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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Bass Guitars

5. Materials

Although there are some hi-tech materials in use, the very large majority of
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
guitars are made of wood. The critical consideration here is the hardness or softness. It’s actually quite common to see a combination of different woods employed in a single instrument to create a
BalancedTerm used to describe a system of audio connection that employs phase inversion noise cancellation. Using two signal wires and an earth, the audio is split and phase inverted in the second signal wire. On reaching the destination the second signal is re-inverted and combined with the first. Any electromagnetic interference is picked up equally by each signal cable and so will be cancelled out by the phase inversion. A balanced line requires balanced equipment at both ends.
balanced
overall
TimbreThe subjective quality of a sound, determined by many factors including harmonic content, transients and envelope.
timbre
. Hard woods such as maple, rosewood and ebony give a bright tone with plenty of
AttackThe beginning of a sound. Attack defines the time taken for the sound volume to go from silence to maximum level; a critical consideration when applying processing such as compression, gating, etc.
attack
, whereas softer woods such as
AlderA wood used in guitar making, notably by Fender. It is softer than other frequently used woods, and is noted for the bright and warm tones it creates, together with enhanced sustain.
alder
, swamp
AshAny of four tree genera, most often the genus Fraxinus, of which two subspecies (hard northern and lightweight southern) are used for guitar bodies, notably but not limited to those of Fender guitars.
ash
and the coincidentally named
BasswoodA soft, light wood taken from the deciduous tree Tilia Americana of the Tilia genus, commonly known as lime or linden. Favoured for its mid and high frequency resonance, it is often used in electric guitar bodies and drum shells.
basswood
, give a more subtle and darker sound.

Most woods have imperfections somewhere in the grain that can produce ‘dead spots’ - notes with less
SustainA general term with various specific meanings in music/audio production: 1) In general terms, how well an instrument's sound persists once played. 2) The third part of the ADSR envelope used by many synthesisers, Sustain ('S') determines to what volume a note decays after it is triggered, but before the key is released. (Decay 'D' controls how fast this happens) 3) The piano pedal which removes the dampers from the strings, so that notes will continue to sound even after the keys have been released. This is implemented in MIDI as a specific message with 2 possible values: 127 (pedal down) and 1 (pedal up).
sustain
or
ResonanceA parameter for boosting the frequencies around the cut-off point of a filter. When shaped by an envelope so that it moves in frequency it creates the characteristic 'wow' sound of a subtractive synthesizer.
resonance
- so some companies such as Status and Modulus use synthetic
GraphiteA mineral which is a naturally occurring allotrope (molecular structure) of carbon; the term is often loosely applied to many forms of carbon fibre and carbon-reinforced plastic used as a lightweight alternative to wood in the manufacture of various goods including guitars and tennis racquets.
graphite
in the construction of their instruments. This gives the
BassThe lowest part of the audio frequency range; in popular music, a (generally) rhythmic, low frequency melodic line emphasising the root notes of the chord progression.
bass
enhanced
SustainA general term with various specific meanings in music/audio production: 1) In general terms, how well an instrument's sound persists once played. 2) The third part of the ADSR envelope used by many synthesisers, Sustain ('S') determines to what volume a note decays after it is triggered, but before the key is released. (Decay 'D' controls how fast this happens) 3) The piano pedal which removes the dampers from the strings, so that notes will continue to sound even after the keys have been released. This is implemented in MIDI as a specific message with 2 possible values: 127 (pedal down) and 1 (pedal up).
sustain
, and an even sound across its range.

Maple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubinga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ebony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swamp-Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Koa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basswood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mahogany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovankol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosewood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poplar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wenige (Millettia Laurentii)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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