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Agathis Bodies

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by myhot4, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. myhot4


    Jul 11, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    So what is the deal with agathis bodies?? I read somewhere that they are made of compressed wood (ply wood??) Does anyone know?? Is the tone similar to Alder?
  2. ProfGumby


    Jan 15, 2007
    Michigan's U.P.
    Agathis is not plywood. It is a more affordable wood that has fairly decent tonal qualities and many manufacturers use it on entry level basses to hold down costs......the real downsides are it is light enough to make any bass a neckdiving maniac, it dents and mars easily and I have read reports of things like bridges ripping loose.....but then anything can be ripped apart on the internet.....

    I reference this...

    Specifically -
  3. Agathis is simlar to basswood. It does not have a prominant grain pattern which is why most agathis basses are painted with a solid color. Some squire basses are made with agathis, but since squires may be given a sunburst finish a very thin veneer of a grained wood will be glued to the front and back so that that option is available. This has caused a great deal of frustration to bass modifiers who strip their basses only to find two different types of wood being used.
  4. pjwalsh


    May 3, 2006
    Elkton, Md
    Agathis is a type of pine common in asia - Australians know it as Kauri pine where it is prized as a boatbuilding wood due to a high strength to weight ratio and excellent durability. It is quite stiff while being still relatively low density. These are characteristics shared with other good tonewoods like swamp ash and alder.
  5. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    My Agathis Brice bass with a paper thin quilt maple veneer is quite a nice bass. Light and resonant, much like basswood, another wood I like (and poplar for that matter). It's inexpensive but that doesn't mean low quality.
    Isotonic likes this.
  6. Would'e?


    Mar 27, 2007
    My Peavey Millennium AC BXP is agathis and has the least neck dive of any bass I've ever played. It is a good deal harder than basswood, BTW.

    Here are the facts on agathis (as presented by me) from this recent thread.

    Actually agathis (kauri) is unfairly maligned. Though locally it's referred to as a pine, that is misleading since the only thing it has in common with North American pines is that it's a conifer. But then so is redwood and other respected tonewoods.

    Agathis is simply a plentiful wood in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands where a lot of lower-priced instruments are manufactured. It doesn't have a real exciting grain pattern but it's harder than basswood, alder and other commonly used woods and some say it has similar tone to mahogany.

    You may find agathis instruments that don't sound great, but it's likely not the fault of the wood, but of the cheaper pickups or poor construction practices employed in the places where the wood is plentiful. Find a well put together instrument made of agathis and it should be fine. My Millennium AC (Cirrus pickups) BXP is agathis (new ones are basswood) and it sounds fine.

    My favorite woods though are walnut and maple. Yum!
  7. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    I have a '99 DeArmond M-75 guitar with an agathis body. It has no dents, and there is a grain to it, and tonally it's very dark/warm to me. I took it to a store once to compare it to the lefty guitars they had, and it sounded almost exactly like the '78 ES-335 they had. I just bought an Ibanez bass off ebay that has an agathis body, but it hasn't got here yet.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think the main point to be made is that agathis is an inexpensive wood because it is plentiful. Frankly, it would be more ecologically wise to make higher priced basses with agathis since it is so common. As an earlier poster suggested, agathis with good electronics would sound fine. Afterall, basswood Bongos sound great, IMO.:)
  9. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    There are a lot of different trees in different Asian countries that produce lumber sold as agathis (likewise nearly every other common-name wood), never mind the grades.

    I've seen and worked on a lot of nominally-agathis bodied instruments over the years and the quality is all over the board. Some is hard, decent-looking wood (as mentioned, the Cor-Tek built DeArmonds had good agathis) with good tonal quality and some is absolutely awful, not even structurally stable -- I've seen some actually split and crack. Radically different wood, same name. [shrug]

    I notice in the past couple of years nominal basswood seems to be taking over from agathis, but most of the above also applies -- different woods are sold as "basswood" and the qualities will all vary.
    Faceman75 likes this.
  10. Would'e?


    Mar 27, 2007
    I don't know. What Bongolation says might be true. For sure the Agathis on my bass doesn't look anything like the wood on the Squire P above. This is closer to what the wood looks like on my bass. [​IMG]

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