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Elrick Introduces Sassafras as a Tone Wood Option

Christian Wissmuller • Fretted • April 27, 2021

Elrick Bass Guitars, Ltd. is excited to introduce Sassafras as tone wood option added to their robust line of body woods now available.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is a medium to light brown tone wood that has a strong resemblance to Ash. It can be visually described as a combination of Alder and Ash. Sassafras is a very durable wood with dimensional stability once dry and takes finish, stains and glue very well. The weight of Sassafras is comparable to its distant relative, Ash.

So, why introduce another body wood when Elrick has so many species available. Swamp Ash is going to be harder to find and getting consistent and reliable wood supply is in question. The ‘emerald ash borer’s responsible for this reduced supply of acceptable Ash for building instruments. This insect is believed to have been introduced from Asia sometime in the late 1990s.

Lacking natural predators, uncontrolled populations of this invasive emerald ash borer spread rapidly throughout North America, devastating local populations of ash trees. The beetles’ larvae bore into a tree and feed on the inner bark, eventually killing the entire tree. The insects are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada.

Sassafras has been used over the course of 60+ years of instrument manufacture, so it already has a pedigree as a viable tone wood for guitar and bass bodies. With ash becoming harder to find, the price will likely succumb to a price increase, that will result in a higher price tag for the consumer of an instrument. Third, Sasssafras has the advantage of not being listed on the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This allows easy worldwide shipping and provides an additional wood option.

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