LMI wood

Ash wood

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Ash wood

Postby James Ansara » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:59 pm

Hi>Iam making a Telecaster guitar.I will be using a slab of flamed maple for the neck and a slab of birdseye maple for the fingerboard.The ash wood I have has almost no runout but it is northern ash and heavier than swamp ash.It is rather pretty in a Telecaster way and has a nice bold grain,finish will be clear nitro.Apart from potential balance problems in the finished guitar and obvious weight penalties would anyone know of reasons not to use northern ash?Stewmac calls their ash "Lighter weight than northern ash for good tone".Is this true?
Thanks for any advice in advance...
James Ansara
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Re: Ash wood

Postby John Hamlett » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:27 pm

James Ansara wrote:Stewmac calls their ash "Lighter weight than northern ash for good tone".Is this true?

In a word, "no".
Tone cannot be defined, tone is subjective, each person has his/her own opinion, how can a statement like that be true? OTOH, if it sounds good to *someone*, it has good tone, at least in that person's opinion, so "yes", it is true.
Sorry for the philosophical ramblings, but "sales speak" like that touches a nerve.
Do heavier and lighter bodies sound different? Probably. Is one better than the other? Matter of opinion.
John Hamlett
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Arnt Rian » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:13 pm

Lots of early Fenders had lighter (swamp?) ash bodies, and everybody loves those, so lighter must be better, right? ;) FWIW, I generally like lighter body woods on electrics, and I feel that for the type of sounds I'm after, clean/crunchy organic tube amp sounds, no hi-gain distortion stuff, they add more interesting colors to the sound. But John is right of course, it a matter of opinion, you need to figure out what YOU like.
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Re: Ash wood

Postby David King » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:42 pm

You should just ask your shoulder which one it likes better. The one that sounds better is the one that gets played
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:13 am

To avoid the weight penalties you could make the body slightly thinner, or "chamber" it under the pick guard.
" Swamp" ash was originally used because it was cheap. The telecaster was a poor man's axe.
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Mark Day » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:29 am

I have a 1980 Fender Strat that is northern ash. It weighs more than any Les Paul I've picked up, but it sounds wonderful and sustains for days. I don't know how much the wood has to do with all that, but just FYI. It's also finished in clear polyester so you can get a good look at the ash. I have some ash lumber courtesy of the Emerald Ash Borer killing all of the ash trees in my mother's yard. I'm planing to build a Tele with it someday...
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Re: Ash wood

Postby James Ansara » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:49 am

Thanks for the replies. The body is routed to finished shape. This build is in tandem with a friend who is making his Tele. of walnut wood so it will be interesting to feel and hear the diff. of the guitars before we add the electronics.Of course many other things will affect the tone as well. Now,if anyone needs some nice northern ash....
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Karl Hoyt » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:11 pm

I prefer northern ash, frankly , for electric guitars/basses. Why? It is plentiful, reasonably priced so you can pick through a stack of 8/4 ash and find light-ish planks, and damn, it sounds pretty good! Subjective I know and 'tonewood' debates can range on forever, get very heated, and be pointless. I'm a cheep Yankee and refuse to pay 40-60 bucks for an electric guitar blank. i agree with the poster who recognized that swamp ash was a trash wood in teh 50's and Leo got it cheap:-)

With that said, I really love northern(white) ash and have built dozens of basses out of the stuff which are being played by very appreciative customers.

With chambering, and keeping the thickness to about 1.5" as well as doing quite a bit of sculpting to my bass bodies, I can keep a northern ash bass down to about 8 pounds +/-. I have two sets of northern ash acoustic guitar woods that I'm going to get building on ASAP. I'll bet it sounds excellent!

go for it......

Karl Hoyt
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Mattia Valente » Tue May 01, 2012 5:10 am

I've only built guitars with swamp ash and some furniture with hard ash, and I do prefer both the look (subtle difference, granted, but still) and definitely the workability of swamp ash over hard ash. It is a bit more of a pain to grain fill, but only marginally so, and the weight is what sells it for me at the end of the day. I don't like heavy guitars.
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Steven Palmer » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:05 am

I have seen a lot here about using Northern ash and swamp ash for electric solid body guitars,
but I am thinking of using some northern ash as body woods for an acoustic 6 string? does anyone have any experience with ash on acoustics and are there any problems I should be made aware of up front? thanks.. Steve
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Re: Ash wood

Postby Steve Senseney » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:08 am

I have built acoustic guitars with ash. It bends very well, the guitars sound fine. The density is a little higher, so the neck is a little heavier.
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