Change in tone with ageing?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by blr2, Apr 16, 2024.

  1. blr2


    Apr 21, 2010

    As described in THIS THREAD , I reacquired a Jazz Bass I used to own since new, after 7 years. Obviously, I cannot make a direct comparison, but from memory, I am convinced that now, after 7 years, the tone of the bass is considerably deeper and warmer. Could it be that the this is due to wood ageing, knowing that it has a thin nitro finish?

    What's your experience people?
    Ethix4 likes this.
  2. IPA


    May 5, 2010
    South TX
    Same amp? Same strings? Same technique?
  3. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    You'll find a lot of debate about wood changing "tone" after years, and possibly after lots of playing.

    But solid body basses aren't violins. With a solid body bass, my belief is that you get a lot more difference from strings and electronics than from aging of the wood. If a previous owner changed the strings - or if they just aged, which they did if they weren't changed - I wouldn't be surprised if it sounds a bit different.

    That's also why I play flats and never change them. IMO they get better as they age.
  4. blr2


    Apr 21, 2010
    Same rig, yes.
    While I had the bass I used it with different strings, but one of them (Fender 7250's) is the same, yes. Brand new set BTW.
    I don't thing I changed technique in the last 7 years. I play mostly finger style since the 80's.

    Also, nothing changed in the setup of the bass (didn't need any adjustment). The only thing I did was polish the frets lightly with 2500 grit sandpaper, oil the fretboard and change strings.
    MCF likes this.
  5. Snert


    Oct 3, 2021
    No. It's wishful thinking/confirmation bias. Audible memory is extremely short term and unreliable.
  6. deff


    Oct 15, 2018
    Gloucester, MA
    That's funny because every tele player out there swears the opposite. They all say brighter and twangier. There are certainly material changes over time, but I'm gonna take your anecdotal evidence with a salt mine.
    TrustRod, Bassdirty, Guitalia and 2 others like this.
  7. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    I think it’s possible. The wood is going to dry out more over time and playing it is like Yamaha’s I.R.A treatment but naturally.
    Vitrius Humor and Roxbororob like this.
  8. Matt O

    Matt O

    Feb 19, 2013
    The Mitten
    Same ears?

    As I age, all sounds seem “warmer”.
    J-Bassomatic, lug, red_rhino and 43 others like this.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    No and Yes. Your bass isn’t going to change in a few years although the strings will. Your speaker may change slightly as it ages but I doubt that is what you are hearing.

    Most likely suspect is called GAS.
    oldandbold, groovepump, Fynn and 6 others like this.
  10. MrAB4003

    MrAB4003 Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2023
    Orange County, CA
    My two oldest basses are 15 years old and 11 years old. I haven't noticed a change in either of their tones since I acquired them brand new.
    Bassdirty, Fuzzbass and MCF like this.
  11. blr2


    Apr 21, 2010
    My oldest is 35 years old, but that's not the point. If the tone (for whatever reason) changes very slowly over time, it may not be noticeable. Here I'm talking about the instrument that I knew well, played it for 6 years, than didn't have it for another 7, and now I have it again.
    Derek Kay likes this.
  12. roborend

    roborend Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2012
    Rock Island Illinois
    If anything aged it was probably your ears or else the strings
  13. blr2


    Apr 21, 2010
    I didn't present any evidence. Just shared impressions, that's not evidence.

    However, I may be able to do something a bit more objective if/when time permits.
    I recorded a couple of tracks for an album in 2016 using this bass and new Fender flats. We did it in the studio of our drummer (who's a professional sound engineer), with whom I work to this day. I just asked him, and he confirmed that he still keeps the isolated tracks for the whole album. We use different converters nowadays, but the ones we used back in 2016 are still available as spares in the studio.
    One of the bass tracks is a pure DI, and I happen to still have the DI box I used in 2016.
    In short, we may be able to recreate the same signal chain and track part of the bass line of one of the songs. Then we can compare on high quality monitors/headphones and do some FFT analysis.
    Again, not a 100 % scientific experiment, but way better than a sonic memory.
  14. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    Change yes. I don’t know that it’s universally for the better though. Basses are like strings on a longer timeline. Being broken in seems to generally be an improvement but long term things eventually wear out.
    Derek Kay likes this.
  15. Discount Bassy

    Discount Bassy Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2020
    Right Here.
    Sir, you have fallen in love.

    MARVIN MECKLER Suspended

    Apr 14, 2024
    I'm 51, and I've definitely changed tone with aging.

    Every time I move, I moan.
  17. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    I would guess strings got old and so did ears. :D
    Beej likes this.
  18. Low End Scum

    Low End Scum Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    I'm no scientist, but I don't see how it really would. I've had it justified to me by a few guitarists that it's the wood "drying out", but more in reference to my grandma's early 70's Kay. I was told that "they're good now cause they finally dried out". I could be wrong, I've nearly broken through from amateur to professional in being wrong, but I don't see how wood changes if it's been sealed under layers and layers of poly. Or electronics passing electricity in a different way that isn't causing issues but still is audible due to, I don't know, oxidation?
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2024
  19. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Human memory is highly unreliable.
  20. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR

    The human ear and the brain connected to it are much more malleable than a solid body electric bass guitar.
    TrustRod, Atshen, Bassdirty and 5 others like this.