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

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

  1. I find that individul pieces of wood matter more than type of wood for tone.
    I will say if ringing sustain is your thing, try another wood.
    Inferior depends on what you want from it.
    If you want a J bass that's even more scooped with less sustain and a lighter body,
    it's your friend.

    Overall durbility is different.
    Bass wood will tend to strip and dent.
    A good coat of polyurthne or epoxy can help on minor denting.
    If you hit it hard it's till gonna dent.
    jnsnj and ajkula66 like this.
  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    It's a crapshoot.
    rllefebv, wmmj and Bass V like this.
  3. I don't give it much thought at all. I listen to the totality of parts making up a bass, not get snobbish because of what kind of woods it's made of. As for beauty, some types of wood lend themselves to look prettier than others when clear stained or in a translucent finish, and I would be more picky regarding than than any other reason to prefer one type of wood over another.

    I'm sure I have some basswood bodies in my collection, but I never gave it much thought as still have them because I liked their (complete bass) sound.
    wmmj likes this.
  4. interp


    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    As two fingers stated so well, the better question is: Is THIS piece of basswood tonally inferior to THAT piece of ash or THAT piece of alder?
    BuffaloBass likes this.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Basswood instruments get the strap buttons loose easier because the wood is soft. Also they tend to get dents and dings easier.

    On the other hand, they sound fine and they are light.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  6. Trend I've noticed over the years.
    Dent a basswood body - blame the basswood. Dent a mahogany body - blame yourself :laugh:
    It's also not that cheap,about 3/4 the price of Ash.
    Owned plenty of basswood basses over the years,never noticed much tonal difference.
    wmmj and Spidey2112 like this.
  7. LHbassist

    LHbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2003
    Reno, Nevada
    I'm a repairman and builder, going on 45 years now. I'm 65 this year. I currently own five Jazz basses. The only factory built one, is a Fender Japan sunburst, basswood body, now with a set of EMG 5 J pickups and the BTC system. #2, is a Fender Japan alder body, Allparts neck, Sheptone alnico vintage pickups, stack knobs, correct pots and Sprague caps. All vintage style hardware. #3, is a Squier VM- Maple body, and a high quality replacement neck, made by someone about 30 years ago- it's so accurate a reproduction of a 1962 j-bass, it has an 'S' curve. That one has Fender 'Super 55's' in it. Nice sounding bass. #4, is the maple fingerboard black block and binding neck from that Squier VM, mounted on a purple Mexican body- a HEAVY piece of wood.. it might be ash, or maple.. but it certainly is not basswood. It has a set of Carvin stacks in it. They are GREAT sounding pickups. #5, is also a Squier Maple VM body, a G&L Tribute Rosewood neck, and EMG j's, with the BTC system. That bass has an Omega (new Badass) bridge on it.
    ALL of these basses sound just like a Fender Jazz Bass, a sound most of us readily recognize. There are tonal differences, of course. Two are strung with D'addario rounds, two with Chromes flats, and one with Fender 9050ML flats. I play all of them. I can honestly say this.. after doing a lot of experimentation, in my opinion, The pickups, and string type, play more of a role in the tonal character of the bass than does the body wood. I'd say, the better the STRENGTH, and mass of the neck- makes the notes stronger, too. The two closest basses I have- the Squier and Fender Japan ones with EMG's, sound the best to my ears. I think the basswood one sounds a bit stronger- but the 5j's have a longer magnet.. so that might be it. I heard a stock Squier Vintage Modified J- sunburst maple body, rosewood board, last night.. stock everything. Those basses are really good sounding instruments, even with the crummy electronics.
    xaxxat likes this.
  8. steelbed45

    steelbed45 33 on Ignore Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    Nolanville, TX
    My P bass is a Fender Japan basswood body + Status neck. Sounds great to me.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  9. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    After having owned a few instruments made from basswood in the past, I've always found it to have been both tonally light and physically light (making the instruments headstock heavy).

    Not a fan.
  10. bass71


    Nov 18, 2007
    My Squier is Basswood. Its light, feels great and sounds bout the same as my old vintage P did......but.

    These tone debates are starting to get kinda pointless cause by the time soundguy dude has twiddled all the mid range outta ur bass it wont matter if your playing an Alembic or a plank and a piece of string.

    Sad thing is ..I'm really not joking either.
    crucislancer, Showdown and wmmj like this.
  11. Masonite is finer still!
    Dark Horse and jnsnj like this.
  12. Wesley R

    Wesley R Gold Supporting Member

    Me, personally, I couldn't tell you, not near enough personal observation or experience.
  13. ThePresident777


    Oct 6, 2013
    Fuzz is the cure to tonewood.
    MobileHolmes, Benko, wmmj and 2 others like this.
  14. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    basswood lessens the wear and tear of the cutting bits, but it's a hunk of wood.
    it's whatever is done after that counts, if it's a factory piece... maybe 2 of 10 are winners.
  15. There are many factors that affect tone, wood is only one of them...the biggest thing that I have found affects tone is personal taste.
  16. somegeezer


    Oct 1, 2009
    Seems like a wood more suited to guitars, really. Perhaps ironically. But it's also not a very good wood, generally. It's quite soft. Easy to work with, but also easy to damage and strip screwhole threading. It's also not a very pretty wood. Being so light, it also has a tendency to give a whole lot of neckdive.
  17. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Nope, I don't find basswood to be inferior. I've got a few '80s-era basswood-body basses from Ibanez that are among my favorites tonally.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  18. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    This thread begs the question, "I wonder if the lumberjack who fell the tree for my bass, yelled 'TIMBRE', at the top of his lungs?"... and if he didn't, did it affect my overall sound, like forever...
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    Do you find basswood to be tonally inferior to alder or ash?

    Spidey2112 likes this.
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I have had basses made form all three woods and never gave the wood type a second thought. If it sounds good I bought it and played it.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 29, 2021

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