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The Final Showdown: Ash vs. Alder and Maple vs. Rosewood

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by freshmeat1989, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. All questions answered here, the Final Showdown. Here's the situation:

    You have four Jazz basses, neck pickup volume set to middle, bridge pickup volume set to middle, tone set to middle. All run through the same amp.

    Here are the body and fingerboard woods.

    -Alder body with Maple fingerboard
    -Alder body with Rosewood fingerboard
    -Ash body with Maple fingerboard
    -Ash body with Rosewood fingerboard

    What would each sound like?
    How would they each be different?
    What style of music is each best for?
    Which would be the best for fingerstyle?
    Which would be the best slapper?
    Which would be the best for all-around stuff?
    What would be the nuances of each?

    Feel free to chime in with any other questions anyone. This thread is not personal situation, it is a reference thread. Post, people!
  2. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    I wish I thought that were true.
  3. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    You forgot to add whether acyive or passive!
    I have most of those combinations in a jazz bass, here goes
    alder/rosewood- pretty much classic jazz bass sound, nice and mellow
    alder//maple- pretty close to the rw but a tad brighter when thumped
    ash/maple- the sharpest sounding of the four especially when thumped
    ash/rw-sharper then alder but not as sharp as ash/maple combo

    All these are basses being thumped and poped. Different playing styles would make it harder to notice the subtle differences. Another deciding factor will be the pup as well as rear pup placement (lot of variables here)

    As far as what bass is better for what, no bass is better for any style. It is what you want to hear and no 2 basses sound the same. I have many jazz basses and I use them for different things. some active and some passive. My most gigged with bass is an ash/rw MIA 75RI CAR jazz, my all around when I'm not sure what to bring bass is a natural/maple MIA jazz. My funkier basses are my Victor Bailey, FMT V and my MIA dlx and my Marcus Miller jazzes. When it comes to R&B, Blues or jazz the passive jazzes are the ticket. as far as the best for all around stuff I would say an ash/maple jazz would do. Ymmv.
  4. To Bovinehost: I can try can't I? :D

    Pyrohr, how does the Ash/maple sound fingerstyle? Is it still warm?

    Thanks pyrohr man, all those Fenders. I love it. I'm seriously wanting to try a Sunburst Alder/Maple fretboard Jazz, I think that would do it for me. Drool. I'm trying to decide if I like the Butterscotch blonde Jazz. Anyways, anyone else please chime in with responses or questions!
  5. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    Owning several jazz bass and several combination of wood and also super jazz like Sadowsky, by eq ing you can have similar tone for any combination, but not the same, depend on pick up and strings. But nevertheles audience will never hear the difference any way.
  6. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I somewhat agree with Smash and j.s.basuki about the mix and the audience not knowing the difference. The audience probably couldn't tell the difference between a Sadowsky and an Ibanez but other bass players can. I play at a lot of "open jams" and there are a lot of other bass players around. When you do this type of playing you get chances to solo, do you thing, shoot your load, what ever you want to call it, believe me people can tell when your playing something decent or a pos! I have been told by many bass players that my basses sound excellent. One guy has a custom made "boutique bass" and when he heard my Victor Bailey thru his rig (QSC head/Bergintino cab) he was seriously impressed and he made it known to me. Like Smash said though when in the mix it would be hard to tell what is what, soloing you might hear a difference. when playing fingerstyle it would be hard to tell, playing funk (thumpin and poppin) the difference becomes more noticable.

    Oh and by the way my ash/maple jazz has Lindy Fralin pups in it so it is not only warm but somewhat vintagey. thats why it's my staple "take this bass when I don't know what kind of place I'm going to". I can use it in any playing situation, it gets the job done!
  7. I'm gonna cry.

    Ash because it's prettier, and rosewood because it's darker and doesn't show off the chocolate I left on my fingers prior to playing, of course. DONE!

    :rolleyes: :scowl:
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    LOL. Here's my 5¢ anyway:

    If all basses are fretted, fingerboard wood won't make much (if any) diff.

    As for body wood: one could say "alder will probably sound like this and ash will probably sound like that", but due to the variable nature of wood there is never any guarantee.

    And to follow up on what j.s.basuki said: it's doubtful the audience will notice the difference between an Alembic and a Jazz, let alone two slightly different Jazz basses. What SMASH said too.
  9. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Well said Jack.
  10. morebass!

    morebass! I'm all ears Supporting Member

    May 31, 2002
    Madison WI
    Good question and no less important because other factors may control what the audience hears more.

    I like alder as a body wood. Ash seems too bright, brittle and too ...hollow sounding. I like more low mids. It's about feel as much as sound. Same with fingerboards. Rosewood not only sounds a bit warmer but feels warmer (the grain helps) on my fingers. If I feel better and more connected to the music it makes a difference in how I play and that probably is perceptible.

    A luthier friend once told me that the one most important factor in tone is the wood within a few inches of the bridge. This makes sense if you think of how sound is produced in an acoustic instrument - the bridge placement of an upright bass for example.

    With all the electronics used nowadays wood may be less important in achiving one's tone but still plays a big part in an instrument's feel. That may or may not be important to the player - especially one who is completely focused on sound. I practice unplugged a lot so I'm sure that colors my perspective.
  11. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    For me it is a question of what I want the bass itself to look and feel like. I prefer maple fret boards. I like the feel of them. I Do not like Ash or Alder. I really like Koa or Korina, but I guess it would depend on the sound you want. I like the warm rich tone of the Koa offset with the sharpness of the maple.. I also prefer Wenge for the neck wood. :eek:
  12. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    I tend to agree. I think wood makes (only) a minor difference in tone, but is more dependant on the particular piece than on the species.