Western Maple vs. Swamp Ash for Body Core

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Saint, Aug 5, 2003.

  1. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Luthier Friends,

    I'm building a new 4-string with a graphite neck, but I need some help to pick out the core wood for the body. Either way, the top will be flame maple.

    So what are the sonic differences between Swamp Ash and Western Maple and how pronounced are the differences?

    Thanks much.
  2. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I'm certainly not among the wood experts at TB, but here's an idea of the tonal characteristics of some common woods.


    As you can see, swamp ash is warmer than maple, which may be preferable in combination with the graphite neck. Swamp ash is also known to have some high-end snap, but not as much as maple.
  3. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Thanks Conical. That's very helpful. In fact, both your chart and your suggestion re: the graphite have got me thinking about the middle of the chart and a wood I hadn't considered: alder.

    Any thoughts on the choice between Swamp Ash-Alder-Maple? Anyone else?
  4. All-maple bodies can be very heavy. Southern Swamp ash is relatively lightweight.
  5. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    What about Swamp Ash vs. Alder. This seems to be a common decision. Modulus uses alder with their graphite necks for the Quantum series. I've not heard a swamp ash graphite combo. Any thoughts?
  6. brandinstroy


    Feb 21, 2001
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I Support the following: Fodera, Noble Amps, JHAudio, Trickfish Amplification
    A swamp ash graphite combo = ZON

    Take a look at ZON basses. They normaly use this combination.
  7. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    I have a Zon Sonus Special 5 string. It has an ash body with a bubinga top and special multi coil pickups to enhance low mids. I absolutely love the sound of this bass. It has a classic J bass sound but more refined, better clarity, no dead spots, very punchy, and plenty warm despite some people who think graphite lacks warmth. The Zon fingerboards are also different than Modulus. I believe modulus is a composite similar to the neck. The Zon actually has a wood impregneted with resin fingerboard. I think I remember reading that it's birch. Obviously the resin makes it harder than any wood. Sounds great. I can't wait to get a fretless one too!