Follow us on...
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Watch us on YouTube
Register
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Forum Frontman
    Join Date
    09.15.06
    Age
    42
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    6,568
    Last Online

    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
    Likes
    3
    Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts

    Default Basswood vs. Poplar

    Hi All:

    I haven't been around much these days. Life is busy. (Parenthood + music gigs = not a lot of spare time.)

    I'd like to hear thoughts on how basswood compares to poplar tonally. Basswood is my favorite guitar tonewood by far. I've assembled lots of custom guitars and found I also like mahogany and ash. I absolutely do NOT like alder. (Perhaps the most common guitar and bass tonewood used today?) I've heard poplar compared to basswood and also described as the "poor man's alder." I'm curious to try a build with poplar--but only if it's closer to basswood tonally than it is alder.

    Thoughts? Experiences?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Baluchitherium Mikey Metalhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    01.25.00
    Age
    53
    Location
    Tx
    Posts
    4,033
    Last Online

    06.12.15 @ 12:43 PM
    Likes
    3
    Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts


    Donor

    Default Basswood vs. Poplar

    Interesting timing
    I have a basswood and poplar pbass body for my current project Both easy to work with I do a lot of basswood guitars. Nice and light and easy to work with I love basswood but have no reasons to not like poplar at this point



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I SURVIVED TEXAS LINKERS WEEKEND I, II, III, IV and VI and VII.barely made it to VIII time to slow down
    I musta had a broken middle finger for V
    http://www.youtube.com/user/daneph

  3. #3
    5150 GilmourD's Avatar
    Join Date
    05.01.12
    Posts
    589
    Last Online

    12.17.17 @ 01:38 PM
    Likes
    161
    Liked 124 Times in 84 Posts

    Default

    I find basswood to be more midrangy, especially the low mids, in general while poplar is very close to alder, if slightly softer in the treble and a tad less powerful in the low end.

  4. #4
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
    Join Date
    02.16.00
    Location
    Pekin, Il U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,752
    Last Online

    12.17.17 @ 07:24 AM
    Likes
    24
    Liked 736 Times in 349 Posts

    Default

    Well, I had a conversation with a guy on Facebook who was very insistent that the wood of an electric guitar has absolutely no bearing on the tone or sustain of a guitar. I politely tried to convince him otherwise, to which he responded, "Stop trying to change my mind about the wood thing. It's been proven that it doesn't matter. There's Youtube videos that prove it!"

    I also had the same discussion with a Peavey employee on their forums years ago. He was just as insistent that all of the tone and sustain comes from the electronics, and the hardware and wood play no part in it.

    I just don't know what to say to people like that.

    To your question though, I had a Music Man Sub 1 (the USA version) and that was made of Poplar. I have to say that I thought it sounded really good. To my ear, it sort of had some qualities of a Mahogany body guitar, but is probably closer to Basswood overall. I liked it. It's just an ugly wood for trans finishes though.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  5. #5
    5150 GilmourD's Avatar
    Join Date
    05.01.12
    Posts
    589
    Last Online

    12.17.17 @ 01:38 PM
    Likes
    161
    Liked 124 Times in 84 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Well, I had a conversation with a guy on Facebook who was very insistent that the wood of an electric guitar has absolutely no bearing on the tone or sustain of a guitar. I politely tried to convince him otherwise, to which he responded, "Stop trying to change my mind about the wood thing. It's been proven that it doesn't matter. There's Youtube videos that prove it!"

    I also had the same discussion with a Peavey employee on their forums years ago. He was just as insistent that all of the tone and sustain comes from the electronics, and the hardware and wood play no part in it.

    I just don't know what to say to people like that.

    To your question though, I had a Music Man Sub 1 (the USA version) and that was made of Poplar. I have to say that I thought it sounded really good. To my ear, it sort of had some qualities of a Mahogany body guitar, but is probably closer to Basswood overall. I liked it. It's just an ugly wood for trans finishes though.


    Sent from my Moto X 2014 using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Forum Frontman
    Join Date
    09.15.06
    Age
    42
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    6,568
    Last Online

    07.04.16 @ 08:03 PM
    Likes
    3
    Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts

    Default

    Thanks for the thoughts thus far. I think it really comes down to this: I should just get basswood.

  7. The Following Member Likes This Post:


  8. #7
    Sinner's Swing!
    Join Date
    11.26.10
    Age
    46
    Posts
    3,353
    Last Online

    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
    Likes
    1,679
    Liked 1,374 Times in 803 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Well, I had a conversation with a guy on Facebook who was very insistent that the wood of an electric guitar has absolutely no bearing on the tone or sustain of a guitar. I politely tried to convince him otherwise, to which he responded, "Stop trying to change my mind about the wood thing. It's been proven that it doesn't matter. There's Youtube videos that prove it!"

    I also had the same discussion with a Peavey employee on their forums years ago. He was just as insistent that all of the tone and sustain comes from the electronics, and the hardware and wood play no part in it.

    I just don't know what to say to people like that.

    To your question though, I had a Music Man Sub 1 (the USA version) and that was made of Poplar. I have to say that I thought it sounded really good. To my ear, it sort of had some qualities of a Mahogany body guitar, but is probably closer to Basswood overall. I liked it. It's just an ugly wood for trans finishes though.
    Sounds like you must have been speaking to Scott Grove or one of his disciples.
    Wood absolutely has an affect on the overall tone of a guitar. Not in the sense that by hearing a particular guitar blind ,that you could determine what the wood is. It's about what the wood's basic properties add to the total tonal character of that guitar. Sure you can compensate for whatever tonal deficiency a guitar has with different pickups, a toneblock, electronics, etc., but having a basic understanding of how a particular tonewood typically affects tonal character via the vibrational interaction, or sympathetics the wood imparts into the string's behavior as it is plucked DOES make a difference.
    (Sound like a new age crystal worshipper here!)
    As a rule...I've found poplar to be very similar to alder, with a little more mids, but to also be a little brighter in some respects....especially in singlecoil guitars. Not bright as in a brash, over trebly tone overall, but it definately has more high end than basswood that pops out at you with quick response as a string is plucked. It's a harder, tight grain, and it's response in kind has a tight defined response.
    As stated above, basswood has more midrange, a fair amount less bass response out of the gate, but I will tell you something I've discovered is that without a doubt, basswood guitars get better with age.....even maybe more so than more "conventional" tonewoods.
    Case in point, I have a basswood body Strat that I bought in 88'. At the time, I like it, and it did deliver the basic "Strat tone" okay, but it wasn't a great sounding guitar that I found inspiring. It did the job though, but I really just put it away for the longest time. It was also a lot heavier than other basswood guitars I own, so my thoughts are that it most likely had a higher moisture content present around the time of purchase.

    Fast forward to today, I recently restrung it, set it up after so many years sitting in a corner, and started playing it again, and with the same amp and setup as all those years ago, it is a completely different guitar. I even had recordings from then,and compared it now, and honestly, it has waaaaayyyyyy more sustain, and it is much more lively to the touch. It has a very nice midrange, but the bass notes are also more prominent without being muddy. Just very defined, and dynamic sounding now that the wood has thoroughly aged and dried out some.

    If you want to try poplar and want the finished product to sound more like basswood than alder, then there's a couple things to consider. As far as it meeting your expectations, what pickup type, and model are you considering?
    Neck and fingerboard: Maple, rosewood, ebony?
    Ebony is a very nice choice for a fingerboard in terms of neutrality. Feels great, but visually, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Rosewood will certainly make it a bit warmer, and maple, of course always has a little brighter tone.
    Also the cut of of the neck. I've used quartersawn on poplar, and found it can add a little too much "pop" to the highend.
    Flatsawn can give a little smoother less edgy tone, but then you can sacrifice neck stability. (trussrod adjustments due to climatic changes).

    Overall, it's a pretty good wood choice that you can really manipulate with other parts choices.
    Last edited by we die young; 11.24.14 at 03:48 PM.

  9. The Following Member Likes This Post:


  10. #8
    Good Enough nobozos's Avatar
    Join Date
    02.16.00
    Location
    Pekin, Il U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,752
    Last Online

    12.17.17 @ 07:24 AM
    Likes
    24
    Liked 736 Times in 349 Posts

    Default

    I would have engaged the guy and tried to explain to him how the wood/hardware have an impact on tone and sustain, but he was obviously not interested. No amount of explanation would have done any good. That kind of closed minded attitude is incredible to me. It's basically saying, "I choose to remain ignorant, and reject reality and substitute it with my own."

    Seems to be a lot of that going around nowadays.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

  11. #9
    Sinner's Swing!
    Join Date
    11.26.10
    Age
    46
    Posts
    3,353
    Last Online

    11.25.17 @ 09:06 AM
    Likes
    1,679
    Liked 1,374 Times in 803 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    I would have engaged the guy and tried to explain to him how the wood/hardware have an impact on tone and sustain, but he was obviously not interested. No amount of explanation would have done any good. That kind of closed minded attitude is incredible to me. It's basically saying, "I choose to remain ignorant, and reject reality and substitute it with my own."

    Seems to be a lot of that going around nowadays.
    yeah, no kidding! It's like:"I don't get the premiss, therefore it doesn't exist."
    There's generations of people who can easily prove otherwise.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. The AT Custom Red Quilt Maple/Poplar Strat!
    By AT in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 10.05.10, 05:44 PM
  2. Shootout: Best Pickup in a Basswood guitar
    By mrjstudios in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 01.29.10, 10:30 PM
  3. Is the Korean Wolf made of basswood?
    By lieu910 in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 05.05.09, 12:24 PM
  4. SD 78 & Basswood
    By vhin04 in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 03.25.09, 12:35 PM
  5. Glue Basswood Bodies?
    By handyman in forum Guitar Room
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 04.13.08, 07:30 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •