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Alder vs. Swamp Ash

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

  1. pica


    Nov 26, 2009
    Is there any difference in sound in basses made with Alder vs. basses made with Swamp Ash?
  2. MarthaSamira

    MarthaSamira Banned

    Apr 29, 2012
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    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

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    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. Not enough to make me buy one bass over another.
  6. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    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. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    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

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    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 Banned

    Apr 29, 2012
    He'd sound exactly like Marcus Miller...
  10. 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 Banned

    Apr 29, 2012
    Make it out of plywood...

    He'll sound exactly like Marcus.
  12. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High

    Jul 21, 2012
    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.
    hard_ likes this.
  13. mizedog


    Feb 12, 2008
    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 Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    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


    Feb 12, 2008

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

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    More difference in the same bass with a different set of strings IMO.
  17. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Fender, EBMM, Rickenbacker, BSX. I'm Marc! Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    Agreed. I do love the look of Ash though.
  18. miketallica315

    miketallica315 Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Toledo, OH
    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


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hilarious discussion!
  20. ulynch

    ulynch Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2010
    Nor Cal
    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.