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Bass Bodies: Contoured vs. Slab?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SoulReflection, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. SoulReflection

    SoulReflection Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Older bass player here. When I was younger, I could play either without noticing any difference. Now, I have a Squier Jag SS, which is contoured and a Mustang PJ SS which is slab.

    I find the Squier much more comfortable than the Mustang.

    Although I have tried different strap lengths and body positions I cannot seem to find a comfort level with the Mustang.

    Am I missing something or is this a common thing that relates to personal preference?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.
    Lardass5000 and TolerancEJ like this.
  2. I've always appreciated an arm contour in an instrument. I like the belly contour as well.
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Contoured body, fully rounded edges, minimal heel block- I’m all for anything that helps you forget that you’re holding a block of wood and makes you feel like you’re using a natural extension of yourself.
  4. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Just played a Dan Armstrong copy the other day.
    Rather uncomfortable.
    Not sure if I could get used to it.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  5. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Most like curves and contours. I ain't one of them. Keep it edgy.
    Clipped, lfmn16, maxschrek and 3 others like this.
  6. I had a Squier Jaguar standard length. I could not get used to the 'different' shape, especially when I sat on a stool.
  7. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Guild Starfire: semi-hollow and no contour. I thought they were too wide the first time I played one. Now, nothing else feels "right".
    ahc, Rock O and SoulReflection like this.
  8. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    contoured body is great till I had to put them in a dual bass bag, specifically the iGig bag.

    I can tell you to never get a iGig dual bass bag. They suck. The contour makes them even suck more because it pushes the top lid up and the top side edges end up hitting the zipper. Clearly the guys at iGig weren't thinking anything. This is the biggest POS dual bass bag I have and I have the Mono, Fusion, and the Reunion. All of them much better.

    Other than this, contoured body with a rounded upper horn is really good. Rounded horn makes it easier to grab it when I am taking the bass off my body.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  9. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    After playing a NT, I don't understand the huge heel on some bolt-ons either.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  10. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    a couple of the things that come into the reasoning for me, is that I wear the bass quite high, so body/belly contours are more comfortable … if you wear a bass lower, it may matter less, especially if you bend over it slightly …

    … kind of also depends on the size/shape of your 'pot-belly', and the bodies 'natural angle', resting on/over/around it … ;)
  11. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    No slabs for this cat, contoured bodies only.
  12. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2006
    I’m not a fan of the sharp edges. They just don’t feel comfortable in any shape bass I’ve ever played. Having said that, there are probably some body shapes that are more suited to the slab than others. Likewise, there are maybe some hindrances to the contour on the bass that you have. Play a contoured bass of a different style and you may find it perfect.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  13. LoTone

    LoTone Clean as an Entwistle... Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2010
    Quebec, Canada
    I have one slab body bass and it is a shorty. That is the only one that I will tolerate as a slab. Beyond that exception, I would not consider any other slab body bass.

    Here is my little slab shorty...
    Clipped, Jebberz, GoLeafsGo and 7 others like this.
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I prefer the slab and gig with a few of them. I rest my forearm on the flat top edge to position my hand in my preferred plucking position over the end of the fingerboard.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  15. SoulReflection

    SoulReflection Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Interesting point about one's body/shape. I am thin with no pot belly. Maybe that's my "problem"?;). Perhaps I should have made this a poll.

    I really appreciate the comments, keep them coming. I would be very interested knowing why some prefer slab bodies.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  16. SoulReflection

    SoulReflection Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    Oh, but I do find the contour on the Squier perfectly comfortable. It's the slab body Mustang PJ that isn't bonding with me :(.
  17. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    I had a quite pricey Fender CS Slab body with binding on the body.
    Quite happy it’s gone even though I took a loss on it. That was a hard lesson.
    It forced me to change my arm angle, which had a negative effect on my plucking hand attack angle. The change in arm angle also bothered my shoulder for any set length of time (45 min or so) due to multiple shoulder injuries. Also the binding bugged my forearm.
    It was a cool bass...... for someone else.
    Contours only for me.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  18. Mannyinnewyork


    Sep 28, 2016
    New York
    Contoured for sure. There’s no joy in getting poked in the ribs (as far as I am concerned). I can’t think of a single down-side to having a curvaceous comfortable body pressed against mine - even if it is a bass.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  19. grrg63


    Dec 14, 2005
    Gimme them contours! I used to take them for granted, but when they're not there you really notice.
    SoulReflection likes this.
  20. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I've never owned a bass with a "slab" body, but I bought a Jack Casady Epi bass many years ago that not only was "un-contoured," but had sharp edges/corners and a very thick (hollow) body. It found it painful to play, what with the top/front edge of the body digging into my forearm, and almost sold it -- but in the end this all turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I realized that in order to play the bass comfortably, I had to hold my elbow out farther from my body, so my forearm was parallel to the face of the bass rather than resting lazily on the top of the body. It wasn't until sometime later than I learned that this was actually a much-recommended playing position anyway, because maintaining a straight line from the elbow to plucking fingers keeps the wrist perfectly straight. I've since adopted this position with all my basses and am convinced that I'm a better (and safer) player for it. My current P-style basses are both contoured but I'm sure I'd be just as comfortable now with a slab, because my forearm is either not touching the bass body at all or, if it is, is resting against the front of the bass body instead of on the top edge.

    BTW, something else that makes this work for me is that I wear the bass so the body is sitting more on my right hip than on my belly, with the neck angled somewhat upward and outward. This helps keep the angle of my plucking fingers or pick just right.
    Malak the Mad and SoulReflection like this.

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