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How does wood effect tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by greendayjustin, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. Ok, this is something that I dont get. When you you hook your bass to an amp, you play a note, the string vibrates, the pickups pick up the signal and sends it do the amp. So how does the wood of your bass effect tone? I can see how the strings and pickups can effect tone but I just dont see how the wood does. I know that when you play unplugged, its a different story. I dont get it!
  2. This is so confusing... :help:
  3. The wood effects the vibration of the string, thus influencing tone. The wood (or any material) will absorb certain frequencies and enhance others.
    (Imagine a bass made out of granite and one made out of rubber for example ...)
  4. ahh, this is making sense now.
  5. BassFiddle63


    Oct 4, 2002

    Are you sure about that ... I'm not :D
  6. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    Shouldnt belive in this. Body wood shouldnt (being neck-through bolt-on or set-neck does) affect the string vibration, but each wood has diferent resonace qualities depending principally on its density.
  7. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    The type of wood DEFINATELY affects tone.. The densities & harmonic characteristics of each type of wood is different.

    Think of it like this, sound waves travel through air at a certain velocity. Yet, they travel much faster & farther through water, because its a more dense medium to travel through.

    From what I've been able to tell is, the softer the wood, the warmer the sound. The harder the wood, the brighter the sound.

    NOW, if that makes sense,,, start imagining the affect when you have a body of one type of wood, & a neck of something else... that combinations are VERY interesting.
  8. :) You really should look up the meaning of resonance.

    If wood doesn't affect the vibration of a string, then how would you explain dead spots ???
  9. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    dead spots arent produced by the string vibration, they are produced by the bow discribed by the the neck that alterates the scale lenght.

    Resonace its the way a body (mass) responses to sound waves (or any kind of wave cos everithing that moves sounds in a espcefic frequency).
  10. :confused: Of course dead spots aren't caused by the string vibration. :rolleyes:
    They are caused by the lack of it.
    Like I said wood (or any other material) enhances certain frequencies and absorbs others.
    If the note you play has the same frequency as the one the material (wood) will absorb, you'll have a dead spot.
    The bow of the neck or scale lenght has nothing to do with it.

    Yes, and how does a body (mass) respond to those sound waves ? It vibrates too, that's how.
    So if the thing the strings are attached to vibrates, wouldn't that affect the vibration of the strings also ?

    Again, if the wood (bass) didn't affect the vibration of the strings, then all woods would sound the same, you would have no dead spots and infinite sustain ...
    (The pickups only pick up the vibration of the strings, nothing else !)
  11. Let's use extreme examples to make this much more obvious. If you had a body (or neck) made of rubber, you can imagine that your bass wouldn't have very much sustain. If you had a body (or neck) made of stainless steel, it would have much more sustain and would have a very bright sound. A bass made of most kinds of wood would fall in between the two.

    Now reduce the extremes to just different kinds of wood and it should still be clear that different types of wood will affect the sound. If you knock a door made of pine or other softwood, it will sound rather thuddy because of the softness of the wood. If you knock a door made of oak or other hardwood (I am assuming oak is a hardwood), then you would find the sound much more focused and defined.
  12. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    Do you realize that a sadowsky MV4 ash mapple its made of the same woods that a fender 75 RI and the sadowsky does not tend to have dead spots.
  13. Im with Vene-nemisis on this one. While I believe the wood has an effect on sound, I also think that it is a very limited effect, with most of the sound coming from pickups, electronics, strings, and the way the string is being played.
  14. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    Wood doesnt affects de vibration of the strings, the strings vibration is just affected by the material the sting's made, its gauge, the size of the place were it lays, and the leght of the string, same strings in 2 basses that are the same but with diferent body woods will vibrate at the same speed, but its tone would be affected by the density of the body wood, dude havent you realized that the strings are suspended on the bass that they dont lay in the wood (exepting fretlees were the string vibration its affected by the leght of the part of the string thats vibrating)
  15. I agree completely. (check out the first post I made in this thread)
  16. So ? No two pieces of wood will be exactly the same, even if they are cut from the same tree.
    It's not the type of wood that makes the most difference, it's the quality of the wood.
  17. I never said the wood has a huge effect on the sound and I never claimed that the wood has a bigger impact then strings, pickups or electronics.
    I'm just trying to explain HOW the wood affects the tone of a bass.
  18. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Dead spots can come from several things, including the outter winding of a string getting air between it and the core of the string, making a pocket.

    I do not think wood absorbing cetain frequencies has much affect on dead spots personally. Some affect sure, but not huge. I think the bend of the neck, fretwork, and net joint will be the biggest factors in dead spots. IE. Construction moreso than wood choises. Wood choice will change your sound, undoubtedly, bringing out certain frequncies and dampening others creating the overall tone (like a tiny passive EQ if you will hehe).

    Electronics and strings will deffinantly play one of the hugest parts of the tone. All the factors, construction, wood choices, and electronics and strings (not to mention setup) will contribute to the overall tone and playability of the instrument, but I'd personally list wood choice as one of the least determining factors overall.

    That being said, "therealting" pretty much summed up answering the posters question I think :)
  19. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España

    +10000000000000 and GEORGE body wood does not affect the way th strings vibrate
  20. And how will the density of the body wood effect the tone ???
    Do you at least agree that the pickups ONLY detect the vibration of the strings ?

    Off course I realise that the strings are suspended and that they don't lay in the wood. :rolleyes:
    So what ? So according to you, any material that doesn't come into contact with the strings doesn't affect the tone ?
    Do you really think a bass made of rubber would sound the same as one made of steel ? (if they had the same pickups, strings, preamp, ...)