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Alder vs. Basswood - What's the difference?


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Originally posted by Armchair Bronco

Assume that you have two identically configured guitars (say...Japanese Jaguars...) whose only difference is that one has an alder body and the other has a basswood body.


What differences would you expect to hear (and see) if you compared these two guitars?

 

To be perfectly honest with everthing identical I doubt thered be bugger all difference...although if you had a natural finish you'd probably see the characteristic green grain shit on the basswood

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It sounds a lot different really. Non guitar players can even tell. I had two strat bodies sitting around and if you knock on them you can hear the difference. The basswood is soft and absorbs highs. It sounded more thuddy. Alder was snappy and more present. This will be the guitar's natural voice.

 

Go play any Jackson Charvel Wolfgang etc.. and listen to how they sound acoustically. They are flatter sounding compared to snappier alder and ash. Sometimes thicker sounding too.

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Originally posted by Ratae Coritanorum

although if you had a natural finish you'd probably see the characteristic green grain shit on the basswood

 

You sure your not thinking of poplar? Basswood is usually very pale with little to no coloration. Poplar on the other hand has colored mineral deposit streaks in it ranging from beige to green to black and sometimes even blue.

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Originally posted by donnievaz



You sure your not thinking of poplar? Basswood is usually very pale with little to no coloration. Poplar on the other hand has colored mineral deposit streaks in it ranging from beige to green to black and sometimes even blue.

Hmm, I've seen summat similar on poplar, but you do get it on basswood a lot, the lutheir supplies I use winges about it all the time:mad:

http://www.mojobodies.com/wood.htm

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My Carvin Bolt is Alder (I believe) and it cuts through the mix better than any guitar I own (which are all mahogany/maple top). I think for this reason it's best for leads than my other guitars.

 

The Carvin lacks the low end and its light weight is actually too light in my book.

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To me, when played through a clean amp, basswood tends to sound very dead....like you have 5 year old strings on it.

 

Conversely, if you play with heavy distortion, basswood is preferred by many, since this harmonic "deadness" makes for a more articulate sound. Less overtones makes it crisper.

 

Although personal opinion, if you play single coils through a clean amp, stay away from basswood! Very dull sounding. (although that may be a benefit for jazzers)

 

If you play with lots of distortion, then it's more personal choice. EBMM Axis and Wolfgang's use of a maple cap on basswood helps offset some of that lifelessness, but only partially.

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Originally posted by JustinThyme



Although personal opinion, if you play single coils through a clean amp, stay away from basswood! Very dull sounding. (although that may be a benefit for jazzers)

 

I would love to agree with this, and a few weeks ago would have applauded, but last weekend I played a Strat MIJ........basswood....sounded absolutely fine......still won't buy one tho.......just the same as I won't buiy an agathis Tele Custom II, even if Mazi send legions of teen girls.............you hear me BEE?:mad:

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I've been accused of having freakishly good hearing and I think I can hear a difference between basswood and alder, but there are so man variables such as pickups, pots, cable used, shielding, nut material, exact bridge design. In the real world, other than choosing which wood to use for a custom guitar, you aren't really likely to see two identical guitars but with different woods used.

 

I think the only basswood guitar I have right now is a Squier 51 which sounds plenty bright to my ears. I would't say that it lacks sparkle or that it sounds dead.

 

On the other hand, I have three Alder strats and this is the wood I prefer. I actually prefer heavier guitars. If I were having a custom guitar made, it would VERY likely use alder and it at all possible, I'd request a heavier piece of alder.

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I have Strats made of both Alder and Basswood.

 

Basswood much lighter, I love it, like you're holding nothing, also much softer, dont tighten the neckplate screws too hard or you'll dent the wood no problem.

 

Difference in tone, who knows, maybe yes and maybe no, both sound fine to me.

 

Can't be much wrong with Basswood if Satch uses it on his JS1000 sig model, afterall he can choose whatever wood he likes.

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I have guitars of both wood.

 

It really is just a difference in the highs, honestly. That's it. Very similar sounds, but the Alder has much better/toneful highs.

 

Basswood, on the other hand, is more rockin'. Great for modern sounds. (Not a bad thing!)

 

Can't beat alder for some classic grit, though.

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Originally posted by JustinThyme

To me, when played through a clean amp, basswood tends to sound very dead....like you have 5 year old strings on it.


Conversely, if you play with heavy distortion, basswood is preferred by many, since this harmonic "deadness" makes for a more articulate sound. Less overtones makes it crisper.


Although personal opinion, if you play single coils through a clean amp, stay away from basswood! Very dull sounding. (although that may be a benefit for jazzers)


If you play with lots of distortion, then it's more personal choice. EBMM Axis and Wolfgang's use of a maple cap on basswood helps offset some of that lifelessness, but only partially.

 

That's the absolute best description I've read on basswood.

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Originally posted by Armchair Bronco

Welcome to
"Coffee Talk"
.


Today's topic:
"Teak wood guitar bodies versus balsa wood guitar bodies..."
Discuss amongst yourselves.

 

I prefer the balsa for playing. It's very light and with proper wings added to the horns can be sailed above the heads of the audience eliciting rousing approval at the climax of the show.

 

I always keep a teak guitar nearby in case of unruly audiences. I've even mastered a swing which administers my trademark teak wedge into the foreheads of unsuspecting hooligans who upon seeing my balsa guitar flying about consider me unarmed and fair prey.:thu:

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