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determining wood type

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by wraub, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Hello all. I have a MIJ jazz bass from ~ 84 or so, and have always thought it was an alder body.
    The possibility also exists that it may be basswood.
    As the body is painted, is there any way to tell which wood the wood would be? :) (short of stripping it, I mean. Thick poly finish.) Tapping, scraping finish from a hidden spot, etc.

    As both woods are pretty light in color, and a painted body will likely have minimal grain to assess, I imagine it's not going to be easy.

    Reason being that I really like the bass, but find it's tone to be lacking at times. My ash P sounds really good and definitive, looking for similar but different in the J. Lots of J bodies floating around, if needed.

    And yes, a PU change is also being considered.



  2. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Alder is Tan Basswood is generally more white. If you want to scrape in the neck pocket, that would not show, or 1 of the cavities. Also the basswood is considerably lighter, if the body weighs well under 4 lbs, it's probably basswood, but that is no guarantee as there are light pieces of Alder also.
  3. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If, as Musiclogic so kindly suggested, you are able to scrape, sand, plane, or file away the finish from a concealed area, you should be able to see subtle grain patterning in alder that is not present in basswood, which has a homogeneous texture and appearance with no visually distinguishable pores or grain.
  4. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    Sorry, been unable to login before now. I kinda figured it would come down to scraping somewhere. I'll probably go at it in the control cavity, under the grounding plate.

    Current weight of the bass is 9.15 lbs, so not especially light. Guess I'll go start scraping...

    Thanks, gentlemen, for the asssist.

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