Hollow vs. Semi-Hollow vs. Solid

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tage, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. Tage


    Sep 17, 2003
    Hey everyone. I tried running a search for this but I couldn't find any information, maybe because of how wide a topic it is.

    Basically I'm hoping you can give me the skinny on hollow bodies vs semi-hollow bodies vs solid bodies. How do the body types effect sound and overall tone?

    Also, what styles of music do Hollow and Semi-Hollow bodies best fit in to? Solid Bodies go without saying, but I'm rather unfamiliar with the hollow and semi-hollows genre-wise.

    Finally, what are the "best" quality hollow body and semi-hollow bass guitars (tone, construction, etc)?

    I know this is asking for a lot of info at once so I thank anybody who contributes.
  2. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I'll have a go on the basics, but may be too shallow for you.

    Solid: best sustain, could be a little sterile in comparison. Pretty compressed sound.
    Semihollow: well built, it is a solid with wome added acoustic abilities. Slightly more air in the tone.
    Hollow: as semihollow, with another bit of extra air.

    However...all player and amp things equal, it takes an effort to disinguish the tone from a Jazz (solid, 34", bolt on alder) from a Danelectro Longhorn (masonite hollowbody, 32" neckthru)!

    Thus, it would be more of a feel issue... :bag:
  3. I've been wondering bout this myself also! I think I'm going to go Hollow! I've never tried one just the concept intrigues me so yeah! lol! Haven't got much knowledge on the subject sorry!
  4. Tage


    Sep 17, 2003
    I've always liked the look of hollow body basses, but I predominantly play classic rock and some newer stuff, so I wasn't sure if a hollow body would cut through the mix all that well.
  5. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    If you don't own a HB or Semi-HB, you need one! Their tone is unique and old school. I own a number of them and love them all. My Gibson Les Paul Signature is probably the best sounding bass I've ever heard, yielding warm, lush, rich ,full and fat tones. My Lakland Skylind HB is right up there too. The coil tap feature increases the available tones from this beauty. My Gibson EB-2C gets that deep "Dark Cloud" thing going that no other bass can do. I'm not knocking solidbody basses. I have a number of excellent ones, but there is just something about the HB and semi-HB basses that do it for me.
  6. No doubt. My semi-hollow Reverend basses have a tone that I can only describe as magic.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    I too am a BIG Hollow/Semihollow fan. I have the Jack Casady bass which is basicly the Les Paul sig bass, amazing.I also have a thing for Violin Basses.
  8. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    It depends on the bass. I currently have Reverends (PJ) and a Godin A4 (piezo-only) and have had an Epi JC, a DiPinto Belvedere Std and J-J Reverends. All fretted.

    The ones I've had would have no trouble dealing with a rock situation. They all have plenty of cut and punch when that's what you are going for. On a really loud stage the A4 would feed back a little (when my hands were off it) but for the most part that's not a problem. The others all dealt with anything I wanted to throw at them.

    A lot is going to depend on the bass. I don't think a 30" scale Hofner-clone with flats is going to "cut through" anything. But with one of the 34" scale beasts with magnetic pickups you can take your pick - adjust for a warm, thick, supportive tone that oozes through the cracks and provides a solid bed for the rest of the group or go for punch and bite that claws its way to the front. Your choice. The A4 can go from very acoustic-ey thud to plenty of punch and grind. It's not as well suited to rounds so absolute cut is not it's forte but using EQ and technique changes I've used it for complete rock gigs.

    Not all non-solids are only warm and fat (and some may not get as warm and fat as others) so check 'em out and see what you like. Most of the modern ones can produce a wide range of tones (and I know what I want falls in that range, that's why I have 3 semi-hollows and currently no solids).

    As far as models I'm a big fan of the Reverend Rumblefish (make mine PJ) and really liked the DiPinto Belvedere Std and Epi JC Sig (although neither physically agreed with me both were well made and sounded great). The Godin is a fun, flexible instrument but may not suit as a primary bass. Some I've not tried but would love to are the Epi Allen Woody sig, the Yamaha Billy Sheehan one, the Yamaha with piezo & single humbucker, the Carvin AC-40 and the Fender Precision AE or HMT basses. I'm a 4-stringer only and stick to lower-cost production stuff or Rob Allen and Rick Turner basses would be at the top of my "want" list.
  9. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    My first Hollowbody was a Hofner Beatle Bass I bought new back in 1965 for $129. I was playing in an 8-piece soul band at the time and it cut through the mix fine with my 2x12 '64 Bassman. I still have it and it still works fine. However, it is in a much deserved semi-retirement. The HB that I play the most is my Skyline HB and the Semi-HB is my Epi JC Sig. The Gibson LP Sig. is too valuable to take out of the house except on the most rare occasions. Any of these basses played through my 1967 Ampeg B-15-N "is like budda'" and is the ultimate bass tone to, to me. With a good HB or Semi-HB and a solidbody, you've got 95% of your bass tone needs covered...then there is the double bass...................
  10. Ingemar


    Sep 12, 2000
  11. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Gretsch also makes two hollow body basses, one short scale and one 34", never seen, heard, or played one though.
  12. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    When i went to Disney World-while i was waiting for the rest of my group to join us i heard a guy playing a semi hollow or something similar. It was the House of Blues in Downtown Disney and i saw/heard the group playing from a distance. I coulda swore an upright bass was playing until i looked over. I couldn't find a bass so at first i assumed it was 2 guitars, drummer, and then a keyboard on synth bass, but after second look-it was a guitar on what reminded me of a Gretsch Archtop and a bass that looked remarkably similar. The tone made me want one :D That's all