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Opinions of favorite body wood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gopher Bob, Nov 25, 2001.


  1. Gopher Bob

    Gopher Bob

    Nov 24, 2001
    Florida
    I have seen so many types of wood for basses even some man made stuff. I'm wondering about the different types that certain members prefer and why. Thanks for your time. :cool: peace out
     
  2. personally i'd like to try out a maple cored, coco bolo topped bass just to see how much bite there would be. either that or an indian rose wood top on mahogany body would just sound so smooth.
     
  3. barroso

    barroso

    Aug 16, 2000
    Italia
    in my limited experience my favorite woods are:

    alder: i like it in a precision style bass for the midrange and bass.

    swamp ash: i like this wood even if a little less than alder. great for jazz style bass

    basswood: one of my favorite. soft wood not so loved. i like it because it's light and warm sounding lovely for the jazz bridge pickup.

    i have experience with other woods such as mahogany, maple and plywood (!). i have never played for enough time to judge laminated basses.
     
  4. nanook

    nanook

    Feb 9, 2000
    Alaska
    I think a swamp ash core is the best because it is light but strong.

    Other than that I like all the quilt and burled maple and other exotic woods. My least favorite wood is wenge because it is course and doesn't mach up well with the other smooth grained woods that are usually used on bass bodies.
     
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    My favorite and the board I got for my top plate - cocobolo;

    [​IMG]

    Why??? (Besides the fact it's drop-dead gorgeous)??? I'll let others explain;

    - "There is always the crown jewel of bass tone woods, Coco Bolo, with it's complex bright and dark mix." - Alembic website

    - "Ron's personal favorite for body wood is cocobolo, for both looks and tone." - Mike Tobias speaking about Alembic founder Ron Wickersham

    - , "...cocabola, (sic), one of my favorite tone-woods for bass and guitar...." - Jeff Gould (Modulus Guitars)

    - "My preference for back and sides would be Cocobolo, a Central American Rosewood which has gorgeous coloring and grain with very similar tonal characteristics to Brazilian Rosewood, the acknowledged creme de la creme of tonewoods... but VASTLY overpriced" - John Briggs, Briggs Handmade Guitars

    Different tone characteristics would make others my favorites. But for stacking up to the legendary Brazilian rosewood, cocobolo is it.
     
  6. hell yes. ric, have you happen to see any of the quilted coco bolo on the alembic website? i saw some of it when i went to the factory and it was even better looking than the "normal" stuff. unfortunately it wasn't quite done yet so i couldn't play it.
     
  7. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    For me, if it sounds good, I don't care what it is. Poplar, ash, alder, maple, graphite, luthite & everthing else in between.
     
  8. Gopher Bob

    Gopher Bob

    Nov 24, 2001
    Florida
    so many types.... how does a woods wieght effect the tonal quality of the bass, for example a heavier bass compared to a lighter bass?
     
  9. Tumbao

    Tumbao

    Nov 10, 2001
    FL
    BODY:
    ~Korina(Blk Limba)
    ~Alder
    ~Maple
    ~Avodire(Avadore)
    ---------------"worst"----- /Poplar and
    --------------- multiple wood glued pieces.

    NECK:
    ~Maple(3 piece)
    -----"worst"----- /one piece not reinforced and
    ----- a break for the birdseye maple.

    FRETBOARD:
    ~Ebony
    ~Maple
    ~Rosewood
    ------------"worst"----- /no-wood surface and
    ------------ Wenge.

    BODY TOP
    ~Teak
    ~Goncalo Alves
    ~Figured Walnut
    ~Myrtle
    -------"worst"----- /no more quilted maple for it!
     
  10. Quilted Maple !!!!!! :D :D :D :D

    [​IMG]
     
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Voodoo: A poignant memory - when that log of quilted cocobolo originally hit our shores last spring, I contacted the wood dealer who was the only source to get it. I notified my luthier, Dave Pushic, that it was the wood I wanted for my custom and Dave contacted the wood dealer promptly to get some.

    Alembic bought the entire friggin' log of that jewel just hours ahead of us!!!!! :mad: :mad:

    What ya gonna do?

    The board I have now is exhibition grade, so I'm still a happy camper. I think it's just as drop-dead gorgeous and has even brighter oranges and reds than the quilted that I almost got before Alembic beat me to the punch.

    It is air-dried very well according to the wood dealer, even better than the quilted was. So, tonally, it is possible it may sound even better.
     
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Poplar gets a bad rep, but it tonally very similar to alder.
    A lot of solid color older Fenders are made out of 3 pieces of wood(alder) glued together. Of course, most boutique basses are made of multiple pieces of wood glued together.

    For inexpensive, mass produced basses a 2 or 3 piece neck is best, but I have a Pedulla Rapture J2 5 string with a one piece flatsawn maple neck and it has a tighter, better B than almost any other 34" scale bass that I have played, so for quality, hand finished basses where wood selection is done by hand, one piece necks are acceptable in my book. For other neck woods, a one piece wenge neck is almost as stable as graphite. I'm not sure what the last part about a 'break for birdseye maple' means.


    No wood surface? What about Diamondwood or Rockwood(resin impregnated birch or other hardwood) like Moses, Curbow(NOT CORT!) and Zon use?

    As far as resting the rosewood, I agree if you are talking about low grade Indian rosewood, but other rosewoods like Cocobolo and Brazilian are excellent fingerboard woods.


    Won't argue with you here. In the thin layers used nowadays(1/4" - 1/2") top wood is more of a choice of looks than it is tone, IMHO.
     
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    This is the best explanation I've seen before you get into the science - http://www.mtdbass.com/html/qfortone.html
     
  14. rick, that does suck about missing out on that quilted but from what you say, you shouldn't miss it much :).
     
  15. neptoon

    neptoon

    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    mine would most definitely have to be lacewood
     
  16. rickreyn

    rickreyn

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    but I have limited experience with tone woods. Bubinga has a rich reddish figured look. Had walnut, alder, basswood, ash, maple. My favorite fretboard material is maple because of the look. However, I like ebony for the hardness of it, and pao ferro for it reddish look.
     
  17. RicMeister

    RicMeister Guest

    Nov 25, 2001
    Hello folks-- Allow me to relate a highly interesting story concerning tonal properties of various woods.

    I know a guy who worked for GibsonUSA for about 4 years in their electric guitar making facilities in Nashville. He had the opportunity to get to know the man who was in charge of the company's research & development division. My friend was in the "lab" one day while the R&D director was performing tests to determine the acoustical properties of various tonewoods used in the construction of Gibson electrics. He tried many different woods with intriguing results. One chunk of maple, for instance, might test pretty well, while another chunk wouldn't.

    As it turned out, Southern swamp ash was the ONLY tonewood that tested CONSISTENTLY from one sample to the next. And ALL of them tested as being the best tonewood out of every possible kind of wood tested. He didn't find a single piece of Southern swamp ash that wouldn't have made a good guitar in regard to it's acoustical properties.

    Does this imply that other tonewoods, such as Honduras mahogany or western alder, wouldn't be a good choice for a guitar or bass? Not at all. The only thing my friend was suggesting was that Southern swamp ash was consistent (and consistently good) in it's tonal properties.

    This bit of news came from a guy whose word I trust implicitly and without question. I'm merely passing it along FYI.
     
  18. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    RicMeister;
    for your information, I have the opposite!
    Many articles I've read, and luthiers I've communicated with in any way, has the experiance that swamp ash is on eof the spieces with the most tonal variation.
    My guess is, that it depends a lot on what supplier you have.
     
  19. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Sub - That's been my experience, too. One explanation for the variation that seems likely is that what is labeled and sold as "swamp ash" isn't always true swamp ash.

    The desirable swamp ash is the wood that grows below the water line. Even then, I saw one luthier complaining that his latest supply of true swamp ash was far too light to produce respectable bass.
     
  20. RicMeister

    RicMeister Guest

    Nov 25, 2001
    Suburban and rickbass1--

    Thanks for the additional info on swamp ash. The subject of tonewoods has always been fascinating to me and I'm glad to learn new things. I guess there are as many differing opinions as there are luthiers.

    rickbass1, your statement about the most desirable swamp ash being that which is below the waterline is something that Dan Lakin (of Lakland Basses) mentioned to me several years ago, but I had forgotten about.

    But you know, I've often wondered how a guitar's finish (such as polyester, etc.) may or may not interfere with the tonal properties of any given wood anyway. Is it possible that a nitrocellulose or tung oil finish are about the only ones that wouldn't unduly interfere with a tonewood's acoustical "makeup"?