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Ash vs. Alder

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by learning_towalk, Jun 27, 2004.

  1. what are the characteristics of each and which would you prefer for a fretless body?
  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Swamp ash.. I just love it.
  3. fozzy


    Jun 21, 2001
    Riga, Latvia, EU
  4. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Taken from www.warmoth.com

    Alder (Alnus rubra):
    Alder is used extensively for bodies because of its lighter weight (about four pounds for a Strat® body) and its full sound. It's closed grain makes this wood easy to finish. Alder's natural color is a light tan with little or no distinct grain lines. Alder has been the mainstay for Fender bodies for many years. It looks good with a sunburst or a solid color finish.

    Ash (Fraxinus americana):
    We have two very different types of Ash: Northern Hard Ash and Swamp Ash (Southern Soft Ash). Northern Hard Ash is very hard, heavy and dense. A Strat® body will normally weigh 5 lbs. and up. It's density contributes to a bright tone and a long sustain which makes it very popular. It's color is creamy, but it also tends to have heartwood featuring pink to brown tints. The grain pores are open and it takes a lot of finish to fill them up. Swamp Ash is a prized wood for many reasons. It is a very musical wood offering a very nice balance of brightness and warmth with a lot of "pop". It is a fairly light weight wood which makes it easily distinguishable from Hard Ash. A Strat® body will normally weigh under 5 lbs. Many of the 50's Fenders were made of Swamp Ash. The grain is open and the color is creamy. This wood is a very nice choice for clear finishes.
  5. thanks a lot..I'm thinking about going with the alder because that is what MIA Jazz basses are made out of...but I like the grain of the swamp ash...hmmmmm
  6. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    They're both good. There is benefits in owning basses with either on of those body woods. I prefer alder though, I like being able to tap into that smoothness. I've seen basses with Ash and maple tops on alder though. That is a neat compromise I think.
  7. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    As with anything bass related, it depends on the tone you're going after. Personally for me, alder gives more of a low mid presence the works really well for fretless that seems to be lacking in ash but it's nothing that can't be dealt with by EQ.

    String choice and neck set up will be a much bigger issue. IMHO
  8. for the neck I'm gonna get a warmoth birdseye maple w/ ebony and I'm gonna have a local luthier set everything up for me...

    what I'm gonna do is buy a Brice....practice on it stock until I haveall of the parts I need to do my mods.

    I guess the sound I'm looking for is the "paul simon'ish" sound
    if that makes any sense at all
  9. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    There is nothing like the light weight and balanced sound.


  10. Exactly. So I think the ash alder thing depends on what weight you are looking at, or what finish.

    Don't mind an extra pound or two? Ash, natural or sunburst finish with that? Ash.

    Lighter weigh, solid color? Alder.

    Although Alder can be used with natural or sunburst finishes, they just don't look as good. imo.
  11. if I'm able to get this MIM Fender Jazz Poplar body I'm gonna paint it pearl white and put a green pealoid pickguard on it :D
  12. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Stop tellin' us what you're going to do and start doing it! Show us the results!
  13. hey cut me some slack I can't deposit my paycheck until tommorrow...lol

    and that body still has 3 days on it...but I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to get it (fingers crossed)

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    I am a ash fan, makes great basses :)