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There are many types of wood that can be used to make a guitar. Each type of wood has its own unique properties. This can affect the sound of the guitar as well as provide different degrees of comfort.
Basswood is used because it’s easy to source and is very affordable. It provides a balanced sound with a good low-end response. Alder is also affordable but is brighter and snappy sounding. This is great for certain music styles. Each body wood type is softer than other options like mahogany, but does have its benefits.
So which one is better, basswood vs alder, and are they commonly used? In this article, we are going to take a look.
What is Basswood?
Basswood is a medium-density hardwood that is soft and light in weight. It has a fine, even grain that can be straight or lightly wavy. Basswood is pale in appearance. With little to no figure, making it an ideal choice for painting and staining. This wood species is also easy to work with and takes both glue and nails well.
Also known as Tilia Americana. Basswood is a popular wood type for musical instruments. This is because it’s plentiful and easy to work with. It grows in North America, which makes it easy for some of the top manufacturers to find and source.
Basswood is good for guitar bodies, but is too weak for necks and fretboards. As a result, you will never find this wood type used for these parts. If you do, you may want to question durability and longevity.
Want to learn more about basswood and guitars? Click here!
What is Alder?
Alder is a deciduous hardwood that is lightweight and easy to work with. It has a straight, fine grain with slightly open pores. Alder ranges in color from white to reddish brown. It can also contain some darker streaks or mineral deposits.
Alder is a popular choice for musical instruments. This is because it has a nice woody tone and good resonance. It’s also less expensive than some of the other hardwoods. This makes it a good option for budget-conscious buyers.
Alder is another wood type that is not good for fretboard or guitar necks and should never be used for them.
Guitars Made From Basswood Vs Alder
Basswood guitars are known for their warm, full tones. They have a well-rounded sound with good low-end frequencies. Basswood is also a very lightweight wood. It’s comfortable to play with for extended periods of time.
Alder guitars are known for their bright, punchy tones. They have a snappy attack and good midrange frequencies. Alder is also a fairly lightweight wood. It can be just as comfortable when hanging from your shoulder for a long time.
But which is better? Let’s look at a few different guitars that use these wood types to get a better idea of what they are best for.
Want to learn about all the guitar tonewoods, click here!
There are many electric guitars made with both alder and basswood. Here are a few examples that will help you see why manufacturers use these wood types.
The Fender Telecaster is a classic electric guitar. It has been in production since the 1950s. It’s made with an alder body and maple neck, and it has a bright, twangy sound. The Telecaster is perfect for country and rockabilly styles of music.
Schecter Omen 6
The Schecter Omen 6 is a modern electric guitar that’s made with a basswood body and maple neck. It has a thick, meaty sound with good low-end frequencies. The Omen 6 is great for metal and hard rock music types.
Fender Player Stratocaster
The Fender Player Stratocaster is based on a classic design. This model is also made with an alder body because of the need for a light guitar with bright tones. When it comes to blues, rock, and pop styles of music, the Stratocaster is a perfect choice.
Acoustic guitars are a bit different when it comes to basswood and alder. Basswood isn’t used as much, as it’s very soft. Alder is also rarely used because it isn’t strong like other options. Both wood types are rarely seen in acoustic guitars, except for the two below.
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top
The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy is a parlor guitar made with a basswood top, back, and sides. For a smaller guitar, basswood does great and has a soft, rich tone that is decently loud.
Traveler Guitar Escape Classical
The Traveler Guitar Escape Classical is a nylon-string instrument that’s made for travel. It has an alder body with a rosewood fingerboard. The tonewoods are fairly common. This is because they’re lightweight and strong enough for this guitar type.
Check out our article, alder vs mahogany here!
What are the Pros and Cons of Basswood and Alder?
Each wood type has pros and cons. They are important for guitar manufacturers, but also for the people who play them. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each wood type.
|Lightweight, Comfortable||Comfortable, Lightweight|
|Easy To work With||Easy To Work With|
|Good High-end Response||Bright and Snappy Midrange|
|Soft||Also soft, but harder than basswood|
|Poor guitar neck wood||Also, no good for necks|
|Dents easier than other wood types||Not great for all styles of music|
Which Wood Type Is Better?
In the end, it really depends on what you’re looking for in a guitar. If you want something that’s light and comfortable to play, then basswood is a good option. It has a well-balanced sound with a prominent low end and is great for most music styles. Although for more aggressive styles like hard rock or metal, it’s a better choice than alder.
Looking for a bright and punchy sound? Alder is probably going to be the wood type to select for your guitar body. Alder has a brighter, more mid-focused sound. It’s very popular with the Telecaster and Stratocaster guitar types. It will also work well for metal if you’re looking for a tight, snappy low-end.
When it comes to cost, then basswood guitars are normally more affordable. But this also depends on the brand and make of the guitar. If you have a little more to spend, then guitars made with alder bodies are not too far off. They will be a lot more common.
Basswood and alder guitar wood types will make a small difference in tone. But isn’t a dealbreaker by any means. The electronics and other parts of a guitar will make a bigger impact on your sound. But, it’s still a good idea to get the wood type that better matches your music styles. Just to make sure it’s a better fit.
Which is heavier basswood or alder?
Basswood is the lighter of the two wood types. This is one of the reasons it’s used for electric guitars. It’s more comfortable to play over longer periods.
Is alder or basswood better for necks?
Neither of these wood types is used for guitar necks because they’re too soft. Harder woods like maple or mahogany are better choices. This is because they’re stronger and can handle the tension from the strings.
Is alder softer than basswood?
Alder is a bit harder than basswood, but not by much. This is why it’s often used for the bodies of electric guitars. It can handle more stress and tension while still being light.