Basswood? Anyone?

October 3, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

Can anyone get woodytone out of a solid basswood guitar body? Or is this just the worst guitar wood ever?

Here’s my ear experience with it.

1. Not even the great EVH can get a true woodytone out of basswood, though he has come close on stage with the EVH Art Series Charvels.

2. Yes, Satch and Vai use it, but they use their guitars more as a vocal instrument. I don’t hear, nor get, any wood from their tones — usually, anyway.

3. I once played several Peavey Wolfgangs in a row. The non-maple-capped Wolfies sounded like crap to my ears. I found one maple-capped one that gave me a tone-swoody, but only because I was sounding like EVH.

On the other side, tone authority John Suhr says he believes basswood with a maple top is the best tone combo for guitars. C’mon, John, really? I mean, I don’t have the creds to doubt the guy, but for woodytone?

How about revisiting the golden-era Fender and Gibby woods like alder, northern ash, mahogany (must have a maple cap except in SGs and Firebirds) and even maple? I assume they are more expensive than basswood now since basswood and other “weird” woods pop up all over the place in mass-produced guitars now?


Category: Basswood, Edward Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Peavey, Steve Vai

Comments (3)

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  1. gdasilva says:

    How about Steve Morse? His guitars are basswood and methinks his tone has wood.

  2. suicycle says:

    It depends on what you are looking for tone-wise. From my experience, a mahogany/maple cap has a good low mid roundness to it. Alder has a nice midrange and less top end. Basswood sounds scooped to me. It can go bright, dark, or mellow depending on the electronics (pickup/amp). To me ash is the most consistent or neutral. Of course, that is only part of the tone because the rest is in your hands. Each player pretty much sounds the same no matter what guitar they play.

  3. Yonko says:

    I think you need to have your hearing checked! Basswood is one of the most musical woods I’ve ever played through. I have a completely stock Jackson “Adrian Smith” SDX (the good made In Indonesia model, not the crap made in India version), along with a ’93 EBMM EVH with Basswood/maple top… Both of these guitars are amongst the best sounding guitars I’ve owned since I first began playing back in 1978. I also have several Gibson Les Paul’s which are both vintage and Historic R0 and R9. 80% of the time, I will reach for one of those two basswood guitars. Their ‘vocal’ quality shines through on everything I play… It’s not a “better” tone, just one that seems to blend incredibly well, regardless of what I’m playing. I paid $500.00 for the (made in Indonesia) Jackson “Adrian Smith” SDX, and it’s become my #1 guitar! Go figure…

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