Acoustic Bass Materials
As with any sort of instrument, the Acoustic Bass can be built with a variety of materials in a variety of ways. There are quite a large range of available shapes, colors, brands, and sizes that make up the Acoustic Bass market (This is also true for both the Upright and Electric bass).
There are a large variety of materials that can be turned into a useable, good-sounding, snazzy looking instrument. Some Luthiers build Basses out of plastic, metal, chocolate, or anything else that you can get your hands on. If it can be cut, melted, shaped, or splintered, you can be sure that someone has probably tried to build a Bass out of it.
There are any number of woods that are made into Acoustic Basses. Some of the more common woods are:
Mahogany - Many times, this wood is used to help balance the brighter aspects of a wood like Maple or Ebony. Acoustic Basses made completely of Mahogany tend to be warmer and have a deeper bass and midrange tonal quality.
Maple - Acoustic Basses made of Maple tend to have a brighter, "sharper" sound quality. Many people prefer Maple for Acoustic Basses because maple tends to give the tone a more defined treble quality that is good for cutting through the mix in a group setting.
Ebony - Generally used for Fretboards, Ebony is a brighter, more defined tone wood that looks great with lighter body woods and can balance out a lot of the bass tones of mahogany. Usually used with a Mahogany neck. This is also the Fretboard wood used for most Classical Guitars.
Basses can be built Fretted or Fretless. If you haven't tried a Fretless Acoustic Bass, you really should try to find one. The sound is quite expressive and has a very clear, beautiful quality that is desired by many Fretless players. Although playing a Fretless Bass is beyond the scope of just this page, you should also check out my section on the Fretless bass. There, you will find many different kinds of lessons and exercises that can help you expand your knowledge of the Fretless bass. Getting off topic......
The vast majority of Acoustic Bass body shapes out there are derived from their Acoustic Guitar counterparts. There aren't really a lot of unique body shapes out there, but both Godin and Warwick have some really unique looking basses. You might want to check them out.
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