Why Basswood Hate?

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

  1. My MIJITSO 50’s style P Bass has a basswood body. I’ve had New York studio players physically hug it and try to buy it from me. Nicks and dings? Who cares!
  2. I had made to order Musicman bongo 5 with some unique features years back, ordered through my local mom and pop shop thinking it would be more like a 24 fret stingray, but I wasn’t a fan. Played one gig with it and sold it. Luckily, probably because I ordered a finish with a pickup configuration that was not available as a production model, I was able to get money money back on the sale. So yeah that’s how much I disliked it. I waited maybe 4-6 months to get the bass and it was listed for sale within two weeks. Had it been a production model I would have returned it. Every other basswood bass I’ve tried was fairly cheap so I guess you could blame cheap electronics or something but I’ve yet to play a single bass with a basswood body that I really liked. So sure I’ve probably associated basswood as something I don’t want in my basses. I admit won’t buy a bass online if I see it has a basswood body, although when I try new basses in stores I’m not sitting there with my cell phone looking up what kind of wood it’s made out of so there’s still a chance I may own another one.
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Agree. It does seem to be a pretty strong emotion to waste on a hunk of wood doesn't it? ;)
    LowActionHero likes this.
  4. I'm not concerned with dings, it's like it's relic'ing itself, so it's Increasing it own value?? o_O

    As long as the screws hold (I just preordered my first kit)
  5. Waytootrue


    Jan 19, 2018
    I've heard a lot about basswood being very soft, I haven't gotten any dings in my basswood instrument, but it is one heavy bass. Ash or Alder would be lighter and more durable.
  6. pudgychef

    pudgychef In Memoriam

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    Love my Bongo! Really liked the CV Squiers I had as well (basswood for the most part - think there was a version of the 50s P in pine)
    lowdownthump likes this.
  7. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    My Dean Edge Pro has a basswood body with a quilted maple top. 12 years old and no dings. My favorite 4 string bass.

    I used to dismiss basswood because I noticed it was primarily used on low quality instruments. So I just associated the two in my head. Still do to some extent.
    UNICORN BASS likes this.
  8. Love it, slightly bassier than alder, but the lightweight makes up for many things.
    Rezdog and JeffJ2112 like this.
  9. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    AZ, USA
    When a wood is called the basswood, it is meant for the bass.
    JeffJ2112 and Swerve like this.
  10. Any wood will get dings, I scored a wenge fretboard blank with my thumb just to prove that. My basswood basses are holding up better than some of the others.
    Never understand the basswood mentality of some on TB, its the wood of choice on many $3000 Suhr, Tom Anderson and high end Ibanez guitars .
    PsyDocHill likes this.
  11. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    EdO., edro, kodiakblair and 1 other person like this.
  12. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Inactive

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    Heck, nothing wrong with basswood! If you want REAL crap, agathis all the way!
  13. Tooned


    Sep 14, 2006
    South Surrey BC
    I like the dings and dents.
    I have a Squier Matt Freeman and it's got a basswood body. It's great overall despite the soft basswood.
    I think the glue option is best for the stripped screw issue.
    lowdownthump likes this.
  14. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    I dislike basswood bodied instruments because of the lack of weight in the body, meaning that it won't balance well when played standing up & using a strap. This usually means that it's a recipe for an instrument with chronic neck dive.

    Never again.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  15. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    Balance has little to do with weight but more to do with weight distribution. if your basswood body doesn't balance, look at your upper horn strap button position or the weight of your headstock. Cheap tuners are usually to blame with an over weight headstock.

    I have one bass with a basswood body, it's a SX six string. No issues with the body wood. Sonically, it's good. The balance is a bit off due to the big ol' headstock and when I've got some funds I'll throw a set of Hipshot ultralites at it.
    The body is a lot lighter than other tone woods, so i'm thankful of that. But it's an inherently heavy bass due to the fact that it's a 6 string jazz variant and it's not a bass shape designed to be a 6 string. It's a 4 string shape that's been stretched into a 6.

    The argument for dings and weakness of basswood should also be applied to the lightest cuts of swamp ash. That stuff is as dingable as balsa wood. Way way more fragile than basswood. Tonally, in the same ball park but maybe a little lighter in weight. But still very comparable. It's dull to look at, so it's great to paint over, which forces the use of fancy paint options, although it will probably need thicker coats. Like swamp ash, it's easy to carve and machine, it's easy on the bladed tools like routers. So in a mass production environment, your cutter life is extended too (compared to mahogany or maple).

    Personally, I think that bassists suspicions over basswood are related to the simple fact that Leo Fender didn't use it and that it was used fairly late in the evolution of basses. It was also introduced as a cheap and light substitute wood in the cheaper end of the market so it's earned a stigma which is probably unfair and unjustified. If fender had adopted it as a 3rd tone wood option...we would all have lots of basses with it.
  16. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    That particular one's long gone... Though I have had some others over the years that had the same body shape, but different body wood, and they balanced beautifully. The only difference between them was the body wood used.
  17. LanEvo

    LanEvo Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2008
    In the ‘80s we saw basswood mostly on “import” guitars. The American-made Fenders, Gibsons, Hamers, etc etc. we all wanted were made of alder, ash, or mahogany. For people about my age (40s) I think basswood became associated with cheapness.
    lowdownthump and ajkula66 like this.
  18. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    Personally, I think the hate comes from a deep seated desire to pronounce basswood like the instrument, but knowing it’s pronounced like the fish, and then experiencing cognitive dissonance.
  19. Wfrance3

    Wfrance3 Supporting Member

    May 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I have two “Agathis” basses. From what I have read, it’s basically basswood. How can you not want a bass made of basswood?
  20. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Basswood does ding easier in my experience but the tone and weight are worth it.
  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.

    Jul 25, 2021

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