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Hellzero

For those who pretend tone doesn't come from wood...

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These four basses have exact same preamps (passive only for this test), pickups and strings and were set up to the exact same precise adjustments...

Same amp (Glockenklang), same settings, same cable, same place, same player, same noodling, same ... everything. A real test, for once.

The only differences are the woods used.

Use headphones or good speakers.

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I have no doubt that these sound different to someone with superb hearing, but to me they all sound pretty much the same. Seriously.

I'm listening through decent studio monitors at sensible volume levels, and I suppose there's a very slight tonal variation, but nowhere near enough to make me prefer one of these basses to another.

I have reasonably bad tinnitus which interferes with my hearing of high frequencies, but not the mids and lows.

Put that guy playing those basses in a band situation and I doubt if anyone could possibly hear a difference between them.

As always with these demos, they've chosen an immensely talented bass player who thinks that he's there to show how quickly he can play lots of notes. There's no actual law that says you can't demo basses by playing a simple walking bassline that allows the listener to concentrate on what the video is supposed to be about. 

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I really liked the Ash/Ebony and the Paduak/ Paduak. Both felt warmer than the Maple which was too clean for me. 

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I would like to hear a test where everything was the same....including the wood. Would they all sound the identical, or would there still be variation from one instrument to the next? 

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Posted (edited)

 

The tones in the timbre aren't coming from the wood, they're coming from the coils in the pickups.

The wood just shapes which tones are attenuated. I repeat wood does not & cannot ADD anything, the components in a passive system are subtractive, except for the actual pickups.

(even the pickups can have a scooped sound if they're designed that way)

 

Disclaimer: some seem to be misconstruing my comment here

Wood definitely impacts the overall timbre, but not in an additional manner.

 

Edited by Killed_by_Death
disclaimer
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Couldn’t get past the intro sound of someone throwing a bag of spanners at another bag of spanners.

Sorry.

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If gnat's wotsits are a measure of audible difference, then I can hear a tiny bit of each. There was a noticeable difference in the way the bloke attacks some of the notes, especially in those 'slap-fest' bits, which affects the auditive result. They all sounded like good instruments, but how much, if any, of the gnat's wotsits difference is down to the wood essences used, I'd say the jury is still out. Inconclusive, bordering on proving the opposite, to me.
(I won't be hiring the player for the stuff I like, either, but that's neither here nor there...).

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Posted (edited)

Useless experiment.

For example, say, Maple from one tree will be a different composition from the sample from the next.

Depending upon where abouts in the tree the wood is taken from, it will have a different density.

The environment in which the tree grows, influences structure further.

Wood by its very nature, can not be the same - each slab is unique.

The only way to hear how a bass will sound is to play it when it's built. The rest of it? Nonsense.

Next.

Edited by EBS_freak
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14 minutes ago, EBS_freak said:

Useless experiment.

For example, say, Maple from one tree will be a different composition from the sample from the next.

Depending upon where abouts in the tree the wood is taken from, it will have a different density.

The environment in which the tree grows, influences structure further.

Wood can by its very nature, can not be the same - each slab is unique.

The only way to hear how a bass will sound is to play it when it's built. The rest of it? Nonsense.

Next.

Funny, because you are just simply saying that the tone comes from the wood itself.

Next.

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5 minutes ago, Hellzero said:

Funny, because you are just simply saying that the tone comes from the wood itself.

Next.

Umm. I didn't say that at all.

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Utterly meaningless on electrics. On acoustics on the other hand the wood does make a noticeable difference and I prefer Acacia, just a personal preference.

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1 minute ago, EBS_freak said:

Umm. I didn't say that at all.

It's certainly what @Killed_by_Death would answer too as he's just saying the same.

Read back carefully what you've written. 😉

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so i’ve spent about 5-6k on basses in the last year, of course another 1k or so on some other “must have” gear, the last being Vovox cables (300 for 2 cables).. and then realized i’ve played 5 concerts in that same time. But i’ve also recorded stuff so there’s hope in those mp3’s and streams... i’m sure this makes sense in some parallel universe, just like tone woods and such...

 

sorry, i’ll show myself out and join the depression thread...

 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Hellzero said:

Funny, because you are just simply saying that the tone comes from the wood itself.

Next.

I interpreted what was written as being more 'it's the wood that makes a difference, not the species of wood', ie: two maples would also sound different, and a maple may sound like a padauk and vice versa.. To me, and for what very little difference I hear, I can live with that; it seems reasonable.

Edited by Dad3353

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Hellzero said:

It's certainly what @Killed_by_Death would answer too as he's just saying the same.

Read back carefully what you've written. 😉

I have.

The only thing that I can think you are referring to is where I have written "The rest of it? Nonsense." - That is in relation to the variable that is wood. Change whatever you want about the wood - present it as "tone wood", whatever.. it's all a nonsense.

In that you can choose whatever wood you want, specify it to come from any area of the tree, any species etc... and you still wouldn't be able to reliably predict it's effect.

There's far too many variables within the wood itself to be a fair experiment. There is no control or fixed variables (the very thing upon which experiments from which you draw conclusions must have). And thats before we move onto the preamps, pickups, hardware, neck joints... which I haven't even commented upon because the thread is about wood. Or at least I thought it was.

Edited by EBS_freak
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46 minutes ago, joeystrange said:

Couldn’t get past the intro sound of someone throwing a bag of spanners at another bag of spanners.

Sorry.

I didn’t stay much longer as it seemed hugely disorganised and somewhat annoying. I did wonder if it had been posted with tongue firmly in cheek.

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Woods of a certain species can vary obviously, but they are still going to have the inherent properties of that species. All calico cats aren't going to look exactly the same, but they will still be very similar.

 

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When building model aircraft, balsa is often used. Balsa, yes, but not just any balsa. It's graded, and, for specific uses, the grade is chosen (the general criteria being density, but not only...). The tail of the plane, for instance, would use the lightest category, as weight in that area has more of a leverage effect. More load-bearing parts would be better served with harder, denser wood, for retaining screw threads, for instance. Straight grain is required for longerons; it's of less importance for other parts. It's all balsa, but the differences in any two pieces can be extreme.
All this, to say that wood, by its nature, has wide variation, and to hold up any one piece, of any essence, and say it's equivalent to another, and different to another essence, is flawed. To say that maple is such-and-such, and nothing else is like it, is, in my view and experience, just wrong. One can see the variance in ebony, for example, where some is jet black, others are streaked or marbled; they are all ebony. The aesthetics can play a part (as with the ebony example...), but one cannot 'see' the musical qualities until it's been made into an instrument, and by then it's too late to compare with another piece of wood.

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Posted (edited)

But tone comes from your fingers, and he's playing with his fingers,...who knows, maybe his fingertone is interfering with the necktone.

Too many variables, unless.....

Bahco-P1-20.jpg

Edited by ahpook
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All sound pretty much the same to me, listening on decent studio headphones. Maybe as much to do with the messy, heavy handed stunt-bass playing, where he's so focused on I'M SO FAAAAAAST MUM!!! that there's no opportunity to hear individual notes, never mind tone. Oh god, he's started slapping now, enough of this awful [email protected]

So no, nothing there to persuade me that tone's not 99.99999% pickups, strings, electronics & technique. Ugly, showy clattering is ugly, showy clattering, whatever the material.

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It's always a fun read when this topic comes up. I just wish I had the time to do the research in order to be as passionate as people are defending their respective camps. 

The logic in my head tells me tone is the sum of all parts from player technique to every componet. 

Then experience also kicks in and tells me it doesn't matter how good an instrument is or what it's made of, if the player is rubbish, the tone in rubbish. 

I can prove this by sitting behind any drum kit, no matter how good the kit is it's going to sound terrible... 

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Agree with those who say that you can't predict exactly what an instrument will sound like by just the wood choices and also those who state that even two pieces of the same species will be different.

Don't agree however with those claiming it doesn't have any effect at all. The four basses clearly sounded slightly different from each other and interestingly, for me, there were two I preferred the sound of consistently compared to the other two.

Also have to say that we didn't get to hear the pure electronic sound of the bass because the mic was live all the time so all the acoustic clattering and rattling was mixed in - would that sound be more coloured by the woods than the pure electronic output from the pickups? I suspect so.

Right there in that video you can see the potential pitfalls of commissioning a custom instrument if you have a very fixed idea of how that instrument will perform.

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Wood will have an effect on tone, but compared to other factors it's all but negligible. Rather than species I'd rather just go with density causing the effect. I reckon two basses made from two wood species with all but identical densities will sound closer to each other than two basses of the same species but one being made from a far less dense sample than the other. The denser the wood, the fewer frequencies it will absorb. 

But, I also feel we may as well start considering the merits of playing bass on days with low barometric air pressure as the less dense air will allow the strings to vibrate more freely with less damping effect. Rediculous? Maybe. But in a band mix in the real world only slightly less rediculous than worrying about wood species. 

I don't like the word 'Tonewood' as it implies some mystical wood for a better tone, where after research (yes I am that sad) it merely means any wood that is used to build a guitar. Yes plywood is a tonewood if it's used for guitar building, and it is, so it is. 

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