Cheap (but decent) hollow bodies?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BeastOfTheDeep, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. BeastOfTheDeep


    Mar 30, 2021
    So, due to my current living situation/hours practicing plugged in is impossible 99% of the time. So I'm looking for a cheap bass that is loud enough accoustically to hear the low E while practicing. I can just about do that with my solid basses, but only if I put my ear right against the wood, which doesn't make for the best playing position.

    Some Relevant Info:
    • My main instruments are a 1969 Gibson EB-1 (nicknamed Kenobi, of course ) and an Eastwood copy of a mid-'60s Epiphone Newport, so something close to that 30.5" scale would be ideal.
    • Although the plugged-in sound is secondary to me, atm, I do love '60s thump and '70s growl. Favorite players include John Entwhistle, Sir Paul, Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones.
    • My budget is around $400, though I could stretch to $600.
    Instruments I'm Considering:
    • Hofner Ignition violin bass- less than $400 new- I'm a life-long Beatles fan. I remember as a teen seeing Beatle bass kits being sold in the back of music mags, and thinking how awesome it would be to have a Beatle bass that I could stain some weird, garish color. And lo', now I can get one straight from Hofner! The fact that the greenburst would also go beautifully with a hand-tooled and dyed leather strap I picked up a little while ago is a bonus.
    • 1960s Electra es335-type - ~400 used - I'm thinking something with f-holes might be a bit louder, and the body shape would be more comfortable if I want to practice seated. Electra seems to have a decent reputation, and the price is right.
    • Others I would seriously consider if I found a good deal: Gretsch Broadcaster (a very, very good deal ), Hofner President or Verythin, Eastwood Classic 4, some random vintage bass.
    So, finally, what I want to know:
    • Have I missed any good options?
    • What is your opinion on f-holes or not. Should that be a deal breaker?
    • What experiences have you had with these, or similar instruments?
    • Any brands I should absolutely avoid?
  2. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I hope your intention isn’t to practice acoustically. You will develop bad habits by playing too hard to hear yourself.
    You’d be better suited with a regular bass and headphone amp.
    AlexanderB and msb like this.
  3. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Best bass I ever bought that fits the bill was a seinnheiser hd 598.
    SunByrne and AlexanderB like this.
  4. BeastOfTheDeep


    Mar 30, 2021
    Shhhh! You're undermining my carefully constructed excuse to give in to GAS. Not a bad point, though.
  5. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    If this is actually a justification for GAS, get the bass AND the headphone amp. Two'fer.

    An inexpensive 335-style bass that gets good reviews is the Harley Benton HB-60. Pretty much the same as the Eastman Classic 4, but less than half the price. These are short scale, if that's a consideration.
    Harley Benton HB-60 WB – Thomann United States (

    Redsub and Gear4Music are both inexpensive 335-style basses, but are 34" scale instead of 30.5". You might get an erg or two more in acoustic performance from them.
    Hollowbody Bass Guitars | Gear4music

    I've no personal experience with any of these basses.
    BeastOfTheDeep likes this.
  6. Lowend65

    Lowend65 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    I'll preface: I hate ABG's - have never found one I thought was worth the wood it was made out of.

    If you want to buy a bass... we'll I get that.
    But you can also get a VOX Amplug2 headphone amp for $49
    Vox amPlug 2 Bass Headphone Guitar Amp

    With a good set of Sony Cans, it sounds pretty good. Figure $100 for the cans, you're out the door including tax for under $200
    AlexanderB and BeastOfTheDeep like this.
  7. Maybe a bit out of your price range but the Epiphone Jack Casady is really, REALLY nice!! If you could pick one up used, I think it’d be hard to go wrong.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  8. There’s a black Jack Casady on eBay right now for $700/free shipping. Listing says “or best offer”...
    Ductapeman and MCF like this.
  9. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    I am familiar with the JC and it's not loud enough to play without amplification.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  10. BeastOfTheDeep


    Mar 30, 2021
    I'll check that out. Thanks!
  11. BeastOfTheDeep


    Mar 30, 2021
    Yeah, I've been unimpressed by every full-on ABG I've ever tried, as well. I suspect there is no way to get a really good, unamplified, acoustic tone, that you would want to play in public, in anything less than an upright.

    Do you think the VOX could handle a mudbucker, without sounding like, well, mud? I used to have an old Dean headphone amp that wasn't bad, but all the cordage was a pain in the tush, especially when I just wanted to have a quick noodle. It's too bad no one has figured out how to overcome the problem with latency in Bluetooth headphones.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
  12. Good to know. I haven’t been able to get my hands on one, but I’d sure like to! They seem like really solid basses.
  13. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Bayou City
    When I read the thread title, I thought Epiphone JC bass.
    I had one for a long time... nice.
  14. Those Eastwood Classics are very nice. I own two, one white, one orange.

  15. arginator


    Feb 28, 2009
    Upstate NY
    Ibanez makes a few hollow body basses. I have an Ibanez AFB-200, and it’s a great bass.
    BeastOfTheDeep, B-Mac and AlexanderB like this.
  16. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Even in very quiet surroundings, an electric hollowbody (Gretsch, Epiphone JC, Ibanez Artisan? Artcore? etc) will not be loud enough. I have the Gretsch G5123B, which is fairly big, and has more acoustic tone than many alternatives, and it is still too soft for unplugged use. Maybe, maybe an acoustic bass can work at home, but with other musicians, you will still need amplification every time.

    I agree you risk developing bad habits and techniques to hear even your playing. Get a headphone setup that works.

    That said, if you want an electric hollowbody, the Jack Casidy has enough internal bracig to sound fairly similar to a P bass... I have played a Höfner viola bass from the 60s, and it was a sobering experience. It had few positive qualities, but was full of negative quirks and shortcomings. I would not want to gig one, ever. I also think the Fender Kingman bass is neck heavy, and awkward. The hollowbody Ibanez basses I have tried have been fine players, and I liked them. Maybe a little bit too close to a solid body in tone? Necks were narrow and small-ish, felt fast.

    My Gretsch has some shortcomings too, like weak fundamental output at the very lowest notes (can be fixed by boosting the 40Hz range), some dead spots, and it is impossible to lower the strings to optimal level. Fit and finish is very nice, it plays well, and definitely has its own sound.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
    abarson and BeastOfTheDeep like this.
  17. Erik herman

    Erik herman Gold Supporting Member

    Epiphone Rumblekat, doesn’t have f holes but she sounds great. Perfect for copping Gibson and Hofner sounds, I swapped the hardware out for black hipshots. Mainly for looks, I also don’t like the 3 point bridge. Wine Red is the color you can get readily available. This is the only Blue one I’ve ever seen in person so I snagged it. My local Sam ash got it when they first came out in 2015 and forgot it was in the back until last year right before the lockdown. They put it on the floor for the first time 5 years late for a close out price! IMG_20200209_161635.jpg
  18. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    My vote is for the Ignition. Great basses for the price. IMG_20210317_1941092.jpg
    Portamenti likes this.
  19. I recommend actual acoustic bass guitar instead of a hollow body (the acoustic will be louder but they aren’t so loud that neighbors would complain) or using a headphone setup. Lot of new gear has become much more headphone friendly. For example my Mesa subway has a stereo aux in and headphone out. Very simple to plug a phone or tablet into the aux in and start playing. Headphones aren’t that expensive either. You can get a set of pretty good headphones these days for under a hundred bucks. I also use a cheap little focusrite 2i2 to Jam a lot at home.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  20. Lowend65

    Lowend65 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    My Vox handles the 37” low b on my Dingwall no problem. Amplifiers have come a very long ways in the last 5 years. You really can’t compare something made now to a b-rate Dean amp from the 90’s
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