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Basswood vs mahogany

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wakizashis, Dec 2, 2019.


  1. It matters to the tree! :D
     
    pellomoco14 and Vinny_G like this.
  2. juggahnaught

    juggahnaught

    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    Yes, it will be enough.
     
  3. BurtMacklinFBI

    BurtMacklinFBI Rock 'n' Roll Knuckle Dragger Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    It’s also really light. That’s why EBMM uses it for the Bongo line.
     
    Vinny_G likes this.
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I don’t consider any species of wood to be inherently “musical.”

    Some individual pieces of wood (regardless of species) may have certain acoustic properties that make them more appropriate for use in the construction of an acoustic instrument. But that’s about as far as I think you can take it. :)
     
    pellomoco14 and bdplaid like this.
  5. rickster4003

    rickster4003

    Feb 15, 2013
    Ever try digging your nail into hard maple? Always thought that was hard but looks like it is just middle of the pack.
     
    bdplaid likes this.
  6. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    I never met a tree who could play anything. Not even pentatonic stuff.
     
  7. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    NYC
    Basswood sounds very good to my ears and it is very light in my experience. The downside is that it is a very soft wood so a basswood body can be a ding magnet. The Janka rating for Basswood is 410 whereas the janka rating for mahogany is between 800-850 depending on species.

    Also, while I have no experience with this I understand basswood is incredibly stinky when cut. So it is probably not a luthier's favorite wood to work with which could explain why it is not used as much as other tone woods.

    Also, Basswood kinda needs to be painted whereas mahogany looks great on its own.
     
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    LOL! :roflmao:

    They’re not too good at keeping time either. ;)
     
  9. For the “deep, warm and dark” tone you’re looking for the mahogany would be the way to go. It’s also very even across the spectrum. Not a big fan of basswood myself. It’s extremely soft and the one bass I did buy made from it I ended up returning. The E string tone was terrible. I thought it was old strings, but nope the E string was very inferior to the others. Basswood is commonly used because it’s available and cheap.
     
  10. Only roots.
     
  11. Basswood is much lighter and less expensive than mahogany.
    Both are not visually appeling woods (basswood = plain white/yellowish with grey stains, mahogany = "plain darkbrown). Rarely you will see this woods without paint over it.
    Depending on which mahogany it could be super heavy (the good one) or more light (the cheap).
    Basswood could be used for large bodies in order to reduce weight (Example: Musicman Bongo) or instruments designed to be super light. Example: Steve Vai's Jem.

    And Mohagany, we all know.... Great and super heavy Les Pauls, SG's, and thousands of bass necks that are prone to break at the headstock.

    For one or another reason i find this two unconvenient when you have maple and alder all over the place...
     
  12. You literally can't make an acoustic from it because it's too soft. Electric? Meh. I have two G&L SB1's. One's ash and the other, basswood. The only difference I can detect is the weight. Whatever.
     
  13. Maxdusty

    Maxdusty

    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I'm fine with basswood on electric basses. Don't notice too much difference, not enough to negate the positive quality of being lightweight. If anything a hi-mass bridge, strings, set up, pickups and electronics etc. all make a bigger difference. Sure basswood would need to be painted, it doesn't have beautiful woodgrain to begin with but I don't particularly like natural finish basses anyway.
     
  14. christle

    christle

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I had the same experience. I now prefer to avoid basswood for this reason. I haven’t experienced this with mahogany.
     
  15. I heard one time that Victor Wooten played through a mahogany bass and it sounded ok, but then he picked up a basswood bass and everybody thought he was Gene Simmons.
     
  16. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    As quantum physics teaches us, the result of an experiment depends on its observer. So if you believe in the religion of Tonewood, the difference will be like night and day. Otherwise, you will probably not hear any difference. I specify that I don't feel concerned or interested in this subject.

    That being said, basswood is much lighter, which makes some say it is more resonant. I don't know if it's true, but I notice that my Godin Shifter Classic 4, which has a basswood body, has a very open and lively sound, acoustically. Among the Tonewood fanatics, most of them say that the words "deep, warm darker sound" are the trademark of mahogany, but none of them speak about the difference between humbuckers and single coils, a set neck and a bolt-on neck or a short scale and a standard scale.
     
    Maxdusty likes this.
  17. BurtMacklinFBI

    BurtMacklinFBI Rock 'n' Roll Knuckle Dragger Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    They thought he was an overweight old white guy with a terrible attitude? Wow, tone woods really do make a big difference!
     
    kodiakblair and pellomoco14 like this.
  18. Vinny_G

    Vinny_G

    Dec 1, 2011
    Gallia Celtica
    I met some. :)

     
    whero and BurtMacklinFBI like this.
  19. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    Absolutely not the case, basswood is 410 on the Janka Hardness Scale (softest wood used for bodies), mahogany is 900+ (depending on where it comes from) on the Janka Hardness Scale.
    IMO basswood is too soft to be practical, it dents easily, it does not hold threads very well and it is not attractive so it needs an opaque finish.

    I disagree with much of this.
    Mahogany makes very nice looking instruments IMO.
    Real mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) doesn't vary a whole lot in weight.
    It machines well, sands very easily, turns, glues, stains, and finishes well.
    Most Les Pauls and all SG guitars have translucent finishes for the last 50 years.
    The Gibson neck breakage problem is a design issue not a mahogany wood issue, though maple would probably be a better choice.
    Maple is heavy for guitar bodies and the maple top on a Les Paul is part of the reason it's heavy, the other is it's a thick body, the thinner all mahogany SG is a lighter guitar.
    Mahogany is generally considered a more attractive wood than alder by most anyone who makes wood things, there are not a lot of alder dressers.
    Alder was chosen by Leo because it was cheap and very available and machined well, it was not chosen for it's figuring or color.
    I agree that basswood can be crap, not always but often enough.
    IMO, YMMV, etc, etc.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  20. Eh. My basswood G&L has held together just fine for the last four years of heavy gigging. It does have a very thick and tough flake finish though. No dents yet.
     

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