Which is more versitile: Ash, alder, maple, rosewood

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by B String, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Well OK, I was speaking generally and this is a specific situation. Honestly, I don't hear a difference in versatility between the woods you named or any other. The tone of a bass is mostly determined by pickups, pickup placement, and electronics. Therefore, it's probably best to get a dual-pickup bass with neutral sounding pickups, and a quiet onboard EQ. That, or have your bass modified with the famous Lee Sklar "producer switch" ** ;)

    ** (a switch that actually does nothing at all; you just flip it when the producer says he wants a different tone!)
  2. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    In active eq systems, the bass's tone woods are not as crucial in determining tone. They simply dictate how much of what frequency you can boost/cut. I would make sure I had a good, dense body with brighter sounding woods on the neck/fingerboard, that way I can dial in pretty much whatever tone I want with a good active tone circuit. Having said that, I'm pretty sure that the alder body with the maple neck and rosewood fingerboard has appeared, on both bass and guitar, on more albums than any other combo. I think it'd be pretty hard to go wrong that way.
  3. my favorite combo at the moment is alder body with maple board. I had that on a Benevente Vortex and it sounded really nice. I could get the round mids with the alder, but it seemed to sound more open with the maple board for the slap thing.
  4. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004
    I am still not convinced body wood or fretboard has nearly as much impact on tone as electronics. That said, I prefer the look and feel of ash, and I like maple fretboards over rosewood.
  5. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Just found out that the Fender am dlx 5, comes in an ash
    body, (light weight) with a rosewood board. This could be
    a great combo. It just depends on the magic of that bass.
    Fenders can be real up and down. The good ones are great.
  6. rusty


    Mar 29, 2004
    I think versatility comes from the skill of the players... that being said, I love the alder/rosewood combo :) I've played 2 basses with maple fretboards (fbass and reverend) and could never really get used to it. Perhaps it's just me :p
  7. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    Why does everyone keep saying that!!! In my experience, it's just not true. I've played plenty of Am. Dlx jazzes, and the different fretboard woods and body woods make a huge tone difference. If anyone doubts this, just go down to your gc and pick up a maple Am. Dlx. and a rosewood Am. Dlx. They sound very diffent. So let's stop all this tonewoods don't matter in active basses bull-honkery.
  8. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Would somebody please call Mike Tobias, and tell him that
    everything he knows about building basses is wrong. The
    fact that he uses the same electronics in all his basses, but
    they all sound different is just an illusion. I realize that we
    are talking about sometimes subtle differences here, but its
    the difference between being inspired by your sound, and
    just "playing" a bass.
  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I think alder is probably the most even-toned of body woods. It doesn't sound overly bright or dark in the way, say, ash or mahogany sound, respectively.
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I don't believe anyone said that the wood doesn't have an effect on tone. The point being made is that wood has far less of an effect than pickups and electronics.

    Sure, when the electronics stay the same, the difference in the wood can be heard. (Note also that two MTD basses made of the same wood will probably still sound different to a certain degree). Likewise, if the bass stays the same but the electronics change, the difference will also be noticed... moreso than the difference in woods.

    Example: an MTD with, say, a single EMG split-coil P pickup will sound radically different from the usual MTD sound. OTOH, the differences between, say, tulipwood/wenge/bart and ash/ash/bart will be subtle in comparison.

    Think of it this way: is it easier to tell the difference between:
    1) A P-bass with ash body and a P-bass with alder body
    2) A J-bass with ash body and a J-bass with alder body
    3) A P-bass (any wood) and a J-bass (any wood)
  11. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    OH MY GOD! Keith Horne is INCREDIBLE! Who is he and where did he come from? WOW! Thanks! I'm gonna go woodshed!
  12. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Nashville session cat, grew up with (I think) Victor, James Genus, Oteil, etc.. Gigs with the Wooten Brothers, or used to. Yes, he's a total bad [email protected]#.
  13. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    IME the Ash/rosewood is the most versatile.. sitting well in most mixes. I have a '77 jazz bass with this combo and it works well with everything. I also have a'78 with maple/ash and it a great sound, but can be a little bright in some situations. I also like the alder body and maple neck because you get a deep fundamental sound with more detailed attacks. I think maple fingerboards give you more attack, while rosewood tends to be less harsh for lack of a better term. As a result, I think rosewood will work better in more situations and with the ash body you can't go wrong.

    my $.02
  14. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN

    Yes pickups have an effect on sound, that's obvious. But the question stated that the player wanted J type pickups. So that narrows things down quite a bit. And the original question was about wood choices. Therefore ash/maple jazz does not equal alder/rosewood jazz, regardless of the pickups/pre.

    My response was in regard to someone implying that two different basses with the same active-pre would sound more or less the same. But, IME two different basses with same active electronics will sound just as different as those two basses with passive setups.

    Bottom line: A rosewood board isn't going to "ping" like a maple board when you slap, regardless of how much tweaking you do to the eq.

    (sorry about hijacking this thread over an electronics debate :bag: )
  15. B String

    B String Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Sorry to be so combative. I'm just in a mood. I'm really quite
    thankfull for all the opinions. It would seem that the ash/
    rosewood combo is the thing. Its hard to tell from the Fender
    web site which color has that combo. Of course I can't find
    ANY stores in LA that have an am dlx V in stock, to even
    see how the necks feel. No Sadowsky, one Lakland. I can go
    to Pheonix and find piles of good five string basses. oops....
    see? I must just be in a bad mood. sorry...
  16. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Don't rule out Alder/Maple combo.
  17. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Geddy Lee jazz, Mmmm :D
  18. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    Yep, and John Billings (another Nashville guy). Keith and I got to be friends while I was living in Nashville for 4 years. Great player, and one of the nicest most humble guys you'll ever meet. He actually used to be in Secrets, the fusion band that Carter Beauford and Tim Reynolds played in. Carter actually called Keith to try and convince him to move back to Charlottesville shortly after he went to Nashvegas... why? To play bass with him in this band Carter had just joined with a 16 year old bass player :eek: I wonder how that would have changed things!

    The craziest thing is that he plays right-handed basses left handed like Jimmy Haslip. He can go to town on guitar as well; one night at the Wootens he and Reggie swapped instruments and he did a solo that was ridiculous. Ok, enough Keith Horne trivia. . .
  19. gruuv


    Jan 23, 2004
    To further confound things, are you talking northern or swamp ash? The 70's era Fenders were northern while Lakland, Sadowsky, etc... generally use swamp I believe. The tonal difference is significant (electronics not withstanding ;) ). From a post Roger made over in another thread on the new Metro 70's series I guess he's going to use northern ash for those. It is MUCH heavier than swamp. . .
  20. I have a similar MIM Jazz Bass set up. Pao Ferro, Alder, US Active Pickups, and Dr Hi Beams leave me satisfied with the slap tone.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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