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Alder and Ash bodies: Is there a difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MOTORHEADBANGER, Mar 21, 2009.


  1. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    US
    Ash and swamp ash are essentially the same wood. The only difference is the weight. If you have a light ash bass (regardless of whether it came from the 50s, 60s, or 70s) it is essentially swamp ash.
     
  2. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    It really depends on the piece of wood - but electronics make a MUCH bigger difference than body wood.
     
  3. Vakmere

    Vakmere

    Sep 6, 2007
    Philly
    Put cheap electronics in any bass with ash or alder and it will sound cheap and lifeless. I used to think wood made a difference but now I dont. It may account for 20% of the resultant sound, the rest is amplification and onboard selection of pre and pickup. Take a Ken Smith, Spector, and an MTD-USA, swap all the electronics with each other and tell me if the wood makes a difference.
    If you want your friends to say "wow, nice looking bass", then pay big $$$ for pretty wood. If you are looking to hear " wow, that bass sounds great", the go for something else. If you want looks and sound then get a quality instrument with the sound you need for the music you do and play it thru quality gear.
    Your playing technique will also weigh in heavily on how it sounds....obviously.
     
  4. the difference to me apart from the grain figure, is that alder is a softer wood, screw holes for pickups, pickguards and such tend to strip more often than those in ash. So I coat the screw holes with superglue in alder, or use inserts.
     
  5. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but mine is just about the complete opposite.
     
  6. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    90% of mocha brown '72 p basses were made out of alder. if you post a large clear pic of it, it will be simple to determine exactly what it is.
     
  7. Fawkes007

    Fawkes007

    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    I used to think that wood didn't make much of a difference. Now I do. Here's why -

    1. If you are playing a bass with active pickups, then the wood doesn't used is not as influential in terms of tone. I played active basses for years - my first "pro" bass was a Stingray, and until about three years ago, I primarily played a Stingray. I've also owned Pedulla, Spector and Roscoe basses during this time. Frankly, there was a similar quality to how these basses sounded - they sounded more like the electronics then whatever wood was used.

    2. For passive instruments, both guitar and bass, I maintain that wood DOES make a difference - and a huge one - because there isn't an active pre-amp hijacking the tone. Passive instruments sound more organic to me, and I find that tone shaping involves many more variables than active instruments.

    With regard to the differences between ash and alder - I prefer alder for the type of music I am doing (classic rock and metal, some punk). I may prefer a swamp ash body if I were doing a funk or slick pop gig.
     
  8. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
  9. Looks like alder to me. The grain is very straight and not really prominent.
     
  10. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    it's alder.
     
  11. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    Thanks!
     
  12. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Personally, I hear a difference between my alder bodied and swamp ash bodied basses, both acoustically and electronically. My alder bodied basses sound more 'even' and have stronger low mids. My swamp ash bodied basses have more deep low end and brighter highs, but sound slightly scooped in the low mids.

    With a bit of eq, I can boost the low mids on my amp to get the sound I prefer from my swamp ash basses.

    I personally prefer the sound of my alder bodied basses.
     

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