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

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

  1. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I have found that basswood has a more "middly" sound than alder It is softer and lighter. I am not afraid of a a basswood bass. I would buy one if it fit me and sounded right, and I love the middly sound.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  2. Bass wood .... heh-heh-heh.
  3. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    Is it really middy, though? I have more experience with basswood guitars than basses, and the current bass I own does have some pronounced mids, which I like, but I'm presuming it's because of the hotter than average pickups in it. A

    Maybe it's not the mids I'm thinking basswood is lacking. Maybe there is a depth to the tone that seems to leave a hollow in the sound? It is hard to describe with words.
  4. Bassist Jay

    Bassist Jay

    Dec 28, 2009
    Sterling, CO.
    Endorsed by K.B. Guitars, Nordstrand Audio Pickups, Von York Strings and Gallien-Krueger Amps.
    I own several basses made of basswood and have owned several others in the past as well. Tonally, they are different than ash and alder. Basswood produces a much warmer tone than ash and alder does. Ash and alder in my opinion, generally produce good balance of tone between highs, mids and lows whereas basswood generally gives you a more low end with slight midrange tone.

    Now, depending on what tones you are wanting to achieve, if you have a basswood bass, there are several things you can do. What wood is the neck and fretboard made of? That also factors in to tone. What type of finish is on the bass? The thicker the finish, can also effect tone. Is the neck painted or gloss finished? And, what kind of pickups are in it? All of that factored together, will give you the tone you want.

    Basswood is a good tone wood and it is cheap to buy. It's light weight and to my knowledge, there is not a shortage of it. Therefore, it is perfect for guitar and bass manufacturers. The only negatives to basswood is that it is a softer wood so it is easier to strip a screw out on a guitar or bass made of basswood. Especially if you are tightening down your strap buttons. But an easy fix to that is to cram a lot of wood toothpicks in the screwhole and it will fix that problem real quick. The other negative to basswood is that it is not very good looking so you will probably never see one in a natural or transparent finish. I know Music Man made a basswood Bongo out of basswood they had roasted. It definitely looked different but that is the one and only time I have ever seen a basswood guitar or bass not finished.

    If you are wanting a certain tone from your a bass made of basswood, message me and we can talk. At Killer B Guitars, when I signed Ronny Cates to his endorsement deal, he and I worked together in getting him a bass that would produce the very specific sound that he wanted. In order to have that done, we had to factor everything in from the wood his body, neck and fretboard would be made out of to the correct Nordstrand pickups we were going to go with that would compliment the woods we chose to build his bass out of. When he got the bass, he was extremely pleased and told us it did everything that he wanted it to do.
    TonyP- likes this.
  5. Pops OB

    Pops OB

    Nov 4, 2016
    Air-bass. Tone is great and never makes a mistake!
  6. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Not that I know.
  7. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Some people find basswood pretty crappie, but I wouldn't carp about even though normally I am breamful of opinions.
    SmrtWntCrzy likes this.
  8. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    With a tough enough finish it's equally as competent as ash or alder. I have a basswood bodied kit bass I built and other than neckdive and propensity to dent easily it's OK, nothing bad in sound or resonance at all. Lately there's many basswood + maple/ash/exotic top basses that are superb in fact, I find this to be a great solution for making light bass bodies weight enough not to neckdive (besides the finish advantages, of course).
    wmmj likes this.
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    There's something very fishy about that.
    BassBuzzRS likes this.
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I love my basswood Bongo. I've never even remotely been concerned about the body wood.

  11. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    This is too true.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  12. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Love that color.
    BuffaloBass and lowdownthump like this.
  13. Dasgre0g

    Dasgre0g DasGre0g Supporting Member

    This . Forever
  14. BusyFingers


    Nov 26, 2016
    I think you may be on to something. I said that the tone seems to have a hole in the mids, and you're saying it sounds "foofy." Foofy may be a term that can be used to describe a hole in the mids. I wish I could articulate the notion better.
  15. Bassist Jay

    Bassist Jay

    Dec 28, 2009
    Sterling, CO.
    Endorsed by K.B. Guitars, Nordstrand Audio Pickups, Von York Strings and Gallien-Krueger Amps.
    I have that same exact bass too. I love mine as well. I’m a sucker for roasted maple necks though.

    I have 3 Bongos made of basswood and they all sound great.
    17E2E4BE-121B-4B56-B542-896F02D9D6C3.jpeg 409E33DC-6F82-4324-A901-0D99DCBEA507.jpeg C66FAC70-29F8-46CC-BAE0-25EEDC3FBF25.jpeg
    wmmj likes this.
  16. I sit and play my Lakland ash next to my Fender Aerodyne, which must be one heckuva good piece of ash, er ,I mean basswood. Its tone is thick, and sustains for as long as you care to hold. MUCH louder than the heavier Lakland. Kind of amazing. To the OPs point, I am unsure of my preffered pickups will work, as they are flat response and dont "hide" anything lke scooped mids. Many pups voice too much mids for me. Yet, this slab of basswood isnt "fooffy" Its thick. Aurally.

    Busy fingers, I wish you were close by so I can use your ears to help me choose!

    So to the OPs point, I am trying to discern acoustically, if I want to spend the dime to AERO the Aerodyne. I've had pros say that basswood is "iffy"., sometimes good , sometimes not. I think I got lucky with the Aerodyne, it has a beautiful acoustic sound. And I dont "fuzz" my signal so some of that, just some, comes out. I am the only one who would notice,, and maybe one of you all .

    Again. a real pro told me basswood is either good or bad depending on the piece and application. The Aerodyne is right, it has a wonderful deep bass voice. You Bongo users must experience the same. Light too. Yet, if he was right, someone out there has a dud bass that needs 'bad' pickups to make it sound ok. Well not bad, but not flat.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
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