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Hollow body. necessary? unnecesary?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by brettbass25, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. brettbass25


    Mar 14, 2013
    What is the purpose of hollow body basses.? :help:
  2. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    My experience is that they have a warmer tone.

    And my AC50 weighs something like 6.5 pounds.
  3. brettbass25


    Mar 14, 2013
  4. I never actually tried a hollow body bass. My experience with hollow vs solid body guitars (as in 6 string) is that hollow bodies trade some sustain in favor of percussive dynamics. My solid body guitar is better at the liquid sustain thing. My hollow body Gretch is less liquid and more percussive and dynamic. Depending on body dimensions, I've found some hollow bodies to sound more deep/resonant or more midrangey than solid bodies. And, of course, hollowbodies tend to have more acoustic/unplugged output.

    Again, I'm basing this on guitars. But I imagine the same physics apply to basses.
  5. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    The best of the hollowbodies have the capability to offer a rich, deep bass tone that I have yet to hear from a solidbody.
  6. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Some guys like 'em because it sounds closer to an upright bass than a solid body.
    You hear the word "thumpy" frequently to describe them.
    If you like sustain, this is not the way to go.
  7. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    If they made/make a semi/hollow-body in a fiver with reasonable string spacing, I’d love to have one.
  8. donn


    Mar 28, 2011
    The difference is that the sound waves at the low end of the bass are twice as long, long enough that they're off the scale for an electric bass body. Even a regular (3/4) upright bass is theoretically under sized for the job, and an electric bass body is only a fraction of the size. It's worse than if your electric guitar had a ukulele body.

    I get relatively strong midrange tone out of my Gretsch bass, to my ears. My old Japanese hollow body runs a little more to the low end, but its top is much thicker and less resonant than the Gretsch. For many players, I think that's probably a good clue - look for something that has the hollow body look, but performs more like a solid body, and naturally many `hollow body' basses are in that category. Look for something where the strings are attached to the bridge, since that can only be done if the bridge is fastened to a heavily reinforced top. These hollow-for-looks-bodies should be less trouble with feedback, too.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Actually the AC50 (I've got one too) is a Semi-hollow body. The difference is not so much in the tone (The carvin and my actual ABG sound ver similar) but a true hollow body is VERY prone to feedback while the semi-hollow has a block in there so it doesn't respond and feed back.

    The answer to the question is that hollow and semi-hollow body bases have a very distinctive warm tone (which in the case of my Carvin AC50) can often be made to do a great imitation of an upright bass so you sort of get the idea.
  10. ghostfather


    Oct 26, 2013
    I had a hollow body bass once when I was a teenager - I can't remember the make, it was a viola-style bass with a scrolled headstock.

    Crazy feedback, but we played loud then and I didn't really understand any of the knobs on the bass or amp...
  11. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    My Hofner club weighs under 5 pounds. It also sounds good.
  12. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    donn said:
    It seems you have a very vague grasp on the concept the of physics involved in stringed instruments. If you try to refer to wavelengths of the generated tones to be "too long" what do you refer to? The normal 340-ish meters per second (yielding a roughly 11m long wave at low B) is as they travel through air. Different rules apply to the vibrating string when attached to a bass body.
  13. I have a Epi Jack Casady and the reason I ordered it back in early 2000 was that I had tried a vintage east german hollowbody (or semi) and it sounded much more organic and "woody", more upright-like, than any bass guitar I had played until then . BUT the neck was bend banana-style and it had all the quirks of a crappy old bass. So I bought the Epi and lived happily ever after.
    In my experience, however, the special quality of the hollow type sound doesn't translate well in loud and crowded sonic textures. My Epi with flats sounds good and ok in my loud experimental rock band, sometimes a bit dark for some of the dives we usually play, but nothing special. When playing jazz, acoustic brazilian music or in recordings its character really shines.
  14. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    Long time ago, I had a Rick 4005 that was a semi-hollow body bass I could kick myself to getting rid of it. It was very light weight. Had a great tone. What more could I have asked.
  15. my hollowbody was heavy and sterile sounding, but it looked awesome.
    it was a washburn incase anyone is interested.
  16. LouBass

    LouBass Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    I picked up a 5 string Chinese made Warwick Star Bass (from their RockBass line). It was $799 on eBay brand new, free shipping, no tax. For the price, it's a great bass, I mean really great. Easy to play, great tone, 34" scale, 17mm spacing.

    We're in the midst of finishing an album that I'm using my fretless Laggan on but the very next gig I do, I'm using the Star Bass.

    And yes, it fits perfectly well in the Epiphone Jack Casady case (Warwick only offers a flight case).
  17. In general yes, but it is possible to get that tone from a solid body http://youtu.be/nC-V5t___0A :rolleyes: well pretty much.
  18. Gaolee

    Gaolee Outta my way! I'm caffeinated! Supporting Member

    There are too many different varibles to say exactly what a hollow body will or won't do, in my poorly researched but firmly held opinion. If you compare a fully hollow Artcore to a semi-hollow Gibson or a fully hollow Gretsch, they are all going to have somewhat different characteristics and sounds. This will be true even if the strings are the same and the person playing them is the same and the amp is the same, etc. The pickups are all different, the geometry is different, and so on. Then you get into acoustic bass guitars that have a huge soundbox by comparison to an archtop style bass guitar, and they sound different again. I'm undermining my opinion that wood doesn't matter, since I think the thickness of each part of the instrument and how it is arranged relative to everything else does matter up to a point.

    Here's a bit more to think about. Different upright basses sound different based on wood, size, ect. This is when they are not plugged in. Put a pickup on them and they will sound similar to a bass guitar if the pickup and amp are set right (wrong?). Take the same modified and amplified resonance and put it into a much smaller space and you get a hollow bass guitar. There will be far less unamplified volume, since the size of the instrument is less suited to producing long soundwaves without help. But, it will do some of the same things. A slab won't, and it relies almost entirely on amplification to make sounds useful for its role in music.

    If you eq and modify the signal enough, I suppose you could make a slab sound hollow and a hollowbody sound like a slab if you really want to.
  19. Lou Bottini

    Lou Bottini Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Necessary? No.
    Unnecessary? You're call.
  20. donn


    Mar 28, 2011
    I refer to the size of instrument necessary to support that wavelength, for instruments in the violin family or similar type of instrument. Based not on my calculations, but on what I've read (and experienced, as someone who plays upright bass.) Incidentally, this also applies to the viola, which can't be as large as it ought to be acoustically speaking if it's to be played on the arm like a violin.

    Anyone who thinks a normal hollow body bass is big enough to be functionally useful for the low end of that instrument, has not so much a weak grasp of physics as a weak grasp of reality. To confirm this, it will suffice to play one unplugged.