Mahogany for the body - Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bino, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. bino

    bino Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    When I think mahogany I hear warm, overdriven Gibson guitars. How does it work for bass? Is it much different than ash or alder? Is there enough attack on notes, or is it too indistinct? Just curious because I've have access to a pile of it.
  2. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I'm no expert, BUT...

    I'm one of those OCD types, & have jumped into building my own parts bass,,, so I researched it ad-naseaum. You DO see mahogany used, & resonant qualities in that wood, are what they are... Nice fat, warm, especially on bottom.

    It's funny, because I think people are starting to turn to Limba/Korina more,,, when it comes to bass... AND, it just so happens that at least one reference I've seen describes the tonal qualities of Limba/Korina as "Mahogany Plus". and is, "Great for Basses".

    My parts bass has a Black Korina body, but its not quite done, so I can't tell you EXACTLY how different it is than say,,, Ash... But, soon.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Mahogany is one of my favorite woods for a bass body! There seems to be a nice midrange fullness to the mahogany basses I've owned (Wal and Curbow, among others) that I really like. It does tend to be a little "dark" sounding, though, so combining it with a maple or ebony fretboard seems to bring back a bit of "zing" to the top end, based on my experience with Wals anyway.

  4. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I really don't know why it would matter much.

    Honduran mahogany is the wood that established it as a legendary tonewood and you may have a tough time try to get some since tje US and the CITES II conference people are trying to protect it.

    The REAL killer mahogany is Cuban mahogany. My dining room set that I inherited is flamed Cuban mahogany and it seems so tempting to make it into a bass..... :rolleyes:

    However, there are are a couple of countries in the South Pacific who have plantations of mahogany grown from Cuban saplings and who plan to export the wood to help economic difficulties.
  6. HiFi


    Apr 20, 2002
    Anaheim, CA
    My Benavente has a mahogany body with a quilted maple top and it sounds great. Can get good warm jazz tones, and some good rock tones as well.
  7. interesting thread.

    I've had a Benavente 51 on order for 5 months. It's going to be something like this:

    5 string
    Burnt Orange with gost flames or Black with burnt orange flames (it will be a suprise to what Chris does [​IMG]
    Mahogany body
    Padouk Neck w/Ebony board
    Matching headstock
    Two Custom Benavente split P pickups reversed
    Orange LED's
    reccessed strap locks

    I'm hoping for the ULTIMATE rockin P bass!!
  8. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    We'll see as I have a bass on order using mahogany too.

    Specs are:
    Bee bass, neck through
    flamed redwood top
    mahogany body wings
    maple neck with purpleheart stringers
    ebony fretboard

    I wanted a well-defined, but big bottom end, some warmth and a nice clear top end. We'll see what happens in about two or three months.
  9. it should give a nice warm low-mid sound. I would add a good ebony fret board or a nice top that will bring out the highs more. IMO its one of the best bass body woods. Limba i find is usaully compared to Mahogany in tone.
  10. Cliff Bordwell

    Cliff Bordwell Commercial User

    Jan 6, 2004
    USA , Orlando , Florida
    Owner of CB BASSES
  11. bino

    bino Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    can't wait to hear about all these new basses
  12. I say yay. My T-Bird "homage" (non reverse) is Mahogany.

    My old G&L was Mahogany. Fantastic wood for basses.
  13. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I have Stambaugh fretless bass with a one pc. Hondorus Mahogany Body.
    Bass hass a tight focused sound that is big, lots of mids.
    great with TI-flats.
  14. kboyd


    Jul 6, 2002
    The choice between mahogany and limba is purely cosmetic. Mahogany is an excellent body wood.
  15. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Right now, I'm looking at a piece of African Mahogany on eBay. I just wish there was a bigger selection of woods, right now. I'm craving something dark.

    If you do, do you think you could sell me a chair or two?
  16. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
  17. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    The tonal qualities of mahogany are great, IMO, but for what I've got designed I'd like a darker brown. I noticed those pieces are 2"... is that too thick for a bass body?
  18. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    I will run it through a planer. Look into Sapele Mahogany. I have used it on several of the basses I have built. It is darker. Click on the photos it will show the backs of them and you can check out the color of it.

    fixed the link. I hope
  19. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Found a piece of that Sapele Mahogany on eBay. That's a BEAUTIFUL wood!! Unfortunately, I have a budget. What I may do, is get a piece of the more traditional alder, poplar, or something, and stain it. I'm thinking ebony or black walnut. After a few sandings and few more coats, I'll go over it with a polyurethane clear coat to bring out the shine.

    Is there some way I can bring out the grain of the wood, as well?

    (BTW, that link is acting a little funny. I did see some really awesome fretless basses, though.)
  20. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    The Sapele wood I have used I got localy and it was less expensive than the south american Mahogany. It is heavier though....tom