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Alder/Rosewood to Chambered Ash/Maple.... loss of tone?!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by scyzoryk, Oct 7, 2013.


  1. scyzoryk

    scyzoryk

    Jan 12, 2004
    Vancouver, BC
    For those of you who don't believe in tone woods, here's a kicker...

    For the past year I've been playing an alder/rosewood(Morado) Sadowsky Metro UV70 jazz bass with upgraded Nordstrand 70's single coils. The tone is fat, ballsy, and every time I play a note high up on the D or G strings, it is thick and sounds fantastic in the mix. Essentially everything I wanted in a bass tone-wise.

    I recently bought a nice and light 7.8lb Sadowsky NYC chambered ash/maple jazz bass with the stock Sadowsky hum-cancelling pickups and I swapped pickups in both the basses. The NYC now has the upgraded Nordstrands in it and the Metro has the hum-cancelling pickups.

    So ... where did my tone go?

    I played the chambered ash/maple jazz bass live this weekend and I could no longer hear the fat, ballsy tone that I have been accustomed to hearing. Instead I got more of a low end "booming" with the bass and notes that seem to be lacking fundamental and clarity. My bass sounded more "lost in the mix" and didn't cut through like a knife like I was accustomed to hearing.

    Am I losing it?! Prior to purchasing another jazz bass I read countless threads on the ash/maple VS alder/rosewood debate and I knew the ash/maple would be a bit scooped, but this is ridiculous -- it's like the Sadowsky preamp isn't doing me any favours here. All the threads I read about chambered basses, especially Sadowsky basses, show that players prefer the lighter, NYC bodies and that there is no to minimal effect on tone.

    Someone help me out here...
     
  2. diglo

    diglo Gold Supporting Member

    May 21, 2007
    SMYRNA, TN
    Get up! Get Get Get Down!
    Maybe it's the chambered body, I think a solid body produces more.
     
  3. kerrycares

    kerrycares Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2006
    Michigan
    I play Fenders and same thing happens.

    Alder/Rosewood fat /full/thick
    Ash /Maple clean/full/not as thick

    I believe in tone wood for those that don't , well that's ok too

    PS chambered basses sound chambered and the only one I liked was a Fodera and it sounded uniquely different than any other Fodera ... simple physics
     
  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Tell us about your strings.
     
  5. scyzoryk

    scyzoryk

    Jan 12, 2004
    Vancouver, BC
    DR Fat Beams on both basses. Brand new set on the NYC/Maple, and relatively new on the Alder/Morado.
     
  6. I am also thinking that it is the chambering. Bass club chicago had a demo of a chambered swamp ash nyc and (at least on my phone) it did sound like it was missing some authority in the low end.

    I typically think of ash as having some punch...so probly the chambering imho.
     
  7. I have a chambered NYC 5 string that'll stand up to any solid body bass..I also have a Mike Lull M5V solid body and a Lakland 55-94 solid body..The chambered Sadowsky can hang with either one..but I think the Lakland just has some special mojo that the other two lack!!
     
  8. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Pickups out of phase? My chambered (alder) NYC has tons of low end and low mid punch.
     
  9. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    for me the ash has to be butt heavy to get the sound i want. a 9.5lb alder bass still has some punch and booty where as a 9.5lb ash body is scooped in the low mids and clankier. chamber that ash body and forget about it!
     
  10. scyzoryk

    scyzoryk

    Jan 12, 2004
    Vancouver, BC
    Anyone have thoughts on how to fatten up the tone of an ash/maple? Looking to hopefully bring back some of the full/fatness.
     
  11. Lennard III.

    Lennard III.

    Aug 21, 2008
    Germany
    Endorsing Artist : Fodera Guitars , Harvest fine leather bags & straps
    I also made the experience with maple boards - on Fenders (sorry, no experience with chambered bodys) - everytime I play maple boards I have had problems with definition and warmth / fatness that still cuts through - it was like too much or too less low end and no low mids....

    Now I have found the perfect combo for me on my Fenders - Ash body (Alder on the P), Rosewood ( or Pao Ferro on my Fodera which has the same wood combo ) - to me this combo has it all ....
     
  12. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Call Roger Sadowsky. Also, perhaps rethink your EQ for the ash/maple Jazz? Pickup heights?
     
  13. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass Electronics
    A EQ has a lot to do with it as well...Ash has bit of scoop heavier or light period. IMHO

    I like to add either a little low end on the bass itself or use the low Z setting with the Audere.
     
  14. scyzoryk

    scyzoryk

    Jan 12, 2004
    Vancouver, BC
    I think I'm just not used to the ash/maple wood profile. I ended up playing it this weekend and boosted the mids a little, dialed in the back pickup a wee bit, and the tone sounds amazing. :cool: The slap tone is also killer!
     
  15. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    "If it sounds good, it is good."
    —Edward Kennedy Ellington
     
  16. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Audio Mike Lull Custom Guitars Gallien Krueger amplification Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass Electronics
    For those of you who felt like you lost lower mids with Maple, have you considered using ebony instead of for a little more foundation, yet retain the brightness?
     
  17. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    The UV is a full sized J body with 70's pickup spacing. The standard NYC J is a 'dinky sized' body, chambered (but the chambering is more of a honeycomb... really doesn't impact the tone), 60's pup position, and much lighter weight.

    So, lots going on with those basses.... more than just wood type and chambering (although the ash/maple, in general will also be a bit wider down low and brighter in the upper mids).

    If you are playing with both pickups dimed, the 70's placement will tighten things up a touch, and the heavier weight/more mass will give you a touch more compression and 'punch', in general.

    So, two very different basses on many levels (size, weight, wood, pickup placement). IMO, the chambering is the least impactful, other than it results in super light weight combined with the dinky body.
     
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I confess that I'm one of those guys who doesn't believe tonewood makes that much difference. That said: I've sold the last three light ash basses I've owned because they sounded too thin to me, compared to my alder basses.

    I don't believe chambering was a factor. The ash Sadowsky I sold was chambered, but the Fender and Lull were not.

    I don't believe fingerboard was a factor. The Sadowsky and Fender had maple boards, the Lull had rosewood. And I love my three alder Sadowskys: one with maple board, one with Brazilian rosewood, and the third with ebony.

    It's very possible I've had good luck with alder, and bad luck three times in a row with ash. I've played other ash basses that I thought sounded fine. Regardless, after three strikes with ash, I'm sticking with alder.
     
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    P.S. Ken Jung made good points: there are significant differences between those basses outside of the woods they're made of.
     
  20. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    + 1. Also, each bass sounds different - regardless of commonalities.