How does the body wood interact with the tone of a bass??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by panic_striken, Oct 29, 2005.

  1. panic_striken


    Oct 13, 2005
    I know I might get slammed on this on, but go ahead and flame away. I guess I have never really sat back and thought about it. I mean, for instance, on my Warwick the strings go from a 2 piece metal bridge, over my pickups, over a metal just-a-nut, and wrapped around metal tunning pegs. Ok, with that said, the pickups detect my string vibration through magnatism not vibration. If it was vibration I could see why it would matter, but it's all acout magnatism, right??? So, if that's true the wood never comes in to's all about the way your pickups are wound and has **** to do with the wood. Now on an acoustic bass I could see where it would matter. So, someone set me straight!!!!!!!!!!
  2. Ray-man

    Ray-man Guest

    Sep 10, 2005
    But the bridge and the nut are in contact with the string, and also with each other via the neck and the body. Thus, the entire system vibrates. Therefore, the type of wood the body is made of (and the neck as well) will affect how that string continues to vibrate. Some woods will enhance vibration and others will dampen it. I don't know all the particulars about which woods do what, but mine would be a basic description of the physics involved. Hope this helps.
  3. The strings send their vibrations into the neck and body.

    Different types & thicknesses of woods will resonate differently with those vibrations. Some frequencies will be sucked up, and that will emphasize others.

    As the resonance is passed back from the body and into the strings, that creates different overtones, and thus is why a mohogany body will sound much different from a maple.

    It's an organic process where the initial vibrations turn into resonance, and the resonance influences the virations, which in turn re-influence the resonance...over and over again until the note is killed, or the sustain runs out.

    You can hear the organicness by turning up your amp and letting a long note ring out. If it was just as you say the note would sound exactly the same and just loose amplitude (volume) until it stopped. But, when you do ring out a note you can hear the note change as the resonance influences the various harmonics and modulates the string slightly.

    Of course, now that your amp is turned up it's also influenceing the overtones of the vibrations through it's soundwaves adding to and modulating the vibrations strings and body.....

    So, in short; everything influences everything.

    Atleast, that's my opinion.
  4. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    YES!. After almost 10 years (1983-1992) building basses. You may not be aware of it screamindaisy but your answer was right on!

    Bob Lee
  5. Piedro


    Jan 23, 2001
    Montréal, Qc, Canada
    Endorsing Aguilar Amp product.
    this explication was explain in a very "understandable" way Thanks..

    this answer should be keep in a "sticky forum" ..
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It IS about vibration. The magnetism of the pickups picks up the vibration and it acts as a whole. If it didn't, then you could buy a $50 bass, put Alembic pickups on it, and make it sound like an Alembic. Obviously that won't happen.
  7. FireBug


    Sep 18, 2005
    Then of course you have the issue of how a pickup's magnetism inhibits string vibration. I don't know if this is a very big issue, but the Lightwave testimonies certainly make it out to be.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I've heard Lightwave basses, and I really don't hear much of a difference between their pickup and a magnetic pickup. So yeah, I'd say it doesn't matter much at all.
  9. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    When i think vibratin affecting tone, i think warwick. Play a warwick, and all the answers will come to you. You can put whatever pickups you want in a warwick and it will still sound like a warwick.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

  11. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    "structural resonance frequency."
    the degree in which a structure (or in some cases a bass I guess) vibrates when frequncy amplitude and magnitude are applied from an antagonist force applier. In this case I.E a string vibrating from a antagonistic; finger,pick or teeth I guess. :D

    anyways, I actually have to disagree about the warwick thing
    I've had warwicks for about 12 years now, and I sold one and the new user sold me the mec stuff and put in emg's.
    IMO: it didnt sound the same at all.
    now your definition of warwick sound maybe different than mine " and it probably is" because I have my warwicks so twisted in preamps they dont even sound "like warwicks" and all I play is the fortress MM which has 2 sweetspot J pickups with a dual preamp. which warwick dosent even make anymore.

    The bass sounded like a spector after that.
    just an observation.

  12. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Does wood matter? Sure. Can we tell? Probably not.

    If I posted a bass clip and asked if it was a P, a J, a Musicman or a Smith many people could answer correctly. I've never met anyone who could tell me what kind of wood it is by listening.
  13. Good point, but I bet you could tell a maple necked one from rosewood.....
  14. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I have also read that the resultant sound from active pickups like EMGs is not as affected by the woods, where the resultant sound from passive pickups like bartolinis are more affected by the woods that the bass is made from.

    I have heard that if you move the same pickup from one bass to another that is built from different woods, the active pickup will sound more the same, and the passive pickup will sound more different due to the different woods.

    Is that true?


    (I am talking about active pickups vs passive pickups. Just having a battery that goes to the preamp does not mean that the pickups are active.)
  15. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Maybe not tell you the exact wood, but many can tell the different resultant sound from similar instruments made from different materials.

    There is a reason that the Gibson SG guitar is all mahogany and the gibson Les Paul guitar has a layer of maple on top of a mahogany body.

    Think about it, the Gibson SG guitars, the Les Paul guiars, the 335 guitars, the 175 guitars that have the same pickups and same strings will sound different. Because of different woods and different construction.
  16. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Just the fingerboard? From a recording? Not a chance ;)
  17. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Yeah, but they can't attribute it to a type of wood until you tell them what it is. That doesn't count.
  18. No...not from a recording maybe, but by playing them...
  19. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Roscoe? yeah about 15 years ago. Like I said before I've met hundreds of people that claim they can tell a difference, never met one who actually could tell what it is without knowing first.

    From a recording I can often tell what kind of pickups are being used, I can never tell what kind of wood it is. We can work up a little test if anyone thinks they can.
  20. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    But then you know what it is already. If the sound is distinct it should be detectable by hearing alone. I can tell you what color a bass is if I get to play it first :)