Basswood is one of the most frequently talked about tonewoods out there and there are many factors that go into the choice of wood for our instruments here at Ernie Ball Music Man. Our design team prefers to use grain heavy wood to accentuate the look and sound of the instruments, but not all tone woods have such a nice aesthetic, basswood being one of them. Though basswood may sometimes be less expensive to purchase out in the wild, this does not mean that the tone of the instrument will be worse. In fact, in many cases it’s exactly what a player is looking for. Basswood has been used in many high-end guitars for decades and is considered a great tone wood for instruments throughout the industry.
History of Basswood
American basswood is derived from the northernmost to the southernmost portions of the eastern United States and as far west as North Dakota. Since the 1980’s, basswood gained popularity and for a time was probably the most used wood for locking tremolo guitars and paired with maple necks because of how well they cut through the mix. Basswood is also one of the most suitable wood species for hand carving in our factory. Toward the end of the late 80’s, a few other types of tonewoods were mistakingly thought to be basswood which lead to a decline in basswood’s popularity. However, true basswood does produce a very pleasing midrange tone, which is why modern guitar companies use the wood for instruments to this day.
A lot of controversy surrounding basswood stems from the fact that it varies in quality. Certain pieces of basswood sound great, and other pieces can sound really bad. If you compare the weight of less expensive guitars to more high-end models made of basswood, you will find that most high-end guitars weigh less and normally sound better. Companies who mass produce guitars tend to use basswood, so this evidently alters the perception of basswood in the industry. Here at Ernie Ball Music Man, we ensure the best quality basswood and instill the highest level of craftsmanship for our instruments.
Why We Use Basswood
Basswood is very light weight and produces a fairly even and full to mid-range response throughout the entire band width. Many guitar enthusiasts agree that it’s well matched with humbucking pickups because basswood produces a lot of the same frequencies that pickups easily recreate. Basswood’s pale white to light brown color is mostly uniform throughout the face grain of the wood, and knots and other abnormalities are very uncommon. We choose lightweight cuts of basswood because they tend to sound much better than the heavier ones. This is something that holds true for most tonewoods, but especially basswood. At Ernie Ball Music Man we have sourced and produced dozens of prototypes and the basswood prevailed for specific instruments with its ideal weight and tonal qualities.
Ernie Ball Music Man Basswood Instruments
Basswood is a very full-bodied sounding tonewood, and it especially makes sense for us to utilize it when adding elements like maple tops to give the instrument the overall package for more cut and brightness.
Depending on which Majesty you’re referring to in John Petrucci’s signature collection, it may have basswood and it may not. If the Majesty does have basswood it will also have a maple shield and/or top and each Majesty guitar offers mahogany through the neck of the instrument. Find out more about the Majesty guitar offerings here.
The Ernie Ball Music Man JP6 guitar is made completely out of basswood. The basswood body features a high-gloss, durable finish with stylish lines and an ergonomic scooped arm contour. Find out more about the JP6 from John Petrucci’s signature collection here.
The Ernie Ball Music Man Axis guitar is made of a lightweight basswood body and features a quilt or flame book matched maple top. Find out more about the Axis guitar here.
We also offer basswood in some of our bass instruments. The Bongo bass collection features a double cutaway basswood body, made with superior construction. Learn more about the Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo here.