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Ash or Alder for P-bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by billhilly66, Oct 3, 2009.

  1. billhilly66


    Aug 25, 2007
    Plano, TX
    I'm thinking I'll build a P-bass out of Warmoth parts. What were the 70's P-basses made with, ash or alder? What are the merits of each? Thanks.
  2. I think alder is cheaper but I like the sound of ash better it has given me a fuller tone
  3. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    I like alder. It's nice and light and is fairly attractive in a plain way.
  4. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    It depends on how heavy you want the bass.

    IIRC many 70s P's were made with a mix of cheap alder and cheaper ash depending on the finish.
  5. Getaway Driver

    Getaway Driver

    May 31, 2009
    Omaha, NE
    Ash has a more distinct grain than alder(although both are a lot more distinct than mahogany and basswood) so I would go that direction if you're doing a sunburst or some kind of transparent finish. Alder is a light bit cheaper from warmoth, buying stock hardwood pieces of it costs about the same.
  6. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Depends on the bass. Like G.E. said, some were ash some were alder. Seems to me more 70's basses were awful heavy ash. Not a high point in P basses IMO, but to each his own.

    I like ash for looks if you can see the grain, but prefer alder over all.
  7. Now is a good time to look in Warmoth's Showcase Bodies section.Some nice,fairly lightweight one piece bodies in there.
  8. Alder is generally lighter, Ash generally has more interesting wood grain patterns.
  9. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    My best P is made of Ash. Its killer. Though, to be fair, it ain't from the 70s. :p

    The 2 best 70s P's I've played are my 71 P-bass, and another 71 P-bass that I played (used) but couldn't afford. Both were alder. Mine was black, the other was sunburst. Both had rosewood boards.:)
  10. weston417


    Jun 19, 2009
    i know the geddy lee jazz bass is alder and it oozes vintage tone, along with the vintage pickups. ash is alot brighter
  11. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    I've played some decent 70's Precisions as well, some were even darned good, but on average, they aren't the pick of the litter IMO. ;)
  12. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    I prefer the sound, weight & look of alder overall. I guess I'm lucky that way...
  13. Alder definitely. It just gives you that well rounded vintage tone. Ash is okay, but I think it was used for the pretty grain more than anything in the past. I've had a lot of ash basses and never was able to quite bond with any of them.
  14. thombo

    thombo Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    Denver, CO
    i am a fan of P-Basses for alder... it has a more old school, classic tone.

    what kind of fingerboard are you using?
  15. I don't think the wood makes as much difference as the pickups and strings - so in terms of tone, makes no difference.

    BUT - if you're going for a transparent or semi-transparent finish, go for the most pronounced and attractive grain pattern.
  16. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    Alder with Rosewood fingerboard.

    Ash with Maple fingerboard.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The neck makes a bigger difference tone wise than the body does IMO. I have had a 70's Maple Fingerboard/Ash Body that was one of the darkest sounding basses I have ever owned. Conversly, my current Alder/Rosewood MIA Precision is fairly bright and open sounding. There are so many variables its tough to say what the finished product will sound like. However the "classic" 70's Precision would be the Ash/Maple combination.
  18. if you go with ash....use swamp ash...it's lighter and more resonant than reg. white ash.

    alder is always a good choice.
  19. bass nazi

    bass nazi

    Dec 3, 2005
    Carlsbad, Ca.
    I too have been contemplating putting together a new Warmoth bass and have been pondering the same question.
    Here is what I have been told:
    Alder is typically a warmer sound and is a lighter bass.
    Ash is typically a brighter sound and is a heavier bass.

    Now, I have also been told that a maple neck with a maple fretboard is a brighter sound,
    and a maple neck with a rosewood fretboard is a warmer sound.

    Now in my case I intend to order a pre-finished solid color body, so I don't really care about the wood grain issue.
    I was thinking an Alder Dakota red body with an all Maple neck would look really nice, but I am not sure about the brightness issue.
    I play in a classic rock cover band and am looking for that warm vintage sound. If I played jazz or slap style I might want a brighter sound, but that's not me.

    A pair of vintage PU's and nickle flats and I think I will be a happy camper!

    What is the consensus?

    Vintage white '62 P
    Olympic white '65 P
    Seafoam green '66 P
    Sonic blue '65 P
    Black '63 J
    Teal green '64 J
    Sunburst '05 5 string J
  20. By "Ash", are we referring to Hard Ash or Swamp Ash?
    Swamp Ash is much lighter than Alder, and Hard Ash is much heavier.
    I can't remember off hand what the tonal differences are though.

    In either case, my vote would be Alder.

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