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What's in the wood?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by McHack, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    OK, we've all heard the Warwick ad campaign, "It's all in the wood". It's a well known fact, that some instruments sound better than others, largely due to the type & quality of wood used in the instrument. As a result, there's ALOT of different materials used in the various basses made today.

    Well, this has me wondering something... Specifically, about the G&L Tribute's. There's 3 different trim levels available, STANDARD, PLUS & PREMIUM. Standard & Plus, use BASSWOOD. PREMIUM uses SWAMP ASH. I know Swamp Ash is better for building basses. But, how much better than Basswood.

    I ask this, because I really don't like any of the PREMIUM finishes avail in the G&L Tribute line, & I can't buy a bass I hate looking at, to get the better quality wood. (I guess CherryBurst isn't THAT bad, but still!) Additionally, MTD Kingston's use Basswood. Lakland uses Swamp Ash in all thier 55-01's.

    Point blank, am I losing alot in sound quality, by accepting Basswood, over Swamp Ash?
  2. CDuff


    Sep 14, 2002


    If was getting my dream bass for free, I would have all kinds of crazy exotic woods but in reality I don't think it's important.

    Only a bassist with a RIDICULOUSLY well-trained ear could have a chance of telling wood from wood just from listening to you playing with a band.
    But, here's the crux of my rant:

    do you honestly expect people to come to you after a gig and say "wow! that was great! you're so tight and those are some wicked basslines...pity you're obviously playing a bass made with Basswood and not American Swamp Ash"
    If you're happy to play a Basswood bass,everybody else will be happy to listen to it.
  3. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    i wouldnt know about all the good wood= good sound stuff yet, but ill be looking it up (for myself)

    about the finishs on the swamp ash's if you save up abit more money you can always get a costome finish..... just something to think about if you fall in love with one of the swamp ash's
  4. stuie86


    May 9, 2003
    mckinney, tx
    this is also very true
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I don't think that basswood is a poor quality wood. For one, it has a very tight grain and takes lacquer finishes well.

    I also disagree that swamp ash is better for building basses. I would say it is pretty dependent on what sound you are after.

    I wouldn't be worried about whether the body is basswood or ash, I would be worried about what the sound difference is between the basses. If you don't like the sound of the basswood body, and you like the ash one, or vice versa, then you will know what to do.

  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I would be worried about the sound quality of basswood, if the bass had iffy electronics. Like an Ibanez Soundgear, or some other low end basswood bass.

    But the G&L Tribute has the USA electronics. They are going to contribute far more to the sound of the bass than the difference between swamp ash and basswood will. IMHO.
  7. steve-o

    steve-o Guest

    Apr 17, 2002
    its not that you losing sound quality..its just a different sound....quality to a point is in the ears and hands...my mtd 535 has a popular body..mim fenders used popular as a body wood..does this means it is poor quality...NO!!!

    this mtd is amazing!!!

  8. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Nope! Swamp ash tends to be light, it's hard and can be brite sounding. Basswood is a softer wood. A bit mellower sounding. Basswood isn't all that heavy either.

    I have a basswood Tele that is killer. A very sweet sounding Tele. Also a Northern Ash Tele - very spanky sounding. Your picking has to be dead right on that one because everything you do is very noticible.

    Biggest detriment to Basswood is the softness I think. The stuff can dent. Not really a problem for me as I take care of my gear and also as I don't mind the ocaisional nick or dent.

    Bottom line on your choice. Play 'em! see which you like from a comfort, sound and then appearance standpoint. I haven't played one of the Tributes but everything else I have owned or played from G'n'L has shown top notch build quality. I'm guessing the Tribute's will as well.

    Fact of the matter is that for the most part basses in the price range we are talking about aren't lifetime instruments. You're buying it not marrying it. Sure we want as good as we can get for the bucks we lay down, but at these prices we can afford a re-fin down the road sometime if we really don't like the looks ... it's not like you're going to devalue a 60's stock P Bass - know what I mean ?
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    No - It depends on the raw material and how the wood is dried/treated.

    For instance, I'd rather have a body made with a fine piece of Indian Palisander than a junk piece of Swamp Ash.
  10. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Of course not, I could care less what anyone else thinks of my choices. I was merely trying to find out how relevant the wood REALLY is, in hopes of that knowledge would make my decision a little easier!

    Thx for everyone's input.
  11. CDuff


    Sep 14, 2002
    okay, after re-reading my post I realise I might have come across as a bit cynical.
    All I'm getting at is that I think you should go for the Basswood one.
  12. I don't think it's a question of quality. It's just that they have different sounds. Swamp Ash is tighter, punchier, while basswood is deeper and bassier. That's because basswood is softer than Ash, which is pretty hard. No matter what woods are used where on the bass, keep this in mind, for example, fingerboard woods. So if you want a nice deep sound, basswood is just that.

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