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Current Semi-Hollow/Hollow Bass Production- Am I Missing Something?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dopejohnpaul, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    TL;DR- Why isn’t anyone line producing an American made Semi-Hollow bass?

    Ok, I’m just trying to understand something as I search around for new bass tones. Now obviously there are outlier exceptions, custom order basses, and few-off boutique builds that counterpoint the notion in putting forward, but hear me out and let me know if I’m missing something-

    Is anyone currently producing a line of American made hollow/semi-hollow basses? And if not, why? And why are the Asian-Market built models so damn expensive? Does their quality live up to their price?

    A quick search on any big box website will give you one result meeting the US built criteria (the outlier I mentioned above), a blue burst G&L ASAT bass (ugh, why blue?) for about $2,000.

    Every other semi/hollow offering is an Asian market built instrument- which let me say, I generally have no issue with. There are models from Epiphone, Ibanez, Guild, Gretsch, Hofner, and many more! They range in price anywhere from $500 to $2000 for the most part (and even $3500 For the coveted White Falcon bass- Japanese built I believe). Most offerings fall right under or above $1000.

    Also, most vintage Starcasters/Coronado’s/Hofners/Starfire basses are selling right around $2k in good condition. Old school vintage off-brand basses from a variety of countries going for under $1000. I’ve played a lot of them that blow the newer stuff out of the water.

    I just don’t get it. I remember when Fender was offering two models under the Modern Player banner a few years ago- the Coronado II and Starcaster reissues. Both made in China, and both had their issues. Weren’t produced long, and now are popping up used with asking prices around a grand. Sheesh. Hofner was recently offering a Verythin bass reminiscent of the old President basses under their Contemporary line. A step up from the HI series, but still Chinese made. They msrp’d just over a grand. Selling used around $700 now.

    But let’s talk current production- there’s always the TB favorite, the Jack Casady. I’ve played two over the years, and honestly, they weren’t anything to write home about. Wasn’t a huge fan. Especially not at the $800+ price point. There are a couple of Ibanez options. I’ve played a few, but never got the build or feel quality I was I looking for, as beautiful as they looked aesthetically. The Gretsch electromatic stuff actually plays and sounds pretty great. Same with the awesome Guild Starfire bass. But I have a hard time paying more than $1000 for a bass made in China.

    So a few questions here. Feel free to chime in on as many or as few as you’d like:
    -Am I wrong to think this way? I was brought up thinking things made in China were cheap, and missed a lot of quality control. My hands on experiences over the years have mostly reinforced this. But have things significantly changed in the past decade? I mean, are people really paying the $800 people are asking for used basses made in China and satisfied?
    -Am I missing any American made basses that I should know about?
    -Why aren’t more companies with US Production (NEW THOUGHT: how many of those are actually there anymore?) making semi hollow or hollow basses?
    -Are there any Asian-market built basses that absolutely blew you out of the water and were well worth the money? The Jack just wasn’t my thing, and I think the Gretsch’s are great but overpriced.
    -Should someone looking for a good semi/hollow bass just saves bit more and go vintage vs modern build?

    Thanks for reading my rant and hopefully starting some fun and informative discussion!
  2. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You haven't tried this one, have you?
    It's made in South Korea.
    $1,100 and worth every penny.
    Doesn't matter if Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker all came out with semi-hollow basses tomorrow...I'd still buy this one.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
    Rezdog, SLPimp, AlexanderB and 10 others like this.
  3. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    have you tried the gibson midtown or ES-335 bass?
    MCF, Loring, SLPimp and 1 other person like this.
  4. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Reverend Dub King is made in Korea, set up here (USA). The one I have is a very nice bass: very well crafted and produces a nice range of tones. It is a short scale but can be strung either "string-through" or top-loaded, which allows for a wider choice of strings (short or medium scale length)

    Rezdog, MCF, Low Down Brown and 5 others like this.
  5. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    @jd56hawk @Mustang Surly
    I have absolutely loved every Reverend I have ever put my hands on. Thanks for this heads up. Are these models in current production and available for purchase currently?

    @hypercarrots Im a huge fan of Gibson basses. Those two models are almost impossible to find new, as I don’t think they’re in current production. And I don’t see them up for sale used a lot .
    jd56hawk likes this.
  6. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    You're welcome.
    Yes, they're currently available...a few new colors this year, too.
  7. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    Sweet! Good to know. None of those new colors do it for me at all. I’m an old school sunburst and Goldtop kind of guy, so maybe I can put my hands on one of the older tobacco burst babies.
  8. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    Speaking of which, this was announced today.

  9. What about the Maruszczyk/Mensinger Joker Bass. Top Notch, made in Europe. You can fully customize your Instrument on the Joker B - Type | Public Peace


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    It really feels like semi/hollow basses seem to be an acquired taste in rock today.
    gebass6 likes this.
  11. Wow, a 330 type checkerboard body! From the horse's mouth! To think my poor old Rose Morris Shaftesbury lived to see that day.

  12. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    The Guild Newark Street Starfires are built in Korea. You can find them used all day for well under $1K. I found a Starfire II here on TB for a really great price... and it's a great bass! I think I saw one in the TB classifieds a couple of days ago.
    nixdad and dopejohnpaul like this.
  13. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    @farace Very cool! Exactly what I’m looking for, overall. Absolutely beautiful. Hadn’t seen that one yet. However, I just sold my second ever 4003, because as much as I try, I just don’t like the feel of a Ric. Maybe that one is different, but I doubt it. Most likely has the same neck and pickup specs as most Rics these days. Just not for me.

    @AREA Also very cool. I see a lot of love on TB for Maruszczyk basses, but have never put one in my hand honestly. I love a good Euro built bass though! I’ll have to look into these. Thanks!

    @MAJOR METAL Yes, they are. Which is probably why companies aren’t producing them more. Someone like me, who has multiple Ps, Js, PJs, HHs, etc- just wants to try something different. But there’s not much choice. Plus I’m working on a 60s R&B style EP currently, so looking for that old school “thump.”

    @ahc You are also tight on point with things I’ve been looking at. I love the Starfire. Wish they were still making it in a Sunburst finish. They run $1300 new, and yes, there’s one here on TB for about a grand. Not really sure about it though.
    Oddly and ahc like this.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Perhaps an Epiphone Rivoli with flats might work for you?
    Outtaseezun likes this.
  15. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    Same scenario. Not in production anymore, and the used ones are going for close to $1000. Played a few Casady basses, but no Rivolis. How do they compare?
  16. The Mogpipe

    The Mogpipe

    Nov 9, 2017
    I'm quite fond of my Ibby Artcore. Great bass. And pretty too! PicsArt_12-06-07.53.29.jpg
  17. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    Yeah, I’ve seen that one and a couple of other Artcore basses over the past few years, along the same design line for around $5-600 new. My local GC had the exact one you shared, so I tried it out. Was not impressed or happy with the sound/feel. I honestly liked the Casady more, and even that was not my favorite.

    I guess I’m comparing everything to the old 60’s Hofners and Coronado IIs that I’ve played. And nothing I’ve tried quite gets that tone. Most just mimic it well enough, the same way any of my other basses could try to mimic that tone, but it’s not exactly right. I may just have to bite the bullet and save up for an older one.
  18. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    The answer is pretty simple. They aren't making them because they don't believe they can reliably make enough profit by doing so. Manufacturers have businesses to run, and unless they want those businesses to die a quick and ugly death, they have to build to the market. Bottom line: Not that many people want an expensive, brand new, U.S.-made hollowbody bass.

    Just get an old one. They were plentiful in the old days, and unless you seriously overpay, you can always sell it down the line and recover your entire investment when you're a geezer or otherwise want to sell it.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
    jamro217, Pauly 4001, getbent and 3 others like this.
  19. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    If I had my druthers, I’d be all over the Gibson Memphis ES Bass, as I love my Les Paul OSB bass. I’ve owned two LP OSB basses. Both actually were opposite the curve- poopy cosmetic issues, like poor uneven staining and a rough binding job. But the construction, playability, feel, and tone was superb. But same problem. Not in production anymore, and the rarely popped up used offering go for $2500+.
  20. dopejohnpaul

    dopejohnpaul Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2009
    Bonaire, GA
    You’re probably right on this. The more I look at it, I can pay around $1000 for a new or used Chinese made bass, or I can just hold off and grab an original vintage specimen from the 60s/70s for just under $2000. I just wasn’t trying to spend that much, as this would just be a fun play around bass. But it seems like the better route overall to get something of known quality and value.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 4, 2021

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