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Basswood or swamp ash?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jay2U, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I'm considering to buy a G&L bass. They offer several combinations of body and neck woods. The neck isn't a problem, as I prefer a rosewood fingerboard. The body, however can be made of basswood or swamp ash. What are the pros and cons, if there are any?

  2. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
  3. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    My preference is a light bass so I'd go with the lightest option. However, if the finish is natural or translucent, I'd go for ash because the grain is cool.....as long as it is not too heavy. Not a huge fan of generalizing about tone on a solid body guitar so I go with weight, then aesthetics.
  4. I think it really comes down to looks. Are you going trans finish? If so, Swamp Ash! If not, take your pick. They're rather similar.
  5. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
  6. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    The finish will almost certainly be glossy black, or maybe tobacco burst.

    The lighter the better, which speaks for basswood...
  7. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Actually my only complaint about basswood is that it's pretty soft and dings/dents easily. The Warmoth guide bears this out.

    Also Swamp Ash will look a lot better with a transparent/translucent finish as the other folks have said, but it is a slightly brighter as well.

    Best of luck with the decision!

  8. Bass is soft and boring looking. If weight is more important to you than anything else, it's a great choice, but you'll want a painted body and have to be very careful with it or not care about dents.

    Meanwhile, everyone always likes a nice piece of ash.
  9. With how poly coats usually are, it'll be fine. Hell, my alder P-bass with its rosewood neck has dented worse than my Basswood J with maple.
  10. Bobster


    Mar 27, 2006
    Austin, TX

    My CV P got scuffed up a lot worse than any of my other basses with the same sort of treatment, and my Koto MP Jaguar has scuffed up more than normal as well. My ash, alder, soft maple and agathis basses have been tougher.

  11. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I'm not afraid of dents or scratches. The relatively soft agathis body of my Ibby is still flawless after three years. If I go for the lighter basswood, it'll have a glossy black polyurethane finish.
  12. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    The Warmoth guide makes a lot of statements. That's exactly what they are.
  13. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Regarding the properties of wood, yes. I wonder, what would be the effect of a hard layer of poly on the tone?
  14. I would echo this - I have an MM Bongo which you may know have basswood bodies - no ding problems at all.
  15. I have no idea what this meant.

    The wood is exactly like Warmoth describes?

    The statements are exactly what they are: statements?

    Sorry, but I can't tell if this post is saying that the Warmoth info is exactly correct, or meaningless. :confused:
  16. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    Ash for tone and durability. Not a fan of basswood for basses. The tone is a little less focused than in ash or alder to me. Also it does ding and dent easily and the grain can be almost non existent in some pieces. I would say that the ash would be higher resale as well do to people associating basswood with lower priced instruments and ash with higher end fenders. Ash will generally be slightly heavier as well. You should be able to find multiple clips of both bodies on you tube I would think.
  17. FronTowardEnemy

    FronTowardEnemy It is better to go unnoticed, than to suck

    Sep 19, 2006
    Plainfield Illinois
    I own a Fender Marcus Miller, a MIJ Fender 75Ri jazz and a Squire James Johnston jazz bass. The MM and 75 are ash, the Squire is basswood. The Squire is my heaviest bass at 10lbs. Go figure.
  18. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    It's a bit confusing, basswood for the cheaper models. MM Bongo's aren't the scheapest, but they are made of basswood. I arranged to test basses made of both kinds of wood.
  19. Stone Soup

    Stone Soup

    Dec 3, 2012
    And they sound great, as do certain other basswood basses. I've played some REAL dud basswood basses, though.

    In the late '80's, Fender had some P and J models that were basswood. I hated EVERY stinking one I played. Every one. I've never heard any worse sounding basses in my life. They were just lifeless and some were very poorly balanced.

    I think you just have to try several to make a determination which works best for you.
  20. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Yes. Bongos were designed to work with bass wood and they do. I've played G&L L2500 in basswood (mine are all Ash) and main points are:


    1. Light weight if that is important.

    2. Minimal wood grain for natural finishes.

    3. Wood softer and dents easier.

    4. tone is a bit more rolled off on highs. But in my opinion not as mellow as alder. If you like to pull highs down a bit with a tone control Basswood will work for you.


    1. Heavy (though they vary quite a bit...My L2500s are 10 lbs.

    2. Excellent wood grain for natural clear finishes (G&L tend to have wood grain to die for anyway)

    3. Stronger wood takes abuse better.

    4. Tone tends to be bright. If you run your tone controls totally off and want the maximum bit of treble "bite" Ash would be for you.

    As for me I didn't like the tone of Basswood G&L basses. That's why I own three ash body ones. Your opinion may be different. Personally I like the tone of alder (which is more mellow) and ash and don't much like basswood or my Squire agathis, but remember that tonewood differences are VERY minor! But for me anyway as an owner-player eventually you do notice them.

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