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Hard ash vs. hard maple

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by phillybass101, Apr 1, 2013.


  1. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    This is not a thread about tone qualities or what sounds better. In Bassdom it seems we're charged extra for ash as opposed to maple. I just saw an add on the internet by a bassball bat manufacturer claiming that hard maple is more scarce and more dense and heavier than northern ash. The ash bat costs $40.00 and the maple bat costs $50.00. I just thought it rather interesting that in the world of bassball, maple is the upgrade, whereas for some of us, ash is the upgrade.
     
  2. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Could you give an example of 'ash' as an upgrade? Never heard of that. Ash bodies are relatively standard in the industry, and there really aren't many basses with maple bodies, due to the weight.

    I don't remember relatively rare ash necks being an upcharge over the more standard maple (could be wrong there). The only ash necked instrument I owned was an MTD, but bought that used.
     
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Just confirmed on the MTD price list... no upcharge for ash neck option versus maple neck option.
     
  4. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I assume we're talking about necks (pretty much every maple bodied bass I've seen uses soft maple other than Rickenbacker) and if so, I think the reason for the upcharge has less to do with component cost and more to do with the process change.

    Not all builders do have an upcharge for ash necks but for those that do I'd imagine it's because they are (1) very used to making necks out of maple and (2) likely have a bigger stockpile of maple for necks.

    Switching to ash means a slightly different process as all woods have different workability properties and it means dipping into what I imagine is a smaller stash of wood which is why you might see a higher charge for the ash neck option.

    FWIW, I have two Stambaughs incoming and one has a northern ash body and the other has a northern ash neck. No upcharge from Chris in either case. Also, he said when looking for hard ash for bodies and necks he's hunting for fairly different pieces of wood beyond the flatsawn or quartersawn distinctions. Apparently he wants different grain patterns, density etc when using it in a body vs a neck. I thought that was interesting.
     
  5. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Carvin doesn't offer ash necks but they do offer ash (swamp ash not hard ash) and maple as body woods. Each is an upcharge over standard Alder but the maple is actually slightly more expensive ($50 vs $40 for most models)

    The most common basses made with soft maple bodies would probably be Ric 4003s. Pedulla springs to mind as another "all maple" bass company. Both have reduced body sizes (vs a standard Fender shape) to compensate for the heavier body wood. Both are are also neck throughs.
     
  6. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    The only reason I can see for a White Ash "upgrade" would be that it is more difficult to work properly.

    Ash is grainier and more fiberous than maple. Ash does not finish as easilly or evenly as maple, and takes a serious amount of fill to get smooth(finish wise).

    Ash is less expensive than maple, but with every type of wood, there is give and take.

    Maple is the most common wood for necks due to it's stiffness and torsional stability. There are many woods that are harder and more stiff, but few are as stable and universally workable.
     
  7. fraublugher

    fraublugher

    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    Maple , too heavy for a bass body , but perfect mass/density for a stick to hit balls with.
    Ash, less so.
     
  8. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    At one time maple was the wood offering for basses that came in Natural. Kevin Brubaker offers a KXB Standard Model bass made from soft maple and it sounds awesome. There are vids on youtube where Malcolm Hall plays a couple of them. There is also an extreme model called the orange bass made from all maple that is a killer. There are vids on youtube of this bass as well The bass player for Gladys Knight is playing it. His first name is Walter.. To have an ash body is an upgrade according to the Brubaker price list. He also offers ash necks that also carry an upcharge. His basses made from ash with an ash neck have a slap tone that cuts like a knife. I am having a bass made from ALL Maple as well. It will surely have some heft but if it sounds anything like the Orange bass I'll be in slap heaven. So guys I'm talking from my personal experience. Even though it's called soft maple, it's still pretty damned hard LOL!!! Brad Johnson has a Brubaker made from all maple and he says it kicks. I just thought it was funny, not a topic for too deep of a discussion.
     
  9. IMHO, Ash is lighter than maple. Who wants to play a heavy bass guitar? Also maple is harder, so it is harder to work with. more time to sand and more money the company has to pay their worker.
    sound might be a little bit different.
     
  10. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    For all you maple non-sayers out there.



    and the answer to who wants to play a maple bass is Me.
     
  11. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Strange for an ash body or neck to have an upcharge. Ash bodies are the standard 70's J spec, and ash (along with alder) probably represents 90% of the bass guitars made. The vast majority of 'natural' basses were and are ash.

    I had a maple bodied J fretless made back before I knew what I was doing! It sounded fine, but weighed a ton. I would doubt you could hear any difference between an ash body and a maple body if you matched the specific wood pieces for weight and density.

    That being said, if you dig it, you dig it!
     
  12. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    @KJung. I was dealing with prices man. I settled LOL!!!! I really wanted the ash body, ash neck, BM board and a spalted maple top and matching head stock but Brubakers ain't cheap. Still have to have money to buy a cab to go with my Puma500. I just decided a couple of years ago to make this more than just a hobby. I'm stepping my game up with some better equipment. And for my clinics the old man is sitting down LOL!!!!
     
  13. devo_stevo

    devo_stevo

    Aug 2, 2006
    Northern Utah
    Builder: Brumbaugh Guitarworks
    This nails it I think. I like ash for necks. I used it on a tele guitar that I built last year and I'm using it now on a Jazz bass I'm building. It looks and feels great, and is nice and stable, but it is harder to work with than maple as it is a bit less forgiving when carving. Also, maple doesn't require filling to get a good smooth finish as ash does. When I get to the point of building for others, I will offer ash as a neck wood, but it will cost a bit more. The cost of the materials that are required in a neck are small potatoes when compared to the amount of extra work involved in working with and finishing ash over maple.
     
  14. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Nothing wrong with that! Very nice basses!
     
  15. fraublugher

    fraublugher

    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    I have a modulus p/j with a maple body , it does sound killer , but it's over 12 lbs with the prototype '87 neck.
    Not the ideal for someone over 40 . :)
     
  16. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I'm 57 LOL!!!!!!!!!! and I know what you mean. I can pick and choose my gigs now as I'm not dependent on making music for a living and at my age I'm not going on tour. I'm actually going to try the Anthony Jackson thing. That is I can sit during gigs. Another killer player I like Melvin Davis also sits when he plays during gigs. I'm looking for that Senior Citizen/ Good Player discount Chair!!!! Another option I have is to have the maple bass chambered internally to reduce the weight. Brubakers have a bolt through construction where the neck actually fits into a chamber or slot deeper into the body. Kevin can work Miracles so I'm not too worried that my bass will be too heavy. At the same time he is making an indentical bass to mine in ash for a comparison. There is no reason for me to believe I'll get something that I cannot stand and play on. Based on our mutual opinions and feedback I may get the ash instead.
     

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