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best body wood: polar, alder or mahogany?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sloppysubs, May 1, 2004.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    im hoping to start specing and building a custom bass soon. teh top wood will definately be zebrawood, but what is the best body wood. im not very familiar with poplar and some people tell it sucks and some tell me its good. what are your opinions, thanks.
  2. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    Depends on what you are after. Soundwise, there is a chart showing which woods emphasize various qualities. Also, if you are going for a natural finish, you have to choose a wood that will look good.

    Does anyone have that wood chart and can post it?

  3. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    There isn't such a thing as a "best" wood to use.
    Different woods have different tonal qualities which different people dig differently. Alder, ash and poplar/tulip all sound different from each other - not better, just different.
    Furthermore, there are millions of other things which affect the tone of a bass as well... just to name a few, deciding between Bolt on/Neckthru/Set Neck, neck woods, fb wood, body shape, finish, pups&preamp, active/passive, strings.... you get the idea.

    It's really up to you to decide what kinda sound you're looking for. In fact, I'd suggest you go out and play the different basses available with the different woods so that you get a good idea about what you're actually getting into.

    To answer the question - ppl consider Alder to be a tonally "neutral" wood which allows for massive colouration. It's also the wood which ppl assoc. with Fender basses.
    Ash has more bite. Adds bottom end and growl to the tone - alota Roscoes are built with Ash (which also accounts for their legendary B)
    Poplar/Tulipwood/Basswood... ppl slam it for reasons unbeknown to me. In fact, the grooviest sounding MTD's are made of tulipwood (and the last blind test that Ari did kinda proved it as well). It's kinda like Ash meets Alder.

    Hope that helps :D
  4. I don't like polar, I think it has a cold fundamental and the harmonics are frosty.

    Sorry, couldn't resist :D
  5. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    well, Ash blows all over the place when its windy, its gray, smells funny, and besides, if you smoke enough cigarrettes, you can make your own Ash bass... good luck trying to keep it stable !! :D
  6. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    if this helps:
    zon, 4 string, 24 fret, natural finish, zebrawood top, 24 inch scale.

    i guess thats it. um, if that helps...help.
  7. KB

    KB Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2000
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I like mahogany best...deeper/richer tone. Can be heavy though. My favorite basses that I have ever owned have been mahogany (1982 G&L L2000 and Wal Mach II).

    Alder would be my 2nd choice

    Ash to me sounds great fro slap work, but seems to miss some mids for fingerstyle.

    I have never played poplar, so I can't comment there
  8. dragonbass

    dragonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    ........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder..........................................................


    I would go with Mahogany....(Actually for the Bass I have on order that's what the body will be).

    According to Ken Smith.......Mahogany "Produces a true even tone"
  9. I like more classic tone woods like alder. mahogany can be real nice too if you want deeper lows and a more modern vibe.
  10. dragonbass

    dragonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    ........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder..........................................................
    Hey Keith,

    You meant 34" scale? Right? :D
  11. Keith,

    I'm sure Joe Zon could make you a mahogany Sonus or a Legacy. And if I remember correctly this has been done for a TBer with good results. Now who was that again ...?
  12. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    whoops... :rolleyes:

    yea 34. ok guys thanks a lot. i appriciate the help. hopefully i can figure it out. im leaning on mahogany or alder. ill just have to do some reasearch. thanks guys.
  13. I gotta put in my props for Poplar. Yellow Poplar is an excellent tonewood but it pretty much sucks in appearance. Therefore, it goes well with solid, opaque colors and veneer lamination processes. Similiar to Alder in it's tone, as hard as soft maple but lighter. It's a dream for a builder because it machines so easily. No tearout, no fuzziness, takes glue, stain, and sanding perfectly. It's also less expensive and very readily available.

    I'm completing one now using poplar and it's coming out great.

    Consider it!
  14. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    alright. i will. i suppose ill just have to ask joe zon himself and see what he thinks would be a good wood for what im looking for.
  15. of course there are various TYPES of mahoganies, and some non-true-mahoganies marketed as such.

    but i must ask: I'm guessing you picked zebrawood 'cause it looks beautiful. But if you picked your top--which will be a part of the body--without consideration for wood 'tone', why stop there? Pick the wood you like the looks of; pick the wood you like the weight of. A good luthier will make it sound wonderful no matter what. And for many people the looks of the bass (including the body) are half the reason to go custom.

    i mean hell, you can probably get some old growth recovered fir with 70 rings per inch if you look around... that'd make a nice body for sure :)
  16. Racsen


    Dec 6, 2003
    and what about Agathis bodies ?
  17. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB

    It's really cheap and IMHO the sound is lacking.
  18. dragonbass

    dragonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2003
    ........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder..........................................................

    After some thought (Just a suggestion) but why don't you just go with a solid Zebrawood body!

    No reason for a top.....(I'm sure there is some very figured zebrawood out there)........I think it would look killer!
  19. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    Ok, I found the wood chart:


  20. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    im acutally getting zebrawood because i love the sound of it. i think its got some good strong lows and some really tight soundign highs. besides it does look cool. but i dont really want solid zebrawood, i have a warwick that is solid zebrawood...i thought id mix it up. but maybe solid zebra wood is a good idea.

    what would be the difference in sounds of solid body vs. top? i suppose theyd be drastic but im not sure. what would that depend on? how many inches the top is compared to the body wood?

    im also assuming you read the chart left to right. ie spruce is great low, not so good high and hard maple is great high and not so good low?

    if thats the case, i coudl get a poplar body and zebra top and have a solid tonal spectrum. or i could play it safe and do mahogany. choices, choices. isnt manrings, hyperbass poplar core and maple top?