Why Basswood Hate?

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


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  1. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Didn't even want to waste my time looking at all the posts - I've made a number of custom basses using basswood for the bodies and they are all light, they worked well, they finished well, and the all sound great. Get over the ignorant wood elitism already.
     
    Hoyt, kodiakblair, dralionux and 5 others like this.
  2. blue4

    blue4

    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    I won't call it hate, more a preference. I don't buy into the tone wood theories, I get far better results using strings I like or amp settings or pickups. Any major tone differences due to wood come from the neck, not the body IMO. My basswood "hate" comes from a lack of durability IME. I get that there are high end basses made of basswood and that others have no problems. Many people have good luck with Chryslers too, but unfortunately I'm not one of them so I don't buy them. Same with basswood. Stripped screws, dents, etc. I've had those issues before so I avoid bodies made of basswood. I'd have to really want a particular design to buy another basswood bass.
     
    MovinTarget likes this.
  3. UNICORN BASS

    UNICORN BASS

    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    +1 blue4!
     
  4. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

    This ^^^
     
  5. B-Mac

    B-Mac Just like Aretha Sang... R-E-S-P-E-C-T Supporting Member

    Grabbed this from another site:

    Here's the findings:

    from sweetwater.com -

    Basswood Basswood is light, stiff, and stable, which makes it particularly effective for necks and bass instruments thanks to its excellent low-end response.

    from jemsite.com -

    Basswood:
    Basswood is a soft wood with tight grains. Its relatively inexpensive of all the usual guitar woods, and it’s easy on router bits in the factory, easy to sand, and easy to seal and finish. The softness of basswood means that sharp highs are dampened and smoothened. That helps offset the tinny sound associated with knife edged tremolo contacts. The softness also fosters a weaker low end. It’s light in weight, but not because of large pores. Rather it’s low in mass overall. Deep, breathy sub-lows aren’t resonated in Basswood. The reduction in these outer frequencies leaves the mids pronounced in a hypothetical response curve. Its very suitable for the typical guitar range, and very suitable for lead guitar, because of its pronounced “out front” sound. Complex overtones are muted along with the highs leaving a strong fundamental tone.

    from andersonguitars.com -

    Basswood
    Pronounced bass like the fish. This wood gained popularity in the 80s and for a time was probably the most used wood for locking tremolo guitars. It is very light weight and produces a fairly even and full mid-range response throughout the entire band width. Many people feel it is extremely well matched with humbucking pickups because it produces a lot of the same frequencies that humbuckers easily reproduce. This is not to say that single coil tones aren't great as well. Toward the end of the late 80s, a few other species of woods were mistakenly thought to be basswood and this seemed to lead to a decline in basswood's popularity. However, true basswood does produce a very pleasing midrange tone and is the only type of basswood used here at Tom Anderson Guitarworks. Ifs natural color is light blonde to of white with little to no discernible grain. For this reason, an opaque paint color is usually chosen for a solid basswood body.

    from mijguitar.com -

    Although Basswood is often thought of as being inferior to Alder and Ash, it is really a matter of personal taste. Yngwie Malmsteen prefers it and it's used in his Fender Japan Signature Stratocaster which retails for $1,685.00.

    from kellyindustries.com -

    Basswood - A light weight wood similar to Alder. Many of the Squier Strats and Teles are made with Basswood. It has a bright tone with good attack and is easy to work with.

    from bothner.co.za -

    Basswood
    This gives it a pronounced midrange fundamental frequency response. Unlike Ash and alder, the tonal response is not particularly complex and the dynamic range is relatively limited. The reduced and smoother high end response helps offset the treble accentuation of floating tremolos and locking nuts. All together, this gives it an "up-front" tone, suitable for Metal and Rock music styles as well as for distorted lead tones, while clean sounds tend to be more sterile, somewhat lacking in character.

    from warmoth.com -

    Sound-wise, Basswood has a nice, growley, warm tone with good mids.

    from audio-pro-central.com -

    Basswood
    Of course, it has some favorable tonal properties. It tends to have an almost hollow reverberation while resonating, and gives off a deep, smooth tone.

    from ratcliffe.co.za -

    Basswood
    The softness of the Basswood attenuates both the high and extreme low frequencies. This gives it a pronounced midrange fundamental frequency response. Unlike Ash and alder, the tonal response is not particularly complex and the dynamic range is relatively limited. The reduced and smoother high end response helps offset the treble accentuation of floating tremolos and locking nuts. All together, this gives it an "up-front" tone, suitable for Metal and Rock music styles as well as for distorted lead tones, while clean sounds tend to be more sterile, somewhat lacking in character.

    I believe it is used because it is light, less expensive, plentiful and helps with balancing basses that previously had neck dive when made with other woods like Ash or Alder. You'll see basswood used on 'wings' of neck through basses. It is soft and dings very easily. Personally, as a tone wood, I don't believe that it resonates all that well. It also seems to be used on lower line model basses, but not always.

    A co-worker uses it for his wood carvings.
     
    5StringPocket likes this.
  6. I'm picky... I demand a good wood consistent in grain, mass, and weight, throughout the entire blank.

    I don't much give a damn WHAT wood.

    I also do not buy off on so-called 'magic tone woods'....

    Some adjectives are funny...and meaningless...

    Kind of hard to argue with an old Leo....or an old flat slab P90 Lester.... or an old slab cheap brown Westbury (Uncle Mat?) dbl cutaway that is one of the best sounding guitars I've heard... All those tone woods....Wait... Hmmmm... No high quality magic pixie dust infused wood grown only in the garden of eden..... Slabs. Slabs of whatever wood was laying around to cut a slab out of... Yet....
    A bud has an old Teisco that will blow your mind...it has a genuine steel reinforced neck too...says so right on it... ;)
     
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    what it looks like = 0
    what it plays like = priceless

    i'm so over what an instrument looks like, and so into what it plays like = wood type just doesn't matter. being an old player who still cranks out 3 and 4 hour gigs: i just want the instrument to be comfortable. basswood can contribute to comfort. dings? big whup.

    of course, i could be wrong. :D
     
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  8. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    There's bass players, and there's bass collectors/those who fetishize. Luckily there's an overabundance of basses for everyone.
     
    MovinTarget, BillMason and JRA like this.
  9. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I really enjoy basswood on P type basses, except for strap pin screws stripping often. Overall, though, I find the consistant lightweight appealing and I like the way they resonate,' sound' .To me it feels like I imagine a lightweight alder felt in the 60s , but dings more easily.
     
  10. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  11. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Koa's on the opposite side of the spectrum from basswood - it's more like ebony in denseness/hardness and if a body is made of solid Koa - it's heavy, which is why it's mostly used as a laminate.

    Even w/o a hs and having a thin (1-1/4") body - my solid Koa Factorbird weighs 9lbs/6oz - no neck diving on this bird. ;) Koa also provides a much darker tone than basswood.
    fullsizeoutput_d86.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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  12. JIO

    JIO Connery... Sean Connery Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I do agree that basswood is soft and is prone to denting - I operate in a fact-based world. ;) But as far as screws not holding, I can say from my own experience building multiple basses using it - I have not had screws looking for the exits and as of this date years after producing/playing them they are all in exactly the same place as when I screwed them in - including strap-peg screws. I can imagine if for whatever reason screws were regularly unscrewed and re-screwed there could be a problem with them staying put. Or if the pilot hole was drilled too big to begin with. In other applications, (other than for a bass guitar) basswoods use may not be able to tolerate screws doing what they are meant to do, but as a lightweight good sounding wood for bass guitar bodies - it's a successful solution.

    The denting issue, much like T-bird neck diving, is exaggerated and is an issue mostly for perfectionists who want their bass to look pristine forever. I have a couple such examples, and enjoy them as nice as they can be, but as they get playing wear - that's ok with me. This of course is an owners prerogative, the maintaining of perfect instruments, and so be it - if that floats your boat. But a dent or a ding or heavens forbid, a scratch - does not stop a player from playing.

    alder with Fullerplast and nitro - played and beautiful
    fullsizeoutput_6ce.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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  13. 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.

     
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