KOA vs Cedar top ABG, opinions?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SoCalBassman, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. I'm considering buying an acoustic bass guitar and I'm trying to decide between an all KOA body or Cedar top with Mahogany side and back.
    Does anybody have experience with the KOA and how it compares tone wise to the Cedar top?
  2. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Koa is usually thought of as brighter sounding than cedar/mahogany in acoustic instruments.
  3. Thanks, that's good to know.
    As it is I already have the brightness cut most of the way on the ABG's I have now.
    I like the look of the KOA but I wouldn't want much more brightness than I already get from spruce and cedar.
  4. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    I used to ponder all sorts of tonewoods when I was into acoustic basses. Differences are, imo, very overstated, but there are some subtle differences in sound between the different woods.

    Koa is kind of like a muted maple...on the brighter side of the tonal spectrum, but without those tinny higher notes that some of the even ''brighter'' sounding woods get.

    Cedar is much more of a "warm" wood by comparison, in other words not such articulation between notes...more focus on the bass sounds as opposed to treble.

    Mahogany too is a "warm" sounding wood, but with some compression characteristics supposedly due to the pore structure of the wood.

    Between the two, I would go for the cedar/mahogany.

    Then again, you may perceive something totally different than I do...so I would suggest playing both and picking the one you like and that fits your playing style!
  5. Max Blasto

    Max Blasto

    Nov 29, 2010
    San Diego

    Think about it this way: Are you looking for brightness, or are you looking for volume?

    I like bright articulation. I've found that most on this board prefer they're ABG to sound like a standup bass and I think they're playing the wrong instrument. It's not supposed to sound like that. If you want to sound like Paul McCartney, ABGs aren't going to work for you. You'll always be chasing a tone that is away from the voice of the instrument. Koa is a brighter wood, almost in the maple range. Maple makes a good fretboard wood if you like brighter sounds so think what that does for your ABG top.

    But realistically, cedar or spruce work great too. Very helpful in resonance. If the body is mahogany, then the string choice will make a bigger difference than anything else.

    Remember, the thing you want most is _loud_. If koa gets you there, then that's what you want. Since the ABG has an intrinsic volume issue, anything that gets you "over" is the right idea. If you get a koa top and then put tapes on it, you're defeating yourself. Bronze rounds on a cedar top have all the warmth you need by yourself plus the highs to cut through when everyone else is drowning you out.
  6. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
  7. I have the previous version of that bass already. :)
    If I could get the 5-string version I would.

    I have a fretless 5-string with tapewounds that gets me the tone I want for the softer, smoother songs. I can also use it for more aggressive songs but I use the fretted more for that.

    On my 4-string fretted I have chromes to reduce some of the acoustic twang that I was getting from the roundwounds it came with.

    My plan is to use the fretted 5er with chromes to replace my 4-string.

    The KOA might be just fine for that but I think what I need to do is go to GC and see if they have any particular models in KOA and Spruce or Cedar to compare the difference before I pull the trigger. I'm going there on Sunday anyway so I'll add this to my trip.

    Thanks again

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