice vibe. Could be just a lucky combination of materials intersecting at the assembly point.

    Sometimes, it's just the right instrument.
     
  20. electracoyote

    electracoyote

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    Jan 2, 2009
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    Purple Mountain Majesties
    I can't prove it, and I'm only speaking for myself, but I believe a heavier body affects tone and sustain. How much? Well, I notice. Will you? There's a good chance you would not.

    FWIW, as an experienced guitar player, I also find this to be my reality with guitars. For example, I can not play Thinline-style Telecasters, even though I love the look and vibe, because they are so much lighter than solid-bodied equivalents and sound so much different to me.
     
  21. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Non Serviam Supporting Member

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    Aug 11, 2012
    Location:
    Scotia NY
    It seems logical to me that if you have two otherwise identical basses that weigh differently, the wood of the heavier bass must have greater density. I would think this would have some bearing on tone. My guess is it would be more of a "barely perceptible difference" than a "good/bad" thing. I claim no expertise in the matter.
     

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