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Anyone know anything about poplar wood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sloppysubs, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    Anyone know how poplar wood sounds? I didn't think people used it, but I guess they do? Anyone own a poplar bass? Any info is great, thanks.
  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    This subject has cropped up from time to time.

    Musicman use poplar on some of their solid colour basses. THey say that it's similar to ash.

    KSB-Ken Smith kindly answered a question and stated that it's a paint grade wood similar to alder.

    Parker use poplar on one of the flys and say wsomething different. I think Zon use it as the core of the Hyperbass.

    If you want more try http://www.talkbass.com/forum/searc...d=437015&sortby=lastpost&sortorder=descending
  3. 1964


    Mar 26, 2002
    Too Close To Hell
    Until recently poplar was widely used by Fender as an alder substitute. Poplar is tonally *very* similar, but a little heavier on average. Its grain doesn’t make it a good choice for transparent finishes. Due to demand in furniture production it has risen in price and become harder to get, which is why Fender have been moving away from poplar, in favour of lower grade alder. For opaque finishes, you should have no problems buying a bass made of poplar. In fact, better good poplar than crappy alder, and many boutique makers are increasingly using poplar for its tone and workability.
  4. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    Pretty much what they said. Except the comment about crappy alder. One of the best-sounding basses I've ever heard, maybe the best, was an alder-bodied, redwood-topped Cirrus. I like alder.

    My Carvin LB70 is made of poplar. That was their standard wood in the early nineties. Sounds great. Not as bright as, say, maple. But this is still a very bright bass, I think the pickups are very bright. Very similar to alder, it seems to me. But I haven't been able to compare poplar to alder much, and never on really similar basses. Alder might be just a touch warmer than poplar.

    Poplar with clear or stained finishes often comes out with a green tint, or green streaks in it. That's why they called it a "paint grade wood."
  5. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I've owned two Poplar instruments, an older MIM Jazz Bass and a Peavey Dyna-Bass 5. Both fine. Poplar is pretty light so it can contribute to a neck heavy instrument. It's a commonly used body wood. Definitely a step up from Agathis and Basswood.
  6. I work in the door and millwork business and poplar comes up a lot. It's a common misconception that poplar is a 'paint grade wood only' because it is, generally speaking, and ugly looking wood with colors that range from off white to dark brown to olive green. Poplar is actually a great stain grade wood as long as you add color. All the natural coloring disappears and it takes stain very well. In my experience, though, it's not a very stable wood- I won't sell an exterior poplar door only because it's bound to warp. Typically people use poplar, in doors and millwork, as a price point option because it prices out better than cherry, alder, maple, birch, fir, etc. Poplar trees grow faster than most hardwood trees and there's still a good supply. Alder, on the other hand, has become extremely popular and the price has been going up quite a bit.
  7. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    I think that 1964 meant that he would choose poplar over a crapy grade of alder...not that alder is crapy itself.
  8. Yup, I got one(see below). please buy it.:D :bassist:
  9. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    Thanks, guys. I was just curious of tonal things. I was thinking alder body myself, but someone mentioned poplar. Thanks again.
  10. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I always thought, perhaps from everything I've read, that swamp ash was a much better tone wood on a bass than poplar. I have had three Stingrays, two with ash and one poplar. To me, the poplar one has much, much more growl and evenness in tone, which is something I was not expecting at all.
  11. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    How is alder compared to mahogany or even ash? tone wise?
  12. Jonesy4fnk

    Jonesy4fnk Supporting Member

    those popular basses get all the chicks....

    oh poplar not popular :D
  13. I thought poplar was similar to alder, bering relatively soft, lightweight, and having more neutral tonal characteristics than swamp ash.
  14. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    It always gets picked first in dodgeball.
  15. I have an all black Stingray with a rosewood board, and I'm guessing that it's made out of poplar. I agree with you one about poplar's evenness of tone. Before I bought the 'Ray I have I tried two others the same day, one same as mine, but, with a maple fretboard and the other an ash body with a rosewood board. The one I bought had the warmest tone of the three, and was very balanced from open E to the top of the G string. The other two basses had a slightly more *focused* sound, but, I really can't comment on growl - I didn't compare them for that.

    I also have a MIM fretless Jazz made out of poplar and a similarly priced Yamaha 5 sring made out of alder. The Yamaha has one of the most growly tones I've ever heard period. And you can hear it even before you plug it in. They're both $400 basses so neither one of them has any special electronics in it. All other things being equal, I'd say that poplar gives a warm, smooth sound while alder has a natural growl to it.

    This has taught me to play an instrument first, then wonder which type of wood it's made of. I used to be a by-the-book type guy, but, no more.

    Just my experience.

    Mike :cool:
  16. I have a MTD Grendel which is made from Poplar. I am quite fond of the sound and it's also pretty light in weight. My Grendel is bright sounding, and I guess some of that would have to do with th poplar body, but I could be wrong.
  17. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Zon Legacy Elites are either made from Mahogany or Poplar :)

  18. Poplar is fairly soft (in relation to ash, maple, even alder) but has a very even grain with virtually no voids and cuts like butter. Very easy to machine in all directions. You don't get a lot of tearout because the fibers seem to be sort of "stringy". Glues up well. Probably best used with a harder top finish because of the softness. You can dent it with your thumbnail pretty easily. I don't know where the idea came that it's getting rarer. We can buy it here in Atlanta directly from our Home Depot in 1" boards of nearly any width up to about 10". I've seen a bass on the MIMF that used the poplar's inherent green hue to great effect. The builder picked only pieces that were mostly green and then used an oil finish to keep it that way. Pretty.
  19. rayzak


    Jan 13, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    Michael Jewels wrote:
    Actually Mike, when I first got my stingray, I e-mailed Ernie Ball and was told that they use ash for roughly 90% of their basses regardless of whether it's a solid color or not. I'm not disputing that yours is poplar, just thought i'd share that with ya.;)
  20. Many great USA MTDs are made with Domestic Tulipwood body blanks, which Mike Tobias on his web site states is Eastern Yellow Poplar.

    I would say this stuff works pretty good.

    Check out:

    MTD American.