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Does weight of bass play a factor in tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mikepinkerton, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. mikepinkerton


    Dec 30, 2013
    Ashburn, VA
    I was looking at a Fender PBass on Sweetwater and they have a cool feature where they show pictures and specs of each guitar they have in stock, so you can see the exact guitar you're getting. I noticed that one of the guitars was 8lbs and another was 9lbs. That seems like a surprisingly large difference between two supposedly identical guitars.

    I know for solid-body electric guitars, mass has a lot to do with its tone (think Les Paul), but how much does it matter for basses? Basically, should I go for the heavier one to get a better sound, or the lighter one to save my back because the extra weight makes no difference? Also, why would there be such a discrepancy between the two?

    What do folks think?

  2. Nobody

    Nobody Banned

    Jul 14, 2004
  3. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Depending on who you ask, you may even be told that the colour of a bass plays a factor in the tone. :rollno:
  4. Nobody

    Nobody Banned

    Jul 14, 2004
    Tort affects tone more than anything.
  5. davedblyoo

    davedblyoo "All the mayhem and none of the sticky mess." Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2012
    Augusta, GA
    My EBMM Stingray 5 is heavy as hell, and it doesn't sound that good.
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

  7. No no and NO. On electric solid bodied instruments (both guitar AND bass) weight and mass have ZERO effect on the tone. If it really mattered then steinbergers wouldn't sound like a bass guitar at all.
  8. mikepinkerton


    Dec 30, 2013
    Ashburn, VA
    Ok, thanks folks!
  9. tdizzle


    Aug 3, 2009
    Detroit, MI
    I say go for the lighter one. You will notice the biggest difference after 3 hours of playing with a strap.
  10. PJRL


    Mar 27, 2010
    greenfield center NY
    Do they really sound like Bass guitars ?? :p
  11. kimokeo


    Jul 7, 2009
    My Ibanez weighs about half as much as my PBass, and sounds twice as good. So, in this particular case, weight has nothing to do with it.
  12. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    Sure, in this case comparing two completely different instruments with different pickups and pickup placements.

    Two "identical" instruments will still sound a teeny bit different due to a million different factors. Across those two basses on Sweetwater it's probable that if you were to play them side-by-side in a controlled environment you could notice a very small difference of some sort, which could be due to weight, the particular pieces of wood it was constructed with, construction tolerances, variances with strings or pickups or the phase of the moon.

    Everything matters, but nothing (beyond pickup and pickup placement) matters. Very zen.
  13. bjelkeman

    bjelkeman Bass player wannabe Supporting Member

    May 9, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Mine didn't sound to great so I sold it. :bag:

    But I have an Ibanez Axstar which I play occasionally. It has marginally more body than a Steinberger. Much more comfortable to play... and is not as full sounding as the tone of my full bodied basses. :)

    Anyway, tone depends on lots of stuff and if it sounds good or you like it for another reason it doesn't matter what it looks like. IMHO.
  14. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    Leo got it right first time, 80% of the time and I don't recall any Precisions being made out of lead, so it's a no.
  15. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Ive found that many heavier instruments sound better than most light instruments, finding a good sounding light instrument is not easy.
  16. Dbt25677


    Jun 9, 2013
    Ask Paul Simonon..
    '[The P-bass] just had such a weight to it... and a thickness of sound.'
    Paraphrasing slightly but it's all subjective. Maybe it does
  17. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I prefer lighter basses because of the long gig nights.

    My P-V weighs just over 8lbs and has really nice vibe. Could be just a lucky combination of materials intersecting at the assembly point.

    Sometimes, it's just the right instrument.
  18. I can't prove it, and I'm only speaking for myself, but I believe a heavier body affects tone and sustain. How much? Well, I notice. Will you? There's a good chance you would not.

    FWIW, as an experienced guitar player, I also find this to be my reality with guitars. For example, I can not play Thinline-style Telecasters, even though I love the look and vibe, because they are so much lighter than solid-bodied equivalents and sound so much different to me.
  19. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Aug 11, 2012
    Upstate NY, USA
    It seems logical to me that if you have two otherwise identical basses that weigh differently, the wood of the heavier bass must have greater density. I would think this would have some bearing on tone. My guess is it would be more of a "barely perceptible difference" than a "good/bad" thing. I claim no expertise in the matter.