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Mahogany or Korina for custom bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rumblefisher, Apr 20, 2009.


  1. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    For people who don't think different woods make any difference in the sound of a bass, please feel free to skip this post. Personally, I think that the different specific gravity, composition, and ability to absorb or reflect vibration makes a difference to the sound (even if it is less of a contribution than pickups, I still like mixing and matching tonewoods). So, here we go...

    I just put down a sizable chunk of money to get a custom bass made. The builder was less than thrilled when I said I wanted the bass to have a korina body, and he suggested mahogany instead.

    I want this bass to have some power, punch, but definitely articulation in the notes; it should be able to handle distortion, for example, and still have clearly discernable notes. It comes down to the 1 indecision really: the back body wood (mahogany or back korina). Here are the rest of the woods:

    Body: Koa Top
    Maple Middle
    Mahogany or Korina back

    Neck: Maple Back
    Ebony Fretboard

    I understand that Mahogany is a "warmer" wood that would help shape a full sound, and Korina is similar (bit brighter) with "added mids." Now that those obligatory descriptions are out of the way, what do people think about either one in this bass? (If it helps, the pickups will be passive jazz.)

    I've done my research on this and don't know which way to go with this. I don't want it to be too bright (as I fear it would be with korina) but I don't want it too be muddy or unclear (as it might be with mahogany).

    Please don't post links to older TB posts regarding korina, as I've read probably all of them. Thanks for your help everyone.
     
  2. have you thought about creating a back with both woods?
     
  3. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    No I have not. I'd like to keep it uniform, thanks for the idea though :)
     
  4. I would think with the maple middle with the walnut would be fine. The maple would give it a bit more punch.
     
  5. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    NYC
    I would go with Mahogany.

    I, too, would be afraid that you'd end up with something unbalanced and nasally if you choose korina, given the Maple and Koa that are already there.

    I once owned a late 90's Japanese Precision Lyte Deluxe that was all mahogany. It didn't sound the least bit muddy, but quite even, although it was active. Nonetheless, based on my limited experience, I'm guessing that mahogany would complement the other two woods much better than korina would.
     
  6. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    I wasn't thinking of walnut, and yes the maple is certainly there for the punch it would carry. Do you think that mahogany would give it the depth needed, or would it be too much depth and korina would be a better choice? (Even reading my own sentence I almost want to yell, haha...tiptoeing a fine line).
     
  7. I meant mahogany...:rollno:

    I think mahogany gives a bass a nice warm round tone, not muddy but just warm.
     
  8. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    That was the way the luthier (awesome guy, will definitely post the bass once it's done in...well, probably a year) seemed to be leaning. I trust both him and you guys. Thanks. Please, if you have any info to share, keep posting on this topic, as I really would love to hear more.
     
  9. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    NYC
    Be sure to post progress pics :)
     
  10. well, IMO koa and korina sounds a lot alike. Personally, I'd go with the mahogany to get that warm bottom and nice high mids.
     
  11. If you don't want your bass to be too bright, I might suggest rethinking the neck/fretboard as well. My Warmoth (ash body, 5-piece maple/purpleheart neck, ebony fretboard) has a lot of top end bite to it, sometimes too much for what I'm playing (particularly at church). Maple and ebony both have a pretty bright sound, so if you have the maple body and the maple neck and an ebony fretboard, it'll probably add much more snap than you're looking for. If you're looking for warmth, I'd suggest doing the whole body out of mahogany, not just the back... I don't know if just having the back out of mahogany would affect the sound enough.

    I was actually checking out amps when I made my last bass purchase. I happened to pick up an Ibanez SR535 (all mahogany body, 5-piece maple/rosewood neck, rosewood fretboard). I instantly knew I had to have one. I would almost dare to say that it's got a warmer sound than any of my other basses. The mahogany body gives it a great full low end and nice mids that Flipper mentioned and the neck gives it plenty of highs. If I play it at church, I still dial back the treble almost a 1/3.

    +1 vote for mahogany for the whole body!

    5sg.
     
  12. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    Well, that pretty much does it...mahogany is what we will go with, and I'll ask about the amount of "snap" that extra maple will bring.

    You have been so helpful, I'll ask a secondary question I had. For a while I went back and forth on whether to go with a quilted koa or quilted mahogany top...he really wanted to go with a koa top, and the more I looked at it the more it grew on me. Plus the only quilted mahogany that seems to be out there is sapele, and I don't really like it...it doesn't have the tortoishell pattern I really like (see attached pics). What do you think? BEFORE YOU ALL KILL ME, I realize these are guitars in the pics, but they get the point across. Thanks.
     
  13. I've always been a fan of koa tops, and if you're getting a bass from a custom builder, chances are he'll get one that's pretty stunning. IMO, the quilt mahogany looks like any quilt maple (a.k.a. more standard) top. If I were to pick between the two, I'd definitely go with the koa. Just my preference though, I'm also a fan of quilt maple. :)

    5sg.

    P.S. Out of curiosity, who's your luthier? I just placed an order with Chris Stambaugh... A full mahogany body is standard, which is what I wanted and is one of several reasons I went with him. Mine's going to have a figured walnut top though. ;)
     
  14. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    Scott MacDonald is the luthier I went with. His website is customguitars.com. He really could not be any nicer. I spoke to him over the phone and I was invited the same day to check out his workshop in LI. He spoke to me for hours without so much as even mentioning money. He genuinely wanted to see if I was serious about music before considering doing the build (which I'm glad he did).

    PS. Figured walnut sounds sexy. Black or Claro? (or something else like Grafted : )
     
  15. +1!

    5sg.
     
  16. It sure looks like he does some nice work... but he needs more pics of basses on his site! :D lol

    I kind of left the top up to Chris. I sent him some pictures of his previous basses that I really liked and said "I'd leave it up to him as long as it's stunning." lol

    If you're interested in taking a look, a fellow TB'er has put together a Stambaugh Bass Gallery here.

    5sg.
     
  17. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    Cool link. Lots of original stuff! It looks like it's safe to say that he likes using active systems (there's an average 6 knobs and a couple switches on each bass : )
     
  18. for what it's worth, i bought a used carvin a number of years ago which was all mahogany, neck and body. it had standard j-pickups with an active pre, that bass growled, one of the nicest sounding basses i've ever owned.

    good luck with your new build. love to see it when it's done.
     
  19. Rumblefisher

    Rumblefisher

    Aug 22, 2007
    Astoria, NY
    Thanks Prof...Doc...man that's an impressive tandem of degrees you've got there :) I will be sure to post pics.
     

  20. i wish! it's an inside joke with my friends, it's a james bond character.
     

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