Basswood better than Alder???

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by WildHawk, Nov 30, 2005.


  1. WildHawk

    WildHawk Member

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  2. Mush

    Mush Member

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    I'd likw to know because the MusicMan JP6 uses basswood too. I read somewhere that basswood was not so good. I wonder now ?!

    Mush
     
  3. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    The only thing wrong with basswood is that it's not at all pretty, as a result it's usually covered with a solid paint job. Tonally it's a very effective wood. It's been used by some very fine builders, often in conjunction with a more attractive top.

    Tonally it tends to be quite neutral which makes it a good choice for driving a complex rig with a lot of effects. Whether it's a better or worse wood than alder depends largely on the application and the design of the instrument.
     
  4. 1-Take-Wonder

    1-Take-Wonder Member

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    My experience with a basswood tele and strat seem to confirm this. The tele didn't sound bad but couldn't really deliver the sparkle and twang I wanted. The strat is similar but I'm using it as more of a blues wailing-type guitar and I don't really want it to be too twangy or bright. It seems just right, big round notes...
     
  5. fin

    fin Guest

    I dunno about the basswood but my mind has been totally blown by the price on that ibanez....exactly how is that one different from the $400 version? Who in their right mind would actually pay that for one of those?
     
  6. slowburn

    slowburn Supporting Member

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    my old guitar was basswood, my current guitar is alder. you can find this description on pretty much any boutique guitar builder's site, but I can offer that alder seems to have a bit more low end and lower mids to the sound, IMO.
     
  7. Luke V

    Luke V Member

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    All I know is that most of the cheap $200 or less import guitars are usually basswood.
     
  8. Antero

    Antero Member

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    I think that's because cheap basswood is dirt cheap. Better stuff presumably exists.

    Most of the basswood guitars I've seen, though, seem to be designed for high-gain stuff?
     
  9. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Basswood is supposed to be a neutral tone wood and besides being less attractive it is soft and prone to denting. I have an 80's Jap strat and it has a lot of dents. I personally don't know why it gets slammed.
     
  10. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Now that american builders are using it, it's fine, great, no problem, perfectly acceptable.

    But, back in the 20th century, when fender japan was using it, it was garbage, lousy, poor, totally unacceptable. The guitars were crap, too. Couldn't give them away. But they've aged well, apparently. Since fender moved production to mexico, those used MIJs have gone up & up in price.

    Altho' they were importing canadian rock maple for their necks, fender japan sourced their body woods locally, and basswood was chosen for its tonal characteristics, *similar* to alder.

    Is asian basswood the same as north american basswood? The 'mahogany' they're using in the far east sure doesn't look (or sound) like the stuff that gibson uses.
     
  11. Gary Ladd

    Gary Ladd Member

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    I prefer my basswood bodied HM Strat to my American Strat for high gain, but for low gain the alder gets my vote.

    BTW, I've had my HM strat since 92' and it's dent-free so far.
     
  12. xdisciplex

    xdisciplex Member

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    ive had both and i like alder better. i just sold a jem that was basswood and i thought it sounded good and i bought a charvel evh and it sounds good with basswood.
     
  13. gearjoneser

    gearjoneser Member

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    One thing you'll notice is that most high end guitars with basswood (tilia), such as Suhr, Anderson, and G&L, also put a maple veneer on top.

    IMO, this brings back some of the punch and treble that solid basswood lacks, and also allows the top to be a nice finish.

    Alder vs. basswood, I'd say alder wins, but when a guitar is constructed right, and especially if the basswood has a maple top and quality neck, it becomes a great sounding combination. Suhr, Grosh, Anderson, and G&L would use that combo if it didn't sound great.

    Basswood has nice depth to the sound, but is a little dull till you put a thin maple cap on it.
     
  14. Brian Krashpad

    Brian Krashpad Member

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    My problem with it is it's lightness. I have a basswood Frankentele, and the dang thing is neckheavy!

    That ain't right.

    I'll take alder, ash, mahogany, hell, agathis, over basswood.

    BK
     
  15. aidan7737

    aidan7737 Member

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    Does anyone know of a way to tell visually whether a guitar is basswood/alder/ash for natural/sunburst instruments? Thanks.
     
  16. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    Ash is easy. If it looks like a Louisville Slugger, it's ash (it really does, too!) The grain is usually very dark on ash and it often is a little "wavy" looking.

    Alder has a bit lighter grain and it's usually straighter.

    As said before, you won't often find natural or trans finishes on basswood because it's pretty blah looking.

    Warmoth has a pretty good description of tonewoods here:
    http://www.warmoth.com/guitar/options/options_bodywoods.cfm

    hth
    -fumbler-
     
  17. sosomething

    sosomething Member

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    The first one is a base Korean or Indonesian model.

    The JEM is a Steve Vai artist model made in Japan.
     
  18. aidan7737

    aidan7737 Member

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  19. sethmeister

    sethmeister Member

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    Ibanez makes some excellent guitars from basswood. I've got an Ibanez 7 string which has the best unplugged resonance and sustain of any of my guitars.

    That said, I like basswood for hard rock / metal / shred type guitars. It seems to cut through nicely. For a strat I'd prefer alder because I believe it has a slightly different sound to it that helps to achieve that lovely strat twang. My opinion anyway.

    WRT sunburst finishes on basswood bodies I would think if its a sunburst it either has a veneer or cap or it is not basswood since basswood often has ugly greenish mineral deposits and is not much to look at.
     

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