Northern Ash vs. Alder?


What are the tonal diferences/pro and cons between the two woods? I plan on getting a 1hum hardtail with San Dimas style rear routing, clear finish, using a Fender USA maple fb neck.

Thanks for your input.


Northern ash is known to be heavy. Sometimes extremely heavy. jamison162 is right, go with swamp ash if you want an ash body.


I have chosen Musikraft to be the company I am going to order the body from. And of all the types of woods they offer those two are the ones I have narrowed the search to, since they dont do maple, my first choice.


I had a late 70's strat made of Northern Ash and it weighed a ton. That certainly is a beautiful body you got there BleedingEdge.


Years back I replaced a heavy northern ash body with an alder one. Acoustically, the alder body made for a louder guitar. Livelier imo, too. I felt like the ash body had far less dynamic range. To be fair, it was one of those thick Fender poly finishes.


Silver Supporting Member
Guitar Player had a short & 'to the point' article on woods in the last month or two. I had a Zion Fifty model in one-piece swamp ash made for me. Not as pretty as curly maple or bubinga or whatever, but it sounds bright & responsive. Read that article pronto.
You know what's funny. Both Ed's #1 and his Ibanez Destroyer were northern ash. He seems to really like that sound, or did any way. I've only heard this wood on clips and it was by folks going for the VH sound. It's a big part of that sound and seems to have an upper mid thing.

I'm not sure this would be a very versatile guitar but if you want to do the one pickup Rock guy thing, It may be a very good choice.

It is very clearly not just furniture wood.
It can be really heavy.

BLeeding edge....
Can you P.M. with where you got that body?....really cool:RoCkIn

I had a few Hamer Daytona strats in ash. They were a little heavy but real good tone. Real chunky bright tone, a little thin in the mids. I think it's similar to swamp ash, it's just swamp ash is a little sweeter or mellower maybe.
I wonder what's the lightest weight strat body that can be had with northern ash. You think you could get one under, or at least at 4 lb.s?

I wonder how different that'd sound compared to some swamp ash.

Cary Chilton

Senior Member
Just an update - this is what became of that northern ash body I posted - this picture actually makes it look a little different than in person. In person. the body isn't so dark and the flame is more apparent. The neck also has a lot more flame than is apparent in the photo. As I said, it's an EVH-style guitar but to my tastes in terms of finish, set-up and playability. The neck is a clone of my '81 Charvel Pre-Pro. Pickups are now WCR Darkburst Alnico 2s.

I have two alder-bodied, maple-necked guitars of this same basic configuration, so I should have a tone report soon.

Looks like a tone monster!

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