Different body woods on the same bass = different tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassmanjones, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. bassmanjones


    Feb 23, 2002
    Boston, MA
    I was just reading the Dingwall review in the newest BP issue and apparantly it has two different body woods that compose the entire body. I forget what they were, but essentially it was like the treble side was maple and the bass side was mahogony (or something like that).

    My question is, does this make any difference in the tone of the strings? Apparantly it was done to give the treble strings a nice bright tone and the bass strings a mellow tone, but I always thought it was the entire body that determined the tone the strings would emit since the bridge is attached to the whole body which resonates when the string is plucked?

    Any builders out there have any ideas on this?
  2. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    It's actually the other way around. We do this to brighten and solidify the bass strings while keeping the trebles as mellow and resonant as possible. It's very effective.
  3. Dingwalls also tend to have individual bridges for each string - so each one is anchored to the body independently.
  4. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    What kind of finishes are on these basses, opaque?
  5. I think they have a veneer top and back.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I used to talk a lot with Mr. Dingwall years ago on alt.guitar.bass and I came to the conclusion that if he says it, I would bet on it being true. My opinion, and I've never played a bass like that so it would be conjecture on my part, is that yes, the body will act as a whole to a certain extent and cause sounds to be somewhat unified so it sounds like the same bass on all strings, but I think that the woods would react with the strings and cause them to do what Sheldon says they do, giving you the best of both worlds. I would love to hear one of his basses. Sheldon, does Bass Central carry your basses?
  7. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Dingwall Prima Artist - 5 string

    Tech Specs (Highlights):
    34" scale G string
    37" scale B string
    10 lbs 8 oz
    Body: Walnut (bass side), Alder (treble)
    Top: Ziracote, Flame Maple
    Neck: Flame Maple / Bubinga / Wenge
    Fingerboard: Ziracote
    Nut: Phenolic
    Electronics: Aguilar OBP-3 18v Preamp

  8. Hmm, very cool idea! You're a very innovative guy, I must say. I love your work.
  9. bassmanjones


    Feb 23, 2002
    Boston, MA
    Thanks for the responses, espececially S. Dingwall.

    I think the issue of string/body coupling was answerd by someone with the response of individal bridge saddles.

    Makes sense.

    Wonder how it would sound with body cores AND split fingerboard (a la Brubaker). You could really start doing some different things.
  10. actually depending on which Dingwall bass, you'll either have a one piece bridge or on the higher end basses, you'll have individual string saddles that are connected to a subplate that is attached to the body. Lots of bolted connections and a fair amount of metal. So the strings aren't really individually connected to the body.

    I find that Dingwall basses are more resonant, and have tremendous sustain, it could be from the types of neck bolts, or bridge connections he uses or that everything is tighly attached to the other body parts, dunno, but whatever mojo it is, it certainly works.
    As for using two different wood type across the body, if you read the explinations on his website, you'll see hes done this for sometime. Another great pict of his two wood combo can be seen here(http://www.basscentral.com/2003/dingwall.shtml), in the Prima photos 1/2 way down the page.
    One thing Mr Dingwalls basses are- is incredibly innovative.

    Did you see the ad in the back of the same mag for the SuperJ bass? :hyper:

    Jimmy- Yes it appears basscentral carries Dingwall basses
    however whats in stock i don't know
  11. martens-koop


    Oct 10, 2002
    I think the main thing to keep in mind is that everything is very subtle.

    how much of the tone is due to electronics? how much due to the neck wood? how much due to the body wood? these are main areas, but then you have sub areas like string type, bridge type, nut type, and probably others... I've often heard people estimate that fifty percent of the tone comes from the electronics, leaving neck wood, body wood and string type to split the remaining 50%... fifty percent split 3 ways is about 16 percent.... so any alteration to the body wood will only affect 16 percent of the tone... thus putting a 3mm top on a 39mm guitar, means that the 3mm piece of wood is responsible for about 7 percent of the 16 percent total tone which means a 3mm top should only alter tone by 1.2percent... (I'm not so good at math, But I think I'm close...) how much of a tone change would be needed to be percieved by a human ear?

    everything done in making a bass or guitar has to be done holistically... there are so many small insignificant things that come together and affect tone... probably the material that a given bolt is made out of will have some effect... (like .0001%?) I don't think that building a quality bass comes down to one secret trick. At the same time, you don't want to spend an hour weighing every bolt or piece of wood at the lumber store to make sure they're "right"

    have a great day...

  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    FCM3, my mistake. I meant to ask if they had one of the split-wood basses. But thanks.

    jmk, you are absolutely right about everything you say. But I see nothing out of line about trying to arrive at a holistic whole out of separate parts. I'm sure Sheldon's intention isn't to make a bass that sounds like two separate basses. At least it better not be if he wants to sell any! He just wants the woods to interact with each other in such a way that gives each string a slight lift into territory it's not especially suited for. I don't know if it works, but I salute the heck out of Sheldon's creativity. He's one of the few boutique guys who's doing something more than just carving odd-shaped basses out of fancy woods using conventional design techniques. He does different things like fanned frets and this new split-body thing.

    I agree about the holistic thing, but all instruments started life as parts.
  13. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Thanks for the responses and input. I was hoping I wouldn't be the only one to respond. I'll try and catch all the questions at once here.

    Figjam - the finishes on the Prima and Prima Artist basses is clear coat.

    On the Z-series we tend to do more transparent colors.

    Jimmym - Bass Central should have some Afterburner I and II basses in stock, but they are a single density body design. By mid to late September they will have a Z2 which has a dual density body. It's more subtle on the Z2 because we use two different densities of Ash. I can see it just looking at the grain, but most people wouldn't notice anything different. mid to late October they should have a Prima in stock.

    bassmanjones - I have a sample dual species fingerboard sample glued up in our wood room. It's been there since about 1999. I wanted to test it for a year to see what it would do before gluing to a neck. At NAMM 2000 I met Kevin Brubaker and saw that he was already doing that type of fingerboard so I shelved the project.

    FCM3 - you correctly noted that the individual saddles are bolted to a sub-plate. Common sense would suggest that this would eliminate any noticeable difference in the tone between the bass and treble core woods, but common sense can be misleading. We test most if not all of our ideas, no matter how crazy they seem. Most times the test results are not what we expected. Sometimes it's a happy experience, sometimes it's pretty disappointing.