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thedontcarebear

Ash or Alder?

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It would be handy to know what the bass was and where it comes from . Particularly if the bass was made in the Far East, it might be neither alder or ash but a local equivalent . 

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Good good, to be honest, I am wanting it to be Ash!  And the more elaborate grain made me think it was.  It will be here later today anyway, all the way from Barcelona to Kippax in Yorkshire.

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If it's Japanese, it's probably their local type of ash, which is called 'Sen' apparently. Pretty sure it's not alder.

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Yep, ash. Often it's alder for the opaque finishes, and ash on transparent finishes. Fender did that too in many occasions. 

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3 hours ago, thedontcarebear said:

It’s a jap Tokai, they’ve made Alder and Ash basses, so it’s more about the grain.  All the others of this model I’ve found say Ash, but they are natural finishes.

In that case it is actually most likely to be Sen, rather than ash or alder. Back in the day, Japanese guitars made of Sen were described as being made of ash, despite the fact that Sen is not related to ash in any way and is actually part of the Ivy family. Sen looks and sounds so much like ash that it was considered an equivalent substitute. Tokai used it extensively.

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Just now, BigRedX said:

Wood of some sort. It looks quite nice and the joins aren't too obvious. What else do you want?

To know whether it was alder or ash.........

 

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18 minutes ago, martthebass said:

To know whether it was alder or ash.........

 

Why? What difference will it make?

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Just now, BigRedX said:

Why? What difference will it make?

For some people none at all. Others may prefer the way one or the other looks. There will also be a slight difference with regard to sound. Of course, this is only one variable and there are a whole host of others, but you don't have to be so dismissive of it. 

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It might help you form a view of which wood you prefer for tonal properties... even accounting for all the other variables.

I think my my Squier sounds great for agathis... but it does have emg geezers in it.

I think the grain in the original pic looks great too...

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1 minute ago, Belka said:

For some people none at all. Others may prefer the way one or the other looks. There will also be a slight difference with regard to sound. Of course, this is only one variable and there are a whole host of others, but you don't have to be so dismissive of it. 

The most obvious differences of one piece of wood will make over another are the grain pattern if it is visible and the weight of the instrument, neither of which can be automatically implied by the wood species (not withstanding the fact that "ash" covers over 40 individual tree species). From the photo in the OP the grain pattern doesn't look too shabby and the joins between the different pieces of wood making up the body are not significantly noticeable. Weight can only be deduced by actually weighing the instrument.

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14 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

The most obvious differences of one piece of wood will make over another are the grain pattern if it is visible and the weight of the instrument, neither of which can be automatically implied by the wood species (not withstanding the fact that "ash" covers over 40 individual tree species). From the photo in the OP the grain pattern doesn't look too shabby and the joins between the different pieces of wood making up the body are not significantly noticeable. Weight can only be deduced by actually weighing the instrument.

The type of wood used  makes a difference to the sound of the instrument. Alder can sound quite different to ash. I think it is perfectly valid to want to know what your bass is made of. 

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These 1980's Japanese Tokai P Basses / J Basses are superb , by the way. Looks like it will be a lovely bass.

Edited by Misdee

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Good old bass chat!

1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

Why? What difference will it make?

What difference does anything make?

That was in a jokey way by the way, I am actually more in the I don't care what the wood is when it comes to sound camp.  I am more just curious what the wood is, because I want to know.  Either way, I had bought the bass before I posted that picture.

Edited by thedontcarebear

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

Why? What difference will it make?

That wasn't his question. You have pushed the discussion into an area that wasn't solicited.  The ash vs alder tonal properties has been discussed numerous times previously....there's a search function should you wish to avail yourself of it.

Edited by martthebass

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1 hour ago, Misdee said:

The type of wood used  makes a difference to the sound of the instrument. Alder can sound quite different to ash. I think it is perfectly valid to want to know what your bass is made of. 

Although in this case, I think we can safely assume it the sound is neither undeniably ash or alder, or the question would not be asked!

To further muddy those waters, I've played ash basses that sounded quite muted and 'soft' and alder basses that were very bright and lively. If there were a Venn diagram showing the tonal characteristics the area of overlap would be quite large. 

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13 minutes ago, Chris2112 said:

Although in this case, I think we can safely assume it the sound is neither undeniably ash or alder, or the question would not be asked!

To further muddy those waters, I've played ash basses that sounded quite muted and 'soft' and alder basses that were very bright and lively. If there were a Venn diagram showing the tonal characteristics the area of overlap would be quite large. 

Good points - light swamp ash is more likely to sound like alder whereas heavier northern ash has a brighter harsher tone. I agree with some of what BigRedX says - predicting sound based on body wood selection is nowhere near an exact science and it is just one part of the puzzle. In my opinion neck materials, and pickup type and location have a greater influence on sound. Then you also have nut, fret and bridge type/materials to consider. However, if the pickups/electronics have sufficient clarity, I'm sure that body material will make a difference, although it's debatable whether this is more to do with density/weight than the actual species. 

I n some cases I'm sure it makes little to no difference; a short scale mudbucker-equipped EB0 could have a brass nut, badass bridge, heavy ash body and ebony fretboard and would still sound like mud.  

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19 minutes ago, TrevorG said:

Ash grains don't sit that far apart normally. Alder has very little grain. I used this site to discover my Ash bass was made from Heartwood(the centre of the tree often all olive wood or Tiger wood). Try looking here.

https://www.wood-database.com/wood-finder/

 

It looks very much like the Oregon Ash picture they have on their site.

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I've got a P Bass made out of genuine lightweight swamp ash and it has the hallmark characteristics attributed to that wood i.e slightly scooped mids with plenty of highs and  and a nicely rounded bottom. It's a subtle difference overall , but definitely a contrast to my alder-bodied P that has much more focused mids and low end.  Northern ash is much brighter sounding and often sounds a bit compressed at the low frequency end of the spectrum. 

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