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Hollow Body vs. Solid body

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mario Lewis, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Can someone please tell me how a hollow bodied bass sounds different than a solid body?

    Take a look at this:

    Wolfehollow's Bass

    ....now did that hollowing out change the sound or just lighten up the weight?

    And does a hollowbody have to have sound holes?

    I'm kind of thinking that it does because in a worst case scenario, won't heat (say from being in the trunk or in direct sunlight or under lights period) cause the inside cavity to expand? Or am I being too scientific?

    I like the idea of saving on weight, so that's why I'm interested, but when I think about basses that I like, they're all solid.....MTD, Ken Smith, Lakland, etc. If I'm about to commission a 3 or 4 thousand dollar project that I want to really be a keeper, I want to get it right. I don't think I'm going to be able to audition a hollow body anytime soon to draw my own conclusion, so I'm querying the abundance of knowledge here at TB.
  2. Anti_Wish


    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    lakland makes a hollowbodied bass. looks nice too. expensive, but nice
  3. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I have no idea about the solid/hollow differences but I have to post here because. WOW that's one FINE looking bass. That's the kind of bass that I play in my dreams.
  4. holy man that bass is insane i want it i wonder how much.??
  5. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    I did already. I'm seeking as many inputs and responses as possible. I'll post my findings, rest assured.
  6. Try semi- and solid basses back to back, listening closely, and you'll get it.
  7. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    What am I going to hear? Hollow sound? Is there a difference to the ear? I'm guessing it is. Is a hollow or semi hollow good or bad for funk & slap? (fretted of course). How about finger style a la old Motown Jamerson & Babbit lines?
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hey man

    my hollows aren't that much lighter than my solids, since the bodies are pretty big. tonally i think the hollow body contributes to a more detailed sounding midrange, with a bit more snap, but really it's hard to tell - all my basses sound differently, and it's hard to nail down a single feature, such as being hollow, as being responsible.
  9. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Hollow bodies are a bit lighter, but they do sound alot different IMHO. A Hofner sounds alot different than say a fender jazz. I've played both & I personally prefer solid body basses. That one in the attachment is wild though!
  10. Worshiper


    Aug 13, 2004
    New York
    Now, since I don't own a hollow body, its hard for me to be completely sure, however, I have played them and love the sound of the ones that I have played. One would presume that a hollow body must sound like an acustic bass, somewhat. On one end of the spectrum you have the upright bass, and (for the sake of arguement adn example) an electric fender P bass. An upright has a very "jazzy" sound, very deep and thick, while, the electric bass has a wide variety of sounds, but none quite like the upright. An acoustic sound like a mix in between the two. Depending on which one you play, the quality of the mix may differ. My intuition tells me that since teh hollow body you point out here has a smaller hole than an acoustic and is a different internal shape, in short more like an electric, I will probibly sound much more like an electric. I'm going to have to agree with John Turner on this one, (not like I have ever dissagreed with him-the guy knows what he's talking about) but I don't think, or guess, there is that noticable of a difference. Besides, there's so many different combinations of sound on electric basses today, you can get probibly match the hollow body sound with a solid body bass.
  11. If anything, there's an even greater difference in sound when it comes to different upright basses than there is with different electric basses. Some uprights sound very woody, with a lot of nuance, while others produce just a basic thump. That's one of the things that's always weird about calling an electric bass "upright-like." It might sound like certain upright basses, and nothing like others.
  12. Anti_Wish


    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma

    those basses have many different factors than just just being semi hollow or solid. for one, the hofner has a different bridge, pickups, pickup placement, different controls, shorter scale, 2 piece body.

    say comparing a hotwire double bass. as far as i know, looks exactly like a jazz. it's fretless, and it's got a chambered body underneath the top.
  13. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Very generally speaking, a hollowbody has more affinity with trebly, woody tones, while it takes a very dense solidbody to deliver super phat bass tone. Even though a pickup configuration can add top and hi-mid, it's a more sterile tone than the woody treble of a hollowbody. I think of them as having different uses.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    For the extremes, compare a Gibson 335 with a Les Paul.
    OK, OK, I know they are trble guitars, OK!!!

    However, the principles are the same and you will pretty easily get a grip of the differences.

    To me, more hollow gives more mellow, all other features kept the same. And also, more open (more soundholes) give more mellow.
  15. Waabs

    Waabs Employee, Musical Instrument Retail

    Aug 1, 2004
    When I was building my bass I strung it up before I had the pickups or anything in the control cavity so it was kind of hollow body bass. I couldn't believe how good it sounded. It had this real rumbly yet tight quality to it. Now that I have put in the pickups and electronics it still has little of that but nowhere near as much.

    Don't know if this helps at all... maybe someone has experienced a similar thing?
  16. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    I 've owned both hollowbody & solidbody 5 string basses. and
    at one time a fretless 5 string hollowbody. (No F holes, Glued in Necks) All with Bartolini pickups and active TBNT ?? electronics. Made by Jerry of Graphic Guitars in Seattle. He was one of the original founders of Modulus Guitars and branched off into his own company some years ago.
    Some of main differences I noticed:
    1) weight- hollowbody is lighter by a couple of lbs or more -I
    can't remember exactly as I sold the solid body
    a couple years ago.
    2) tone- @ solid body is brighter overall.especially slapping
    on G string. and bit louder too. a more distinctive
    sound- ( more upfront- for lack of words)
    @ hollowbody has a smoother midrange and not so
    bright on G string for slapping. some of my friends
    says it sounds more like a fretless. A mellow sound
    tends blend in better with the band. ( the solid is
    more the opposite).
    @ the solid body sounded better with the
    louder cover rock bands I used to play in. (ie
    Hendrix, Allman Brothers. Blondie, Santana
    @ the hollowbody sounded better with the jazz,
    funk & R&B covergroups I play in now.(Crusaders,
    Meters, Tower of Power, George Benson, etc
    3) fretless: more of a Jaco & Pino sound on the rear pickup
    and a muddier sound on the front pickup. I could
    get a more primitive Blues upright sound & salsa
    sound with the thumb. (it also had a rosewood
    fingerboard). (Unfortunately I had sell it to pay
    off some medical bills.)
    For my taste: I prefer the hollowbody sound for fretted and
    fretless. ( mainly a jazz player these days and
    also learning to play upright bass).
    My band has a web site if you want to see my bass. It's
    catered to smooth jazz cliente.( not my favorite type of
    jazz but it gets us work). Dave -the sax player has played
    with Huey Lewis ( 90's), Coasters, Drifters, Billy Preston,&
    Nancy Wilson ( jazz singer)www.fortesmoothjazz.com