Can you define the tone of Walnut?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by McHack, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I've done some searches & alot of folks have good things to say... but, not much out there describing the over all tone...

    I'm familar w/ Swamp Ash & Korina... I've always loved the look of walnut, especially w/ a flame maple top.
  2. I my experience, Walnut imparts a very warm tone... big bottom, very polite in the upper register. Unless the top wood is very thick, that won't have much impact on the tone, so a Walnut bodied bass will be full, big and mellow, all other things being equal (which they usually aren't!).
  3. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Walnut according to Carvin:
    Eastern Black Walnut is a dense medium hard wood that is slightly heavier than Mahogany. Its tonal quality is warm with a growling low end and a bright top end, especially when used for bass it will really cut through in the mix. Black walnut has medium dark beautiful grain patterns and looks great with gloss or satin finishes.

    Walnut according to Ken Smith:
    Articulate High End w/ Clear Lows

    Walnut according to Ed Roman
    Walnut is another one of my favorite tone woods, Bass Guitarists have long known about Walnut's tonal qualities, Just to be clear, I probably think Korina is one of the best tone woods for the back of a guitar and isn't necessarily overwhelming as a top. Walnut makes a great tone wood for the top or front of the guitar. It's dense like Maple but it's usually more stable and Walnut grows slower so the grain will be tighter and the sound richer than Maple. Solid Walnut works extremely well on a Bass Guitar. Walnut only works well when I make the guitar it's in.*

    Walnut according to Warmoth:
    Walnut is a heavy weight wood, but not quite as heavy as hard maple. It has a similar sound to hard maple but it tends not to be as bright. Walnut is very beautiful with open grain. Oil finishes work great on Walnut.

    Take your pick.. ;)

    *My addition. :smug:
  4. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Thank you, Mark.

    That's quite a bit of info.. I had only seen the Warmoth description, which I thought was really more about its appearance, & didnt really give me much.

    That said, I never did scratch my explorer body itch... have been thinking about matching my Wenge jazz neck, to a Warmoth walnut explorer body, with a flame maple top.
  5. These are probably the best descriptions of tonewoods I've found, they are very detailed and they match well my experiences (they are "guitar oriented" though):

    I have put together two Warmoth walnut basses:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The first one is string-thru with a maple / rw neck and its tone is different to anything else I've heard. It's hard to describe but it's very "piano-like", the bass frequencies are very tight and the midrange clarity is incredible, you can play chords on this bass like no other I've ever played. The slap tone is just amazing: with the bridge pu (a Hot Stack) wired in parallel and both pu's on, it's good even with no eq at all.

    The second one has also a maple / rw neck but the tone is actually very different from the first one (it's not string-thru and of course the pickups are different). It has a much more "woody" tone, I think it would be perfect for a fretless neck. The bass frequencies are also tight but it's warmer and with rounder highs than the other one. It's a bit like what an alder body in a longer scale bass would sound.

    In both cases, as the link above suggests, there seems to be a stronger "signature" in the tone than with other woods, a character that is very noticeable playing on either pickup and through different amps.
  6. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    That site mentioned above easily has the most informed explanations of wood tone that I've ever seen for guitars.

    Here's my favorite statement on Walnut for a body wood:

    It has a snappy attack and solid lows like Ash, but with smooth highs like Mahogany, and textured mids like Alder.

    That seems like the best of all worlds to me.
  7. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Ultimately, here's what I'm curious about... I play rock... old rock, new rock, metal whatever... Predominately, a finger style player...

    I love the look, but am curious of the tonal properties would lend itself to rock well.
  8. +1 IMO.... the big low end and punchy mids would seem be perfect for fingerstyle rock. The bad news to me about Walnut is that, as stated above, many pieces are very, very heavy.... so be careful to specify that the bass won't be a 'back-breaker' if you go the Walnut route. I have a good friend with a Walnut body Fodera Emperor and it is the heaviest bass I've ever played... sounds great, but just rediculous weight... and the sound is not that different from the lighter Fodera's I've played or owned.
  9. rockstarbassist

    rockstarbassist Banned

    Apr 30, 2002
    The Woodlands, TX
    Endorsing Artist: HCAF
    I wouldn't mind an Elrick or Nordstrand in walnut... or four... ;)
  10. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    That's great. I think there should be a sticky in the luthier's section about hardwoods and their tonal descriptions.
  11. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    How does this tonal quality sound on,say, a Dingwall? I'm seriously considering an Afterburner II with a walnut body.
  12. Great info on this thread !!

    I'm so glad that I specified walnut on my Sei which is being built. Walnut core with full lacewood facings back and front.
  13. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    New Orleans, LA
    mmmmm, ken smith walnut 5er, mmmmmmm.
  14. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Walnuts have Balls.


  15. NamelessOne


    Mar 9, 2006
    Calgary, AB
    dude, my bass has a walnut feather crotch top.

    it's even worse when you consider that the latin name for walnut, juglans, means nut of jupiter (or the gods).

    all things considered, my bass has a top made of a feathered crotch of the tree of the nuts of jupiter.

    just imagine how that would look in german...
  16. I've had extensive experience with walnut, as well as mahogany, swamp ash, maple, and alder, among other woods >.>

    In the aforementioned gamut, I'd probably describe walnut as similar to maple, except not as bright, and similar to mahogany except without the strong mids.

    It can almost be described as an "intermediate" tone wood... like if you want the sound of both maple and mahogany with a slight difference in weight and feel.

    I'd definitely suggest trying out a couple of walnut basses to see if it's your thing.
  17. JHL


    Apr 8, 2005
    London, England
    One of the funniest things I've head since joining TB :D
  18. chaotick


    Aug 15, 2006
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    If you crave LOTS of low, walnut is for you.

    I have been playing mine for months and months exclusively and then I picked up my old ibanez and I was surprised at how much I was digging that. Maybe it's not for me after all.

    Oh, and it is heavy as a sum'bit.
  19. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    Agreed - my walnut bass is lighter than my Fender, but it's also a lot smaller. It *feels* heavier for it's size. It's a dense little monster.