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)
    72.9%
  3. Depends

    91 vote(s)
    19.4%
  1. disconnector

    disconnector Member

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    I think this conversation is hilarious. Back in the '80s and early 90's basswood was **THE** wood to build guitars for rock.

    If Leo had made guitars out of cherry we would all be salivating over custom shop cherry guitars. It's all about your mental space.

    The more things change the more they stay the same . . .
     
  2. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

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    Basswood rocks!
    Jeff Becks No.1 strat which he have used almost exclusively since he got it in early 90s , has a basswood body.
     
  3. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Tyler Guitar has used what he calls Mamywo, aka Jelutong, a Malaysian/Indonesian wood quite similar to basswood.

    There has been some mystique around that wood for a while. Softer than other tonewoods, very uniform grain, easy to work with, takes glues and finishes well.
     
    IGuitUpIGuitDown likes this.
  4. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    Basswood is only junk if you're stricken with confirmation bias. As long as there are people who are happy with plywood bodies, Basswood is an option.
     
    Jabby92 likes this.
  5. weevilcaster

    weevilcaster Supporting Member

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    Many Mosrite solid body guitars were made from Basswood & they sound great!
     
  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    With all the aging rockers crying about too heavy Les Pauls .... most of the basswood and paulownia light weight guitars are getting more important. That Ibanez that broke off the door frame is more likely made of paulownia (princess wood). The story behind princess wood is that when a daughter was born a princess wood tree was planted and by the time she was ready to marry, the tree would be used to fashion her dresser/hope chest/etc. Chosen because it grew fast.

    A fast growing wood around here are weeping willows. I have considered building a guitar body from some of it -- so I can play "while my guitar gently weeps"...

    .
     
  7. Guitarwiz007

    Guitarwiz007 Silver Supporting Member

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    My Suhr is basswood. The polar opposite of junk.
     
  8. theroan

    theroan Member

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    I would say it's like a dull alder. Nothing special in terms of frequencies it boosts or cuts. However, it does present an opportunity for the scale length, pickups, fretboard wood and bridge to take the guitar in the right direction. I said depends because I see basswood neutrally but the rest of the components will decide if the guitar will be good.
     
  9. _MonSTeR_

    _MonSTeR_ Member

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    This... The story goes that when Steve Vai was prototyping the JEM with Ibanez, they made him guitars out of a bunch of different woods. He decided that basswood was best and ran with that for his guitars for 6 years.

    I don't know what EVH uses these days, but both Satriani and Vai have moved more to alder in their production signature models which might tell you something, but a lot of great tunes by great guitarists have been played on basswood guitars. That said I think Satriani and Vai had great maybe even better tone with those basswood guitars.
     
  10. Mikhael

    Mikhael Member

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    By the way, Vai's Jems now use alder.
    Tonally, basswood is okay, very neutral, and not bright. But yeah, it's really soft. I know they used it quite a bit in the 80s for SuperStrats, and the Floyd Rose pivot screws would wallow out the wood where they were screwed in.
     
  11. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

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    And the Guthrie Govan Charvel
     
  12. shredmiyagi

    shredmiyagi Member

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    If we're talking about 25.5" guitars... I've generally preferred mahogany, alder or heavy ash guitars to basswood (and I've had a lot of basswood variants). Of course tons of the good 80s Japanese guitars including Fenders/Squiers were basswood. I've played some great Ibanezes but plugged straight into a neutral amp, I can't in my right mind say that I've ever heard a basswood Ibanez RG sound better than an alder/ash Fender (or a mahogany Ibanez, Charvel, etc). Played a bunch of Reverends, those also sound great and they had korina bodies. Of course we're comparing humbucker/single-coil variants, but I've had a lot of guitars and that's just been my experience. Hasn't stopped me from playing and enjoying many basswood guitars. But my recurring experiences with basswood guitars: almost like they have some hard-to-tame bass and low-mid spikes and not a sweet treble clarity, gets nasally and dominates a band mix if you boost treble too much without EQ'ing out mids.

    My maple/basswood EBMM Axis has a particular crunchy/fusion/rock mid-heavy tone. Very good sounding solid-body acoustically, but it definitely doesn't have the smooth trebles and low warmth that I'd want to be stuck on a desert island with.

    :dunno
     
    superstratjunky and Badtone like this.
  13. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    I thought that Dolphinwood did..
     
  14. customguitars87

    customguitars87 Member

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    There is a huge difference between a basswood body and a plywood body. Basswood has it's own type of sound, and there are plenty of expensive high end guitars that use basswood for its tonal qualities. It is softer than some other woods for sure, but I have several basswood bodied guitars and I've never damaged them in any noticeable way.

    Basswood isn't cheap because it's "poor quality", it's cheap because its really plentiful all over the world and not particularly figured. Same reason a wood like koa is expensive...there's nothing inherently "magical" about koa wood tonally (though I have koa on a couple of guitars and they sound great), but since there aren't tons of ways/places to source it you pay a premium.
     
  15. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    Were "you" to take ANY wood, Ply, Particle board, Masonite included, and produce a guitar, put it in the hands of an "A" lister.. give them exposure, with a casual mention of the unique wood, and these forums would light up" with guys touting the tonal superiority of whatever wood it was..\ That's how it works...

    as for Ash and Alder... its that the revolutionary, natural rebel the typical guitarist is... wants a completely unique guitar, they just want it different exactly like all the other rebels...

    rk
     
  16. meterman

    meterman Supporting Member

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    Lots of MIJ Fenders were made of Basswood that were very nice guitars. It's not that different from alder tonally, but it is soft and dings easily.
     
  17. bearbike137

    bearbike137 Supporting Member

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    You must, then, abhor 335s...
     
  18. Mtt02263

    Mtt02263 Member

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    I prefer alder in any setting where I might use basswood. Similar response to my ears, but more overtones and less compression to my ears. Add in the durability concerns and I typically avoid basswood. That said, it isn't necessarily junk and I've had great basswood guitars.
     
    stratmaniac likes this.
  19. RayRay

    RayRay Silver Supporting Member

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    I prefer teak
     
    shane8 likes this.
  20. cutaway

    cutaway Supporting Member

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    i played one of these a few years back (basswood body) and it sounded amazing. if the neck was not a #2 pencil, I'd have taken it home

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
    lizardking likes this.

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