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Basswood?

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


  1. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Alder and Swamp ash were chosen because they’re plentiful and cheap - not unlike basswood.

    If you’re worried about screws stripping, use longer ones, and reinforce the holes with glue. I’ve had basswood bodies, and they stayed in fine.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
    TrustRod, ofajen, bdplaid and 3 others like this.
  2. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    Dents easy. No grain to speak of and in my opinion gives a kind of "foofy" tone to an instrument.

    Pros are it's very light weight and when used in an active bass tone can easily be compensated to give great tone (eg. bongo).
    For me super light weight is not important so I prefer alder, ash or mahogany. (and even with those I prefer threaded inserts to keep screws from pulling out.
     
  3. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Aerodyne Jazz are among my favorite basses of all time, but there’s no denying they are fragile. The piano black finish looks great, but dents if you breathe on it hard. I’m not a Tonewood believer when it comes to bodies, so other than the light weight, I can’t see much advantage to it. With basswood you either have to baby the guitar or accept that it will get “roadworn” pretty quick. No thanks. Unless it’s an Aerodyne. :D
     
    geezerjazz likes this.
  4. nilorius

    nilorius

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    Basswood is not a bad wood for the bass, it's just that it is used for cheaper basses and is't so popular lately. But there is nothing wrong with a bass with basswood body.
     
  5. fourstr00

    fourstr00

    Mar 21, 2002
    Chicago Area
    One of my main basses is a basswood Spectorcore, and as much as I love the bass for sound, weight, and playability, it has had issues with fragility and screws coming out under use.

    I eventually had to install two nuts under the bridge to keep it from pulling from the body.

    E917EF71-48C6-4516-BA81-2827353B85F7. 94021431-C880-4209-AA3C-FBB84A934E52.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  6. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Regardless of the importance of the wood, its price doesn't make it better suited for guitar bodies. The most expensive woods are pricey because they are rare and beautiful, not because they make better guitars. The industry for guitars or even instruments as a whole consumes far less wood than that which builds furniture, houses, boats or simply claims heating material. Instruments do not command the price of wood, therefore there is no logic in the speculation that a more expensive wood makes a better guitar.
     
    TrustRod and Luigir like this.
  7. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    Or for anyone with enough brain to realise that weight does not make everything better. Some mobile phone manufacturer is known to have added metal weights to their product only to make if "feel" high quality.
     
    TrustRod likes this.
  8. Hounddog409

    Hounddog409

    Oct 27, 2015
    ohio
    Stripped screws very rarely have anything to do with the wood.

    I would put a lot of cash down that those were caused by people not knowing what they are doing.
     
    TrustRod and krovx like this.
  9. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    When someone says that an instrument is good, but it "feels like a toy" my ears perk up. That's how I want it to feel! The hard Ash 79 Telecaster that I played when I was first starting out cured me of weight mania. When I got a basswood Tele, I determined that this was living! My band mates adore my basswood Mustang Bass. They don't want me to play anything else, because the "toy" fits right into the mix.
     
  10. Leo Thunder

    Leo Thunder

    Sep 27, 2018
    "Feels like a toy", to me, means that it warps and squeaks, that the pots or tuners don't turn or do it on their own, that the strings grind the nut down and the saddles move them out of the fingerboard, that the electronics fall apart or the jack gets pushed in after a month. That's a "toy".
    Weight has nothing to do with it, only with the prejudices of people who cannot judge things for themselves and grab at the little they can assess: "Oh, it feels light, it can't be really good, can it?"

    That said, I have a Jazz Bass with a light basswood body, a big wide 5-string maple neck, a HUGE headstock and spectacular neck dive as a result. I blame it on the fools who designed it. Next time, I'll get an Ibanez.
     
  11. Stevorebob

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

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Any experiences with screws not holding in basswood? Or is this a myth?
     
  12. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    Like it better than alder,low weight.The squire p bass VM 5 is basswood and its great.
    I saw some japanese instruments made of basswood and they were amazing.
    I have been told in a shop that G&L is offering a basswood p and jazz bodies as an extra.
     
  13. geezerjazz

    geezerjazz

    Feb 4, 2011
    ERIE, PA USA
    I'll throw my 2 cents in on this one. About 10 or so years ago, I bought a Fender Aerodyne bass in excellent used condition. It was love at first feel: light weight, very well balanced and played like butter...and it was sexy. I had to have it. But the one thing I was never happy about it was the lack of punch and sustain. I switched out the tailpiece twice, upgraded the pup’s, added a preamp, but nothing helped. Finally started doing some research on the body, which is basswood, and decided that replacing it was my last option. I bought a figured maple body (Fender licensed) and what an amazing difference it made in tone and punch, and now it has sustain for days. Sure, it’s a couple pounds heavier, but well worth it.


    Basswood is used because it is cheap, and it doesn’t dull the machines and routers during manufacture like harder woods do. Why is this? Because basswood is soft…maybe a smidge harder than pine with a grain that looks like balsa wood. In all honesty, I will never buy a basswood bass again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    waynobass and M.R. Ogle like this.
  14. wraub

    wraub

    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    I have two '85 Ibanez basses with basswood bodies... no structural issues, no screws falling out, no wood issues.
    The fretted one I have been beating up for decades with finish damage but nothing functional at fault.

    They are not my best sounding basses, but I chalk this up to the somewhat generic-sounding electronics.
     
  15. Skybone

    Skybone

    Jun 20, 2016
    Scotland
    My experience of basswood was that the body was too light to balance out the maple neck, and the sound was thin and generally meh, no matter what I did to try and make it better.
     
    geezerjazz likes this.
  16. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Basswood dents easily but other than that there’s no reason to shy away from it.
    Music Man doesn’t.
    Hell, I’d probably buy one if I was into cheap basses.
    C3-E44-FCC-3-B8-A-458-C-A78-D-80-BA40-E2850-D.
     
  17. Chrisk-K

    Chrisk-K

    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Had Leo used basswood in the 50’s, basswood would be viewed as the ultimate tone wood.
     
    ihaveaquestion and solderfumes like this.
  18. nerkoids

    nerkoids Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Montreal
    It depends - my Sweet Georgia Brown P-bass had very nice figuring, and even some flame in the 3-piece body. I think the real complaint about basswood is how the available stock can be inconsistent in appearance.

    11412041_10153365746211900_705764169416963650_o.

    Also, the thing about basswood - it has to be kiln dried thoroughly for it to get more ding resistant. It's a type of wood that loses about 40% of its volume as it dries.

    But I've had three instruments with basswood - all of them I find even acoustically sounded great. I wouldn't hesitate to use basswood for an instrument.
     
  19. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i have a basswood body on a parts bass ... it's just Fine ... just gotta be careful with the screws , as they are much easier to strip ..!! especially tiny screws like on a pickguard ...
     
  20. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    My basswood Squier Mustang has some nice figuring, too. Mostly on the back, but I don't imagine the people at the Squier factory were sitting around thinking about how to set off the grain.

    I have an Affinity P-Bass that has a spongy, toy-like feel and a squeaky pickup. It plays and sounds pretty good otherwise. I'm hoping a new bridge and pickup will de-toyify it.
     

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