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Basswood vs. Agathis vs. Alder

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Vince S., Nov 10, 2003.

  1. Vince S.

    Vince S. Resident Former Bassist

    Jan 24, 2003
    What is the difference between these three types of woods in terms of tone, resonance etc?
  2. 43apples

    43apples Guest

    Nov 9, 2003
    Man, NEVER use basswood or agathis in a guitar. Those are the low-end'est of woods you can get without using sawdust and glue.

    But back to the question...

    They both are very ligth, soft woods that has NO tonal articulation. Basswood is thin, muddy and dark sounding, and agathis is warm, muddy and dark sounding.

    The only reason Ibanez uses it in their guitars, is that its cheap.

    But Alder is a high quality, brigth sounding wood that has a great all round tone, maybe alittle thin sounding in teh midrange (IMO).

    My favourite wood is Ash, and my favorite body+top combination is Limba and a hard, dense top (bubinga, maple, bloodwood).

  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001

    You should take all opinions with a grain of salt. For example, what was just stated in the previous post is debatable.

    -basswood is inexpensive, and soft. However, it is used in the MM Bongo and the G&L L-2500, both of which are known to have clear, strong, articulate tones. Ditto the MTD Kingston.

    -alder and ash were used by Fender because they were cheap and available.
  4. Indeed, I think I would have to agree with Peter on the issue of Basswood. Though I like both ash and alder, I seem to get a nice warm, articulate tone out of them. I think woods have a tendency to be overrated when it comes to solid body design. For instance, I spent an hour one day in a music store testing a Fender standard 5 string Jazz against an American Standard 5 string jazz and could not tell any difference. The MIM was made of Poplar and the MIA (Hmmmmm...missing in America?) had an ash body. Furthermore, some of the basses that are made out of exotic woods (read Modulus, Pedulla, Ken Smith, etc) didn't have the sound that I wanted at all. The Modulus didn't see to be as bright as my swamp ash P-bass (warmouth) or alder Jazz (MIM Fender), while the Pedulla and Ken Smith were just a little to bright and modern for me. Take it all with a grain of salt and remember that even Old Kay upright basses made out of plywood are sought after instruments because they sound good (for the price yes, but still used by a lot of pros). I guess only experimentation will help you find the wood that has the sound you really want. Take care and most importantly, have fun.

    "The Big Man on Bass"

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