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Extra "sound port," crazy idea?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rablack, Aug 30, 2002.

  1. rablack


    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    I have been pondering the commonly expressed truism (confirmed by personal experience) that the bassist is in the worst position to actually hear what his/her bass sounds like. I frequent several luthiery websites, most of which are guitar-centric. Some guitar makers have experimented with sound holes placed in the upper left bout of the top or in the upper left side/rib. The concept is that more direct sound will reach the player.

    Has anyone ever tried building a “sound port” into the upper left rib of a bass? Structurally it seems possible. Obviously this would have to be discretely incorporated for aesthetic reasons, but is the concept meritorious? Any thoughts from our esteemed luthiers?
  2. I vaguely remember seeing a picture of a bass like this. Maybe it was in my mind or came from guitars that I've seen with sound holes in the upper bout.
    It certainly is a viable idea; it works well for guitars with the idea being that the better you hear yourself, the better you play. I'm not sure how well it would work for bass. Much of what you hear from the bass is tone from the string, and a lot of upper partials bouncing off the back of the bass, mixed with room bounce.
    It might change some of the time vibe with other people you're playing with.
    It's an interesting idea. If you have a sabre saw, try it and let us know :)
  3. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Paul Toenniges (sp?), an excellent maker who worked out of L.A. in the 1930s-1950s or thereabout, made several basses with elongated diamond-shaped f-holes. These basses also had similar holes in the c-bouts. A client of mine has one, and it sounds really big. I believe the instruments were built to drive sound to the sides of the bass as well as out front. This way the drummer and pianist (in a big jazz band) could hear the bass as well as the front line and audience. i think the idea of a soundhole in the upper bout, E side is a great idea, which I've toyed with for many years. perhaps some day I'll have the cojones to do it!
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Echoing Arnold - His client played that Toenniges with my symphony (Bottesini Duo Concertante). The sound was amazing. The bass section, all the way to the side, heard every note like he was behind us.
  5. LOL:D !!
  6. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    maybe somebody on the list can buy those cremona/lupino/victory/parmesan/etc type of basses on ebay and experiment with all kinds of holes and then let us know. :D
    sounds like a joke?! but it could change bassworld!
  7. This not quite the same thing but my new bass has access panels in the c-bouts. The sound with the panels off is more resonant but less focused. I haven't tried taking the panels out on a gig yet, I've only had it a couple of weeks. I'll try it when I the right gig comes along. I'd attach a picture but I'm to stupid to figure out how that works, if you want some email me. Marc
  8. Marc,
    Was your bass made by Bob Ross in Denver?
  9. Yeah, great guy, we have been working on this for about 3 years and I'm real happy with it, it looks and sounds great.
  10. Marc,
    Paul Warburton was telling me about it when I visited him this summer. You should post some photos. I understand the scroll is quite unusual too.
  11. I'll try to attach some pictures
  12. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
  13. Hey Jeff,
    Just think - if you need to change the soundpost position, you just reach in with your hand and move it! Do you think the ISB boys will go for that?

    All kidding aside, I've played one of the Ross/Warburton basses and if sounded pretty good to me (but it didn't have the door in side). Bob Ross is not afraid to break the "rules". He definately marches to a different drummer.
  14. It is nice to be able to reach in and adjust the sound post, I can do it myself and be sure it's strait and the fit is good. It also allows for a bolt on neck which is adjustable. Bob's last bass was the first one with a door, and it sounded great so that sold me on having one in this one. The dimensions are roughly the same as a freind of mine's Neuner and it has a similar sound. The bass sounds great, I can't keep my hands off it. I guess the keys to a good sounding bass aren't in C-bouts or the neck block. Here are some more pictures.
  15. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    Mark-hope you don't mind some queries on that bass. Is it willow?[ribs and back]. By what mechanics do the ribs attach? Any chance of a pic of the neck joint?
  16. The back is poplar and the sides are elm, both from old beams. The top is fir from bleacher seats he got from an old school that was torn down. Bob will be getting his web page back up one of these days, I think there are some pictures of the construction that would show the neck joint or if we take it off again I'll be sure to take some pictures. Jeff, thanks for getting back to me a couple of months ago about the crack, the bass in question was Bob's first bass which he let me borrow because I sold my symphony axe, it cracked in my possession so I wanted to get an idea on how to compensate him.
  17. I recently saw Charlie Haden in concert, and from where I was sitting (the nosebleed section) it looked like his bass had those diamond shaped cutouts. Can anyone confirm this, or was I hallucinating from lack of oxygen?
  18. Chris,
    There is a photo of a 1937 Paul Toenniges bass with the diamond f holes on the Hammond Ashley website. Did the bass look anything like that one?

  19. WoW !

    Think of the ease of maintence and repair from having an access port in the C-bout. Daring and unconventional, but if it works, why not ?

    But how does it fasten ? What keeps it from generating buzzes and other unpleasantness ?

    As for playing with the C-bout door open, or playing a bass with another sound hole on the upper bout, as suggested at the top of this thread, I'm a little troubled. Theoretically speaking, I would think this could compromise the integrity of the body cavity and the vibration patterns it sets up, and reak havoc with the A0 mode and to some extent the A1 mode, thus distorting the voice and the response. Wonder if Arnold, Jeff, or Bob, or anyone else reading this thread has any thoughts on this.
  20. Perhaps we can get Marc Neihof to comment on your question. His Bob Ross bass is exactly what you are talking about.

    I'm not sure the "door" would do that much to change the A0 mode. That mode is primarily a function of the air contained within the body of the instrument. You've probably heard about the CAS "swiss cheese violin" that Oliver Rogers has written about in the CAS journal as well as performing several live demonstrations. Mr. Rogers took a conventional violin and drilled dozens of holes in the ribs. He then fitted little cork stoppers to each of the holes. He would demonstrate by first playing the violin with all of the holes stopped up. Then he would remove a number of the corks and play it again. Interestingly enough, when I heard his demonstration, I could not notice (from the middle of the room) a significant difference (degrading) until about a forth of the corks were removed. Even when half of the corks were removed, the sound was not all that bad. His CAS article might be a source of information about the A1 mode also.

    I also have to wonder how the bass will hold up over a long period of time. The door would have to cause atleast a small amount of structural strength.

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