Why Basswood Hate?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JeffJ2112, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. JeffJ2112


    Apr 17, 2016
    Nowhere Indiana
    A lotta people seem to dislike basswood. It's light, gives great mids, inexpensive(which is my theory on the hate). Some good and great basses are made of it. The MM Bongo comes to mind.

    Why do you hate/like/love/whatever it?
    lowdownthump and pudgychef like this.
  2. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    None of the instruments I’ve been interested in over the years have been made of basswood, simply, so there’s that.
    I’m wary of the durability of basswood bodies, personally- I have a friend who once owned an electric guitar made of the stuff (an Ibanez something or other) and it was a ding magnet!
    Not that I’m one for keeping my basses in pristine condition, just OK with sticking with the standard ash/alder/mahogany tonewoods I’m accustomed to.
    TN WOODMAN, Badwater, Atshen and 2 others like this.
  3. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    I believe my MIJ Jazz bass specials are basswood and they've survived 30 years of bedroom, jams and gigs with no problem. I dig them.
  4. fretno

    fretno Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Los Angeles
    It's perfectly fine and great for instruments , I would much rather have that over say plywood but for me I find it less focused in the lows and less punchy then say Alder or Ash and a few others. So it's usually last on my list .Other than that maybe it's softer and dents easier but no biggie there either really .I'm an Alder guy . I know what the bass will sound like and that is what I go for 9 out of 10 times . I like Ash too but it's weight is all over the map and it can be a little crisp on the top end but nothing that can't be eq'd . IMO of course
    chuck65 and 1SmartJosh like this.
  5. TuneSalad666

    TuneSalad666 Inactive

    Mar 1, 2018
    Nothing's wrong with basswood.

    It's an excellent tonewood.

    However it is relatively soft and therefor dings more easily and paired with the fact that it's a relatively cheap wood as well I guess it gives some the impression that it's a lesser type of wood, which I guess is why it doesn't have the best reputation among the general guitar and bass public.

    I don't really have enough experience with different types of woods myself to be able to say anything profound about what I personally like about it compared to other wood types, but as you said basswood is known for having rather pronounced mids, and as I happen to prefer a mid heavy sound, I am all for it.

    Go basswood!
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  6. Rezdog

    Rezdog Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    T.Rez, Canada/Motown
    Greetings from the North,

    Sonically I'm fine with basswood. As far as dings I'm pretty careful with my instruments and its never been an issue.

  7. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Does anyone really "hate" basswood?
  8. AnalogKid4003


    Jul 8, 2012
    I don't hate it but I think alder ages and sounds much better.
    Basswood is too mid heavy for me and I never scoop my mids.
    Good day sir
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  9. It's soft and unattractive to the eye, but finished appropriately it makes for a fine instrument.
    M.R. Ogle, Big Shrek and Atshen like this.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah I think the ease with which it dings turns some people off. The only other thing I can think of is the possible stigma attached to the "lower end" basses made of basswood.

    To me, wood is just part of the picture. I like or dislike whole basses. There is no one aspect (other than narrow string spacing) that is a deal breaker for me. If the whole bass plays and sounds great, no one part of its construction, including the sticker on the head, will sway me from playing it. And only price could deter me from buying it.
  11. cmcbass

    cmcbass Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2018
    I don't mind basswood for instruments. I certainly wouldn't want furniture made out of it though.
    There are also plenty of woods around the same price as basswood. Ash isnt much more expensive, and alder is pretty cheap. Alder is soft also. Not as soft as basswood, but you can still dig your fingernail into it.
  12. My biggest beef with it is that it’s soft and screws tend to strip out very easily.
  13. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    What's wrong with basswood?
    It's just not walnut.
    Or koa....
    Or ovangkol....
    Or bubinga....
    Or mahogany....
    Or cocobolo.....or...
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    Big Shrek, jamro217, n1as and 5 others like this.
  14. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002

    My only experience with basswood was a Peavey Axcelerator 5; which was on the face of it a very nice bass. Light. Resonant. Very comfortable. Everything you could want. Except the screws started stripping out. That was the end of basswood for me. No thanks.
  15. AM Reflection

    AM Reflection

    Oct 10, 2016
    The softness criticism is valid. Never had a problem with that myself though and I suspect most people never do.

    I think the dislike stems from the association with cheap instruments. Also, the fact that it wasn't the original wood used on (insert vintage instrument).
    Big Shrek, jamro217, dmt and 2 others like this.
  16. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    I believe Basswood has a fairly even tone, and doesn’t have pronounced mids. But, whatever...it sounds how it sounds.

    I think if you tend to leave your instruments stock, Basswood is probably fine. If you like to tinker and make mods (like me), those screw holes start to wear, and then you have to start making repairs. Basswood is just a little too soft for me, but I don’t hate it.
    Big Shrek and EagleMoon like this.
  17. BassholeKI


    Feb 10, 2017
    I don't mind basswood in the one bass I have made from it.

    Its soft, and the paint seems to come off with a slight breeze, but doesn't seem any softer than royal pawlonia.

    And the only screws I'd that concerned with are the strap buttons. When I put on the buttons for my strap locks, I used a toothpick and some wood glue in the hole. Screwed it in wet, so when it dried it was tight.
    EdO. likes this.
  18. nerkoids


    Jan 3, 2014
    I've had basswood guitars and basses. I've even had some bodies that were fairly ding resistant. Probably because it might have been properly dried or something. Also having some poly finish helps too.
  19. RobTheRiot


    Aug 31, 2016
    las Vegas, nv
    A little off topic, but thanks to this thread I went to google to find out a little more about basswood.

    Interesting read, as the tree seems to have a lot of beneficial components to it, even medicinal value from flowers & leaves.

    Not on point, but an interesting read if anyone is interested...
    Tilia americana - Wikipedia
  20. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    South Bend, Indiana
    ^THIS^ pretty much sums it up for me. I do have 2 basses - and a baritone guitar - with basswood bodies. They're all reasonably nice, and sound... quite good, to be honest. But, I don't like always having to be aware of how easy they are to ding and dent up; and I try very hard never to mess with any of their screws. Yes, basswood is a good "tone wood" - if how it sounds is the only criteria. But, a bass/guitar body is also structural; I'm not real thrilled about having an instrument made out of a wood that, and I quote from The Wood Database, "does not hold screws well"....:)
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 17, 2021

Share This Page