H22 Sound, without the H22?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by johnnybregar, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. johnnybregar


    Nov 27, 2011
    I run a small recording studio, and I am looking to beef up the bass offerings I have available for clients. I have a Fender Jazz, and an Epi Viola Bass, and those get me a long way. I really want the tone of the Harmony H22. The Epi gets me some of the way there, but I was hoping it would be a bit more woody sounding. It has good low end and punch.

    Can anyone recommend a poor man’s H22? Does the Gretsch 544 come closer? I don’t have the ability to go try a bunch - and probably wouldn’t really know what I was hearing in a store anyway. Any suggestions for an adequate substitute??


  2. johnnybregar


    Nov 27, 2011
  3. Maybe an Epiphone Rivoli?
  4. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    What does an H22 sound like?
    Thegrandwazoo likes this.
  5. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've never heard another bass sound quite like my old H22, especially with old flats and the "toilet handle" engaged. However it was a sound I didn't need to use often and my Hofner Ignition Club with nylon tapewound strings gets close enough.
    Rezdog likes this.
  6. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    I'm unfamiliar with the H22 and will have to rectify that as soon as I'm able. I think I should add, though (and I'm NOT a P fanatic), that you should certainly have a P-bass-style instrument at hand, probably above all else, in a studio situation.
    Bill Whitehurst likes this.
  7. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Epi Viola should get you close already.
  8. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    Looks like Harmony has reissued them, they appear to go for 6-800 on Reverb. I would assume they'd be pretty similar? The new ones have a set neck instead of the old bolt-on, but that might not matter much (aside from making them harder to work on).
  9. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Bill Whitehurst and Rezdog like this.

  11. Supposedly the reissues didn't really sound like the originals (totally different pickup innards, only cosmetically similar)... But I think any short-scale with a powerful neck pickup, strung with Pyramid flatwounds, would get you close enough. Especially if it's a hollowbody.
  12. Dluxe

    Dluxe Guest

    Jan 9, 2011
    Epiphone Allen Woody?
  13. Robal

    Robal Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2003
    Los Angeles

    The Keep On Running bass line is iconic. Also, H22 on the Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man. Woody, fat, somewhat compressed and dark. Sounds so good to me for that style of music. The anti-Stingray single pickup bass.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  14. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Suspended Supporting Member

    '64 Harmony H22 Bass.jpg I've never paid a lot of attention to them, since they were "just another company that doesn't make lefties". But, I know one when I see (and hear) one. They sound like they do because of that primitive wooden bridge; where the pick up is mounted on the comparatively small, thin hollow body; and, because the pick up is a Dearmond "gold foil" pickup - an idiosyncratically constructed, relatively low output pick up (compared to the ones today), that I think is a humbucker (but I could be wrong). If it is, IMO it's pretty similar to the '90s ceramic magnet Filtertrons in my Gretsch Broadkaster, which are about the most single coil-y humbuckers I've ever heard. Would a re-issue sound like a vintage one? I couldn't say; like I said - they still don't make leftys…:(
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  15. chris merrill

    chris merrill Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    Endorsing Artist for: GHS Strings, Lakland Basses
    they make a H22 double cutaway that you could string lefty. It’s Tough to find though
    vid1900 likes this.
  16. vid1900


    Dec 12, 2019
    It sounds a lot like an upright.

    Bill Whitehurst likes this.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Don't bassists have their own basses?
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Just caught Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters at Infinity Hall a few weeks back. His bassist Paul Kochanski (superb player btw!) was rocking an H22 most of the night. Huge deep sound. Don’t know if his was a 60s vintage or a modern. But based on the condition I’m guessing he had one of the new ones.

    You could probably get very close with a violin or other semihollow short-scale and nickel flats. But I have to admit I haven’t heard anything that exactly matches that sound. As someone previously said, the wood bridge and tailpiece plus the DeArmond designed Gold Tone pickup will have a lot of influence on the tone you’re hearing.
  19. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    I've been on the watch for one of those , for years ...
  20. I don't know what the actual output figures are, but I do know that my H22 is louder and fuller sounding than any other bass I've owned, aside from my Yamaha BB1200S when it's in active mode and the EQ knobs are turned up... I don't think it's a humbucker, it's more of a beefy full-range single coil.
    chris merrill likes this.