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ash or alder

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sedan_dad, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    I hope this hasn't been asked before.
    I'm planning on building a bass. More than likely a Precision.
    I was going to use a Warmouth body.
    The question is ,Ash or Alder.
    Pros and cons of each.
    And how are Warmouth bodies?

    I'll hang up and listen.....
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Nothing like a sweet peice of ash.*

    * = Stolen from Gard.
  3. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    Depends really on the tone you want...

    If your going to get a some type of trans or natural finish I'd go with ash. Alder only looks good painted IMO.
  4. In very general terms....

    alder... warm, mid punchy, midweight
    Lightweight/Swamp Ash... warm, maybe a little more scooped with a more pronounced high end
    Medium weight Ash.... more aggressive... big low end fundamental, aggressive treble.

    However.... since a P Bass does not have the range of tone that a J Style instrument has, my guess is you won't notice that much of a difference... so pick one based on weight and looks!
  5. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    I have both. Alder seems to be a bit warmer to me

  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    You'll find this interesting reading, just what your looking for:
    I'm having my warmoth body made out of light weight, extra grainy book ended ash;)

    I read in the History of the Fender Bass, that Leo made the switch from Ash to Alder becasue it was more available in a quantity and quality he wanted and that he felt there was very little to no sonic impact on choice of wood...take that for whatever you think it's worth.
  7. instigata


    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    yea, ps basically sound the same regardles.s. the js r a atd more dependent on the wood sound. as are soapbars.

    i'm pretty sure musicmans and ps r almost indistinguishable. so go wit hswamp ash. its HELLA lighter.
  8. ghindman


    Feb 10, 2006
    yeah, really no better or worse - both are a fine tone wood - just different.

    Alder's going to give you more of a vintage Fender sound, while Ash is a more Marcus Miller-y midrangey sorta tone.

    Warmoth bodies are excellent, but their necks are really heavy. They're really well suited to a more modern sounding bass, and really stable, but I think the higher mass sucks some of the more 'organic' tone.
  9. maxbass


    May 22, 2002
    Milano Italy
    FYI it's Warmoth, not Warmouth.

    Otherwise, one could think about...


    :D ;)
  10. foderaman


    Jun 14, 2005
    My personnal opinion on all of the Alder body P Basses I have had throughout the years is that have been to tubby of a sound for me unless you play with a pick.Of course I am a J bass type of person but since I play strictly finger style to me the most articulation would come from a Ash body maple neck and board P bass.Just my 2 cent worth
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    In general:

    Alder-big, warm, round sound

    Ash-more lows and highs, quicker attack
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Nicely put. But I would emphasize that it's a generality, not a guarantee. Even when talkin' passive Fender P-basses, I've played bright ones made of alder and warm ones made of ash.
  13. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Agreed. There are just too many things to consider. I'd have to say that the weight of the wood has a lot to do with it as well.
  14. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    I disagree with that, I think ash and alder P basses respond quite differently, with the alder being warmer, thicker, and rounder, and the ash being more scooped and having more bite and impact.
  15. The best sounding bass I've ever played was a 1970s Ash Greco P Bass. The body of that bass resonated so well it nearly levitated. It certainly made me scratch my head and look more critically at the quilted, multiple electronic, combination wood, kitchen sink boutique basses that I always thought I needed!

    The wood in ash basses age very well. In my opinion, ash will give you more distinctive character and tends to capture the "rude" tone a P bass can have.
  16. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Ash only seems scooped. It's just that the lows and highs are extended. This is much more obvious with heavier ash.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Good point. One of the most interesting P-basses I've played was an early 70's model (TV logo) made of super heavy ash. The tone was very scooped... it was strung with fresh rounds and sounded like a piano.

    The 57 Reissue P-bass I owned briefly was made of very light swamp ash. The tone was soft on top, and very sweet in the upper mids... it sang in the upper register, but didn't have a lot of thump down low.

    Those are just two examples. I've played light ash P-basses that had brightness and depth, and heavy ash P-basses that were chunky in the mids. So again, there are always exceptions (as you and I have agreed!)
  18. gfried84

    gfried84 Commercial User

    May 7, 2005
    Owner Fried Guitars Inc.
    I find that Swamp ash tends to suck out some mids and accentuaute highs and lows. Alder seems to be a bit more midrangey sounding but also a bit louder acoustically. I truely believe that density has a great deal to do with the tone and vibrating properties of and instrument. I'm not a scientist but I have a few pieces of Swamp ash and alder both the same dimension and the alder is always heavier. This leads me to believe that density has alot to do with the tone.
  19. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Alder sounds like the '60's. Ash sounds like the '70's. :)
  20. By Tim's logic, alder sounds like "Gilligan's Island". Ash sounds like "Good Times". ;)

    ...and as for alder not having the grain for transparent finishes, pssht. :rolleyes:

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