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Roscoe's Spanish Cedar = ???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jokerjkny, May 13, 2006.

  1. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    hey all,

    i've played many a maho and ash roscoe, but i have no idea what a spanish cedar body sounds like.

    any comparisons to aforementioned mahogany, ash or even alder or walnut?
  2. To me, Spanish Cedar stands alone, and has similar tonal properties of a few body woods. I would catagorize the tone as full and even across the spectrum. I know that Keith Roscoe compares Spanish Cedar to Mahogany, but I think that Mahogany has more of a mid focus than Spanish Cedar, IMO. Ash seems to have more attack, especially in the upper end, and I think the Cedar has a sweeter upper end than Alder. All in all, I suppose that the tonal traits of Mahogany are the most similar with Spanish Cedar not having as much of a mid bump as the Mahogany.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I believe its overall a little smoother than mahog. Less of that punch, but more sweetness.
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    yup, I'd agree with both you and halftooth on that.
  5. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I've heard that spanish cedar varies somewhat by weight. I think my Roscoe fretless LG-3000 (box-elder burl top) has a bit of a heavier piece that is very compable to lightweight alder in tone. I've heard that with lighter pieces you lose the punch/focus of ash or alder.

    I think that if you get blanks of alder, ash, mahogany, white mahogany, and spanish cedar that are reasonably lightweight (8-8.5 lb instruments)...you'll notice little tonal difference in sound. IME the tonal characteristics get exaggerated when the pieces get heavier.

  6. For the most part I'd agree with you, but I'd say that Ash has consistently had more bite than any of the above mentioned body woods, fingerboard woods being considered as well, and specificly true with Roscoe's. I've owned 5 of both Ash and Spanish Cedar bodied Roscoe's, and the Ash bodies have had more upper end attack than each of the Spanish Cedar models.
  7. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002

    Spanish cedar is by far my favorite body wood for Roscoe's. Keith does compare the sound of Spanish cedar to mahogany but IMO it's more focused sounding than mahogany. It's acoustic sound qualities also makes it an excelent choice for fretless.

    The only Roscoe that I've played that I didn't just love the sound of was a mahoagany bodied Roscoe with a Bart pre. It was very unfocused in the low end and the highs sounded a bit harsh.

    There also may be some validity to what Wilbyman stated on how the weight of some woods affects the tone. My newest Roscoe has a figured Spanish Cedar body (by far the heaviest Roscoe I've owned) and it's seems to be more punchy sounding than my previous other Spanish Cedar Roscoe's. It still has a nice acoustic sound but the attack seems a bit more exaggerated than the more typical light Spanish cedar.
  8. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    good thoughts, joe. literally read my mind about the "fretless" thing. any ideas on how spanish cedar would mate w/ either ebony or the diamondwood?
  9. Spanish Cedar with the Diamondwood FB is a perfect combination!
  10. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    A diamondwood finger board on a Spanish cedar bodied Roscoe is by far the best sounding fretless I've ever played or heard.

    Gene certainly knows!;)
    I shouldn't have let that one get away!:crying:

    Basso Gruvitas also can comment on the Roscoe diamondwood/Spanish cedar combination. He's also got some great sound clips of that bass.
  11. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The SKB 3006 you played at my shop had a Spanish Cedar body.

    In case you forgot, the cedar is a midway point between the brightness of ash and the warmth of mahogany. It's not as heavy as mahogany, but not as light as ash. I like it alot as a tone wood.
  12. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I personally prefer the punch and brightness that ash bodies seem to bring to Roscoes, but that's just me. The Spanish cedar seems a bit too "tame" for my tastes.
  13. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    i was sorta thinking the same. but i literally have ONLY ash bodied basses! strange but true. :meh:
  14. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    Well, in that case, maybe the S/C body would be a nice change of pace for you then.
  15. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'm kind of the same, and so at times I try out basses with different body woods (alder, spanish cedar) but I keep coming back to ash. I recently decided to stop fighting my ash addiction :)
  16. poptart

    poptart Commercial User

    Sep 13, 2005
    Owner: Bass Direct
    I have 2 skb 3005's one with Spanish Ceder and the other with Mahogany - they sound v similar but the s/c has a beautiful acoustic tone when unplugged and a smooth crisp sound that funnily enough sounds great for slapping?!? I picked this one from four other basses, I guess it spoke to me, but really like it.

    My second was a blind buy and the shop hinted that s/c was NOT the best choice but to go for mahogany, this bass has good bottom end a tighter mid sound and a little less sparkle compared to the c/s. Both basses have bart 3 band pre - they also weight the same.

    Just goes to show that the sound comes from different aspects of the bass I guess.
  17. Nothing like a good piece of ash!


    I'm an ash man myself as well, so I can totally identify with this.


    On the question at hand:

    My take on it is that Spanish Cedar is similar to Mahogany (warmth, depth), but without the overly focused mids and "wooly" lows that mahogany can sometimes have. It's a more "open" sounding wood to my ears than mahogany and a bit cleaner toned in the lows, very "acoustic-y". When used with fretless, it gives a very warm and thick tone with good definition, not as aggressive as ash or "boomy" as mahogany.

    If you're looking for the "Jaco tone", it's not the right choice, I'd suggest ash instead, but if you're looking for a mellower but still clear tone, S/C is a tough choice to beat.

    On the fingerboard, diamondwood will be more bright and mwah-y sounding, it is essentially analogous to the epoxied board that Jaco came up with and Mike Pedulla is a genius at executing, but without the epoxy wearing off. Ebony would be less defined and more "acoustic/upright" in tone.

    Hope that helps! :)
  18. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    As said, weight is a big factor in the sound of any wood.
    I had a Spanish Cedar bodyed fretless 6-string bass.
    It was med-light and had a good balance of tone across the board.
    Each wood, has it's own magical propity's.
    Good wood, is good wood.
    I've seen a big boom in fancy top basses in the last 3-years on talkbass.
    While I love the look of these exotic wood, After playing many varety's of basses with exotic tops, I feel they do not inhance the tone of a bass.
    I most cases, they deter tone.
    Rotting wood does not transmit tone.
    If you want great tone, plain straight grian woods works best.
    Exotic top to me, are just options, to spend more money.
    Purely for looks.
    And in a bass I want tone, not looks.
    Just my thoughts?
  19. Mojo -

    You're certainly entitled to your opinion on "rotting wood", and in some rare cases, I would agree that some woods have little affect on tone. However, I can tell you with some solid insight, that most quilts, burls, and spalts definite do affect tone, and in a positive way.

    Yes, it's pretty wood, and yes, you do pay more for a quilted/burled/spalted piece of wood than a boring straight-grained one. However, figured woods are also less common than straight grained woods, making them more expensive, and well...people have paid a premium for "pretty" things since the beginning of time, and that's how it all works.

    I get to play each of the basses that Roscoe produces prior to it being shipped out, and I can tell you unequivocally that there absolutely IS a difference between the tones of these woods.

    That said, my next personal instrument will almost certainly be a solid swamp ash bodied one, because I love the tone of swamp ash, and I've begun to fall in love with the classy understated beauty of a good piece of ash.

    However, trust me when I say that the spalted quilt bubinga with sapwood on my present fretless sounds astounding, and VERY different from an instrument without that piece of "pretty, rotten" exotic wood. It is absolutely not just an example of:

    "Exotic top to me, are just options, to spend more money.
    Purely for looks."

    Instead it is an intregral part of the tone of the instrument, as is essentially every other top on every other bass we make. Yes, you can build an instrument without the top and get an incredible tone (we do this as well!), but the top can be (and typically is) an essential part of the "whole" tone of an instrument.
  20. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    thx gard, nothing like getting from the horses mouth. :p

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