Hofner shorty bass for air travel - any comments?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hedgehog_SBM, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Can anyone comment on this?

    I've been looking at the Hofner Shorty Bass for times when I have to travel by air. Not for serious giging, but for playing with a small "family band", which occurs about 3 times a year. I rent a bass when I do that now, but I'd rather have a familiar bass, and with the Shorty costing ~ $200, it would pay for itself quickly in rental fees.

    YouTube video sounds good enough. But is it really small enough for travel? It's about 40" long with case. I would take it as a carry-on exclusively. Is it small enough to hold onto, then stash it in the overhead after other bags are in, so it doesn't get crushed? I'd imagine that flight attendants might put it into a closet most times.

    Oh - and if you know - any comments on how it plays / sounds? I presently play an Ibanez SR400 and SRA550.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    Albert Vickers likes this.
  2. bluebird28


    Feb 25, 2012
    Tacoma. WA
    Take a serious look at Kala Sub Ubass and also the Traveler Guitar Traveler Bass both are around 30" and sound great just try before buying. Both mfgs state that their Basses fit in overhead compartments.
  3. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks Blue. I basically counted these other options out because they are double the price of the Hofner Shorty, and they are not as "conventional" as the Shorty (I'd rather play the 30" scale with metal strings).

    Can anyone comment on the Shorty? I've scoured the net, and there's surprisingly little about it, and basically nothing regarding air travel. There is some info on the Shorty Guitar, but that's a bit shorter.
  4. moonshinegtrs

    moonshinegtrs Inactive Commercial User

    Jan 28, 2009
    White Bluff,Tn.
    Owner: Moonshine Custom Guitars
    I realize that you are looking for info. on the Hofner bass, but Alvarez also made a small acoustic travel bass; the Alvarez MSB1.

    I recently picked one up on ebay ($150 shipped!). It has a 27" scale & came with a pickup (something on order of a barcus berry style with no preamp) and a really nice gig bag. It came with steel (nickel?) strings & is surprisingly loud acoustically for its size. There are not a lot of them around, but they do show up on the 'bay fairly often. I bought it to take on my boat for lake jams.


    Moonshine :bassist:
  5. 1dreday


    Nov 22, 2009
    the only short scale /travel bass I see with a preamp is the escape traveler basses, any other suggestions? A KALA DOESNT, ASHBORY DOESNT ECT.
  6. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    New ubasses and the Michael Kelly travel acoustic have preamps.
  7. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks to Moonshine, and all that have responded.

    I'm still looking for anyone who has a Hofner Shorty bass that brings it in carry-on bag in an airplane. This is probably my only concern before buying it. My key reason for it would be portability for air travel (I would certainly use it on short car trips though where I don't want to bring a full scale bass).

    Here's some logic about choosing this bass over others:

    - low price, and it sounds good. Based on YouTube vids, I prefer the sound greatly over the far more expensive piezo pickup basses
    - price so low that if it gets broken or stolen, it's not a huge loss.
    - small size - a hollow acoustic bass would have more girth.
    - other small options are not much smaller - the Traveler bass, at twice the price+, is 36" length vs. Hofner Shorty at 38".

    I'll probably have to just buy and try, but once I keep it long enough to get it on a plane, it probably will be too late to return it. And the plane is my key concern. Even though it's small, and still only 40" in length in the gig bag, will it still be a hassle in the plane? Checking it defeats the purpose. My usual suitcase is a garment bag, so it would require a separate hard case, and that's just a hassle. I could bring my full scale bass in a TSA case if I wanted to check it.

    Hopefully, someone will respond with the answer.

    NOTE: the answer doesn't have to be just for the Hofner Shorty bass. If you have any instrument of approximately the same length, and you travel by air, can you comment on your practical experience? Thanks.
  8. Bowe


    Apr 1, 2013
    Kala and Ashbory both have preamps, but only the hollowbody Kalas have any acoustic output and there isn't much of that. I travel with an Ashbory and have been considering a Hofner (but the standard short-scale) as another travel option.
    The Ashbory gets zero attention at check-in and boarding, but the screening agents may find it an interesting item to ask about, and the last trip the TSA agent knew it was a travel bass (a first). Only had to take it out of the case a couple times over the past 4 years.
    No real problems overall, the Roland Micro-cube gets wiped about 1/3 of the time though.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Dude, airlines are hit and miss whether they let you carry a bass on. Most of the time it's possible. There are also times where they absolutely will not let you on with a guitar or bass. And you can complain all you want, but at the end of the day, either you let them gate check it or you're not flying. That's why I quit trying to carry a bass on. The only bass I never had a problem with was this cheapo Steinberger copy I used to have.
    Morrighan and 12BitSlab like this.
  10. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    JimmyM - the Hofner Shorty is probably the same size and length as your Steinberger copy, so that's good news for me. Do you remember how long your Steinberger was?
  11. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    I have a new shorty. You could probably fly with it - if it didn't look exactly like a rifle in its gig bag. Seriously, if you owned a pickup truck you could keep it on a rifle rack if you wanted to because it would fit perfectly. I'd recommend carrying it outside the bag until you're boarded and seated.
  12. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    Here's a pic of the shorty in its case:

    Attached Files:

  13. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    MacManLou - thanks much. I was thinking about that possible issue, but that would pretty much be the same for all small travel basses like this. I was thinking perhaps of putting some music stickers on it. Perhaps an American flag would help. :)

    What do you think about the Shorty? How does it play? What do you think about the tone?

    How's the neck? Some people describe it as "chunky". It seems to be the same thickness as my Ibby SRA550, but perhaps it's a bit wider.

    RSVP - and thanks
  14. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    The shorty has surprisingly full tone, especially considering the HB pickup placement so close to the bridge. I put Chromes on mine and it was easy to set up (wrenches come with it). The neck is chunky - a tad wider than a P-bass, but it plays well considering. The tuners are cheap, but it stays in tune as well as my Fenders do.
  15. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks MacManLou - I'm going to order it.

    About the tuners - I thought if they were really cheap, I could just replace them myself. Thoughts on that?

    Thanks again - you helped me decide.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Probably 35-36"
  17. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    I think you'll be pleased with the little Hofner.

    Based on other posts about Hofner's cheap tuners, I ordered a set of Grover Sta-Tite 18:1's ($41 for 6 - they're guitar tuners) before the bass arrived. I was going to install them along with the Chromes, but decided that the stock tuners were good enough to try at least until it needs the Chromes replaced. I think the new Shorty tuners look a little bit better than some of the other asian Hofner tuners I've seen. YMMV
  18. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Hey MacManLou - Thanks for the info. I might do the same. How do the Chromes sound on the Shorty vs. the stock strings? Did you intentionally go flatwounds for a deeper tone on the Shorty? Also - what length and gauge are appropriate for the Shorty?

    The Grover tuners look very nice! You haven't changed them out yet, but do they appear to fit the headstock without any mods? As they are guitar tuners, do you expect any issues on bass? (e.g. post length?)

    JimmyM - thanks for the info.

    I'm looking forward to having a travel bass. Should be here end of next week I imagine.
  19. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    I put flatwounds on every bass I've had (at 62 I'm literally "old school"). I left the stock roundwounds on just long enough to play-test the bass, and they sounded OK.

    The little Hofner got D'Addario ECB81S's, gauged 45-100. They fit with no modification to the nut, but the truss rod took about 1/4 turn tighter to get the neck relief down to .010". I brought the action down a bit at the bridge saddles, and intonation took very little tweaking.

    Hofner uses guitar tuners on most of their basses, and the Shorty is no exception. The Grover Sta-Tites look like they'll install with little if any modification, but the stock tuners seem to work fine and I took the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude for now.

    I don't know your experience, but guitar tuners take a different method for locking and winding on new strings than slotted bass tuners do...

    Also, the design of the Shorty is absolutely prone to neck dive if you use a conventional strap on the upper bout button. I'm using an Planet Waves "acoustic" guitar strap with mine, which loops around the headstock and eliminates that problem. I use the strap when sitting or standing.
  20. Hedgehog_SBM


    Nov 28, 2011
    Thanks again MacManLou - you have been very helpful. I hope to pay it foward with a review when the Shorty gets here and I put some time on it. There's really not much information on it anywhere.

    Best regards,