best body wood: poplar or ash

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sloppysubs, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    ok so im deciding on these two. my top wood is gonna be myrtlewood. theres no doubt in my mind there. however im curious as to which body woudl go best wiht the top wood for the best tonal results. im looking for a good hard solid low end. very clear pronounced mids and a good zingy, but not bite-y high end.

    so what do yall think?
  2. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer, Builder
    White Korina......

    But with Ash, there are a number of different ash's. Northern, which is going to have a little more depth and lows verse Swamp Ash.
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    It depends...

    Who makes it? if that poplar is called tulipwood, then Mike obias should do wondrful work with both ;)
    (My pick would be bubinga top over hard ash, but thats me and I dont know whether you like that kind of tone...)

    Oh and almost forgot: ash is known for its agressive biting tone
  4. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    ultimately it will be a zon.

    i like tobias's stuff. but not in the mood for one right now.

    any moer suggestions?
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Tonally? Don't matter that much.
    Visually? Ash (all kinds) are a lot more spectacular than poplar.
    Ergonomics? Poplar is a lot lighter than any ash. Which will give you a lighter axe, which should indicate easier to play long sets. But, it might disrupt the balance, if the neck is heavy, and then the set endurance would shrick drastically.

    Advice? Find out the weight and balance of all alternatives, and choose from that.
    Worth 2 cents? :oops:
  6. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    thanks suburban. that was something i never thought of.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I've owned a couple poplar basses and I really like it as a bass wood. It's light, but not feather-light like basswood. It's very neutral as far as tone, not imparting any particular sonic signature, just letting the strings do the work.
  8. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    From what I recall, which is probably wrong,, BUT...

    Poplar's one of those woods you see, that always gets painted because its not that visually impressive... & you just dont' hear about it being widely used...

    That said, Swamp Ash is used quite a bit... Swamp Ash does have alot of pop, which is what I'm reading in your post...
    ASQTec likes this.
  9. I think that the Michael Manring's signature bass has a poplar body. I have never tried a bass with a poplar body, but I customized a telecaster-like guitar with a solid poplar body. It is a real player and so light.
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Yea, talk to Zon and get their input. Nothing is better than talking to a builder that you respect.

    As for the two woods that you named, both are good choices. Poplar has a greenish tint to it naturally and is generally painted a solid color because many don't like its look. That is a generality though and I'm sure Zon can help you through the decision making process better than the rest of us.
  11. sloppysubs


    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    yea i had talked to him about some pick up configurations and top woods. i forgot to ask about body woods. however, when i call to place the order i will definately ask him.
  12. Niels Keijzer

    Niels Keijzer Guest

    Nov 27, 2000
    My parents live in a part of Holland that was reclaimed from the sea. When they created that large area, they planted many poplar trees, as they are relatively fast growing trees that would give at least some idea of a landscape and break down the wind a bit.
    Because it grows so fast, the would is quite soft and light, compared to other, slower growing trees. In my country we used poplar a lot to make these wooden shoes, as the wood is cheap. More expensive shoes were made from the willow tree.

    As for myself, I wouldn't prefer poplar to ash, as poplar gets easily damaged if your bass gets hit by something. The sound might be good, but I like a bass that can endure some heavy times.
    I believe the music man subs are made of poplar, so that's an easy way of finding out about the tone, as any music store appears to have them in store.
  13. let me know how it goes when its all said done and built I need some ideas for myself
  14. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    My Sonus Special had an ash body with bubinga top and my Sonus 5/2 has a poplar body (without top).

    They both sound quite different and also different pickups have a major role (Jazz pickups vs P+MM pickups)

    Keep in mind that the inherent features of Zon`s composite necks, deliver a punchy, agressive sound. I personally believe that a Poplar body should deliver a rounder, warmer tone that would compliment well with the neck sound.

    Also considered that Poplar is a softer wood and gets dinged much easier.
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
  16. Barkless Dog

    Barkless Dog Barkless to a point

    Jan 19, 2007
    I take it it's going to be a solid color?

    Popular has a green tint to it. Sound wise it's neither great or bad. It is a inexpensive and really soft wood, but not really that light as you would think.

    I built a bass of popular. It's very easy to work with, but I also have to believe screws would strip in it easily



    I would go with ash.
  17. derelicte


    Dec 25, 2007
    mine is swamp ash.. and it kicks asssssh!
  18. I have a 10 year old Mexi P-bass with a really nice kinda cherry three tone sunburst finish on one piece poplar body. I think later on Fender switched to alder but the poplar has a very nice subdued grain and the tone is nice and warm and a bit mid forward modded with SD Basslines sp-2 hot pickups.

    One morning shortly after buying the bass I came down to practice and a little bit of the morning sunlight just as the sun was rising was reflecting off the finish.
    I was initially a little disturbed at first because it seemed to have all these darker horizontal stripes running through the body finish from the top to bottom. Upon closer inspection I discovered that what I was looking at was actually the coolest kind of tiger stripe flame effect I have ever seen in a sunburst finish. Very dynamic depending on the lighting.

    I've tried to capture it in a photo but no luck so far as it's very subtle but very cool none the less.

    I really like my poplar P and would never part with it.