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The weight of a bass


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I've made a slightly surprising discovery this morning.

 

Pre-lockdown, I was doing about 20-25 three hour gigs a year, and often had a bit of lower back pain the day after. 

During lockdown, I lost some weight and improved my fitness a bit - and had no back pain issues since returning to gigging. Until this weekend!

I'd been using the P bass I built on a course with John Shuker exclusively recently. But for a change, I took out my old Mexican built Jazz on Saturday.

 

I used a luggage scale to weigh my basses this morning - it turns out my P only weighs around 7.5lb, while the Jazz comes in at 9.5lb. 

Given both basses are made of alder, with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, I'm surprised at the 2lb weight difference. I guess it's mostly down to natural differences in the wood. Can we infer anything about the quality or (dare I say!) tone of wood from its weight?

 

It's kind of got me gassing for a light-weight Jazz... the wife will be pleased I'm sure!

 

George

 

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Now hiding behind the sofa...

 

On the lightweight question, My ACG Alder bodied basses have been very light without exception.  I think Mr C uses special helium infused Alder though.

Edited by ead
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How thick are the bodies and necks? I'm guessing the P neck is slightly wider than the Jazz. This can add a substantial amount of wood, and also the pickup/control cavities can take a lot out. Also the electronics can add a bit of weight if there's a lot there - 2 active pickups with a battery and 4-5 pots will be a good bit heavier than a simple passive P vol/tone setup.

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5 minutes ago, Joe Nation said:

How thick are the bodies and necks? I'm guessing the P neck is slightly wider than the Jazz. This can add a substantial amount of wood, and also the pickup/control cavities can take a lot out. Also the electronics can add a bit of weight if there's a lot there - 2 active pickups with a battery and 4-5 pots will be a good bit heavier than a simple passive P vol/tone setup.

The P neck is quite substantial - though the P is the lighter bass.
Body thickness is a good point though - it's been hand-made by me, including carving out the curves and stuff - so definitely a huge possibility of there just being less wood.
 

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3 minutes ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

Jazz bass bodies are actually a fair bit bigger than P bass bodies too. 

Really? I'd never have thought that - just that they are slightly differently shaped.
It may make my goal of finding a lighter Jazz that sounds and feels as nice as my current one - my main gigging bass for about 18 years - a bit of a fools errand!
 

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5 minutes ago, geoham said:

Really? I'd never have thought that - just that they are slightly differently shaped.
It may make my goal of finding a lighter Jazz that sounds and feels as nice as my current one - my main gigging bass for about 18 years - a bit of a fools errand!
 


They're definitely out there. My Jazz weighs less than my P Bass by a few ounces. 

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Given that it would be impossible to play every bass in the world and then make each one both lighter and heavier to compare the tone, we shall never know.

 

I've had good and bad sounds from basses of all weights. It probably influences the sound in some way, but among far too many other variables to tell.

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15 minutes ago, bassbiscuits said:

Given that it would be impossible to play every bass in the world and then make each one both lighter and heavier to compare the tone, we shall never know.

 

I've had good and bad sounds from basses of all weights. It probably influences the sound in some way, but among far too many other variables to tell.

I'd tend to agree with you. I've personally always found that strings and pickups have the biggest impact to tone.

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4 hours ago, geoham said:

Can we infer anything about the quality or (dare I say!) tone of wood from its weight?

Yes. Sadowsky is no good because it is light.

 

I think the weight thing is so popular, because people haven't any other tools to discuss about the reasons some instrument feels or sounds good. How about the wood structure, shapes of the instrument, components... these already include details that are not possible to reduce to one simple number, like weight.

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I don’t believe that weight alone matters much. My RD Artist was almost 12 pounds, and felt quite heavy. It did have loads of sustain, but that was also affected by through body stringing. My MPV is about 10.4 pounds, doesn’t feel heavy at all, and sounds great. I had a Electra that was heavy, and sounded like crap…lots of other factors at play.

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18 minutes ago, dclaassen said:

I don’t believe that weight alone matters much. 

 

For you, if that is the case, you are a lucky man and long may it continue.  For me, and many on here, the weight of a bass in the single most important factor.  Only once I have established a bass is light enough can I consider all the other things but if it is too heavy it is discarded out of hand.  Wide straps, duo straps, balance on the strap, core excercise etc etc all help to a point - beyond which weight is the one and only thing that matters.  Various people have various issues - back, shoulder - for me it is a raft of lower back problems.  These days if I wear a bass that weighs more than 8.5lbs for more than a couple of hours I pay for it for several days afterwards.  It just isn't worth it.

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45 minutes ago, ambient said:

You could have your favourite bass hollowed out and filled with helium?

 

Puts a new spin on getting GAS for a heavy bass, maybe?

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Pah, I don't uneerstand this moaning.  Compared to a 30 mile speed march with a 60lb bergan, and being made to carry the Gimpy as well because I was the biggest, wearing even the heaviest of basses for a mere gigs length is nothing. We'll be in serious trouble if we ever go to war if this is the state of our nations manhood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Tongue firmly in cheek! ;))

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Sadowsky started to make their bass bodies chambered.... in an interview he reckoned they were not only lighter but sounded better as a result.

By accident (long story!) I ended up with a Tobias Toby which has a pine body and is super light. Nothing wrong with the tone and made me realise that you don't need a heavy bass for heavy tone. Chambered pine basses are the future!!

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I’ve played many heavy basses that sounded terrible and light ones that sounded great (and vice versa). IMHO weight has no correlation to good tone. Strings, pickup type and placement have far more influence. 

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