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For the most part, tone woods are a detail of electric guitar construction that are often considered but rarely well understood. Today we will be having a look at two of the most popular, specifically for the bodies of Fender guitars; ash and alder.
Ash will often appear on guitars that feature transparent or natural finishes which looks incredible with its straight but often varied grain pattern. Famously, this has been seen on Telecasters, Broadcasters and Esquires from the early to mid 50s as well as reissues from the same era and some modern incarnations that feature natural finishes.
After 1956, Fender started to feature Alder on its instruments, including their famously innovative Precision Bass. This change is most likely due to the availability and cost of Alder, but after hearing and seeing the results it has become the mainstay for Fender instruments. Alder is the most common choice for Stratocasters, Jaguars and Jazzmasters as well as the Jazz Bass due to its warmer balanced tone.
More specifically, Red Alder is used by Fender as it is fast growing and readily available. Bodies made from Red Alder are constructed from two to four pieces glued together and features a tighter, more consistent grain than that of ash.
Alder produces a very resonant and balanced tone with the upper midrange pushing through as well as great sustain and extra attack. Due to its closed pores and close grain, it takes finishes very well and is usually finished in solid colours.
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