Semi-hollow Aria bass doesn’t sound ‘hollow’ enough

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MusicBear, Dec 31, 2013.


  1. MusicBear

    MusicBear

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location:
    East coast, USA
    I recently acquired an Aria TAB-60 thinline semi-hollow bass. It was a purchase from a family member who quit playing - not a store-bought instrument. It is a medium-scale bass fitted with dual humbucking pickups and still equipped with the stock round-wound strings Aria supplied.

    I’ve been playing solid-body basses for decades – Fender, Rickenbacker and other similar instruments. When this bass became available my thoughts were “Wow, this should give me the 60’s British Invasion [Chas Chandler / Animals - Epiphone Rivoli or Gibson EB-2] kind of sound. Something with a “Plonk” type of attack instead of the solid attack of the P- or the Ric.”

    When I tested it at home I was disappointed. The tone of the humbucking pickups is slightly fuller/darker than my other basses but it has the same type of solid attack as the P- or the Ric – not the “plonk” I was hoping for. It is a surprisingly hefty instrument for a mahogany bass, weighing more than my other basses.

    Might something as simple as a change of string type deliver the desired attack – or, is it time to sell this bass and keep searching?
  2. Dave Bassincus

    Dave Bassincus

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Fort Myers, FL
    Try flats or nylon tapewounds.
  3. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Location:
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Depends on what you mean by "Plonk". If it's tone, then yes, flats and/or tapewound strings will help. If you mean 'very little sustain', then yes, it's not hollow enough. When they started putting tone blocks in hollowbody guitars (and basses) to control the feedback from single coil pickups, the added mass also increased the sustain (a little). If it's enough to be a concern for you, palm muting is about your only remedy. Some vintage hollow/semi-hollow basses had bridges with mutes - deluxe Epiphone EA-260s, for example - but that's probably not a viable solution for you. Experiment with it, and enjoy! :)
  4. MusicBear

    MusicBear

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location:
    East coast, USA
    Thank you for restating it as you did. By "Plonk" I mean "very little sustain." I can try different strings and palm muting, but I feel that it will continue to have too much sustain.
    :bassist:
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  6. David Jayne

    David Jayne

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Brookfield, CT
    It's never going to give you that hofner thud. Move on.
  7. MusicBear

    MusicBear

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location:
    East coast, USA
    I tried installing a foam mute under the strings. The bass still sustained too much. :rollno:

    Time to post it for sale (CL) and move on. I checked out a few hollow bass videos on YouTube - Gretsch Electromatic short-scale, Eastwood, Hofner Ignition and Epiphone Viola - that is the type of sound I'm hoping for.
  8. TN WOODMAN

    TN WOODMAN

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2011
    Location:
    Smyrna, Tennessee.
    As suggested try flats or tapes before giving up. EQ @ amp will help as well.
  9. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass Gnarsty bass tones Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2001
    Location:
    Maryland, between Bawlmer & DC
    Another +1 on flats/tapes. When set up right they can make some solidbody basses sound semi-hollow.
  10. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Location:
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    Sorry you're not happy with it; seems like a nice bass (no leftys, tho-as usual). I have a Gretsch ('94 Broadkaster) and an old Epiphone EA-260, as well as a couple of non-Hofner violin basses. Be forwarned; they all have noticeable sustain, and probably more than you want. Even an upright has some sustain, If what you are after is just a "Thump", you will simply have to mute the Bejeezus out of whatever you decide to play. I can get that dead thump (and do) with either of my Rickenbackers, and Ricks are Famous sustain-monsters. I have to crank the bridge mute up really hard to do it, though. There is a serious piece of dense foam in the bridge cover of my P-Bass, pressing Hard on the flatwounds, for the same reason. IMO, you should experiment a little more with different materials (and pressure on the strings) before giving up on the Aria,:)
  11. donn

    donn

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Location:
    Seattle
    Somewhat in the same vein - I have a Gretsch G5123B, and I guess it's about as hollow body as they come, but there's sustain for sure, like 10 seconds if you listen for it, and that's with La Bella 760M flat wounds, albeit relatively new. Along with the muting possibilities, I guess you might be able to tip the balance somewhat towards the attack and away from the sustain by playing a little harder.
  12. MusicBear

    MusicBear

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Location:
    East coast, USA
    Thank you all very much for your help with this.

    Flatwounds are definitely the way I will go. However, I won't be keeping this bass.

    My Fender basses all sustain quite well, my Ric is definitely a "famous sustain monster" as GIBrat51 states, and the Alembic sustains even more. The mute in my Ric tended to cause intonation problems so I removed it years ago and installed a Bartolini mute-compartment pickup for extra "bright" when needed.

    I know that many hollow basses - both electric and upright - can sustain quite well, and controlling sustain is as much a matter of technique as it is the instrument itself.

    The Aria IS a really beautiful bass but it just doesn't wow me the way I had hoped it would. It is in near-mint condition so I have decided to sell it and use the money for a hollow body bass - closer in tone & feel to where I want to be without as much effort to get there.

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