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(in a solidbody bass) does wood sound different as it ages?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WarriorJoe7, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Nope

  2. Yes (explain how in the thread)

  3. IDK but carrots sound different when they age. kind of a mushy whooshy sound like earwax would make!

  1. WarriorJoe7

    WarriorJoe7 Banned

    Mar 12, 2004
    Syracuse, NY
    Or did Leo just use wood with different characteristics?

    Here are some examples to think about:

    How about a 62 jazz bass that has never been played or out of it's case in a very moderate weather zone? (other years with different finishes)

    How about a 62 jazz bass that has had notes ring through it for hundreds of thousands of hours but manages to still have a decent finish (not exposed wood.) Does the notes vibrating the wood make a difference in it over time?

    OK this one might be less disputable but how about one with significant exposed wood?

    Will a 2000 American Fender Jazz sound just as good as a 1968 jazz 40 years from now?

    How much do you think finish makes a difference?

    How much do you think changes in seasons make a difference?

    Exposure to heat... even with a full finish?

    checking? Do all finishes check and if so does it affect the wood?

    I don't mean just the body wood but the neck wood too... I worded it so as to exclude acoustic basses.

    I tried to use "different" rather than "better" or "worse" because the last 2 words are so subjective and then what might sound good in one setting could sound horrible in another.

    I want to hear both sides because I don't know if this is something that can be proven for this reason: We are unlikely to have anyone here who recorded a bass by itself then a significant amount of time later by itself again with the same exact equipment.

    IF you think not then why? If you think so then why? how? how much?

    This thread is about conjecture so I hope it doesn't get heated.

  2. TheGrizz


    Nov 19, 2007
    Athol, MA
    Sponsored Artist: Free Idea Clothing
    I think it comes down to a few things,
    1. They used different finishes 30+ years ago.
    2. Wood loses moisture over time.
    I think most of the vintage basses we all lust after just stood the test of time. It only makes sense that more of the good ones have been played and taken care of. The clunkers would have been cast aside, and the good ones stuck around. Have you ever played a bad 60's P-bass? I haven't. I have played a few due to my job, and they were all fantastic. I think time has a effect, but I don't think it is the deciding factor.

    just my .02:D
  3. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    It makes a huge difference with hollowbodies. It makes zero difference in solidbodies.
  4. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Granted the finishes of older basses effect the equation also, and granted the wood is not as big of a factor as in a pre war Martin. The other factor is for the most part they had better (more resonant wood) to start with. But wood losses moisture as it ages, and becomes more resonant. Also the body is more a part of the bass tone then people believe. Good resonant wood makes for a superior sounding bass.
  5. i say yes.. and not totally because of the age, but because of the age of playing. If u play a guitar like for 30 years, gig very often, i think that it will sound better. I don't know why, maybe it's because of the wood, maybe the electronics (magnets or wires get affected some how, dunno).
    I think that explains why alot of vintage Fenders sound very good, and some don't.
  6. Kyon`


    Aug 17, 2007
    Boston, MA
    While not exactly sure of how this works in the bass realm. I've found with violins that even with age, it's really the amount that it's been played that brings the instrument sound a tone to life. Same goes for most woodwinds and brass I've played. Bass wise, I've shortened it down to one bass, and really I do believe that it plays better compared to the same model with same wood and spec sitting in the shop just from how it's been played. Not quite sure if it answer your question, just my take on it.
  7. lowbass68


    Feb 3, 2008
    I think that in some cases, the wood may take on slightly different charactoristics over time, not so much on the body, but the neck. Don't know if it is related to string tension, the natural drying and aging of the wood, simply being played or a combination of these and other factors. I don't think there is an easy way to test or prove this though.
  8. I know they "feel" different. I've had several vintage basses and the wood felt harder or crisper or something. I think the biggest difference IS losing moisture. The wood seems more dense, which changes the tone of the bass. But I also think tone is subjective. Whether or not you'd like the tone or not, just depends on you.
  9. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    Some serious luthiers studied the effects of age and vibration on wood, and (allegedly) found that there were some molecular changes within the wood itself over time, but it had to do with actually playing the instrument for years as opposed to storing it for years. IIRC, Michael Tobias and others subjected raw wood to sound (don't know how loud or how long or the frequency) to see if it made changes in the finished product, but the whole project (I suppose) was abandoned years ago. I haven't heard nor read of it in years and years. (No, I am NOT making this up - find it yourself!)

    But, some 1960's basses have that indescribable "mojo" while others do not, and it might have something to do with the owner actually playing it and using it for decades and not simply storing it.
  10. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    I know one thing. I can pick up one American Standard Fender Jazz and there is just something so alive and resonate about the sound, then I play the one right next to it at a shop and it's dead. And I'm not talking about dead strings, bads setup, or busted electronics.
  11. Kubs


    Jul 26, 2006
    I think new instruments wood needs about year or two to be "played-in" into its final sound condition and yes that meant they can change but only in "early life" of instrument
    I dont believe theories that instrument when is not played for about week or month or year can loose its characteristic and need to be played in again.

    Also its hard to judge what time of playing bass do with final sound(you know wood exposed to string vibrations) becaus it could be nice to take todays wood and expose it to simulated process of string vibration to simulate wood of 50years played fender.....

    BUT what I agree pickups are influenced by years.....and maybe that the trick of changing sound not wood but pickups

    and "who or what can judge how 50 years old bass play today compared to how it sounds when it was one or two years old in 50´s "
    There is no way to compare it....

    And also I would like to say that not ALL vintage fenders or YXZ are great basses which sound like gods bass...

    that makes me think

    BAD BASS never become GREAT BASS although it will be 100 YEARS PLAYED bass
    GREAT BASS will be ALWAYS GREAT BASS , one year old or 10 years old or 100 years still it will be great bass....maybe change little its tone but i owe it to pickup ageing.

    I think many people make about aged instruments. "mystic atmosphere" and thats why vintage now goes for heavens prices.....thats bad for people who pay 10k for 60´s fender only because it is 60´s fender...it could happen that also that one could be bad bass without life....
    one luthier said "I´ve played many vintage instrumets for which their owners paid big prices but in fact these were mediocre instruments...there is no way to judge instrument only because it is old....instrument is individuality....."

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