Do you find basswood to be tonally inferior to alder or ash?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BusyFingers, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016

    heh, this is true.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  2. Sparkl


    Apr 23, 2011
    Well I am pretty sure that my Jazz Bass Elite V 2016 (Maple/Ash) sounds much brighter and snappier than my Jazz Bass am std 2012 (alder/rosewood).

    I tried changing the pickups on my am std and it never sounded the same as the elite V. I like both sounds though. But the am std definitely sounds darker and high mid grindier as opposed to my elite which definitely sounds much more scooped and marcus millerish.

    I was testing both basses on passive of course so the preamp on the elite has nothing to do with it and the rest of the elements between these two guitars are pretty much the same. Except for the pickups, which, as said, I have tried replacing already.

    For my Jazz bass am std I have settled on Nordstrand Nj4s.
  3. AztecViking

    AztecViking Supporting Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    EndlessSummerVille, CA
    Musicman Bongo's are usually made of basswood aren't they? I've never owned one but none that I've played at NAMM seemed to be suffering from lack of tone quality. :cool:
    lowdownthump and Spidey2112 like this.
  4. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I don't. I have a Squier Matt Freeman P that sounds just like my alder bodied Ps.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  5. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    Agreed. There will always be outlier instruments for various reasons, and there is variation within species, but there Are some average tendencies to expect from a species.
  6. In my experience, yes. I returned the only one I did buy (a CV 60's p bass) because I thought that a fresh set of strings would cure the E string tone that sounded like an elephant fart,but 3 different sets of strings later, no dice. Could've been the 12, count em 12, heavy coats of paint I counted when I took the guard off though. The screws stripping out thing is something to be considered too.
    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  7. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    I respectfully submit that you cannot. Otherwise, this topic would already have a sticky, and fewer arguments. It seems plausible that it could be the case, but I've yet to see a satisfying post on this topic, with a generally agreed upon conclusion.
    blue4 and navijaz like this.
  8. LT131


    Jan 25, 2015
    Deep South
    Bah! I cast looks of disdain upon those who are tone wood snobs. Far and away pickups, strings, tone controls and presence of tort have far, far more effect on tone. Hands are an indisputable given.

    Again I say BAH!! Alder, Ash, Basswood, Poplar, Bah! My cocktail beckons.
  9. Also the humidity content plays a big part in resonance. Playing in a high humidity environment vs dry. Neck through vs bolt on.
    wmmj likes this.
  10. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    basswood is fine.

    alder is fine.

    ash is fine.

    mahogany is fine.

    even plywood is fine.

    The player makes the bass, not the other way around. There is no bass in the world, regardless of how expensive the wood, that sounds great just sitting on a stand.
    ajkula66, J_Bass, tlc1976 and 7 others like this.
  11. I have owned and played 4 basses since I began playing bass in 1984. For several years, I have been totally content owning and playing just one bass: a 1997 ash/maple G&L L-1500 that I special ordered that spring. The ash body sounds better now than ever before.

    I've been playing this bass since 1997. I keep it near the speakers of my stereo. These two points are related because I believe - along with internationally renowned audiologist and violin maker Daniel Ling (now deceased) - that tonewood becomes more resonant as its exposure to musical-frequency vibrations increases over time. (See the article here:

    Basswood? Alder? Maple? Empress? Ash? Wood type does not matter to me as much as the sounds-better-than-ever quality that this particular ash body provides. For this reason, I hope to stay with this one bass forever, never having to find another bass made of any body wood to match its sonic magic.

    If you can get superb tone from any bass made of any wood, then buy it, play it, and treasure it for years. Aside from common non-tonal, species-specific traits (e.g. mahogany is often heavy; basswood typically gets more dings) the species of wood should not matter so much.
    J_Bass and cbassman55 like this.
  12. My concern about buying an instrument constructed of basswood has little to do with any tonal effect a basswood body might impart. I don't know for a fact, (but I suspect) that basswood might be more likely to be dented, and dinged during normal use than harder woods. My best two basses are made with ash bodies, and are very resonant, but I think that the resonance of the ash bodies has only a minor impact on the amplified sound of those two instruments.
    MobileHolmes likes this.
  13. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    They supposedly are easier to dent, but you can't prove it by me. I've owned a number of basswood basses and I didn't notice a difference.
  14. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    AZ, USA
    At least 100 other things make more tonal differences than the body wood.
  15. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    my only issue with Basswood .. = screws stripping ( if you like to mod , ... then change your mind ,.. again )

    i built a cheap parts 4 strg ... VM body / neck ? ... it has been fiddled with a lot ( neck , frets , rounded fretboard edges , etc ) ... and surprisingly has turned into one of favs ... !? and i've had lots o stuff the last 43 bass yrs ... Basswood body

    i have a Squier Strat that just rings out .. !?? indonesia made ... basswood body ( w/stripped screws ! )

    also recently built a parts P bass .. basswood body ... nice thud , mim RW neck , Ti flats ... just works

    yeh , i also like fancy cool woods ... have a few of those ... some sing better than others .. ??

    dealing with substances made by nature , they will/should vary a bit .. !
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I am not a big fan of basswood, no.
    pjbassist likes this.
  17. Yes i do, it sounds less bassy, and more scooped, with lows that lack "boom" and it has a nasal type of hights.
    I have a Yamaha RBX 375 with basswood, and lacks serious mids (and is even worst because the pickups are ceramics and the preamp lacks mids control), unlike another RBX (before or after that run) that used alder in its bodies, and there was a noticiable increase in midrange.
    I dunno how basswood interacts with passive alnico pickups, thou.
  18. My answer is no. It tends to be mildly heavier sometimes and sometimes lighter, but the tone of the bass is usually stellar
    lowdownthump likes this.
  19. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Personally I won't go near basswood.
    Alder, ash, walnut, Honduran Mahogany are the woods I like.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  20. I once had a basswood bass, 5 stringer, 34" scale that was as tight sounding as my 35" scale 5 stringer that I traded it for. The only "downside" I experienced was that I needed to brighten up the sound tremendously using bright strings and pickups (EMG HZ)
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