Swapping a Basswood Body on a Jazz Bass for Alder

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassman1-909, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Bassman1-909


    Jan 1, 2017
    Hi everyone, I have a jazz bass made up of a squier body, a standard fretted replacement neck, a vintage bridge, and CS60s pickups. The bass came together because I had replaced the fretless neck on my P-bass, and decided I would buy an inexpensive loaded squier vintage modified body to use with the old fretless P-bass neck. Well, I ended up putting the old neck back on the P-bass, buying a new fretted neck for the jazz, and continued modding the jazz bass until I ended up with the bass I described above.

    I really enjoy playing the jazz, but now I have the urge to get rid of the basswood body and buy a proper alder body. Part of me thinks it was a mistake to swap out the squier pickups, because really nothing was wrong with them and they had a nice tone. I like the CS60s a lot, but the versatility of a jazz bass isnt' quite there because a lot of the bassier tones sound muddy and I'm wondering if it's because of the basswood body not being the best fit for the CS60s. (I also feel like the CS60s are a bit noisier, and whereas the squier pickups had a noticeable noise-canceling effect when both pickups were at the same volume, I don't quite get the same effect with the CS60s).

    ANYWAY, I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on whether the Alder will really make much difference. I am looking for a lighter bass, but I also prefer the general feel of the alder wood (like on my vintage P-bass). Also, since I have spare pickups, a fretless neck, bridge, and pickguards lying around, I was thinking of making another jazz bass out of the basswood body.

    Thanks for any insights!
  2. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I'm skeptical as to whether alder would make that much difference for you. You've already seen how supposedly better pickups don't necessarily translate into better sound. What makes you think that the answer is a new body?

    Basswood doesn't necessarily equal muddy either. Basswood was the chosen wood fo EVH's guitars for a while.

    My suggestion would be to put the original pickups back in the squire and play it for a while. Them maybe buy a body and use the new pickups and new body to make another bass.
    jd56hawk likes this.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    I am fairly certain that a body wood change will not solve your issue.
  4. Basswood is the choice for $3K guitars by Tom Anderson and John Shur. The Ibanez guitars favoured by shredders,like the JEM series,also use Basswood.
    Only folks that seem to be down on basswood are bass players :laugh: Maybe I'm an exception,my main player is a basswood P-bass with an ancient Peavey ferrite pickup and TI jazz flats. No muddiness coming from that one :thumbsup:
    jd56hawk likes this.
  5. TuneSalad666

    TuneSalad666 Inactive

    Mar 1, 2018
    Basswood is by no means a bad tonewood, though it is on the cheaper and softer side compared to most of the other types of woods commonly used for instruments.

    But more expensive is not necessarily better, cheaper just means that access to it is easier and availability is better, or else solid gold basses would have the absolute best tone.

    Likewise softer is not necessarily bad either (basswood is still considered a hardwood, just one of the softer ones) and while it does make it slightly more vulnerable and prone to dings it doesn't really make it any worse or better tone wise.

    Also while you will most likely experience a difference in tone with an alder body I doubt it will be anything as pronounced as you perhaps imagine it would, most likely it will be fairly subtle nuances of a tone difference.

    Alder is said to perhaps be the most balanced of all the tonewoods, responding fairly evenly to all frequencies, whereas basswood is said to slightly dampen both the low and high frequencies making the mid frequency spectrum more pronounced.

    So nothing speaks for that an alder body will make your bass sound less muddy, as a solution to that I would properly first take a look at the pickups and the strings of the bass and then the amp you use.

    Regarding weight your typical piece of basswood would be lighter than an equally sized piece of alder as well, so likely going to get a heavier bass out of the body swap, not lighter, so if that is also something you hoped to achieve you are likely going to get the exact opposite.

    All in all I would recommend you against the body swap, since it is unlikely you will get any of the effects you hope to achieve out of it.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    I would add here that if your bass has a hard polyurethane or polyester finish -as most Squire's do- dings aren't really going to be much of an issue. Virtually any impact strong enogh to crack those finishes is going to do so regardless of body wood. Maybe the dent on the wood itself will be a tiny big deeper on basswood, but at at that point the finish is chipped off regardless.

    The bears remembering. When it comes to comfort a lighter bass is quite desireable. Alder is not a particularly heavy wood but an alder body will almost always be heavier than basswood and when dealing with a Jazz bass which has a fairly large body, it will likely make a noticable difference.
  7. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    If you look up Basswood on the Wood Database website, and read the entire entry, you will see the only real drawback to it's use as an instrument body. "Does not hold screws well". Yes, it's a good tone wood. Yes, it's easy to work and sand. Yes, it takes finishes well. But, if you're somebody who's always tinkering with his bass, and constantly removing/replacing screws? It ain't the wood for you. The "Official" Mikro Bass Club site here, has several sad posts from members who've had the bridge pulled off the basswood body of their heavily tinkered-with Mikro. Which is why, on my basses and guitars with a basswood body, I leave them alone as much as possible. I save the tinkering for something else...:)
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  8. Bassman1-909


    Jan 1, 2017
    Thanks everyone. I'm not necessarily knocking basswood, most of the reviews I have read all over the place are generally pretty positive. Just wondering if the right alchemy isn't there with the cs60s. I noodle around with different string types, I was really into flats for awhile, then tapewounds, went to pressurewounds, before finally settling on classic rounds. May be worth putting in the original stock pickups and testing that out for a bit before deciding on buying a new body.

    Alternatively, since I have all these spare parts I was thinking about what other bodies I could get to use with them like a jag bass that has jazz routings?
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