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Wood Weights

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SnakeAnthony, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. Simple question. When used on something like a Fender Jazz, what is the lighter wood, Alder or Swamp Ash?
  2. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    Alder is probably the lightest wood used on musical instruments.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    paulownia(sometimes called Dragon wood) is lighter that alder.
  4. Dugz Ink

    Dugz Ink

    Oct 23, 2005
    Alder is typically lighter than Ash... but not as light as Balsa.

    Keep in mind that extremely light woods don't have a dense grain.

    Dense grain helps to stiffen the wood. Stiff wood helps to return energy to the strings. Returning energy to the strings has an impact on the resonance of the strings. The resonance of the strings affects the signals that are generated by the pickups.

    There are a few exceptions; woods that are relatively light AND have good "tone" qualities due to their ability to return energy to the strings. Alder is one of those woods.

    Balsa would probably suck the life out of your strings.

    (I'm just using that as an example.)
  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Especially swamp ash varies a lot between pieces, due to wher in the trunk it is taken, and where it has grown.
    Alder also varies, though within more reasonable limits.

    You'll need to feel or measure the weight of the plank you intend to get.
  6. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Basswood also is very light and is used in basses. For example the Fender "sting" bass.
  7. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Swamp ash varies greatly from piece to piece as swamp ash does not refer to a specific species. Swamp ash is southern US ash graded and selected for weight. Some pieces are stupidly lightweight. Alder is much more consistent board for board.

    Specific gravity of alder is .53 on average.
    White or green ash .66 on average.
    Black ash .56 on average.

    Swamp ash is generally unusually light weight black ash.