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Wood weight: Basswood vs Ash vs Adler vs Agathis.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by telepbrman, May 30, 2008.

  1. telepbrman


    Dec 11, 2007
    If I had a P-bass body made out of the 4 different woods mentioned, which one would be the lightest in weight? A basswood, or Ash, or Adler, or Agathis body? There is a new Squier P being made and the info says it's of basswood. I've a Squier P made of Agathis and it's 8.5 pounds, and I'm still looking for a lighter bass, so...do you think the basswood one would be lighter? Thanks, dy.
  2. keep in mind, there is variation among all species...

    given that...I can't attest to ash...but I do have experience with the other 3...basswood is pretty light, alder & agathis are similar, with alder being a bit denser...agathis is similar to mahogany in density...

    I currently have one agathis bass, one mahogany, one alder, & an alder strat-like guitar...
  3. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    I would say basswood.
  4. telepbrman


    Dec 11, 2007
    I work nights here in the USA, and I always love to hear from across the pond, I post my question at like 2 am my time, and get info...thanks for the input you two, dy.
  5. WOW U R saying Agathis is the HEAVIEST outta these. When ever I've picked up agathis basses-they ALWAYS seemed SUPER LIGHT!!! Maybe it was the 'quality' elecs.! ;-)
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
  7. Mr. Majestic

    Mr. Majestic Majestic Wood Supply Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    From Louisiana/In Arkansas
    Majestic Swamp Ash
    I think ash could be the heaviest and the lightest weight body. It has extreme weight variances. I have never dealt with any agathis, but plenty of basswood and alder. Other woods that are sometimes fairly light are poplar, pawlonia/paulonia, mahogany, spanish cedar, and on and on.
  8. Basswood has gotten kind of a bad rep as a 'cheap' wood mostly because of speculators and bull-crap-talkers. Basswood is an incredibly good wood to use as a body (name calling aside!). Sure, it's relatively inexpensive, but so is alder and ash too for that matter. I wouldn't hesitate to use basswood on even the most expensive bass one bit. As a matter of fact, I've been slowly trying to steer my customers towards it, but one man's truth can't fight thousands of speculators.
  9. I would say that alder, basswood and poplar have been consistently lighter than other woods, I find basswood to be the lightest in most cases! Ash vary a lot, the "swamp ash" as described by Warmoth have been pretty light, my Fender ash body is slightly heavier than your average alder Fender body, and I had a Les Paul guitar once, the standard with the cherry burst in mahogany, it felt like you strapped a cinder block to your neck, so I have yet to see light mahogany...
  10. SDB Guitars

    SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    My new favorite wood for weight considerations is Spanish cedar (cedrela... which is, in fact, neither Spanish, nor cedar... lol). It's light-weight, works a lot like mahogany (*looks* a lot like mahogany, too... smells and tastes TERRIBLE, though), and is pretty to look at.

    It's REALLY soft, though.
  11. envika


    Nov 27, 2007
    Bronx, NY

    but yeah my dad has a spare guitar body lying around made of lacewood and spanish cedar. it smells funky.

    oh btw, basswood is probably the lightest out of the four, and i'm guessing ash would be the heaviest. i'd build it out of alder, probably, although agathis is my favorite "dirt cheap wood", except maybe for nato.
  12. I don't find alder lighter than basswood, or agathis...I do find that it is a little lighter than mahogany...although the alder on my Pacifica guitar is a little less dense than the alder on my P-bass...
  13. Jonsbasses


    Oct 21, 2006
    Fort Worth, TX
    Builder: Jon's Basses
    Yep. I'm allergic to Spanish Cedar and I immediately get the taste of it stuck in my mouth just being around it, the smell of the wood is incredibly strong. An excellent choice for body wood none-the-less.
  14. Mr. Majestic

    Mr. Majestic Majestic Wood Supply Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    From Louisiana/In Arkansas
    Majestic Swamp Ash
    Basswood is listed as weighing 2.2 lbs per bd.ft. one place and 2.6 lbs. per bd.ft another. I am sure there are variances, in weight, similar to other species, but....I have had plenty of ash that weighs in around 1.65 lbs. per bd.ft and have had a few pieces of Northern ash that weighs around 3.75. I have not seen basswood that light or that heavy. I have had spanish cedar that weighed around 1.35 and some that weighed up to 3.25. I have never seen alder that low, but have I have seen mahogany that light.

    We have used tons of spanish cedar in the past ten years, because it is very resistant to the elements. We use it mainly for building entrance doors and windows and once built a 40 foot, 3 1/4 thick bar top out of it. It is a nasty tasting wood, kind of tastes like chewing up an asprin.
  15. no1likesme


    Dec 26, 2006
    Shepherd, MI
    use balsa