#1
In terms of wood placement, what affects tone the most? The neck, the fret board, the body?
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
#2
#1 - The Body
#2 - The Neck
#3 - Fretboard
"Punk Rock should mean freedom, liking and accepting anything that you like, as sloppy as you want, as long as it's good and has passion."
#3
Quote by Din of Win
#1 - The Body
#2 - The Neck
#3 - Fretboard

I tend to see it this way too. People go back and forth over whether its the body or neck that has the bigger impact, there's not really a clear consensus.

I hope this thread doesn't devolve into a "wood matters" war.
Composite Aficionado


Spector and Markbass
#4
Quote by Tostitos
I tend to see it this way too. People go back and forth over whether its the body or neck that has the bigger impact, there's not really a clear consensus.

I hope this thread doesn't devolve into a "wood matters" war.

Wood doesn't mean jack, just ask any air guitarist.
Quote by FatalGear41
In the end, the only question is: what bass would Jesus play?

I think he's a Fender Jazz guy.
#5
I would really like to see some decent research put into this matter. Of course, if there already has, please point me in the right direction.
I honestly can't tell if the differences that I've heard between woods have been actual differences or just me hearing what I wanted to hear because I have heard idfferences but at the same time it makes no sense to me why there would be any.

OT: no idea, sorry
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Okay guys, I have a confession to make. Not really a confession since it's something that's been bugging me for awhile but I've always been in denial about it.

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#8
Quote by gilly_90
I would really like to see some decent research put into this matter. Of course, if there already has, please point me in the right direction.
I honestly can't tell if the differences that I've heard between woods have been actual differences or just me hearing what I wanted to hear because I have heard differences but at the same time it makes no sense to me why there would be any.

OT: no idea, sorry


I have to agree

I think I've read rondo basses have maybe wider necks than fenders or what have you so look into that, but also let me know.

Edit: I'd say it's not worth the savings of buying rondo only to have to possibly extensively buying a new neck/body and alter the neck pocket, neck what have you.
Last edited by askrere at Oct 4, 2011,
#9
Quote by gilly_90
I would really like to see some decent research put into this matter. Of course, if there already has, please point me in the right direction.

IIRC last time a "wood matters vs. wood doesn't matter" war flared up in a thread, someone (I think it was Ben but I don't really remember) came in with a study that basically confirmed wood choices affected tone, but it was just one small piece of the puzzle in there with pickups/electronics, strings, etc.

As for how much the body matters vs. the neck vs. the fretboard, I've never heard of any research on that. There's probably a lot of variation between neck through's and bolt-ons/set necks and when you take body and neck laminations into account.
Composite Aficionado


Spector and Markbass
#10
I remember hearing someone on talkbass made several recordings with several jazz basses with different woods and made a guessing game and everyone got it wrong and then got mad.

but whatever
#11
Quote by askrere
I remember hearing someone on talkbass made several recordings with several jazz basses with different woods and made a guessing game and everyone got it wrong and then got mad.

but whatever

yeah that sounds about right.

''But the recordings weren't in 320kbps, therefore I can't tell the difference between Alder and Bubinga because of your shoddy recording. Trust me, i've been a sound engineer for 60 years.''
pinga
#12
The reason I ask is because I had a thought. I love Warwick tone, but Rockbasses really just dont get there. Dont get me wrong, theyre good in their own right, but just not real Warwick grumble. Now, I think the pups in the Warwick and RB basses are the same, or at least in some models, but the greatest difference is in the wood quality. Therefore, wood=tone. Or is this not how that works?

Anywho, I thought maybe I'd buy this spiffy looking bass and then later purchase a Warmoth Gecko fiver to swap out with the original neck. Id choose some really warm punchy woods like bubinga or mahogany. I like the sound of Wenge, too.
Other basses Im interested in:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Brice-HXB-405-MN-Nat-Bubinga-Bass-Guitar-5-String-New-/370541853817?pt=Guitar&hash=item564603fc79#ht_4055wt_905

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kona-Select-Exotic-Woods-Series-5-String-Neck-Through-Body-Bass-New-/220868438914?pt=Guitar&hash=item336cc8eb82#ht_1597wt_905
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
#13
If you don't think wood matters then you're a total nong.
I stole this from the Ormsby guitars website, I agree with it for the most part but I'd attribute more to the fretboard wood.
As a general rule, here are some estimates on the areas and parts of a guitar and how much they actually contribute. Of course, all percentages are to be taken as a rough guide:
Pickups - 25% (Hotter pickups override the natural tone more, especially with active systems)
Body wood - 20%
Top wood - 15%
Neck wood - 25%
Fretboard - 5%
Bridge type - 5%
Scale length - 5%
Neck joint style - 5%
Other (nut, machineheads) - 5%
If you know your mathematics, you'll notice thats more than 100% tone. Yes we do have more tone that the others

Not sure about that more than 100% thing though.
Basses:
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Jazz Bass
1967 Fender Coronado Bass II
Warwick Star Bass
Squier Precision Bass TB
#14
I do believe wood matters, but i've noticed it affects tone more on passive basses than active basses. There are a few exceptions (Warwick is the first to come to mind) but active electronics seem to mask some of the woods tones. Thats why if I was to use woods in a bass that impart certain qualities that I would want in the tone, I would go with a passive bass. Just my $.02
Quote by Bass First
Rump, a P-bass delivers a rump in the sound such that, similar to the rump on an African American woman, it is the highlight of the tone.
#15
Quote by consecutive e
If you don't think wood matters then you're a total nong.


Lets not start anything, but I have to say I don't believe anything that's from a company selling something. But again whatever.
#16
It's an issue that's noticeable but probably not distinguishable. The noticeability probably lies in the attack much more than overall "tone" or how bright or dark the bass is.

Quote by Ziphoblat
From my experience I would order it;

1) Fretboard
2) Body
3) Neck


My experience, and the rating that makes the most common sense in terms of how wood is affecting the vibrations of the strings lines up with Ziphoblat's. Strings actually touch and are held tightly to the fingerboard and vibrate accordingly, the resonance of the body (biggest chunk of wood and the one that's actually designed to resonate) affects the strings from there (now more about sustain and decay than attack) and then the neck wood probably has such a small (or non-existant) sonic effect that no one will ever be able to even notice, let alone judge what wood or tonal change is there.

We can argue about how much of a noticeable difference in actual sound wood makes, but it should be obvious to anyone with an IQ above 65 that a change in the wood's resonance (which does vary among the species) is going to affect the strings' resonance, which in turn affects their interaction with the pickup and the electric signal produced. Anyone saying there's literally no difference between the sonic characteristics of tone woods, doesn't understand the basics of physics.

Quote by askrere
Lets not start anything, but I have to say I don't believe anything that's from a company selling something. But again whatever.


"My sports drink will hydrate you and provide you with the salts that are depleted during athletic activity." I'm pretty sure that's an explicit claim by every sports drink maker, and it actually happens to be true. We should believe some of the things advertisements tell us. When an advertiser talks about their awesome new 4 string bass, I bet it really does have four strings, and when it talks about maple having a snappy attack, I bet it really does have a sharper attack than an all mahogany bass with the same exact build, pickups, etc.

I'm not making fun, I'm saying that your style of absolutism in this case is bad logic and bad consumer policy.


Quote by c3powil
Im thinking about just buying a rondo music bass like this
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Douglas-WEB-825-NA-Bass-Guitar-5-String-/220864709395?pt=Guitar&hash=item336c900313#ht_3585wt_905
and then switching out either the neck or the body. Body switch seems harder so it'll probably be the neck to go first.



Body is the one thing people like about the SX (and I'm assuming Douglas) basses. They're made from 2-3 pieces of decent wood and usually finished pretty well (just like almost any nice mainstream production bass). The necks have nice materials too, though the fretwork and finish can be iffy. Buy from rondo if you want a nice body and neck and plan on changing everything else and doing fret-work, not vice-versa.
Last edited by dullsilver_mike at Oct 5, 2011,
#17
Quote by askrere
Lets not start anything, but I have to say I don't believe anything that's from a company selling something. But again whatever.

I wasn't starting anything, I was stating fact.

The second bit was pretty thick too, as dullsilver explained.
Basses:
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Jazz Bass
1967 Fender Coronado Bass II
Warwick Star Bass
Squier Precision Bass TB
#18
Quote by consecutive e
I wasn't starting anything, I was stating fact.

The second bit was pretty thick too, as dullsilver explained.


And let me clarify that I'm not disagreeing with Askrere's observation from TB. The distinction I made between noticeable and distinguishable is right in line with that. I think people can definitely hear a difference between the sound of such woods. I don't think it's defined enough that they can clearly and consistently identify what wood is being used based on the sound. Pickups, strings, and where your plucking hand is between the bridge and neck are both going to have a much much larger effect on your sound than anything else on the bass.

I think anyone could tell you which pup is soloed long before they could guess at what wood a bass is made of. It's just that, even with that being true, they could still hear a difference between two otherwise matching basses made from different woods.
#19
I was talking about the bit about not believing advertising, but I agree with you there too.
Also, I believe that even two basses that are made to exactly the same specs aren't going to sound exactly the same either. Too many variable factors.
Basses:
Fender Precision Bass
Fender Jazz Bass
1967 Fender Coronado Bass II
Warwick Star Bass
Squier Precision Bass TB
#20
The no-sayers to tonewoods really aught to sit down in a shop, pick up two basses of exactly the same model, with only one variation; rosewood and maple on the fingerboards. If you can't hear a difference, you're just death.

The "every guitar is slightly different" argument is bull too, because it's not just a slight difference, and I'll gladly advise you to compare five maple basses to five rosewood basses of the same model.
#21
Depends on the wood; say you have an ash bass and an alder bass, one has rosewood and one has maple, the fretboard wood will make more difference. Whereas if one bass was bubinga, the body makes the most difference.

I would say that they effect different things too, the neck and body woods affect sustain and tone whereas fingerboard wood affect the percussion/attack (i.e. rosewood is smooth and warm while maple and ebony are snappy.)
#22
Or, one might put forward, that it is mostly the placebo effect, and wood has only a very minor impact in the actual sound of the instrument.
Current Gear:

Warwick Thumb BO 4
Musicman "StatusRay" Stingray 4 - Carbon Fibre Neck
Musicman Stingray 5 HH
Sadowsky MV4 Jazz

Markbass LittleMark II
AccuGroove Tri12l
Sansamp VT Bass
Line6 BassPodXT Live

CHECK OUT MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
#23
Well I think I found my bass, but I'm still way interested in this semi debate/conversation.

Take the Warwick perspective. Why do they sound SO darn good? Most, if not all, say its because of the high quality exotic wood that goes into them. But wait a minute. When I hear a Warwick bass, I usually hear that Warwick "growl." But when I listen to several other high end basses I don't hear that tone. Yet, these other high end manufacturers, no doubt, use high quality woods. The Rockbass by Warwick uses the same bridge and pickups that the standards use, yet they still don't get that "Warwick" tone. Growl? Sure, but its still not the same. What woods are the Rockbass series made with? Alder, maple, the usual for most basses.
This leads me to believe that wood selection has a very prominent effect in tone. Of course electronics like pups and preamps are going to color the sound quite a bit, but you still cant escape the tonewood's spin.

Now thats for the argument of wood=tone.

But what about placement? It seems like half of you say body affects it the most, half say neck, and half say fingerboard.
Thats 3 halves.
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
Last edited by c3powil at Oct 5, 2011,
#24
Quote by c3powil
Well I think I found my bass, but I'm still way interested in this semi debate/conversation.

Take the Warwick perspective. Why do they sound SO darn good? Most, if not all, say its because of the high quality exotic wood that goes into them. But wait a minute. When I hear a Warwick bass, I usually hear that Warwick "growl." But when I listen to several other high end basses I don't hear that tone. Yet, these other high end manufacturers, no doubt, use high quality woods. The Rockbass by Warwick uses the same bridge and pickups that the standards use, yet they still don't get that "Warwick" tone. Growl? Sure, but its still not the same. What woods are the Rockbass series made with? Alder, maple, the usual for most basses.
This leads me to believe that wood selection has a very prominent effect in tone. Of course electronics like pups and preamps are going to color the sound quite a bit, but you still cant escape the tonewood's spin.

Now thats for the argument of wood=tone.

But what about placement? It seems like half of you say body affects it the most, half say neck, and half say fingerboard.
Thats 3 halves.


The main differences will be found in the following:

Pickup placement
Pickup manufacture
Bridge material
Fret material
Preamp
*EDIT*
Oh and Strings

That will make up about 95% of the tone, the woods will have the other 5%.

Don't believe me? There was a blind test done on TB a few months back, where no-one could tell the difference between a plank of pine nailed to a neck, and a high quality alder body.

The point I am making is, perhaps the differences in tone are in your head. The same way people think they can tell the difference between ESP power cables, all valve amps etc. is because they know before hand which one they want to sound better. They're called auditory illusions, and we are all susceptible.
Current Gear:

Warwick Thumb BO 4
Musicman "StatusRay" Stingray 4 - Carbon Fibre Neck
Musicman Stingray 5 HH
Sadowsky MV4 Jazz

Markbass LittleMark II
AccuGroove Tri12l
Sansamp VT Bass
Line6 BassPodXT Live

CHECK OUT MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
Last edited by Killerfridge at Oct 5, 2011,
#25
A blind test with a small sample using computer speakers is a bit piss poor though. If it was done more in depth than that, then fair enough. I don't claim to be able to say 'that's alder, that's poplar' etc, but whenever trying trying random basses in a shop, or trying other bassist's gear backstage, I'm almost always drawn to denser body woods in terms of sound. Of course some things are different, but on an individual point, I think there is merit in tonewood making a difference, to me at least, as there is a significant recurrence found in the basses I like the sound of.
#26
Quote by Ziphoblat
If you can't hear a difference, you're just death.


Well if I was dead it would explain somethings, but frighten the other patrons as well.

Maybe I was a bit thick, what I am saying is, A business that's into selling guitars using very expensive woods and such is going to tell you yes it matters, and the fact they have a percentage lineup created is laughable I'm sorry. Yes gatorade works, but it's really just slightly salty Kool-aid, any doctor can prove electrolytes matter, but that's different, it was proven by Florida states science department first.

My argument, excluding science, Fender made the "first" electric guitars, he used Henry Ford style factory methods and used the cheapest parts including wood he could find to mass produce alternating between alder ash or whatever he could get. He also painted his guitars. It isn't until the more recent decades that tonewoods became a word, with the advent of custom luthiers with fancy charts and facts about each wood. and usually these woods are very "pretty" expensive and not painted over. I feel these woods are used more for the decorative aspects.

Science wise, well I have nothing and no one else does because there's no real research on it. It's all speculation, opinion and as someone said possibly placebo effect. I can't certainly can't convince you, and you certainly can't convince me that if I played 5 jazz basses with different woods the tone would be noticeably changed by the wood, especially by some arbitrary number like 25%...

No one will ever agree, so it's a debate but no one will change sides I don't believe as well.

It would take a major blind scientific study, but as long as musicians believe their ears are better than science, it's just like arguing about religion. I am willing to be wrong, but I need proof, If I told you, you could jump off a cliff and survive, you'd ask for proof, and if I just said it was my opinion from how it looked to me, you'd say bullshit, so why is this different? Let's call up Adam and Jamie for some Mythbustin'
#27
That would be freaking sweet id the Mythbusters took up this challenge. Somehow I just don't think its quite exiting enough for them, though.
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
Last edited by c3powil at Oct 5, 2011,
#28
yea unless they got some big figure people like Slash who's always on TV.

Reading the warmoth tonewood chart was interesting, all the standard woods have very neutral descriptions, and the more exotic they are the better description, but they still all get compared very closely to the standard woods. If it is true they have a sound, it seems paying for the fancier woods is really just getting the fancy look.
#29
The sound captured by the pick-ups is the vibrating of the strings. The strings are vibrating against wood. The density of the wood affects the way that the strings vibrate.

I'm not necessarily saying that I agree with all this "alder is neutral, ash has more treble" stuff, but what I am saying is that logically there simply must be a sonic difference between woods because of their physical properties. Make a plastic body with the same density as alder and it'll probably inherit many of the sonic characteristics of an alder body.

Body woods and such are debatable, but I have heard myself an obvious objective difference between fingerboards. It was glaringly obvious when I was working my way throgh EBMM Stingrays in a music shop, plenty of the same model, and the maple ones all had different sound characteristics to the rosewoods - sure, each individual instrument is slightly different anyway, but there was definitely a clear pattern. One that I've also noticed on many Fender instruments too.

It's also worth considering that the sound quality and/or characteristics of the electronics installed on an instrument is going to affect the difference that changes in wood have.

Let's say we take a Fender 50s Tele-style P-bass with a mudbucker at the neck and play deep gentle fingerstyle over that pup. Let's assume for a second that body wood affects frequency response of an instrument, and that this hypothetical P-bass is made of a body wood that has a largely flat/neutral frequency response, and that then we swap the body wood for one lacking in high end but with a warmer bassy sound. We're not going to notice much (if any) difference at all are we? The nature of the electronics and the way we played the bass determined that there was little high end being used, so getting rid of that high end by changing the wood makes little difference.

I suspect that if tonewoods do make a difference, it will be far more noticeable or play a far greater part in the tone of some instruments than others.
#30
again, this is your ear, not proven fact. Also wouldn't that fretboard argument only be true at all on a fretless neck since the string is on the wood alone, not actually pushed onto a piece of metal?

I believe it would play a part in acoustic instruments
#31
Quote by askrere
again, this is your ear, not proven fact. Also wouldn't that fretboard argument only be true at all on a fretless neck since the string is on the wood alone, not actually pushed onto a piece of metal?

I believe it would play a part in acoustic instruments


I don't claim it to be proven fact, I claim it to be the outcome I would find most likely were someone to conduct scientific study based on what my own experiences lead me to believe.

It obviously does make a difference on fretless instruments (just play anything with an ebonol board and observe the almost artificial kind of tone), but it can still affect fretted ones, just to a lesser extent. The frets aren't small enough objects to disperse all of the energy of a vibrating sting, much of it is still transferred elsewhere.

It also obviously affects acoustic instruments - just compare an acrylic snare drum to a wooden one.
#32
Quote by Ziphoblat
It also obviously affects acoustic instruments - just compare an acrylic snare drum to a wooden one.


Mhm I agree
#33
The vibration of the strings is relative to the body and therefore the pickups.

The vibration of the body and therefore the relative vibration of the strings is dependent on the density, grain and cut of the wood.

Ipso facto, wood effects tone.
#34
But, to an extent we could hear and identify? Thats where the real skepticism lies
#35
I would venture to agree that wood does affect tone; though most players would be hard-pressed to blindly make out woods based solely on tone or sound in electric instruments, the main reason of course being the pickups and related hardware.

The easiest example of this idea is a Fender P-bass played in comparison to a Fender J-bass. Both are commonly made of either alder or ash, yet each are capable of much different tones. Sure, there is some resonance picked up from the fretboard, neck and body, but the pickups primarily pick up the vibration of the string. Piezoelectric pickups do more justice in picking up wood resonance from a bass, but these pickups are usually reserved for higher-end models and acoustics. Pickup type and location also affects tone (hello, Musicman basses).

Proponents of wood ≠ tone would argue that Leo Fender chose alder and ash for his basses because they were cheap woods, and thus easy to obtain for manufacture rather than take any consideration for tonal or resonate capabilities. Another common argument is that "high-end" basses use expensive woods merely to increase cost and add a semblance of luxury to the product, much like leather seating in a car. How does a Steinberger bass work without all that wood to resonate? What about graphite or lucite (plexiglass) basses?

I personally believe wood does affect tone in a bass, but it's minor in my considerations when looking at basses relative to construction (fit & finish), pickups, feel, and playability. Sure, some woods look great (spalted maple, flamed maple), but I'd rather have a great-playing bass than a good looking one (Fender's relic "deconstructed" series, anyone?).

Quote by Ziphoblat
It also obviously affects acoustic instruments - just compare an acrylic snare drum to a wooden one.


I would only truly consider tone woods when choosing an acoustic instrument, mainly for the fact that tone is heavily dependent on the wood (which vibrates and creates the sound) that makes up the instrument. I experienced this first-hand at a guitar shop when I was younger. I sat down and sampled several Taylor guitars, each made of different woods. It was easy to hear (even with my less-experienced ears at the time) that each flavor of Taylor guitar (Koa, Spruce, Mahogany, Rosewood) had different voices. Some were noticeably bright and cheery, some were as dark as the coffee I drank that morning.

Grayedit:
Quote by askrere
But, to an extent we could hear and identify? Thats where the real skepticism lies


I would say that in purely acoustic guitars, possibly...but only because it gets rid of the variables in the pickups, amp, and other miscellaneous things. Even if I were to blindly listen to two different acoustic guitars, I would be able to identify which guitar was constructed with wood that was darker or brighter in tone, not necessarily the wood by name.
Back to the classic avatar.

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Last edited by graybass_20x6 at Oct 5, 2011,
#36
Quote by graybass_20x6
How does a Steinberger bass work without all that wood to resonate? What about graphite or lucite (plexiglass) basses?

Because graphite composites, lucite, plexiglass, etc. resonate too, albeit differently than wood? Especially when it comes to graphite, people attribute tonal characteristics to composites such as the "clear" or "sterile" tone sometimes associated with Steinbergers or some Modulus basses, or the more "organic" or "woody" tone that's more associated with Zon.

I know you're just playing devil's advocate there, but I felt that part of the argument needed a hole poked in it.
Composite Aficionado


Spector and Markbass
#37
Quote by Tostitos
Because graphite composites, lucite, plexiglass, etc. resonate too, albeit differently than wood? Especially when it comes to graphite, people attribute tonal characteristics to composites such as the "clear" or "sterile" tone sometimes associated with Steinbergers or some Modulus basses, or the more "organic" or "woody" tone that's more associated with Zon.

I know you're just playing devil's advocate there, but I felt that part of the argument needed a hole poked in it.


Of course, you're correct sir. I was advocating a bit there, but expansion on the concept is always welcome.

Lucite and graphite do resonate as well. While I've always equated lucite basses to just appeal for their looks, I know graphite is common because it's indifferent to climate and resistant to warping, of which wood is guilty of from time to time. John Entwistle employed an all-graphite bass for some time, and I can't ever recall complaining about his tone.
Back to the classic avatar.

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#38
Im glad I made this thread before going out and ordering a Warmoth Gecko 6 string neck. Instead, I think Ill put that money into some new pups. Ken Smith anyone?
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat