Dismiss Notice
Join The Good Vibe Zone today, and hangout with the nicest bass community in the world :)

Maple, Ash, and Alder tonal differences.

Discussion in 'Bass Guitars' started by thndrstk6, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    What is the tonal difference between maple, ash, and alder? I notice there are no ash or alder necks (that I know of) but there are maple, ash, alder bodies.
     
  2. gbarchus

    gbarchus

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    odawara, JP/austin, TX
    I believe that the density of the wood contributes to the tone of the instrument, maple being the densest and ash being the least of the three you mention. However, it would be difficult to characterize the sound of any bass by the type of wood as being brighter or darker in terms of tone once you put it together with a certain neck design (bolt-on vs neck-thru), pickups and strings. They all combine to create the tone, along with your skills, of course.

    For years I was a rosewood neck/alder body player until I got a great maple neck/ash body bass. My F-Bass has an ebony neck and body with a maple center and ash wings and it sounds closest to my maple/ash Fender CS '55 PBass!

    Gale
     
  3. gbarchus

    gbarchus

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    odawara, JP/austin, TX
    Sorry for the double post :cry:
     
  4. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Well I guess I should describe the way it would be used then. I want to get either a Thumb NT or a Streamer NT (not sure which yet) and make it as Musicman like as I can without loosing that thick, wet, Warwick sound.

    I was going to get the neck and fretboard in maple and the body in one of the 3 woods mentioned above. I was also thinking of having a bubinga body with the maple neck. Then I was going to get the $$ pups installed. This would be a 6 string bass as well. It would be a Warwick bass with a Musicman look and sound.
     
  5. ThirdthumB

    ThirdthumB

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Messages:
    4,463
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Have you tried the Bleached Blonde ?? It should give you a decent idea of how a Maple neck/board, Ash/Maple body will make the Thumb sound......... 8)
     
  6. farfadet

    farfadet

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    France
    Never seen a bass with an alder neck but there are a few with ash neck. You can check Bee basses or MTD for example.
    >
     
  7. Mr Rabble

    Mr Rabble

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,062
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Milano, Italy
    Go safe, and buy a Musicman
     
  8. gbarchus

    gbarchus

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    odawara, JP/austin, TX
    I would second trying the "Bleached Blonde." She was so gorgeous, I had to touch her, but nothing more. ...I promise.

    Gale
     
  9. babebambi

    babebambi

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Messages:
    616
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    YTZ
    +2
     
  10. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I have a Musicman. I like its sound but its a little to dry. I also like the looks feel of Warwick over the Musicman. I feel like I'm playing a straight stiff board when I'm playing the Musicman. My thumb NT feels like is was sculpted just for me.
     
  11. flipper_gv

    flipper_gv

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,562
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    let's go:

    from what I've heard and heard

    ash: Very round sounding with a nice punch in the mid high frequencies. Coupled with a maple neck, it growls a lot in the mid mid freq. It has a nice low end nice harmonics that aren't too harsh. Depending of the density of the piece you have, it can either be more low end concentrated (tight grain, heavy) or more low mid (wider grain, lighter, usually swamp ash). But, it is not the same low mid has ovangkol or bubinga as you might expect. Nice cutting thru ability.

    maple; To me, it sounds just as round as ash but with brighter/tighter/more compressed tone. It doesn't growl very much unless it's used on a fretless.

    alder: Very present in the low end and mid mid frequencies. Soft sounding, almost too soft for me. High frequencies can be a little harsh sometimes IMO. It can give a nice growl just like ash but won't cut through as much as ash. Very light.
     
  12. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Cool thanks a lot.
     
  13. Florin

    Florin Warwick Forum Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    17,835
    Likes Received:
    1,878
    Trophy Points:
    114
    I don't know what to say flipper... the maple Streamer LX growls like no other bass!!!
    I say that the construction and pickup placement have a lot of influence in sound too, so you better try and find an instrument you like, than buy it.
     
  14. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Well the reason I'm asking is because I'm planning out my CS. I'm going to school in the spring (hopefully) and I will be buying it when I start. So I guess I won't be able to try it out.

    My idea is to combined a thumb NT with an musicman setup. I made a mockkup of what it will look like in my thread. I think if I have a $$ pup and eled. config., a maple neck, and bubinga body it should sound like a MM but with a little more mid range thickness to it.

    What do you think?
     
  15. naetog

    naetog

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,386
    Likes Received:
    20
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Central California
    I'd say go for a Jazzman pickup config. If you really are going for the music man sound you'll only need the one humbucker anyway, plus it'll look better (i don't like the looks of the $$).
     
  16. Martin Such

    Martin Such

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    604
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    UK / Switzerland
    I must agree. I've had an LX for quite a few months, and it was really growly. I mean, REALLY growly.
     
  17. flipper_gv

    flipper_gv

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,562
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Sure the LX growls like a beast, I've tried it. But if I compare it to another all maple bass like a pedulla MVP or the SS1, it is significally less growly that other woods/basses I've tried. That makes me think the the growl of the LX is probably a result of the ovangkol neck + streamer pickups position. But, one thing is sure, my ears aren't perfect, so I can be wrong.
     
  18. golem

    golem Philosopher King

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    3,528
    Likes Received:
    276
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Troy NY
    `

    Michael Tobias offers ash necks, but that
    would be northern ash [heavey and close
    grained], not swamp ash. I guess alder
    doesn't have the physical stamina, cuz
    you never see an alder neck. Mahogany
    is used for necks and bodies, and AAFIK
    is the same mahogany for both.


    As to the body wood tones, my take is:

    Swamp Ash. Softwood sound but with
    hardwood strength. More zing than
    poplar or basswood, but not the real
    ringing hardwood sound. In between,
    and therefor it's very chameleon like,
    easily influenced by everything else
    involved [strings, PUs, neck wood etc].

    Alder. True hardwood tone, resonant
    but not excessively bright. Slightly the
    chameleon, but mainly holds its own.

    Northern ash. Mostly found on vintage
    USA basses, don't see it on new stuff.
    Hardwood resonance but with a rather
    darker tone than alder.

    Maple. Bright. Really bright. Just about
    toadally immune to chameleon effect.
    Even as just a cap it tends to dominate
    the final result.
     
  19. golem

    golem Philosopher King

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    3,528
    Likes Received:
    276
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Troy NY
    `

    +1.

    I do think that, just sometimes, some tunnel vision creeps
    in, leading to paying extra charges for CS work, added on
    to a more expensive ax to begin with, just to make a nice
    copy of what would've been the more economical ax in the
    first place. Plus the pre-existing, more affordable choice is
    usually a more predictable result .... unless you live in Far
    Tortuga, and so can't just run down to the shop to twang
    a few thundersticks in person. I'm athinkin this might just
    be one of those just sometimes times.

    Just to be even handed, I also think anyone who pays the
    price for a "Ball Family Reserve Collectible Edition" of any
    basic EBMM model would be better off to spend that kinda
    cake on a Warwick, even a stock, off-the-rack Wick.

    But really, you can buy a beautiful natural finish [glassy
    clear poly] Sterling in the "JazzMan" config, with a killer
    3-band EQ, for the same price as a 2-band Corvette $$.
    Of cousre, if having a pickguard on your ax creeps you
    out, then just forget I mentioned it .....

    `
     
  20. thndrstk6

    thndrstk6 Mockup Artist

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2008
    Messages:
    2,543
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Thanks a lot for all the info. Golem. I've been waiting for your opinion.

    I already have a MM though. Thats the thing. I want a bass that feels like a warwick and sounds similar to a MM but a little more "wet" sounding.

    I was thinking that having a maple neck with a bubinga body and a ebony fretboard might achieve that sound. What do you think?
     
Loading...