Basswood body.. junk?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Jabby92, Jun 11, 2019.

Is Basswood junk?

  1. Junk

    36 vote(s)
    7.7%
  2. No

    342 vote(s)
    73.1%
  3. Depends

    90 vote(s)
    19.2%
  1. Jabby92

    Jabby92 Member

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    I was at a music shop the other day and some guy was handling a Strat clone with a basswood body. He accidentally caught it on an entrance going into another room and a huge piece of wood chipped off of it. Its one of the softest woods used for guitars and it makes me wonder why builders would want to use it over Alder, Ash, Mahogany, etc.

    From my experience I have found basswood to be inconsistent in weight as well, sometimes its very light.. other times its really heavy. I noticed that in Canada they use 'Laurentian basswood' which seems to be more durable and dense, similar to Alder wood.

    Anyway from my experience I see basswood used on cheaper guitars the most and it makes me wonder if its cheaper and more cost effective to work with and source which makes me wonder if its just junk overall.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Ps28

    Ps28 Member

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    It's my least favorite tonewood along with agathis. Basically plywood.
     
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  3. cap10kirk

    cap10kirk Member

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    I have no issue with basswood. It isn't my first choice when building a guitar, but I wouldn't think twice about buying a guitar with a basswood body.
     
  4. Slash

    Slash Supporting Member

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    It's used in expensive guitars too. Like Charvel EVH art series $2500 and Ibanez Jem.

    Not my favorite wood to work with but at least not hard on tools like maple and northern ash.
     
  5. musicman10_1

    musicman10_1 Supporting Member

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    It is not my preference because I find it to be very soft. I do, however, have a few guitars with basswood bodies and they sound really good.
     
  6. naveed211

    naveed211 Member

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    My Roadstar is basswood with a birch top and it’s awesome.

    Plenty of high end guitars are basswood and sound great.

    Is it softer, more prone to dents? That might be true. But absolutely not junk any more than any wood can sometimes yield a less than great instrument at times.
     
  7. c_mac

    c_mac Member

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    Lots of quality brands use basswood.

    There is a video on YouTube with Jeff Beck’s guitar tech where he states that Jeff’s favorite Strat has a basswood body.

    EBMM uses basswood on the Axis and original John Petrucci sigs.

    You can get guitars from Anderson and Suhr that use basswood bodies with maple tops.

    All Peavey and EVH Wolfgangs (standard USA models, anyway) have basswood bodies.
     
  8. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Basswood is highly regarded by woodworkers world wide... its most desirable character is its lack of grain striation... there are any number of well known guitarists playing guitars made of basswood.. good 'nuff for them, good 'nuff for anyone else... unless your thought process is proceeding through a labyrinth replete with cognative bias speed bumps... then It's up to you... just change your mind..

    r
     
  9. wetordry

    wetordry Member

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    Whacking one on a door frame, well...you know.
    I think my fave strat is basswood, maybe.
    Not sure about my door frame.
     
  10. RicardoDiazHimself

    RicardoDiazHimself Member

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    Love basswood. Have a couple guitars that are basswood. Cut thru the mix nicely
     
  11. Jabby92

    Jabby92 Member

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    Yeah, he sort of just barely hit and a pretty sizable piece broke off the guitar. I think it was some Ibanez.
     
    wetordry likes this.
  12. Jabby92

    Jabby92 Member

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    Interesting responses guys I never realized the wood was as common on more expensive guitars. I guess I spend too long looking at Fender and Gibson. I've never owned a basswood guitar before as I was always worried about the softness of the wood but maybe other grades are different.
     
  13. wetordry

    wetordry Member

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    Satriani, Vai signature models.
    EVH listed above...
    I think they know what they want to hear.
     
  14. ieso

    ieso Member

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    superstratjunky, DC1, SigXer and 3 others like this.
  15. Chicago Slim

    Chicago Slim Member

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    Although they used basswood for many inexpensive guitars, they were also used for many of the MIJ Fender guitars. I found that they worked very well for harmonics. I could hold notes longer that with an alder or ash guitar.
     
  16. Fatherflot

    Fatherflot Member

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    Troutwood has sweeter mids.
     
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  17. Vanilla Latte

    Vanilla Latte Member

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    Basswood lacks the "darker" tonal qualities of mahogany. When I was playing metal I found my basswood guitars just sounded thin compared to my mahogany guitars (even equipped with the same pickups).

    :dunno YMMV
     
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  18. jwguitar

    jwguitar Member

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    Basswood is not junk wood rather I think like you said it is inexpensive, and easy to work with. It has its applications. The biggest one being that on Floyd Rose equipped guitars it tends to warm up the sound a bit. I have come to the conclusion that just because a wood is not popular or often used does not necessarily make is cheap or bad quality. A perfect example of that is Nato (or eastern mahogany). While kind of a heavy wood it sounds very similar to actual Honduran mahogany. A lot of Samick guitars used this type of wood in the past because not only was it plentiful but it was an easy wood to finish and is very durable. Having said that to my ears it sounds good, which after all is the most important thing!
     
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  19. BluntForceTrauma

    BluntForceTrauma Member

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    Wouldn't be my first choice if I was having a custom guitar made, but nothing wrong with basswood.
     
  20. runningman

    runningman Member

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    well, Basswood is definitely a soft wood. It's actually softer than several species of conifer, which includes types of hemlock, fir and pine. I think Basswood lends itself to solid color paint finishes due to lack of grain.

    the other thing to consider is that the term 'tonewood' can be misleading. There wasn't necessarily anything inherently favorable tone-wise in the wood species which were originally chosen for electric guitars as I understand it. Species like Alder and Ash and possibly even mahogany were chosen for cost and availability, and not for any particular tonal characteristic.

    what's interesting to me is why, at least at this point, we rarely see certain species of wood used in guitar building. I'm sure it's still a function of cost and availability, but maybe one of the builders can chime in
     
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