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Does the weight of the bass effect the way the bass sounds?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LeMonsieurr, Apr 18, 2015.


  1. LeMonsieurr

    LeMonsieurr

    Sep 11, 2014
    Does the weight matter or is it irrelevant to how the bass would sound?
     
  2. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    NYC
    Yes it does.
     
    preside, thabassmon and Scooberto like this.
  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    If the weight of an instrument reflects something about the damping and resonant qualities of the neck and body, then yes, it tells us something. Just what it tells is still uncertain, IMHO. There are humble opinions abounding on that.

    Thus, knowing the weight probably is no predictor of whether or not you will like the sound.
     
    christle and dabbler like this.
  4. taylor16

    taylor16

    Dec 25, 2012
    USA
    There probably isn't any sound science to back this up BUT when I played my Lull four-string jazz bass at a touch over 7 lbs, I didn't "feel" it, or connect with the instrument the way I do with my Fender Am Std basses at around 9 lbs. I'm well over 6 ft tall and around 200 lbs so I don't mind a 9 lb bass but to me, a lightweight bass just doesn't feel the same from a proprioceptive level.
     
    davedblyoo likes this.
  5. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Based on my own experiences and in my very humble opinion, no. I have two Fender Jazz basses in my small collection; a mutt of a '73 which weighs about 10 pounds and a 2009 American Standard which weighs about 8.5 pounds. While it's true about all things combined the 2009 (to me) sounds better than the '73. It's got more punch, a more even response and a better tone. Of course there's a lot of variables but again, this is based on the instruments that I've owned.

    YMMV.
     
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    This is one of those subjects where there's really no intellectually honest answer.

    I think it does, but there are so many other factors involved (body shape, wood density, wood type (as a heavy piece of ash can weigh the same as a lighter piece of walnut, etc.)) that I really can't say for certain. Similarly, I think wood type has a noticeable affect on tone, but again I can't be sure so I wouldn't tell anyone they are right or wrong.

    For a really factual answer, we'd need to look to a series of stringent scientific tests on the subject rather than appeals to authority or personal experience, and that just isn't there.
     
    AaronVonRock likes this.
  7. Funkmabassup

    Funkmabassup

    Jul 16, 2013
    haha this thread again. rrrrrooouuunnd 7486 FIGHT!
     
    Scooberto, MattZilla and friendlybass like this.
  8. Chip Todd said when he designed the T-40 public opinion was heavy basses sounded better.
    He and Hartley though it was bunk but gave the public what they wanted.

    Years later folks complained and Chip did good business carving out the backs of T-60s.

    Personally I don't think it matters but 34 years back I used a 12lb bass and still don't feel
    comfortable with anything lighter than 9lb or 10lb.
     
  9. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    Montreal
    Consider that some say heavy basses sound better and that at the same time, a revered builder like Sadowsky regularly gets 4K for extremely light basses, with the weight being a clearly posted selling point. Weight is not the determinant of resonance, which is what influences string vibration. The sum total of the "evidence" that weight affects tone is the existence of some opinions that it does. Historically that type/degree of "evidence" has yielded belief in a flat Earth, witch hunts and a long list of other enhancements to human society. Finally, tone itself is subjective, the ultimate moving/fluid, amorphous target. Pickup winding, placement, string type and eq have so much more to do with tone that weight becomes an insignificant "nano-detail". IME/IMO of course:roflmao:
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
    bobcruz, MEKer, AaronVonRock and 2 others like this.
  10. friendlybass

    friendlybass

    Jul 19, 2012
    Colorado
    I mean, meh?
    I have really light (to me) basses, like my sg special at 7.9 lbs, and 1 12lb monstrosity. The electronics and hardware make such a huge difference its hard for me to make a call
     
    lomo and TMARK like this.
  11. TMARK

    TMARK

    Jan 10, 2012
    Richmond VA
    My 7.2 pound Warwick Thumb sounds great. So does my 12 pound '75 Jazz. The upshot is I don't think weight in and of itself matters.
     
    lomo likes this.
  12. Heavy instruments sound different, some would say better. Heavy instruments also sound like $$ to your local chiropractor.
     
  13. JayDA

    JayDA Space is deep Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2010
    Jersey
    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, but I think it does. Especially amongst several basses of the same make and model. I was just talking to Scott from Birdsong about this yesterday, because I'm the only one that WANTS a heavy bass, especially a short scale. I have a Zebrawood Birdsong Cortobass that rings like a bell, and is at least 2 pounds heavier than all of the others I've played. Same electronics, same neck, same strings even...but there is something about that boat anchor that speaks to me. In THAT particular model bass, it's what I like...I've also had 7ish lb jazz basses that sounded killer. I think it has more to do with the DENSITY of the wood, and how it interacts with certain electronics. I don't think there is any magic formula.
     
    Scooberto likes this.
  14. Neveragain55

    Neveragain55

    Mar 19, 2014
    Connecticut
    I own an older Dean Edge One fretless that I had to replace the neck on because the original neck broke at the head.

    I replaced the original neck with a Dean Playmate fretted neck and pulled the frets out to keep the bass fretless.

    It plays, but it doesn't sound like it used to and I'm very dissapointed with the whole process.

    The bass has a very weak tone now, and its basically a wall hanger at this point.

    I weighed it last week for giggles & sh*ts, and it came in right at 6 pounds. (it used to be a little heavier than that)

    Take that story for whatever it's worth.

    I have no idea if the new lighter weight contributes to the weak sound, but there is an extremely noticeable difference from how it used to sound.
     
  15. Dash Lashes

    Dash Lashes Banned

    Feb 20, 2015
    heavy instruments all sound like a les paul
     
  16. GranSportMan

    GranSportMan

    Dec 14, 2010
    My '75 Fender Jazz is HEAVY but it sounds better than most others I have tried. It definitely sounds better than my wine-stained 2012 Fender Jazz FSR with high mass bridge. Strangely, the same isn't true with double basses. I have seen some light double basses that have sounded fantastic.
     
  17. AaronVonRock

    AaronVonRock

    Feb 22, 2013
    Bangkok
    It might. I don't think there is a correlation that a heavier bass sounds lower/deeper than a lighter weight bass, but there will be people who say that. Probably the same people who say rosewood finger boards sound darker and maple fingerboards sound brighter. Wood and weight don't have as much effect on electric instruments as do electronics, pickups, and strings.

    Edit: I like lomo's term "nano-detail" in post #9. I think that's an accurate description regarding weight.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
    thabassmon and lomo like this.
  18. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music.

    May 3, 2009
    N.E Illinois
    You would have to make two or more basses with the exact same electronics,hardware and construction.
    But with different body woods to determine this.
     
  19. Mark4

    Mark4

    Oct 21, 2007
    The way a bass sounds depends on many factors. Wood density can have an effect, for instance, and denser woods tend to be heavier, but the kind of effect it may have will vary depending on things like neck, strings, pickups etc. That being said, I suspect the biggest effect of weight alone is how you hold the instrument. Having extra weight tugging at your shoulder, and maybe on your fretting hand, is bound to change things like how hard you grip it while playing etc. As touch is a huge part of tone, I can see it being indirectly influenced by this.
     
    JayDA and Nic. like this.
  20. Carrots.....bets on the # of pages on this thread? I like lighter bass that sound heavy!
     

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