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Ash vs Alder bodies?


jmingo
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Originally posted by Dave M

I would say Ash is typically lighter, more expensive and brighter sounding. Just my opinion. And this is all subject to the type of guitar.

 

 

thanks, i'm talking about a strat.

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Ash blanks aren't more expensive, but it does require more prep work to finish. For one reason or another, Fender charges more for it, but if you were to buy an aftermarket body and have it finished, there would be no price difference between Alder and Ash.

 

Ash has brighter top end and tighter, punchier bass, with scooped mids. It will sound more focused with better note definition, and have a more noticeablt snap when you pick a note. This makes Ash a great wood for driving over-saturated hi-gain amps. Swamp Ash, which is prefered by most, is light, veyr open sounding and balanced. Heavier Ash, like Fender (and just about every guitar company) used in the '70's can be much brighter (and very, very heavy). Fender only specifies Swamp Ash on their CS models, everything else gets the ambiguous term 'select Ash" or "premium Ash" which don't mean jack. Ash definitely has the upper hand on appearance, with its very prominent and defined grain, Alder is a lot blander.

 

Alder has bigger, but much looser bottom and undefinited bottom end (so it is less prominent than on Ash), less treble and a big, enhanced midrange. This gives it a less defined, but much fatter tone. I generally prefer Alder fot fat '60's and '70's rock tones. Adler is generally considered light, but Swamp Ash is usually lighter. But, all body blanks are different, you'll find heavy Ash and Alder guitars and light ones, you have to shop around.

 

Both will still sound Strat-like, these tonal differences are complex, but not overbearing or drastic.

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Originally posted by jmingo

what wood was used for pre CBS strats??

 

Only the earliest Strats ('54 through mid '55 or so, but I didn't double check those dates) were Ash. After that, Ash was still used on some Strats, mostly the Blonde ones (what is now called White Blonde).

 

Holly, Clapton, Hendrix, Trower, SRV, etc. all played Alder Strats.

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Ash is brighter sounding and has a bit more 'snap' to it than Alder does. I think it is a bit denser, but that depends on the wood since there are several kinds of ash available. I prefer ash for both Tele's and Strats, and my Squier Pro Tone Strat I just got has a two piece ash body and I love it!

 

The pre-CBS Strats were made out of both Ash and Alder. Alder was mainly used for the sunburst finish guitars since it looked better for that finish than ash did. Ash was used for most of the solid finish Strats and also the blonde see-through finish. Alder was used more and more towards the end of the Leo Fender era (62 - 64).

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ash- eddie van halen's choice wood in pre 90's era. has a nasal quality. fast attack. crunches up well with overdrive.

 

alder- excellent clean tones, and distortion tones are also decent. it gives your typical strat tone ala eric johnson, malmsteen, hendrix, SRV, clapton. an all around wood. very common.

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I have an ash tele (52 RI) and strat (56 NOS). Both sound fantastic. They are both quite well balanced with the vintage voiced pickups. Ash bodied Fenders with maple boards and nitro finishes are my favorites. The high end has amazing transparency and bell-like cleans. Awesome. You can't beat ash for classic Fender tones. Both of my ash guitars are exceptionally light (less than 7 pounds). But I've played some very heavy (read cheaper) ash guitars.

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I think its fair to say that good Strats can be Alder or Ash.

 

I own a Relic 60's Alder strat and it sounds great to me. Having said that I agree that the 56 Strat sounds fantastic. This would be my next guitar purchase.

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Im coming to a mind that the Ash is a superior wood. Ive had 2 Ash strats now, the latest is a Swamp Ash American Standard (used) that Ijust picked up. It is bright, clean, very good sustain, and just a really great sounding guitar. Ive had 2 opinions now that it sounds better than my Alder Body EJ strat! And I agree...Alder seems to be more 'muddy' It is also better than my YJM Alder body strat. Im just about hooked on Ash, both my natural color strats ive owned with Ash bodies have sounded superior to the many alder body strats Ive owned.

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(Puts on flame suit)...

 

I think poplar is also overlooked as a tonewood for strats or teles. it's very similar to adler. You will never see it in a transparent finish due to its natural greenish nature. I believe the early Japanese strats were poplar as well as some early 80's American strats.

 

(Runs for cover)

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Originally posted by go cat go

(Puts on flame suit)...


I think poplar is also overlooked as a tonewood for strats or teles. it's very similar to adler. You will never see it in a transparent finish due to its natural greenish nature. I believe the early Japanese strats were poplar as well as some early 80's American strats.


(Runs for cover)

 

Poplar is widely used now on many strat and tele type copies. It is fairly average without a good nut and bridge.

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People often feel that something is "clearer" in tone when it is brighter. The note definition between ash and alder is similar. I would doubt than 1% of the population here could descern from the two woods on a solid color guitar. The other thing of intrest is that all of the things that people are likeing about ash are the same things they complain about in basswood- which is the closest tonewood to ash. (and eddies choice when he started building and not buying parts). My main players are the guitars that stand out above the others in tone- for me it is 2 alder strats and alder les paul and a ash tele. Most everything else is a collectable.

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