Squier JJ Jazz...what's so bad about basswood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jd56hawk, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I bought a Squier CV Jazz in Inca Silver and it was very impressive. It sounded exactly what a Jazz bass should sound like and it was as good as several used Fender MIM Jazz basses that I'd been looking at this holiday season.The neck was really nice, the fretboard and frets were perfect, and I really like the bridge and matching headstock...Inca Silver looks great with the mint green pickguard. I gave it away but liked it so much I'm thinking about buying a Squier James Johnston Jazz bass...pretty much the same bass other than the color and no thumbrest.
    I have just one question:
    What's so bad about basswood?
    I found this on the internet...

    • Softer woods have a mellower, warmer tone. Softer woods include Alder, Swamp Ash and Basswood. These woods are commonly used for bass guitar bodies as they have very resonant qualities.

    Yet I've seen quite a few posts here in different threads where someone puts down basswood...without ever really giving a reason.
    Of course, there are people who say real bassists don't use pics...the most ridiculous claim I've come across, and we have the flatwounds/roundwounds, passive/active electronics, and maple/rosewood fretboards debates...all with viable arguments, pro and con.
    So, when it comes to tonewoods, how much should someone worry about less desirable woods...how much of a difference will my basswood body make?
  2. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    You shouldn't worry at all. All personal choice, really.
  3. Poncherello

    Poncherello Guest

    Sep 22, 2014
    Because there aren't reason, simple that. Looks like a Fender fanboys talks, I think not... Fender build a very impressive basses across this story, no doubts, but there are others brands, and others woods. Like a guy wrote somewhere here in TB: I can not hear the logo write in headstock. I like basswood and I have a CV J. Johnston Squier with Aguilars HC splits, it's a very better bass than two 70's Fenders I owned. Well, i'm suspect because I love the mahogany tone.

    Fender basses are a successful project, works in many ways, with various woods and with different prices and brands. Follow your ears.
  4. toberoo

    toberoo Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2007
    It dents easy and I think it's too light. Honestly, nothing wrong with it. A lot of high end ibanez's and musicmans are made out of it. Even the mm bongo is.
  5. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    Desert, Colorado
    Yes but Alder is a "soft" wood as well, I have alder bodies that are dented too.
    I've owned some of the basswood basses. No complaints from me
    dewbass4 likes this.
  6. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'm pretty good about not dropping my basses or knocking them off their stands, and I've never had one fall off its strap, but I do realize anything can happen on stage or in the studio.
    I treat all my basses as if they're made of glass.
    As for weight, the CV Jazz I bought last month seemed heavy enough...not exactly as heavy as my Epiphone Thunderbird Pro IV, but heavier than my other T-bird.
    Weight's not an issue...but I'm not a big fan of really lightweight hollow bodies.
  7. placedesjardins


    May 7, 2012
    Nothing. Swamp ash and mahogany seem to be more popular for bass guitars, but the high-end EVH electric guitars are made with basswood.
  8. bassie12


    Aug 23, 2008
    One of the best Jazz Basses(Fender MIJ) I've ever owned is basswood. The worst ones I've ever owned were alder and ash. Go figure.
  9. Baird6869

    Baird6869 Supporting Member


    Also, basswood isn't very good looking as it has little grain. Very boring looking. Better for a painted finish than natural for sure.

    My Bongos sounded killer and EBMM picked basswood for the tone, not because it was cheap.
  10. DavidEdenAria


    Dec 13, 2013
    On a Hill
    No idea how basswood sounds for bass but I
    have owned several basswood Strats and they sounded quite a bit different than the traditional Strat tone.

    Otoh, I've owned several Peavey Strats that were poplar that sounded much closer to alder or ash Strats to my ears.
  11. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Bass wood is generally light and gets the job done. I wouldn't say all bass wood bodied basses sound great but it doesn't automatically disqualify them from being great. There's a significant amount of variation in most species of wood and considering the other important variables(neck, electronics, construction)I try to keep an open mind.
    Need Gigs likes this.
  12. vmabus


    Nov 1, 2013
    I would think bass-wood would be the perfect bass wood:)
  13. dinodino


    Mar 9, 2008
    Owned a JJ bass in the past and thought it sounded great. The only problem I had with a previous basswood bass was that the strap pin came out and stripped the pin hole because of the soft wood.
    Mtnman and Mik75 like this.
  14. Anthonyfranklin9000

    Anthonyfranklin9000 Guest

    Nov 12, 2014
    South Carolina
    I have a basswood VM jazz. It's light and comfy. I do think it has less snap, pop, growl, articulation than other Jazz basses I have played. It's almost more... looser sounding, it has definite low end but it is less defined. Some might hear it and call that "warm". It could be the Duncan Designed pups that contribute to that, of course, but the 70's VM Jazz in maple has a noticeable snap so the wood is at work too.
    I do believe that a Stratocaster sounds noticeably different when it is not alder or ash, the ones I have played lacked the mid range punch or "quack" many players love. Jeff Beck might have used a basswood model, but a lot of strat players would prefer not to for that reason, even if basswood works perfectly well in other guitar models. Basswood is just different, not necessarily worse.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2014
  15. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I'll be modding it a bit...Fender Super 55s and a different pickguard, probably blue pearl, although there's a youtube video with a James Johnston Jazz bass with a red tortoishell pg that looks...interesting.
  16. friendlybass

    friendlybass Guest

    Jul 19, 2012
    If you like it, dont ask too many questions.
    felis likes this.
  17. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Answers have been spot on, though.
  18. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    [QUOTE="jd56hawk, post: 16771080, member: 201831"
    What's so bad about basswood?
    I found this on the internet...

    • Softer woods have a mellower, warmer tone. Softer woods include Alder, Swamp Ash and Basswood. These woods are commonly used for bass guitar bodies as they have very resonant qualities.[/QUOTE]
    All "tonewood" differences are minor but they do enter into personal preferences. A major "problem" with basswood is that it's softer than alder or swamp ash and dents easily.

    Swamp ash is the brightest wood and my personal favorite (after mahogany). Alder is next with a warmer more mellow tone. And my least favorite is basswood which has an even warmer even more mellow tone. I call it a "foofy" tone, but that's just my opinion. Some like that tone just like some like to play with their tone control rolled off a lot. Also basswood tone can be compensated for in the bass design and electronics. A Bongo bass that is basswood is far from "foofy"! In my book the denting thing is a concern and basswood for passive basses is something I'd never buy.

    Also let me note that Swamp Ash qualities depend on where it was cut from the tree. The lower parts are much like basswood while the higher parts are heavy, and solid and make very bright but very heavy (12 lbs) basses.

    So you just play them and see what you like. As for dents, even though I try to treat my basses with care somehow they end up with dents. Cripes I've got headstock dents all over the place and I've even put dents in hardrock maple necks! How do I do that? So that's one reason I'm not a fanboy of basswood. (Though I'd never kick a free bongo bass out of bed with me!)
  19. bassrich


    Nov 20, 2011
    Sarasota, FL
    LOL, well for a bass I would want basswood. Seriously pickups is where the sound comes from wood is way down the line of consideration for me
    Malak the Mad and dewbass4 like this.
  20. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    The strap button issue is legit. But it's very easy to fix.

    Just take a small block of oak or maple. Use a pocket knife to shave small, tapered slivers off the corners.

    Drop the tapered shavings into the screw hole for the strap button, making sure that the fat ends go into the hole first. Put a drop of carpenter's glue into the hole after the shavings, then reattach the strap buttons, and set the body aside while the glue cures.

    The screw pushes the fat end of the shavings aside as you tighten it up. This creates a wedging action, that locks the screws in place. The glue binds the shavings in place, and works like locative on the screw.

    I've done this for people who are very active on stage, and never had to do it twice.