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Does wood matter?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Brad Johnson, May 22, 2005.


  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Maybe, maybe not. As Hambone aptly pointed out, the best way to compare is when the bass is played unplugged. However I'm not aware of anyone who's ever gigged or recorded with an unplugged electric bass!


    Check above, I never said wood can't make a difference! My point is that there's enough tonal variation within one particular species to overlap the tonal variations in other species. F'r instance, you can't say "alder is red and ash is blue". Alder and ash could both be purple. And I'm talking about solidbody Fender-style basses here. When you get to multi-lam multi-species hippie sandwiches, all bets are off... see below!
     
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Excellent point. [​IMG]
     
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Meh.... marketing.

    ;)
     
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    That's not the only time someone checks out the tone of an instrument. I know of people who check out basses this way when they check them out!

    And I didn't say you say wood can't make a difference. You offered up an example of the same wood sounding different on two basses. I pointed out that just because that happened doesn't make the fact that unlike woods can sound different too.

    As far as the overlap you mentioned... maybe, maybe not! In any event I haven't come across many Alder Jazzes that sound like Ash. Unplugged or otherwise.
     
  5. malthumb

    malthumb

    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Not nearly as much as my Hanewinckels or my Marchlewski, but there's a little something there.
     
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You're off on your own tangent... that much is clear :rolleyes:. This has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. Nothing. In fact I mentioned hippie sandwich basses as being an exception.

    Clear now? :rolleyes:

    As far as really testing the difference, there's no reason it couldn't be done amplified. It can show up there as well as under any other test.
     
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Neither did mine.
     
  8. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    How about this idea? No 2 basses are identical...ever. It's not physically possible especially when we're talking about wood. Therefore, every bass must be taken on a case-by-case basis. I've heard dark basses made of ash and bright ones made of alder. There are so many exceptions that at best we have general guidelines, and realistically we have what we know: a P sounds like a P and a J sounds like a J. Change whatever woods you want. Everything matters, this is true. Every bass is unique; this is also true.
     
  9. Marlat

    Marlat

    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Does wood matter?

    Would Bob Dole still be on your tv screens if it didnt?
     
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I fully agree. Every time I've tried to assemble or custom-order a bass to capture a particular tone I've been wrong. I've never been disappointed, because they all sounded good in their own way. But it taught me that the tonal response of wood is a huge variable, even within the same species: e.g. dark ash and bright alder, as you said.

    So again: does wood affect the tone of the bass? Yes. But that effect is highly unpredictable, and very subtle compared to electronics, construction, strings, etc.
     
  11. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    ...depending on the selection method, IMHO. If you have no selection method and just start building basses from the pile of blanks based on what hits your hands first that day in the shop, then yeah, it would be somewhat unpredictable.

    However, I would just add that IMHO GENERALLY certain woods of certain types will have characteristics that will be predominant in most of the samples in a lot of blanks. For example, in a pile of ash blanks, most will tend to support a brighter sound than most of the blanks from a pile of alder.

    Mike Tobias also says that, even in a single run of wood from the same tree, tonal characteristics can change significantly, but how "unpredictably" the wood affects tone of the final product depends on whether you evaluate each piece before construction or not (Mike does, which is probably one reason why his basses ALL sound great, tho not exactly alike... even with the same wood combos).

    He's real big into preselecting woods with complementary tonal characteristics so the final product will have a great wood tone "foundation" for the elex/strings/amp to work with and sound great.

    I'm pretty sure Mike's never produced a "dud", and a significant part of the reason for that is his careful choices in wood.

    I agree in most cases , with the exception being designs specifically made to amplify the sound of the wood in the instrument as much as possible... especially when done with chambered, semi-hollow, and hollow bodied instruments where the wood is more of an "active" component.

    All this IMHO, of course. :)
     
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Nice post, vics. I should have said something like "much less predictable than most people think" instead of "highly unpredictable". And ditto the IMHO. :)
     

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