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OK, this is probably a stupid alder/ash question...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Boombass76, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    I have never bothered much about the alder/ash, heavy/light, nitro/poly issues. However, many seems to care a lot about these things, so I am beginning to wonder what my early 70's Jazz is made of...

    I have heard that Fender used both alder and ash in this period, and I have always assumed that it was alder as it's quite a bit lighter than my 78/79 jazz that weighs +11 pounds. I have never weighted it, but I'd say around 9-10 pounds.

    Also, as mentioned, I have never really bothered about whether it has a nitro or poly finish, but I have always assumed that it was poly since it is a 70's bass. Please correct me if I'm wrong :)

    I know the solid color finish makes it harder to tell by just looking at it, but I was wondering what one should look for - in general - in order to distinguishe alder from ash and nitro from poly when it comes so sunburst or natural finisehed basses? Please upload pics showing examples if possible :)

    Here's a pic:
  2. Jason Brown

    Jason Brown

    May 1, 2000
    SLC, UT
    Fender stopped using nitro in '68, so yours would be poly.

    Dunno about the wood unless you strip the paint off. Don't do that, of course.
  3. Jason Brown

    Jason Brown

    May 1, 2000
    SLC, UT
    Thinking out loud here -- maybe a closeup of the wear area on the body, or perhaps the unpainted area of the neck pocket would show enough grain to give clues as to which wood it is.
  4. Ash:

    The difference is subtle in these pics but for me it's mostly that ash has a very sharp contrast between light & dark grain, where alder is more uniform.

    Oh, & I am quite envious of the Jazz. :)
  5. s4001


    Feb 2, 2009
    Hard to tell. A lot of the Fenders from that era selected heavy, heavy ash AND alder so that's not a clue there. If that thing sounds half as good as the '76 boat anchor that threw out my back, then it's a hell of a bass. Got sound clips of it?
  6. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    Ah, I see... And here are a few more pics:


  7. From the bit in the heel where I think I can see the *dark* grain, I vote ash.
  8. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm dying to hear what the consensus turns out to be. My money's on alder, but I'm far out of my league guessing and the picture of the pocket still makes it hard to see.

    VERY cool bass, BTW.

  9. rbbrchkn


    Feb 25, 2009
    Denver, CO
    The other big difference visually is Ash has really open grain, Alder not so much.

    That bass is Ash.
  10. Jason Brown

    Jason Brown

    May 1, 2000
    SLC, UT
    I'm guessing ash. The neck pocket doesn't show much contrast, but the grain appears thick like ash.
  11. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I don't think there's enough bare wood to know for sure, but from the texture and what we can see, I agree with you that it's more likely ash than alder.
  12. Philonius

    Philonius Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    2k W of the Duwamsh
    Nearly certain it's Ash. Look at the band of open-pored grain in the upper left corner of the neck pocket; between the "Frank ..." stamp and the screw hole. Also by the lower right corner peeking our from behind the shim. Alder just doesn't have that kind of open grain structure IME.
  13. Didn't they use ash for natural and see-through colors and alder for opaque finishes like they do now?
  14. Lemoore-on


    May 11, 2008
    Look at the worn area at the fore arm contour. Looks like ash to me.
  15. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I can't tell what this bass is but it seems like I read somewhere that Fender started with all ash bodies but switched to alder because it was easier to paint. The naturals were still ash. Don't know when and I'm sure there were plenty of exceptions. The worn spot on the end looks like ash to me.

    This bass is cool either way.
  16. I am thinking ash from the contrast of the worn part on the top end if the bass. I have one of the 2009 fsr precisions which is ash. and its lighter than my 2003 alder precision. I was under the impression that the ash was supposed to be mega heavy. But its just right:)
  17. Boombass76

    Boombass76 Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    BassCollect Blog & Shop (founder)
    Hey guys,

    Thanks for all your inputs so far. I am starting to believe that it's ash, too :)

    Here are a few video clips from a gig last year that may (or may not) give another clue?

    Unfotunately the sound has just been recorded using one of them micro stereo recorders (an Edirol, I believe). I played through my old rig: a Markbass F500 and two Epifani cabs (UL410 (S1) / UL115 (S2)), which, BTW, is placed with the UL115 on top :)

    On this clip I play traditional fingerstyle until the bass solo (I've been experimenting a bit, soloing with a muted sound... :meh:)

    I don't know if it is possible to tell anything form these sound clips as the basic sound of the bass has been colored by many factors (amp, cabs, room, stereo recorder, etc.)
  18. HeyMikey


    Dec 28, 2005
    Looking at the top of the bass directly above the bridge pickup (opposite side from control plate) it appears to be ash where the paint has worn away.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    That's a good point, too. Again, I think ash is probably correct. However I have seen genuine alder basses with pronounced grain, so I wouldn't bet the farm.
  20. This part makes me think ash...


    Ash tends to have "coarser" grain, and that's what I see.

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