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Swamp ash VS. Alder for a strat?

gpro34

Member
Messages
5,372
I have owned several strats with alder, but recently have been thinking of a swamp ash body. Which wood do you all generally prefer for a strat and what are the advantages to each? Thanks
 

jumpnblues

Member
Messages
5,438
Not sure it makes that much difference but I usually like alder for Strats and swamp ash for Teles. Theoretically, swamp ash makes the guitar sound brighter vs alder. But that's a bit of a generality and an inconsistent one at best. And I think there are a lot of other variables, some controllable some not, that affect the inherent tone of a guitar. There are even inconsistencies within a piece of wood itself. For example, one region of a guitar's body may be resonant and another region in the body may not resonate well at all potentially making a piece of alder brighter than an identical piece of ash or swamp ash. Same phenomena with necks and fretboards. The only accurate way of telling which wood is brighter or more resonant is to hear it after it's made into a guitar. It's otherwise pretty difficult to predict. Which brings us back to why I prefer alder to swamp ash in Strats...well, because I think very generally alder is not as bright, keeping in mind there are lots of exceptions to this. Plus, I've sort of "drunk the tea".


Tom
 

gtraddict

Member
Messages
1,885
I have been a fan of ash with maple board to go for a nicer brighter tone with more defined bass and I have strats with alder with rosewood board when I want it toned down a bit with a darker sound. I never like ash with rosewood or alder with maple neck that much even though I have had one of each
 
Last edited:

gpro34

Member
Messages
5,372
I have been a fan of ash with maple board to go for a nicer brighter tone with more defined bass and I have strats with alder with rosewood board when I want it toned down a bit with a darker sound. I never like ash with rosewood or alder with maple neck that much even though I have one of each
I've read that swamp ash with rosewood is sort of a "no - no." Why is that? John Suhr says it will produce a guitar with a lot of sizzle? I'm not sure I get what he's saying here, can anyone elaborate?
 

gtraddict

Member
Messages
1,885
I've read that swamp ash with rosewood is sort of a "no - no." Why is that? John Suhr says it will produce a guitar with a lot of sizzle? I'm not sure I get what he's saying here, can anyone elaborate?
when you put swamp ash and rosewood together it seemed to lose the very nice bright high ends the maple board brought along, I had a G&L Legacy in blueburst with this combo and never could bond with and traded it because it never did have the sweetness on the top the lower mids seem to be lost in the shuffle
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,902
If you play enough Strats you can hear the alder & ash trends BUT, when it comes right down to it, each individual Strat still needs to be judged on its own merits because they are very sensitive to the sum of their parts. I've played Strats that I would have sworn they were alder and turned out to be ash and vice-versa. Believe what your ears tell you and not what the specs say ;).
 

gpro34

Member
Messages
5,372
If you play enough Strats you can hear the alder & ash trends BUT, when it comes right down to it, each individual Strat still needs to be judged on its own merits because they are very sensitive to the sum of their parts. I've played Strats that I would have sworn they were alder and turned out to be ash and vice-versa. Believe what your ears tell you and not what the specs say ;).
I agree with you 100% about this, but this will be ordered from Suhr so I don't have that luxury.
 

mattmccloskey

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,714
this will be an interesting experiment: on tuesday I will have my new 2 piece swamp ash strat body mounted to my maple neck, a neck which until just a few days ago was mounted to a 2 piece alder body.
I will be using not only the same neck, but the same EVERYTHING except the body.
Even more interesting is that both are from USACG and are the same exact weight!
This won't be the end all experiment because wood is wood, but it seems to have narrowed down every other single variable - neck, hardware, pickups, amp, player, room, and even the wood source and manufacturer as well as construction type, shape, and weight. the only change will be the body wood. I will report any interesting observations!
 

gpro34

Member
Messages
5,372
this will be an interesting experiment: on tuesday I will have my new 2 piece swamp ash strat body mounted to my maple neck, a neck which until just a few days ago was mounted to a 2 piece alder body.
I will be using not only the same neck, but the same EVERYTHING except the body.
Even more interesting is that both are from USACG and are the same exact weight!
This won't be the end all experiment because wood is wood, but it seems to have narrowed down every other single variable - neck, hardware, pickups, amp, player, room, and even the wood source and manufacturer as well as construction type, shape, and weight. the only change will be the body wood. I will report any interesting observations!
Thanks, please do.
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,273
If you play enough Strats you can hear the alder & ash trends BUT, when it comes right down to it, each individual Strat still needs to be judged on its own merits because they are very sensitive to the sum of their parts. I've played Strats that I would have sworn they were alder and turned out to be ash and vice-versa. Believe what your ears tell you and not what the specs say ;).
This is why I quote VaughnC in my signature. Well spoken! A lot goes into the matchup that is just not there. I love ash/rosewood on a strat as I do alder/maple, alder/rosewood, and lastly ash/maple. They all say strat to me!
 

HHB

Member
Messages
6,641
I like alder bodies and solid maple necks, I have 3 guitars in this combo and they all sound great ( strat, tele, dual humbucker )
 

StratLou

Member
Messages
30
Did you ever finish and test your experiment?

this will be an interesting experiment: on tuesday I will have my new 2 piece swamp ash strat body mounted to my maple neck, a neck which until just a few days ago was mounted to a 2 piece alder body.
I will be using not only the same neck, but the same EVERYTHING except the body.
Even more interesting is that both are from USACG and are the same exact weight!
This won't be the end all experiment because wood is wood, but it seems to have narrowed down every other single variable - neck, hardware, pickups, amp, player, room, and even the wood source and manufacturer as well as construction type, shape, and weight. the only change will be the body wood. I will report any interesting observations!
 

mattmccloskey

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,714
Did you ever finish and test your experiment?
Yes!

The differences are there, but not drastic. The swamp ash actually seems a bit more 'lively', almost like a slight boost in gain. It just has a touch more bite, and is louder acoustically. A little lighter in the low-mids than the alder, but overall a bolder sound.
 
Messages
23,950
I agree with you 100% about this, but this will be ordered from Suhr so I don't have that luxury.
Exactly.

So our opinions don't really mean anything to speak of.

Once you choose your builder, you might as well tell him in general terms what you want.

And then just let go. He'll find a way to get it right.
 




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