#1
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 at Nov 23, 2012,
#2
Basswood is ****ing awesome wood.

Just ask John Suhr.

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
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#3
John Suhr charges used car prices for his guitars. Would the reasonably-priced guitars sound just as good, at least with high-end pickups?
#4
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.

1977 Burny FLG70
2004 EBMM JP6
2016 SE Holcolmb
#5
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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#6
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 at Nov 20, 2012,
#7
Quote 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.
Quote by Arjun_M

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.
Quote by Arjun_M

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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#8
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?
Last edited by Arjun_M at Nov 20, 2012,
#9
Quote by Arjun_M
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.
#10
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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#11
Quote 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?
#12
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.
#13
Check out the offerings from Godin Guitars. Criminally underrated instruments. They should suit you just fine.
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#14
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.
Last edited by Arjun_M at Nov 21, 2012,
#15
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.
#16
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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#17
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.
Last edited by Arjun_M at Nov 22, 2012,
#18
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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#19
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.
Last edited by woad_yurt at Nov 22, 2012,
#20
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.
#21
Quote by Bidley
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.


Why are you spreading this BS? Not true at all.
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#22
Used Ibanez Prestige? They can be picked up on Guitar Center, and even with all the price inflation, amount to a lot less than the same guitars sold here new. But is it really worth the import? It will, ultimately, need new pickups, and I am rather apprehensive about the Edge Zero trem. There are no used Ibanez Prestige guitars out here- the only ones floating used are those junk GIO models, and the odd regular RG320/350/370.

I'd like to hear some feedback from Jackson SLX (and other X-series soloist) owners here. Just how good is it?
#23
Fair, some suggest going in for a used Ibanez Prestige. Prices sometimes come to $500 at Guitar Center. How does that compare with a new RG350/Jackson SLX? And what's your advice about maintaining/changing the trem/bridge?

Alternatively, I may try to snag a Fender HM Strat. Would you recommend one? And what work will be needed on it?
#24
Quote by Arjun_M
Fair, some suggest going in for a used Ibanez Prestige. Prices sometimes come to $500 at Guitar Center. How does that compare with a new RG350/Jackson SLX?

But it this way, if i had a Jackson X Series or a 350 next to an Ibanez 1570, i would rip the EMG's from the Jackson, but them in the 1570 and use the 350 and the remains of the Jackson to keep my house warm.

That isn't directly saying that X series Jackson's and the 350 are bad guitars, because they aren't, they're good guitars for the price, but the hypothetical scenario puts how much better an Ibanez Prestige is to either of the other guitars into perspective. The pickups on the entry-level Prestige guitars are the only entry-level thing about them.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Jan 9, 2013,
#25
So the RG Prestige has a much better build quality and a much better quality of basswood than the RG Regular and Jackson's X series. But would you recommend the RG1570/2570 selling between $500-700 at Guitar Center? Or would you suggest opting for any RG550/570 at the same price range? And the trem- what can I do about the trem? Reviews about Edge Zero are not the most positive.
#26
Everything is better on the Prestiges. Not sure you're going to see a huge difference in quality between the 1570/25xx and older 550/570. They will have different pickups, bridges, colors and neck profiles.

If you're buying used, the chances are that a 1570 would have the edge pro and the older 550/570 would have the original edge or the lo pro edge. The edge zero with the ZPS enabled is MUCH more stiff, but more tuning stable (specially for fancy bends). Haven't tried an edge zero that had the ZPS disengaged, so I can't tell you if it would have more of the old school edge feel.

And at $500, it's a no brainer to get a good condition 1570/25xx/550/570 over a brand new rg350. I'd take a cosmetically challenged one over a new rg350 as well. My most recent guitar is a rg2550e that has tons of paint dings on the edges, but had no issues where it counts. And plays amazing. All for $440 CAD, including the prestige case. Win!
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#27
Quote by Arjun_M

Alternatively, I may try to snag a Fender HM Strat. Would you recommend one? And what work will be needed on it?


Oops missed this part. Don't get me wrong, the HM Strats are pretty nice guitars, but the Kahler Spyder bridge is rubbish. The metal is way too soft. Hell I have a bent mounting post on mine now. There was a year or two in the earlier 90s that they used OFR in them. Too bad the an OFR can't be dropped into the older ones (different mounting post spacing grrrr).
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#29
Quote by Tom 1.0
Basswood is ****ing awesome wood.

Just ask John Suhr.


Agreed, I used to own an Ibanez RG570, which obviously wasn't comparable to custom shop basswood guitars, but I always loved the tones I could get out of it compared to a few of my other guitars that were made of ash or alder that were of near the same quality of the guitar, but I ended up giving that guitar to a friend as a Christmas present.
#30
The Edge Zero is awesome. Take all reviews with a grain of salt - they're generally only left by people wrapped up in the honeymoon phase, or by bitter people.

Also would like to reinforce that any Ibby Prestige destroys anything else you've mentioned. Just get a Prestige!
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X