Have you ever wondered what type of wood(s) could give "your" bass that deep bass growl you once heard or that distinctive slap bass tone, or that warm sustained harmonic presence? Well, below are 5 wood property categories, which give a general response awareness to assist you when selecting a bass guitar.
1: Soft and less dense woods
Wood: Birch & Poplr; This type is not good for bass guitars, due to it's low quality in density, stiffness and tone. Tree cuts are from the external part of the tree, and also from a lower cut of the tree, yielding a less dense and softer wood than internal and upper tree cuts.
2: Average soft and dense woods
Wood: Ash, Alder, Mahogany,Redwood and Basswood The Woods in this category are fine woods for the bodies of bass guitars. Tapping them delivers a good sustain and volume and a wide frequency range tone. Specifically, Redwood is available as thin bookmatched laminate tops on flat top solid bodies. While the figure is intense and reflective, the depth isn't as dramatic as the harder wood - figured maple.
3: Average dense and hard
Wood: Maple & heavier woods > Mahogny, Ash & Walnut This group includes highly resonant woods and considered to be the finest for electrical bass necks & body tops. It has been documented that tapping these woods produces a sound with a fine sustain, great volume and a wide frequency response.
4: Hard, heavy and slightly oily woods
Wood: Ebony, Wenge, Purple Heart and Paduak This family of exotic wood is mainly used for fretboards and bubinga is also used for the basses. Tapping yields a bright sound with a long sustain but at quite reduced volume. The use of these woods is recommended for neck laminations as they increase neck stiffness, and for top plates and on the neck of through body bass "wings". Used in a reduced thickness in combination with more "neutral" woods like Mahogany, Alder, or Ash, these hard woods help to refine and reinforce the sustain and the fundamental note and also provide a sharper attack.
5: Hard, heavy and oily
Wood: Rosewood, Purple Heart, Teak, Goncalo Alves, Cocobolo, Bocote, Ziricote & Zebrawood These are woods in which oil and resin content may vary, from a minimum as in Rosewood, Purple Heart, to a maximum as in Teak, Goncalo Alves, Cocobolo, Bocote, Ziricote, Zebrawood). These woods feature a tapping tone which ranges from a good sustain and a reduced volume (minimum oil content) to a generally deaf tone (more oily ) and would have to be used with care and in much reduced thickness for fretboard or thin top plates. For example, rosewood is an oily wood which subtracts sounds from the Maple resonance of the neck and should be used in minimal thickness or to intentionally darken the tone of an instrument that is too bright.