Foamless Baby Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Horokito, Nov 9, 2004.

  1. I have an opportunity to get a baby bass for pretty cheap from a friend of mine and was wondering if anyone has ever tried to take the foam out of one. I love the tone for salsa and other latin music, but I play straight ahead as well and would love to get some more definition out of it.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Foam? There's foam inside a BB? Is it part of the structure of the bass?

    I dunno...maybe a liposuction clinic?

    I have a friend who has an Ampeg that he modified somehow to get more sustain...I think it was in the electronics. I'll ask him when I see him.
  3. Bob Gollihur

    Bob Gollihur

    Mar 22, 2000
    New Joisey Shore
    Big Cheese Emeritus: Gollihur Music
    IME (drawn from fading memory) their thump! was more a product of the bridge and pickup system than the instrument construction itself. I wouldn't expect much from removing the foam other than the potential for structural failure.

    Steve Azola's relatively recent Ampeg BB reissues sounded quite nice, using a Bass Max in a wooden bridge as well as a revised pickup. I'd take cues from his and other efforts.

    If the Baby Bass I sold back in 1980 I believe I would replace the bridge with a wood one, probably something I'd custom carve myself, with a top that is relatively comparable to a 3/4's distance from top to wing, and with stubby legs to make up the height difference. One or two Bass Max or similar style (out of phase with one another) pickups or a Fishman Full Circle adjuster type pickup would be my choice.

    Just some stray thoughts for your consideration.

    Edit: I should also mention that you'll find two links in my Links page, URL below, to Ampeg resource sites where I seem to remember some suggestions were posted.
  4. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    The original Zorko baby bass (they made some and then sold out to Ampeg) is a hollow fiberglass body and supposedly not quite as thuddy as the Ampeg. The original Ampegs have a plastic, foam filled body. The Azola baby bass (Steve Azola made the Ampeg reissues BTW) are foam filled fiberglass. Steve has several ways to adapt the old BBs and is definitly the man to talk to on that subject. I had one of his reissues for a while. It's very comfortable to play, and while it won't sound like an acoustic DB, the bridge wing pickup and active electronics make the Azola BB much more versatile than the original.
  5. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004
    I have an Ampeg BB. While it's still an unfinished project to improve the tone more, I get a lot better tone and more sustain already with an old Fishman BP-100 clipped onto some aluminum plates I fitted onto the original aluminum bridge.

    Here's where my experience departs from the conventional wisdom: I tried a wooden bridge and found it had much worse sustain/more thud. With hindsight, this makes sense to me. The Al is rigid; the wood absorbs or deadens the vibration. Wood is great for a body, but this part should be rigid, no? Fine for more latin/salsa, of course.

    I'm keeping the aluminum one on.

    I don't know if you can or would want to remove any foam. The body itself is just not right for tone. I intend someday to put some wood under the bridge feet and mount a piezo pickup around there. I think that area is where to focus on.
  6. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    When I had a BB, I replaced the aluminum bridge with a custom wooden one, and used an Underwood pickup.
    Much more sustained, modern tone.
    I don't know what kind of wooden bridge you tried, but my results are the opposite of yours.
  7. Aleph5


    Feb 24, 2004

    I bought mine from Ray Ramirez. Granted he specializes in the latin thump, but certainly there's more similarity between his bridge and other maple bridges than the aluminum bridge. And claims of more sustain, more acoustic upright tone, etc. were made for the RR too. Other factors might allow a wooden bridge to work better, but I didn't experience it.
  8. Jeff Bollbach

    Jeff Bollbach Jeff Bollbach Luthier, Inc.

    Dec 12, 2001
    freeport, ny
    I have worked on quite a few of these guys and understand their structure fairly well. I want you to please forget about this idea. They are not meant to be taken apart[or put together] and the foam is critical for structural support.