The electric guitar’s body wood is arguably the most important wood used in the building of a guitar, at least when it comes to the sound of the guitar. The grain pattern takes on a swirl, where the larger rings and sections around the outside enhance the strength of the body. Maple brings in a nice amount of high-end with a good bass boost too, however when strings are plucked nice and hard there’s still plenty of mid-range. Naturally, this skews the perception of basswood held by most people as they’ve never tried a high end guitar with basswood. That warm tone is largely attributed to a boost in the low mids. Lightweight cuts of basswood tend to sound much better than the heavier ones. The body is arguably the most important wood used in an electric guitar, but the guitar’s neck also plays a role. As far as hardwoods go, Korina is fairly light and it has a very fine grain, which is often enhanced when it’s being finished to give off the appearance of long streaks. Mahogany is often paired with an Ebony or a Rosewood fretboard. Many aren’t aware of this, but the type of wood used on your guitar can actually have a big impact on how the guitar sounds. Basswood is found on guitars all over the world, however while abundant it’s generally found on budget or midrange guitars. There are plenty of electric guitar body woods to choose from. That series included guitars like the Explorer and the Flying V, both of which have since switched over to Mahogany. Several [Fender] Japanese reissue models use Basswood [as body material]. Here are a few guitars built with an Alder body wood: Ash isn’t as often used these days as it once was, however it’s still a very popular choice for those looking for that classic Fender sound. It doesn’t help that a lot of budget guitars use basswood, and for a lot of guitarists, the only experience they have with basswood is cheaper budget guitars! Here are the most popular woods used in guitars. The wood, as mentioned, is often used in multi-wood bodies, where it’s used to add some bite to guitars that otherwise are much warmer — like Basswood guitars. A wide variety of guitarists during the 1980s used basswood body guitars, especially paired with bolt-on maple necks because of how well they cut through the mix. Poplar is technically a hard wood, but as far as hard woods go it’s relatively soft. When the ash is taken from the high portion of the tree, where it’s harder, it offers a slightly brighter tone that sounds great through a distortion pedal. It’s often used in Asian-made electric guitars, and while it has a relatively well-balanced sound it doesn’t offer much in the way of sustain or resonance. What makes basswood so controversial? The guitar body wood and the guitar neck wood, also known as tonewood, can range in look, feel, and more importantly, sound. When it comes to sound, Alder is known to be a very balanced choice for the guitar’s body wood. Basswood is quite light, both in sound and in color. Generally, basswood doesn’t offer much in the way of low end. Basswood. All rights reserved. Mahogany is a little more mellow than Maple, offering a slightly thicker tone while cutting a lot of the attack found on a Maple neck. P.S. Generally, the more desirable form of ash is swamp ash, which is ash taken from trees with roots that grow below water level. Mahogany is generally harvested in Africa and Central America, and its quite a hard, heavy wood. Generally speaking, hard maple is often considered too hard for guitar bodies, and as such it’s more often than not used in guitar necks. We’ll talk about neck wood and fretboard wood on other articles. John Suhr, founder of Suhr guitars and a former luthier at the Fender Custom Shop has said many times that one of his favorite wood combinations for bodies is basswood with a maple top. Copyright © All Things Gear. The reason basswood is used on cheap instruments is because it’s relatively inexpensive to buy poor quality basswood, and it is very soft, making it easy on tools. All Things Gear may make a commission on products sold through the links on this website. If you don’t believe me, go to your favorite forum, and ask them about basswood…. The midrange is a little scooped, and the guitar has a nice long sustain. don’t forget to take a look at our guitars we have in our store. That brightness is due to the wood’s hardness, and along with being bright, Maple offers plenty of sustain, and quite an aggressive bite. Not only that, but Alder is also relatively cheap, and is most often used in solid-body guitars. Basswood is a very “full” sounding wood, and it makes sense as adding the maple top gives the overall package more cut and brightness. The one persistent issue you will experience if you own a basswood guitar is that they ding very easily. Maple generally comes in two varieties — hard maple and soft maple. Basswood comes in a variety of different species, however most of them sound and look relatively similar. Basswood. Here’s a rundown of each type of body wood, how it affects sound, and a few popular options to choose from. As far as sound goes, basswood offers quite a bit of midrange, however it has some high-end too. Electric guitar body wood and neck wood: How tonewood affects your guitar’s sound, Everything you need to know about acoustic guitar body shapes. On a well-made guitar, basswood can yield good tone and dynamics, with good definition. Korina isn’t a very common electric guitar body wood, but it did get a pretty big break when it featured on Gibson‘s Modernistic Series of guitars in the late 1950s. Maple is far and away the most common type of electric guitar neck wood, and for good reason. Are you building an electric guitar or trying to decide which electric guitar to buy next? It has replaced a lot of different woods used in a range of guitars, including the aforementioned Gibson Flying V. These days, the most common guitars with Mahogany woods include the Gibson Les Paul Jr., the Les Paul Special, and the classic Gibson SG. Maple is generally considered the clearer of the two main neck woods. If you compare the weight of cheaper guitars made of basswood to boutique instruments with basswood, you’ll find that the boutique guitars weigh less and usually sound a lot better. Maybe there’s something basswood flavored you want? It doesn’t have too many lows to speak of, but that’s not a big problem for many people. The result is a guitar with a complexity of tones. Like basswood, alder is a lightweight type of body wood with soft and condensed pores. Check out the table below to find the perfect guitar for you. Today, countless modern metal guitarists love basswood and it’s used by guitarists like John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Steve Vai (although he seems to have gravitated towards alder), Guthrie Govan, and Satriani on some of his JS series Ibanez. While it’s often used in multi-wood guitars, when used on its own, Mahogany has a warm tone, but it’s a very balanced sound with a good bite when it needs it. Hard ash still looks quite similar to swamp ash, despite the slight variation in sound. Alder is one of the most popular electric guitar body woods today, largely because its use in Fender guitars since the 1950s. There are generally only two different electric guitar neck woods. When it comes to sound, Korina is very clear while still giving a lot of warmth and offers quite a long sustain. This in no way affects our review of a product. In my opinion, a lot of the controversy surrounding basswood stems from the fact that it varies wildly quality wise. In this article, we’ll tackle specifically an electric guitar’s body wood. Produces a light (body wt less than 4 lb.) That’s because the wood generally resonates more, is quite light, and has a very nice-looking grain. There are clearly a tone of options out there as far as guitar body woods and neck woods go. Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion surrounding the controversial wood. It’s been something that has been fiercely debated since the 1980s! Good pieces sound very good, and bad pieces can sound truly awful. Other commonly used woods like alder, mahogany and swamp ash don’t seem to suffer as much from a wide swing in quality. It’s a very adaptable wood, which makes it very versatile — it can be used for a range of different styles and still sound great. It has little grain to speak of, meaning that many guitar makers choose to paint over it or cover it up. There’s a muscular midrange. It offers lows, mids, and highs, however it has a slight bump in the midrange, which helps make the sound more clear. It is a very light and soft wood, and it is light in color. A wide variety of guitarists during the 1980s used basswood body guitars, especially paired with bolt-on maple necks because of how well they cut through the mix.
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