Poll: Wood:
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View poll results: Wood:
Agathis
23 16%
Basswood
117 84%
Voters: 140.
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#1
Cheap woods, cheap prices.

Which one sounds better?

Agathis said to be "Commercial Grade Mahogany"
BS?
#2
Basswood is lighter in weight, it's bright, but still retains some warmth. Agathis will give you a warmer deeper sound, like mahogany, but not as dark.
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#3
basswood all the way. Agathis usually is used on nothing but chea[p guitars. Basswood is used on $1000+ ibanez's. Open and shut.
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#4
Basswood by far. Basswood is a decent tonewood, with it's only real flaw being that it's a little softer than most other good woods so it's that bit more vulnerable to dents and bumps.

Agathis though is just pure **** all-round.
#5
I'd go with Basswood, but I have no problem with my Agathis bodied guitar, still gets the job done.
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#7
Quote by bokuho
Agathis though is just pure **** all-round.

On what do you base this statement, if I may ask?
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#8
basswood IS cheap.

but its far from crappy. Its got a very flat neutral sound to it. not too bassy, not to trebly.. sits right in the middle with a great resonance.
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#9
Basswood. In general it's a better wood.

Good basswood is used on some nice high-end guitars, and for good reason.

Nobody uses agathis on signature models or anything other than student beginner guitars.
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#10
Basswood, there really is no comparison. ^
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#12
Quote by .arkness:.
...Agathis usually is used on nothing but chea[p guitars. Basswood is used on $1000+ ibanez's. Open and shut.
So because its used on lower end guitars, its tonal qualities are garbage?

There isn't a single convincing argument as to why Agathis is a poor tonewood compared to Basswood in this thread.

To be honest, I find basswood to be the single most lifeless, dull, and boring wood used for guitar production. I've never played a "good" guitar made of Basswood.

On the flipside, I've played countless LTD model guitars under the assumption they were Mahogany, only to find out later they were Agathis.

My advice to the OP would be to play a few RGs, followed by a few LTD Horizons and/or M-IIs. You decide
我会关闭我的耳朵,和我的心; 我会变成一个石头
"I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone"
Last edited by jm1681 at Apr 7, 2008,
#13
Basswood is very neutral, but can maintain a good tone, and lots of sustain. Agathis is dark sounding and has one of the ****iest sustains in wood. Mahogany is also dark but has one of the best sustains. Agathis usually sucks. Sustain is really important.
#15
Even though my agathis body has served me well, its like night and day really. In the battle of the "cheap" body woods, basswood is the Ali, and agathis is the Frazier.
#16
Quote by jm1681
So because its used on lower end guitars, its tonal qualities are garbage?

There isn't a single convincing argument as to why Agathis is a poor tonewood compared to Basswood in this thread.

To be honest, I find basswood to be the single most lifeless, dull, and boring wood used for guitar production. I've never played a "good" guitar made of Basswood.

On the flipside, I've played countless LTD model guitars under the assumption they were Mahogany, only to find out later they were Agathis.

My advice to the OP would be to play a few RGs, followed by a few LTD Horizons and/or M-IIs. You decide

Exactly. And I bet most people saying "omg agathis is ****. boo." would say "boo, basswood is firewood" if Ibanez didn't start using it for their cheapo guitars. Same for ash and Fender guitars.. they didn't use ash because it had awesome tonal properties.. no, they used it because the wood was readily available in large quantities and low costs.
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#17
The reason basswood is used on high end ibbys (like my rg) is cause its good quality basswood, just like you will find low qual. mahogany on epi LP specials

All agathis is ****, thats why its used only on practice guitar, like your precious starters LTD's

My RG has great tone, since its neutral, you can get different tones out of it based on your rig, it has great sustain too, and is very light.
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#18
Quote by Teh GIR
...All agathis is ****, thats why its used only on practice guitar, like your precious starters LTD's...
Truly a well thought out and completely non-opinionated statement I'm bound to take seriously

Sorry, I've played quite a few guitars that both sound and feel great that happen to be Agathis, and far too many blah sounding Basswood guitars.

The underlying point is, threads like these (Which is better) fail on an epic scale because it eventually just turns into a bashing match when the only opinion that really matters is the person asking the question.

Anno[fzk], play a few of both and come to your own conclusion.
我会关闭我的耳朵,和我的心; 我会变成一个石头
"I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone"
#20
Agathis is typically a cheap substitue for mahogany, whereas basswood is used in all grades of guitar, many because it's lightweight whilst still being fairly resonant. Some very expensive guitars use basswood for reduced weight, and clarity - the Ibanez JEM being the first example that springs to mind.
#21
Quote by kyle62
Agathis is typically a cheap substitue for mahogany, whereas basswood is used in all grades of guitar, many because it's lightweight whilst still being fairly resonant. Some very expensive guitars use basswood for reduced weight, and clarity - the Ibanez JEM being the first example that springs to mind.


+1 for kyle62.

Agathis is being used more as mahogany gets more and more scarce and more expensive. But tests have shown it to not have the range and musicality of mahogany. Mahogany is dense and heavy and will accentuate the low frequencies more naturally than basswood and other light woods. Basswood is a lighter and more tone neutral wood and can't really be compared directly to agathis or mahogany for the same type of sound. But a maple top on basswood is well known to be one of the best body types, and some very expensive guitars use maple on top of basswood. With a hard finish such as polyester, or with a maple top, there are not many problems with basswood denting. You will usually find plain agathis or basswood bodies on cheaper guitars or basses. All that being said, the pickups and overall density of the wood (rather than wood type) will impart more tone than the wood itself.
#22
Basswood.

Well low end agathis and low end basswood are both pretty ****.

But out of higher grades, Basswood.

Just to appeal to those "Yeah? Well who uses it!?!?!" types.
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#23
You'll note however that EVO, Steve Vai's main instrument for some time was Alder, as is the Jem7V
我会关闭我的耳朵,和我的心; 我会变成一个石头
"I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone"
#24
my jackson dxmg is basswood, it has a very bright tone, i find that helpful when chording while using heavy distortion. but i dont care much for the tone on the clean side. its a good metal guitar wood imo.
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#25
Quote by hunter33
But tests have shown it to not have the range and musicality of mahogany.

What tests? Got a link to the source?

Tbh, I'm convinced nobody here could reliably tell the difference between a maple and mahogany guitar (same pups/amp of course) in a blind test.
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#26
^ I'll take that challenge anytime.
我会关闭我的耳朵,和我的心; 我会变成一个石头
"I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone"
#27
I remember a little challenge one UGer set up.. he had 4 or so different guitars, ranging from Rickenbackers to Gretches to Fenders and posted soundclips every once in a while.. nobody ever really consistently guessed it right what guitar he was using.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the gear needed to setup my own test.. so I'm gonna have to dissapoint you there jm1681
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#28
Quote by Kanthras
What tests? Got a link to the source?

Tbh, I'm convinced nobody here could reliably tell the difference between a maple and mahogany guitar (same pups/amp of course) in a blind test.


Sorry, I don't have a link handy but read a very nice article on it recently. You can find lots of information by googling "tonewoods" and some sites even have graphs & charts where the wood has been gauged with instruments as sound waves were passed through it.

I play the 5 string banjo (much better than guitar) and maple, mahogany, and walnut are the 3 predominant woods used in banjo construction. Walnut and mahogany are similar in their tonal characteristics and it is difficult to tell the difference in tone between the two. But it's very easy to hear the difference between a maple and a mahogany banjo, even to the untrained ear. The maple banjo will have more crack, bite, and harshness to the tone. The mahogany banjo will be smoother and more mellow. The wood probably doesn't make as much difference in an electric with magnetic pickups as it does in an acoustic instrument, but I'm betting it has some effect. I think I can hear basic tonal differences in the different types of wood on my electrics and on others I've played.
#29
Quote by hunter33
Sorry, I don't have a link handy but read a very nice article on it recently. You can find lots of information by googling "tonewoods" and some sites even have graphs & charts where the wood has been gauged with instruments as sound waves were passed through it.

I play the 5 string banjo (much better than guitar) and maple, mahogany, and walnut are the 3 predominant woods used in banjo construction. Walnut and mahogany are similar in their tonal characteristics and it is difficult to tell the difference in tone between the two. But it's very easy to hear the difference between a maple and a mahogany banjo, even to the untrained ear. The maple banjo will have more crack, bite, and harshness to the tone. The mahogany banjo will be smoother and more mellow. The wood probably doesn't make as much difference in an electric with magnetic pickups as it does in an acoustic instrument, but I'm betting it has some effect. I think I can hear basic tonal differences in the different types of wood on my electrics and on others I've played.

Yes, I'm positive there is a difference in tone, especially in acoustic instruments. I just think most people can't really tell much of a difference with electric guitars. You really need blind tests for this because otherwise you get the "hearing what you think you're hearing" thing. I'd definitely be interested in the site you mention. Using an oscilloscope for things like this would be a great way to see any differences in tone.
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#31
It's not which one's better, it's where it's made. Take any agathis guitar and look at its origin. You'll see that it's more than likely made in Indonesia and is worth less than a twelve year old's monthly allowance.

Now take any basswood guitar, and chance is that you'll come up with a rather extensive range: from American Parkers that cost as much as a decent used car, to the Japanese Satriani and Vai sigs, to - yet again - cheaper south asian guitars, all that with everything in between.

So they use basswood in the range of guitars from thrifty to amazing because it's actually a decent tonewood with its own set of characteristics that you might like or dislike (like any other tonewood at that). On the other hand, they use agathis because it profusely grows around the factories where cheap guitars are made, and they simply don't have to go far to get some kind of wood to make a $150 guitar for even less. Some kind of wood, not explicitly tonewood.
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#32
Quote by pifty
Some kind of wood, not explicitly tonewood.

That's what luthiers thought about ash before Fender started using it. It was considered firewood, pretty much. Now it's a true vintage tonewood
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#33
Quote by Kanthras
I remember a little challenge one UGer set up.. he had 4 or so different guitars, ranging from Rickenbackers to Gretches to Fenders and posted soundclips every once in a while.. nobody ever really consistently guessed it right what guitar he was using.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the gear needed to setup my own test.. so I'm gonna have to dissapoint you there jm1681
Just by sound, it would be tough, but if I've got it in my hands...
我会关闭我的耳朵,和我的心; 我会变成一个石头
"I will close my ears and my heart and I will be a stone"
#34
Quote by Kanthras
That's what luthiers thought about ash before Fender started using it. It was considered firewood, pretty much. Now it's a true vintage tonewood


Well, my point wasn't to say that it's firewood, or to even make any claims as to its quality as a tonewood. My point was to say that as a tonewood it's used almost exclusively in cheap Indo guitars. The keyword here is cheap. Nobody is going to use a good quality tonewood in a cheap guitar, that's extremely uneconomical for a product which (I hope we'll agree) aims to produce profit first, and manufacture a musical instrument of passable quality second. They gotta penny pinch.

Speaking of. From my experience with agathis guitars, they'd actually make a terrible firewood - as they're neither dense nor hard. Ash, on the other hand does make an excellent firewood. The qualities of a good firewood are not far off from the qualities of a good tonewood.
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#35
Quote by pifty
Well, my point wasn't to say that it's firewood, or to even make any claims as to its quality as a tonewood. My point was to say that as a tonewood it's used almost exclusively in cheap Indo guitars. The keyword here is cheap. Nobody is going to use a good quality tonewood in a cheap guitar, that's extremely uneconomical for a product which (I hope we'll agree) aims to produce profit first, and manufacture a musical instrument of passable quality second. They gotta penny pinch.

Speaking of. From my experience with agathis guitars, they'd actually make a terrible firewood - as they're neither dense nor hard. Ash, on the other hand does make an excellent firewood. The qualities of a good firewood are not far off from the qualities of a good tonewood.

Well, my point was is that agathis may well be considered a fantastic, vitage-ey tonewood in 20 years from now (if we still use tonewoods in 20 years..). Ash was cheap, wasn't considered a tonewood at all (much less a bad a tonewood) and was used by Fender because they had ash forests growing practically next to their factories. And Fender was pretty much a "budget" brand back then.
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#36
Alright, take these two guitars
ESP EC-50 -Agathis
Epiphone Les Paul Special II -Basswood

Which do you think would sound better?
But due to pickups
ESP- Better Distortion
Epiphone- Probably better clean

But if you were to put some.. Say DiMarzio's on them
Now which would you think would sound better
#38
Quote by jm1681
You'll note however that EVO, Steve Vai's main instrument for some time was Alder, as is the Jem7V


Good thing I'm a huge Vai fan and know that it's his only alder guitar that he uses mainly and that he's been using Flo (basswood) a lot more recently and every JEM that isn't a 7VWH is Basswood.
#39
Quote by Teh GIR
The reason basswood is used on high end ibbys (like my rg) is cause its good quality basswood, just like you will find low qual. mahogany on epi LP specials

All agathis is ****, thats why its used only on practice guitar, like your precious starters LTD's

My RG has great tone, since its neutral, you can get different tones out of it based on your rig, it has great sustain too, and is very light.



Starter LTD's are now made of basswood with the exception of the 200 series.
Be cool.
#40
I own a guitar made of each, a cheap starter guitar made of agathis and an Ibanez JS1200. Low quality wood is low quality wood, but high-end basswood is fantastic. The JS is the best guitar I've ever played, personally, and the wood it's made of is good enough for Satriani so I'm pretty sold on it.
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