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Basswood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basspraiser, Nov 25, 2018.


  1. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    So...Basswood seems to get a pretty bad rap amongst bassistsand guitarists.

    Well...I was at the plant of a very well respected organ builder this week (my son-in-law's church is getting their organ rebuilt by this company).

    The owner / founder was saying that he ONLY uses basswood for certain parts of an organ which need to be "stable for 100 years or more"...

    He loves the stability and consistency in characteristics of basswood

    So.. Why does basswood get such a bad rep?

    The owner even said it does effect sound in a good way.

    Just curious why and how basswood gets such a bad wrap for guitars and basses?
     
    bdplaid and MAXSPINRUN like this.
  2. lug

    lug

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Basswood was used in construction cheaper guitars and basses in "the old days" and that's where it probably got it's bad rap. Not many think that way anymore. Basswood has similar tonal qualities to Alder but generally weighs less. It's also a softer wood and can pick up dings more easily. So the trade off is durability vs, weight.
     
  3. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    Thx.

    The organ builder said it was pretty hard and stable... So I'm even more confused...
     
    MAXSPINRUN likes this.
  4. It really depends. Some people love it and others hate it. Than there’s the hundreds who just go off what they hear and never actually try it. My aerodyne basses are all basswood and sound great but yes I have to be extra careful they don’t get dented.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  5. lug

    lug

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
  6. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    jamro217 likes this.
  7. basswood is soft, but sounds good to me
    The thing that bugs me is that it's pronounced like the fish & not like our instrument.
     
  8. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Basswood is fine for electric instruments. ItIt needs finish - it is not a terribly pretty wood, very plain. As the organmaker guy said, extraordinarily stable. Much more important than strength in many applications.
     
    basspraiser, JIO and Marko 1 like this.
  9. NOVAX

    NOVAX

    Feb 7, 2009
    Kalifornia
    Yes.
    Next question?
     
    basspraiser likes this.
  10. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds SUSPENDED

    Oct 7, 2016
    Wait. Is it pronounced baaaaasss-wood? And not Base-Wood. I didn’t know.
     
    Herrick and TheDominoKid like this.
  11. Yeah, I called it base-wood when I was alone & then one day the local luthier was saying baas-wood. So I looked it up & sure enough it's the fish.
     
  12. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds SUSPENDED

    Oct 7, 2016
    Wow. That’s an eye opener. Thanks.
     
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I Grow Organic Carrots
    Because it is a soft wood that does not have an attractive grain.

    The up sides are it is light and it has good tone
     
    NOVAX and basspraiser like this.
  14. A lot of records have been made with basswood Ibbys. Jes' sayin'. All that matters is if you're getting the results you want.

    Kurt
     
    cassanova likes this.
  15. 58kites

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

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    Basswood has a 420 hardness on the Janka Scale.
    Poplar is 540 Janka
    Alder is 590 Janka
    Mahogany is 1040 Janka
    Ash is 990-1320
    Maple is 1450

    Basswood is too soft to hold bridge screws very well.
    Too soft to hold pickguard screws very well.
    Too soft to hold strap pins very well.
    Not great for a manufacturer to choose a wood that the end customer will have to be very careful of, for the life of the instrument.
    If you decide you want to change out your pickguard or bridge or change your strap pins to the strap locks you risk stripping out screws.
    The second or third owner will have to be even more careful.
    I have bought used basses (15 to 30 years old) with stripped (bridge, pickguard, strap pin) screws in Alder, Poplar and Mahogany bodies which are all harder than Basswood.
    Basswood is also very light and sometimes tends to make a neck dive-ey bass.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    GlennRH, Lardass5000, fhm555 and 2 others like this.
  16. Plus I think basswood has become almost a generic term which I'd suspect is applied to several similar woods where the manufacturer doesn't want you to think they've 'cheaped out'. I've had / have basswood bodied basses and I'd agree it's lighter, but easier to beat up in the lesser grades. Like most woods, there may be better grades out there, dried properly, etc., that is better than you get in a $100 bass from China.
     
    wmmj likes this.
  17. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Bongos are basswood. They seem to hold up petty well. The bridge and pickguard on mine are still attached.
     
  18. If MusicMan uses Basswood on their Bongo basses, it can't be that bad, I suppose...
     
  19. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I used to be a basswood snob for decades but one of my current basses has cured me of that. I love this bass and the tone is awesome.
     
    wmmj and NOVAX like this.

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