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Posted by Mickster on February 15, 2001 at 12:43:44:
In Reply to: equipment posted by Quinn Lawrence on February 14, 2001 at 22:59:57:
: Hi, I am a trumpet player who just started playing bass. I know that equipment is
: a factor that everybody faces at any level. I was wondering when I decide to buy
: that special bass, what kind of woods should I check out? Also, I would like to
: know the differences between the woods as far as sound and etc. is concerned?
: I go to different websites and they just talk about where the woods came from
: instead of what they'll actually do for a player. Help?
Quinn, to start with, go to www.warmoth.com which is a guitar parts aftermarket
manufacturer, and click on guitar and bass bodies, and within that is a wood
description option. What I can tell you from owning more than a few different
basses myself, and what I learned at the warmoth site, is that lighter woods
generally have a warmer tone, and harder woods, a brighter tone. Now, there are
exceptions to this rule, and electronics plays a big part in the sound that comes out of an amp(which also colors the sound) but this is the accepted rule
of thumb. Most older Fender basses were made of alder, poplar, and basswood.
There really is a wood called basswood. A lot of people liked this sound because they said it was "warm". By this it's generally understood as having a
sound with little to moderate sustain. From the 70s on, as Fender got increasingly more competition from other(and often smaller manufacturers) the
woods used were often heavier giving more sustain and a brighter top end(high
notes) sometimes at the expense of the low notes. Right now, I have a Fender Jazz bass that's made from poplar. It doesn't have a lot of sustain, but, that's the sound I want. It's also fretless, and I'm also using flatwound strings, because I want it to sound as much as possible like an upright bass.
I also have an old Ibanez Musician bass that's actually two woods sandwiched
together(mahogany and ash) which is done sometimes to get the best of both wood worlds. They do this so that a wood that has a warm sound, but, not much sustain can get more sustain, without sounding too bright. My third bass is an
Epiphone Jack Casady, which is a thin hollow body. The Fender sounds good, the
Ibanez sounds great, but, nothing sounds like this hollow body bass. It has more
sustain than the Fender, which sounds contradictory, but, as I said, there are
exceptions to this rule. I could keep writting, but, time does not allow me right now. My taste is for lighter woods which have less sustain, because I like basses that sound more like acoustic basses, but, that's just my opinion.
There's no right or wrong to this, just preference. Check out that Warmoth site.
It's an education in itself. A horn player moving to bass, I like that.
Go John Faddis!
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