Tone: Bubinga vs Alder?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Darrelpr, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. Darrelpr


    Feb 2, 2002
    Texas, USA
    Hopefully a simple question... What is the general tonal differences between Alder and Bubinga? Is Bubinga a heavier wood?

    thanks in advance
  2. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo Music Man/Upton addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Austin, TX
    In my opinion bubinga is a much heavier wood(hold a thumb bass in one hand and a fender in the other;) ). Bubinga is a little closer to a walnut or possibly a mahogony(warm and middy). And alder......Well alders to me is just one of the punchiest all around woods. I personally luv dat BUM-binga:D .
  3. dreadhead


    Feb 1, 2002
    Bubinga is a wonderful wood! It's hard, and have a lot of punch and definition, but lacks in low frequencies.
    Alder is one of the softest woods used for bass bodies. It have great low and mids but lacks in definition without a hardwood top on it.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Just to add to the confusion - I go with what dread says except that bubinga has lots of clear, articulate lows.

    It's a hard and very heavy wood. Ever hear a Rickenbacker bass with a bubinga fretboard??? - crisp highs and clear, hard, lows.

    Bubinga can be quite beautiful. When rotary cut, it has a "waterfall" figure. It can also have a swirling "pommele" figure, like the Jack Bruce Signature Thumb Bass Fixer mentions -

    The much lighter weight alder is known especially for it's thick mids. Not that it lacks highs and lows, but they don't stand out like they do with bubinga. Vintage guitars are made of alder and give them their sweet, singing, tone.

    If you're confused, look up "The Quest for Tone" at the Tobias Bass website, , where Mike Tobias explains how you can tell a lot about a wood's tone from its weight/density/oiliness/color.
  5. Darrelpr


    Feb 2, 2002
    Texas, USA
    So it looks like an ideal combination would be an alder body/bubinga top. (Obviously there are other factors to consider as well.)

  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    That was my first thought, Darrel.

    Of course, you could play it safe and do rock maple/swamp ash on top of the alder and have a bass just like another 48 million in the world.

    But, I like risk taking. Otherwise, I'd just get another bass out of a catalog and have it within a week or two.

    And you're dead on - there are other factors such as thickness (e.g., is it just a decorative veneer?), grain, runout, drying, etc.....but you have to trust the luthier.