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Old 11-20-2012, 12:54 PM   #1
Arjun_M
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Best basswood-bodied guitar in the $400-700 range- and maybe beyond

Bah-sswood. Bland wood. Bleh wood. Low-end-cheap-guitar-wood. Maybe I'm missing something? Maybe there are decent basswood guitars that can hold their own against alder/ash/mahogany guitars? Just how well do these guitars, for instance, hold up?
  • Jackson SLX
  • Jackson SLATXMG/SLATTXMG
  • Ibanez RG350
  • Ibanez RG870
  • Ibanez RG920
  • Ibanez RG1520
These are just a few examples. There may be more.

Fair, so we have some good basswood guitars. How much of a difference would superior pickups make to the tone? And outside of this budget, what would be the best basswood guitars you can get?

Last edited by Arjun_M : 11-23-2012 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:59 PM   #2
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Basswood is ****ing awesome wood.

Just ask John Suhr.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:04 PM   #3
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John Suhr charges used car prices for his guitars. Would the reasonably-priced guitars sound just as good, at least with high-end pickups?
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:06 PM   #4
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Depends.

A good bit of basswood is great, cheap basswood not so much.

But that applies to every species of wood. You just need to be realistic in yor expectations mate.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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The only reason you say it sucks is because not every guitar player can afford 2000 for a basswood-bodied guitar and because they see the same wood on cheaper models (albeit lesser quality) they immediately assume it sucks.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:14 PM   #6
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That's exactly my concern about the basswood used in those Indian Trade Zone (they still have to be imported in India itself) Jacksons. A local luthier looked at them and pointed out the wood isn't really good- not just the basswood, but also the maple that's used in the necks. I've been hunting down reviews of these guitars, and the comments are usually positive about the sound, but a tad negative about the fit and finish.

Another point to note is that the Soloist has a neck-through construction, so the pickups are not seated in basswood, but in maple. How much of a difference does it make from the DKXT and the legion of Ibanez RGs?

Yes, when we see basswood used only on the bottom-end of any guitar line, we tend to assume it isn't really good. Maybe some companies or product grades have better basswood?

Last edited by Arjun_M : 11-20-2012 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Arjun_M
That's exactly my concern about the basswood used in those Indian Trade Zone (they still have to be imported in India itself) Jacksons. A local luthier looked at them and pointed out the wood isn't really good- not just the basswood, but also the maple that's used in the necks. I've been hunting down reviews of these guitars, and the comments are usually positive about the sound, but a tad negative about the fit and finish.

You can't really judge a whole guitar line based on one guitar. Wood is never a consistent material.
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Another point to note is that the Soloist has a neck-through construction, so the pickups are not seated in basswood, but in maple. How much of a difference does it make from the DKXT and the legion of Ibanez RGs?

The maple top is too thin to make a noticeable difference in sound. Which imo is a good thing because a guitar with a maple neck and a basswood body with a thick maple cap would sound extremely bright.
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Yes, when we see basswood used only on the bottom-end of any guitar line, we tend to assume it isn't really good. Maybe some companies or product grades have better basswood?
That's correct. Each order of wood is graded based on it's consistency of grain, it's weight and it's figuring among a few other things.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:32 PM   #8
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So I have a budget. Maybe I can convince the dealer and importer to get me one of those guitars in the list, if not available locally. Which guitar in that budget is the best? And how does it compare to some of the cheaper alder/mahogany (let's say, Greg Bennett Interceptor IC-30 and Malibu MB-50) guitars on sale?

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Old 11-20-2012, 02:48 PM   #9
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Bah-sswood. Bland wood. Bleh wood. Low-end-cheap-guitar-wood.


Tell that to Steve Vai and Petrucci.......


Poplar is also a cheap wood, yet some of the most sought after Jackson guitars are made from it. Alder is also fairly cheap. But wood isn't priced according to its sound either. Has more to do with availability, demand, etc.

Hard to pick a particular wood and say its the best. Wood is completely variable, and two pieces of the same species may have different characteristics.
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:29 PM   #10
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I don't know why basswood gets demonized so much... Epi Specials use "mahogany", and no one ever dares say anything bad about mahogany. Squire bullets use "alder".

There is no universally bad wood, as has been said already, all wood comes in different grades, you can get an amazing cut or you can get the leftovers glued together.

It's really more about buying a good quality guitar altogether. Generally Korean (some cases better than others), American or Japanese.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offworld92
I don't know why basswood gets demonized so much... Epi Specials use "mahogany", and no one ever dares say anything bad about mahogany. Squire bullets use "alder".


Bullets use Basswood but you are right about Epi Specials, 120 for a Mahogany body/neck guitar I didn't think such a thing even existed.

Anyway, if you hate basswood why are you even considering buying a basswood guitar?
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:18 PM   #12
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Basswood is great, it's probably my favorite body wood at this point. A few years ago I also thought basswood was a cheap, junk wood because it's used on so many cheap guitars. But then I realized there were many big artists using it, artists who could have any wood they wanted, so I gave it a shot, and I'm glad I did.

And now I'm buliding a guitar with a basswood body and a maple top. Many people I know told me that I should paint the back because basswood is so bland/ugly. Well, I like the way it looks, so I left it natural, sealed it with shellac, and cleared it with nitro, and it's really nice looking.

Unfortunately, I haven't taken any good photos of the back to show off yet, but I will. Here's my build thread, if you're interested.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:47 PM   #13
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Check out the offerings from Godin Guitars. Criminally underrated instruments. They should suit you just fine.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:03 AM   #14
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Much of this is to find a capable HH/HSH guitar in that price segment, as a second guitar, if I have a Fender American Special HSS Strat as my first. I've seriously thought of the Jackson SLX/SLXT because it is the cheapest Soloist around, and pickups can be swapped for more expensive Seymour Duncans.

I have picked up several positive reviews of the Jackson Soloist X-series, so I have thought about it seriously. My other option is a Greg Bennett Interceptor/Concorde- both are mahogany-bodied and are selling really, really cheap in the holiday season.

Godin guitars are sold by a rather upmarket dealer, but after the price hike, many have become overpriced, but some customers say this dealer is profiteering here.

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Old 11-21-2012, 02:44 AM   #15
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Well I'm biased because I own one, but the RG920 is an awesome guitar. Everything on the guitar is solid including the stock dmz/ibanez pickups. You will find some reviews that look down on the pickups, but I promise if you could play one you would see that in the price range it has some of the best stock pickups you can get.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:34 PM   #16
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If you're putting high-output pickups into a guitar, the wood it's made from is going to make little difference. Don't get too hung up on what wood it's made out of, it only really matters if you're using a light crunch or clean sounds a lot.
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:16 AM   #17
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Already a vote has come in for the Ibanez RG920.

I'm particularly interested in the Jackson SLX. Just how good is it compared to the alternatives? And then the cheaper Ald/Mah models? Neck-through, and a Floyd Rose Special, and Duncan-Designed pickups (anyway Seymour Duncans will come in after some time), at $549. Some folks say this is more or less a USA-made Jackson without the ebony, pearl and fancy paint. In demo videos and sounds, it has a decent clean tone, and like any Jackson, plays metal well, though it's a long shot to expect it to sound like the DKMG/DK2M (or is it?) on clean.

The RG350 series, somehow, didn't impress me at all. They sounded very, very artificial and bland, when I tried them in the shops. I wouldn't go in for one unless offered a big discount. Of course, they were tested on a Line 6 Spider (one of the most hated brands on this forum, it seems) and a Roland Cube XL, and I had tested Fender Stratocasters on both amps before plugging in the RGs.

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Old 11-22-2012, 09:15 AM   #18
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Used Ibanez rg550/570? Used Rg1570? Should be able to easily find those for under $700. Hell I can get a dinged up RG2550e for under $400 if I wanted to add to the herd
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:09 AM   #19
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If you're concerned about a particular wood & how it'll go with "superior pickups," here's my experience:

I had the cheapest Chinese-made Epiphone SG, the one with a plywood body, and I loved how it felt in hand. It was like it was made to my dimensions, a perfect fit. However, it sounded very dull. It was like having a blanket over a speaker. I like a guitar that can wail and blare like Link Wray on steroids, and this one wouldn't.

Loving the sound of my Washburn Billy T, I found and installed a Washburn W-423 pickup, the same bridge pickup on my T, and a no-load volume pot. It sounded like a completely different guitar. It's become a real scorcher. I now need to turn down the treble a bit on the amp whereas before I couldn't get enough.

I didn't use expensive or "superior" pickups, just one that I knew was a bit edgy-sounding, and the difference was huge. So, a pickup change can definitely turn things around for a guitar, no matter what the wood.

The no-load pots are a big piece of it, too. After playing guitar for decades, I found out that any standard pot turned all the way counter-clockwise still dulls the sound; the no-loads don't and the difference is immediately noticeable. CTS no-loads cost only $6.00 each and, if you want more of a ringing edge, are definitely worth the investment. If I'd have know about them earlier, I would've never sold a couple of very cool guitars due to "dullness." They really open up the sound.

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Old 11-22-2012, 11:19 AM   #20
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I have a 1998 Peavey EVH Wolfgang Special, USA made, that is basswood and the thing sings. I've seen them used at Guitar Center and on EBay going for $500 to $800.
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