Is Basswood Good for Guitars? Tonewood Guide 2022

Looking for a new guitar and wondering if a basswood body is a good choice? There are many different materials available that can make it hard to know what’s best. So is basswood good for guitars?

Yes, Basswood is an excellent material for guitars due to its many positive qualities that include being lightweight, resonant, and having a well-balanced tonal character.

It’s a popular material, especially for electric guitars because it has an even grain and is lightweight. Basswood is also good for guitar bodies because it doesn’t warp or crack easily.

All these characteristics make it a perfect material for many different types of guitars. So if you’re on the fence about basswood, we’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know about this type of wood to help you make the best decision for your next guitar. 

is basswood good for guitars

Where Does Basswood Come From?

Generally, most basswood trees are found in North America, more specifically in the eastern regions of the United States and southeastern Canada. 

The growth range for this tree does vary pretty widely, though, so don’t be too surprised if you find a basswood tree or two outside of North America. 

This tree prefers to grow on moist upland sites with a lot of shelter from the sun and wind. The height of a basswood tree will fall somewhere between 70 and 80 feet.

Is Basswood Good for Guitars?

From a manufacturing standpoint, basswood is a great wood for guitars. It’s light, easy to machine, easy to source, and sounds pretty good, especially on electric guitars where pickups do most of the heavy lifting.

But what about from the guitarist’s perspective? Well, we looked into it and found that some players like it, and some don’t. Those that don’t like it, say that it’s too soft and dents easy. Some have even complained about the sound it makes. But could this be accurate?

Others say that it’s just fine and sounds good with a nice mid-range punch. Because it’s cheaper, it also keeps prices low, and some people appreciate that.

For me, I think basswood is just fine and makes great electric guitar bodies. Not only is it light, but it also resonates at frequencies that work great with electric guitar pickups. This means better sound and feel in the instrument. Basswood is also used in high-end guitars.

Companies like Ibanez and Music Man use this wood type in some of their electric guitars, and they are great! However, acoustic guitars wouldn’t do as well when made from basswood.

Is basswood better than alder? Click here to find out!

What are the Benefits of Using Basswood Guitars?

The major benefit of using basswood guitars is the warm and punchy tone it produces. This allows you to create high-gain sounds, which makes it perfect for a guitarist who wants to achieve an intense and growling tone.

Despite being soft, basswood still can handle a bit of abuse, which means it’s a sturdy type of wood that can last for a long time. 

Also, the low cost of basswood means that you won’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality guitar. If you’re starting your journey into the world of guitar playing, then a basswood instrument is a great option that won’t break the bank. 

Some people claim that basswood guitars are soft and lack sustain, but this really depends on the construction and quality of the instrument. According to seasoned players, the soft nature of basswood is actually an advantage, as it leads to a more responsive and open sound. 

Being lightweight is another one of the key benefits of basswood guitars. This means that you won’t get as tired when playing for long periods of time and is ideal if you suffer from any back, neck, or shoulder pain.

What About Basswood as a Material for Bass Guitars?

We truly agree that Basswood is quite decent material for a bass guitar. But, not as popular as it should be. It all comes down to the market and what people want.

According to reviews and observations of players, the basswood bass guitar is known to have an unbalanced sound. This is due to the fact that the body-neck match isn’t ideal, which results in a lot of neck-dive.

But what creates this problem in the first place? The light weight of Basswood. That’s right, this material is quite light, which causes an imbalance when paired with a heavy neck made with maple, for example.

Additionally, the low weight of basswood can cause an issue with the bridge. Since the tension on strings is quite high, it can put a lot of pressure on the bridge screws. Over time, this can cause them to come out.

So, is Basswood good for bass guitars? We think it is. But, it’s not perfect. There are a few drawbacks to consider before buying. Still, there are many happy customers with their basswood bass guitars, so it’s definitely worth considering, but only from well-known builders and brands.

Want to learn more about all the guitar tonewoods, click here!

Is Basswood a Good Option for a Guitar Neck?

The neck is a crucial part of the guitar, and it’s important to choose a material that will hold up under tension and stress. But what about basswood? Is it a good option for a guitar neck?

The answer is no. Basswood is a softer wood, so it’s not the best choice for a neck. It’s more likely to warp or break under high tension, so it’s best to choose harder wood for this part of the guitar. 

If you come across a guitar with a neck made of basswood, it’s best that you don’t buy it and choose one with a better wood choice.

Why Basswood Guitars are Better Than You Think

We have tested many Basswood guitars in different price ranges, and we have never been disappointed with the tone. There are many enthusiasts who disagree about the different tonewoods used for guitar bodies. 

But if you are a beginner, or even an experienced player looking for a new guitar, we believe you can be confident when buying one made of basswood. 

For a second, let’s forget about the debate of what is the best tonewood for guitars. We believe you’ll find that Basswood is a great all-purpose tonewood that can be used for almost any style of music.

There is a big reason why many manufacturers don’t highlight the use of basswood in their guitars. It’s because many people have a negative view of this wood, and the manufacturers don’t want to turn potential customers away. 

Basswood is inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s low-quality tonewood. The main game-changer is the guitar maker’s ability to work with the wood type. A great luthier can make a cheap piece of wood sound amazing. Just as a bad one can ruin an expensive piece of wood. 

That’s why Basswood is also used in higher-end guitars. Many times, it’s because the luthier knows how to work with the wood and bring out its best qualities. So, don’t write off Basswood just because it seems cheap or not very durable.

Guitars Made From Basswood

Guitars made with basswood

There are many artists that use basswood even in their signature guitars. Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein was one of them! Here is a list of other guitars that were made with basswood bodies.

  • Schecter Aaron Marshall AM-6
  • Ibanez Jake Bowen JBM9999
  • Fender JV Modified 50s Stratocaster
  • Jackson Pro Soloist SL3R
  • Schecter Omen 8

There are many great guitars produced with basswood bodies from well known brands. This should be a great indication that you will have a great experience with a basswood guitar!

The Bottom Line

Woods like mahogany and maple are often thought of as the best tonewoods for guitars, but that doesn’t mean basswood should be overlooked. In fact, basswood has many benefits that make it a great choice for any type of guitar.

Basswood is a light wood that is easy to transport and popular among traveling musicians. What’s more, the mellow, warm tone of basswood is versatile and can sound good in any genre. 

If you’re in the market for a new guitar, or even if you’re just curious about different woods used to make them, we hope this article has been helpful.

FAQs

Does basswood dent easily?

Yes, basswood is a softer wood, so it will dent quite easily if not handles well. However, this should not be an issue as long as you are cautious with your guitar.

Does Fender use basswood?

In past years, Fender has used basswood for many of their Japanese-made models. But nowadays, there are fewer models being made with basswood. 

What tree is basswood from?

The tree is commonly known as the American linden or basswood tree. Additionally, the botanical name for this tree is Tilia Americana.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!