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Ash vs alder body tele

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  • #16
    Originally posted by devastone View Post
    As a general rule ash is brighter with more scooped mids and slightly more percussive lows, alder has more mids. Swamp ash will usually be lighter than alder, hard ash with be heavier. Hard ash will be brighter than swamp ash, similar to hard maple. FWIW, the original Frankie was hard ash.

    As I mentioned, everything I said is "general rules" wood is an organic material, there will always be exceptions.
    This parallels my experience with multiple examples.

    Between Alder and Ash, I typically go for Ash because I like to show the wood grain. Granted, we are talking organic material so not every cut of Ash is going to have amazing grain to show.

    The best sounding Strat I’ve ever played was Northern Ash (I’ve used the same pickups and all with multiple strats, nothing were special like that one.)

    Swamp Ash is becoming harder to acquire, I hope it doesn’t go the way of the dinos.

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    • #17
      Northern ash is considerably heavier than swamp ash, probably 1 or even 2 lbs for a Strat body. It is a great sounding wood, but too heavy for me to use a whole lot.
      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Mincer View Post
        Northern ash is considerably heavier than swamp ash, probably 1 or even 2 lbs for a Strat body. It is a great sounding wood, but too heavy for me to use a whole lot.
        I can understand that—I didn’t think my strat was as heavy as some Les Paul’s. But compared to my Roasted Swamp Ash with Roasted Maple neck Tele that came in under 5lbs finished...Northern Ash is on the heavy side.

        About to start a semi-hollow Jazzmaster/Surfcaster with Northern Ash that is around 4-5lbs, hopefully being semi-hollow will make it easier on the back!

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        • #19
          Does a heavier alder body for the same guitar sound fuller with more sustain than a lighter alder body?

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          • #20
            In 2020 I compared 9 guitars with weight and sustain in mind.... 4 mahogany, 5 alder. Weight was not directly correlated with anything tone-wise. Granted I didn't install identical components on each guitar for an "eliminate the variables" approach, but I was surprised that the most sustain came from two of the lightest guitars from both wood camps. So I FEEL (another very scientific approach) that you're kind of shooting in the dark to guess what the tonal effects are going to be based on a single variable like weight. YMMV
            Originally posted by crusty philtrum
            Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
            http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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            • #21
              Originally posted by esandes View Post
              Does a heavier alder body for the same guitar sound fuller with more sustain than a lighter alder body?
              Not necessarily--this is the problem with trying to assign specifics to something organic and something with so many variables.

              There are people who say things like tonewood, weight, size, cut, etc. is a farce and there are people who swear by it.

              I have an extremely light Roasted Swamp Ash Tele (whole guitar is under 5lbs) that has great sustain and very full tone. I speak generally about certain properties such as wood, weight and cut but honestly, there are more than one way to correct any issue...a solid setup does wonders for a guitar. Throw in different hardware, pickups, wiring, etc. and you've gone down the rabbit trail of virtually endless variables of tone.

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              • #22
                With all due respect to the valuable insights ptovided, there's a youtube from our friend Johsn Segeborn where he clamps planks of wood to a guitar and does a before and after. There's a difference.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by esandes View Post
                  Does a heavier alder body for the same guitar sound fuller with more sustain than a lighter alder body?
                  Dunno. Whatever tone the heavier wood imparts isn't worth it to me. I'd rather have the weight savings.
                  Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                  • #24
                    One thing we may all agree to is ash is better for rhythm and alder for lead.

                    I have a swamp ash US G&L Fallout maple neck and fretboard. It's the only ash guitar I have. The low end resonance carries over to the neck like a Les Paul feels in your neck hand. I can hear and feel that extra bass.

                    I must say that I cringed when I first heard of chambered Les Pauls.

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                    • #25
                      Not really my place to police the discussion but tonewood subtleties seem to be covered ad nauseum all over the interwebs and there's a pretty significant lack of consensus when it comes to blanket generalities. Much more interesting (to me) are discussions about particular features and how to best utilize them. For example, take an instrument with lots of low end resonance - what do you do with it? How does it affect your playing? Is it simply cool to feel in your hands?
                      Originally posted by crusty philtrum
                      Anyone who *sings* at me through their teeth deserves to have a bus drive through their face
                      http://www.youtube.com/alexiansounds

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by esandes View Post
                        One thing we may all agree to is ash is better for rhythm and alder for lead.

                        I have a swamp ash US G&L Fallout maple neck and fretboard. It's the only ash guitar I have. The low end resonance carries over to the neck like a Les Paul feels in your neck hand. I can hear and feel that extra bass.

                        I must say that I cringed when I first heard of chambered Les Pauls.
                        i wouldnt agree with that. ive have both ash and alder strats and while they sound different, i wouldnt say one is better for leads vs rhythm

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by alex1fly View Post
                          Not really my place to police the discussion but tonewood subtleties seem to be covered ad nauseum all over the interwebs and there's a pretty significant lack of consensus when it comes to blanket generalities. Much more interesting (to me) are discussions about particular features and how to best utilize them. For example, take an instrument with lots of low end resonance - what do you do with it? How does it affect your playing? Is it simply cool to feel in your hands?
                          I am all for tonewood discussions—I think what is missing from most
                          of the discussions is not what your ear or “scientific” testing but rather how different combos make a player play.

                          I like to use “generally” when describing wood tone. I’ve yet to have a bright guitar made from Mahogany but that is just my experience.

                          I do like analyzing an issue with a guitar where one takes in all of the variables to get the tone one is after.

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                          • #28
                            Generally since the 1950's Fender has used ash on their see through finishes and alder on their solid finishes. Ash has a much more interesting grain pattern and looks great when you can see it.

                            Of the two, I've found I like the alder body guitars I've had more than the ash ones. I know that's almost heresy when it comes to Fender (Ash is viewed as the king of Fender bodies) but I just find I like the tone better. Also now that quality ash has become more difficult to source, the lighter ash is also harder to find. It's way easier to get a light alder body than light ash on current production. Looking at Wildwood's inventory and just about all the ash body guitars they have in stock that were made in 2020 are over 8 lbs.
                            -
                            My Rolling Stones tribute band: The Main Street Exiles

                            At the battle of the bands, the loser is always the audience. -Demitri Martin

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                            • #29
                              Ash has a much lower resonance frequency than alder. I do notice and appreciate the resonance on the fret hand coming from the neck when strumming chords. Just like a Les Paul.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Powdered Toast Man View Post
                                Generally since the 1950's Fender has used ash on their see through finishes and alder on their solid finishes. Ash has a much more interesting grain pattern and looks great when you can see it.

                                Of the two, I've found I like the alder body guitars I've had more than the ash ones. I know that's almost heresy when it comes to Fender (Ash is viewed as the king of Fender bodies) but I just find I like the tone better. Also now that quality ash has become more difficult to source, the lighter ash is also harder to find. It's way easier to get a light alder body than light ash on current production. Looking at Wildwood's inventory and just about all the ash body guitars they have in stock that were made in 2020 are over 8 lbs.

                                There's still light ash out there. I built a Warmoth Jazzmaster from a 3lb, 13oz Ash body last year. Fully assembled, it comes to a hair over 7 lbs . . . with a Floyd.
                                Join me in the fight against muscular atrophy!

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