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Modernize and Upgrade Violin Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ii7-V7, Apr 16, 2015.


  1. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I've always enjoyed playing Violin basses, but there are a few things about them that bug me; limited tone, intonation, Neck dive, etc. But it crossed my mind that much of this could be fixed. I did a search, but didn't see much of anything about modifying or upgrading these basses to have more modern features, like a tune-o-matic bridge and a traditional tone knob, NS strap horn, etc. Is anyone doing this? And if so what have the results been?
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  2. mongo2

    mongo2

    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I use the Hofner Icon/Ignition violin bass and the only mod I've ever made was the addition of my DIY adapter block with an embedded threaded bushing so I can mount the bass on an NS stand and play in the upright position.

    I improve intonation through a combination of shifting the floating bridge and the relocation of the saddles to a different slot if necessary. That being said, I'm currently looking into making a DIY tune-o-matic-esque bridge.

    Regarding neck dive: I use my Hofner Ignition Club bass for horizontal on-the-strap playing and it doesn't dive at all. (No neckdive playing the violin bass mounted on the NS stand :))

    Regarding limited tone: I use the Hofners specifically for their inherent tone so I don't find it limiting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
    Pilgrim likes this.
  3. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Intonation: Playing with the floating bridge got it pretty close for me.

    Neck Dive: I have one of those large Levy's 4" wide bass straps, and there is absolutely no neck dive with my Hofner Icon B Bass at all.

    Tone: I ended up replacing the stock pickups with Seymour Duncan mini humbuckers, and that made a HUGE difference in tone for me. The more vintage vibe was there, and there was a fullness that was previously lacking. I have debated replacing the controls myself with either a vol-vol-tone setup or a stacked vol/tone for both pickups. But for right now, the pickup replacement has done enough for me.
     
    Telemesa likes this.
  4. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    I have toyed with the idea of putting an active circuit in one, but never have. It would have to be one that did everything with three concentric knobs, Volume, balance, bass, treble, mids. Maybe a decade/varitone rotary switch. Maybe a volume and a tonestyler with the original switch setup. I'm totally burnt out on projects since i have done about a grazillion, but maybe I'll get bored next winter.
     
  5. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Canada, eh!
    The only change I'd like to see Hofner make is adding a much better bridge option - one that is much more adjustable for intonation etcetera.
     
  6. LeCompte VB series.

    Munjibunga got one a few years ago and it made me tingle funny in my swimsuit region.
     
    MonetBass and Gilmourisgod like this.
  7. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Aside from the fact that Bud isn't making basses anymore, it looks just like a solid body instrument?
     
  8. Didn't know he stopped making basses as his website is still up and running.*

    Sorry. I didn't notice that the OP said anything about wanting only a hollowbody, just was looking for an upgrade without the inherent violin bass flaws.

    *Edit: That's what I get for skipping past his main page and going straight to "Bass Models". Another little guy out. That's horrible. He made some really cool stuff, like the Chewy thang.
     
  9. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    It's a bummer for sure, as I've wanted a Lecompte for many years.

    The original comment was more on upgrades to a hollowbody violin based on its inherent design "flaws," if you call them that, and seeing if anyone has.
     
  10. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I've got a long-scale unbadged violin hollowbody with those near ubiquitous unperforated chrome pickups, and it has more punch than a P-bass. I would like to swap out the controls for a VTV setup and get rid of the switches; but other than that, no changes.
     
    RED J likes this.
  11. RED J

    RED J Lol

    Jan 23, 2000
    That's the beauty of these little monsters Gretsch. So many people blow them off, but I'll never forget the first time I heard one live, it kindled my interest. That thing was thumping my chest and flapping my pantlegs. it was massive. Right amp and EQ, and they are powerhouses.
     
    Pilgrim likes this.
  12. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    What kind of aftermarket parts exist for these basses? Is there a direct replacement bridge? I'm assuming that any luthier can make a new control plate?
     
  13. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I do not think neck dive will be much of a problem. My long-scaler has dive, but the natural playing position lets forearm weight on the body eliminate this. I must say this is one of the most ergonomically comfortable basses I have ever encountered. The weight and reach issues are virtually non-existent and I can focus solely on playing.

    Although your options may be reduced some if it is a vintage bass, aftermarket parts are bountiful. Tuners, bridges, tailpieces: all are readily available. Pickup choice will be limited by the routes,
    although the norm seems to be zeppelin-shaped holes for them.
     
  14. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Where would I find them?
     
  15. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Some of the things, like tailpieces and tuners, can be found in brick and mortar stores as well as through online parts vendors. Pickups you may have to get used. Have you already got a bass you are considering modding?
     
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I always had a hankerin' for a violin bass, but had the same concerns. So I had Bud LeCompte cook one up for me. Mahogany body, birdseye maple top, Macassar ebony fretboard, Aguilar OBP-3 preamp and Nordstrand pickups. It plays and sounds fantastic, like a modern bass should. Right now I have TI Jazz Flats on it.

    The bad news: as far as I know, Bud's not building basses any more - at least he's not taking custom orders.

    leb-vb5-sn91-05. leb-vb5-sn91-06.
     
    BassHappy likes this.
  17. Brio

    Brio

    Mar 10, 2013
    Kansas City
    I'm in the process of modding my icon. Got rid of the switches a week ago and swapped for V, V, and a Tonestyler duo 6. Works great so far. The tone overall sounds better to me. It's not any more or less versatile but it's easier to adjust on the fly. I'd love a better bridge on it but finicky is just one of the endearing violin bass qualities, especially on the cheapies.
     
  18. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    . No. I'm in the market for a short scale bass and was looking at a Hofner as an option. But, I wanted to get a sense of whether or not I could modify it if there were aspects I didn't like.
     
  19. Brio

    Brio

    Mar 10, 2013
    Kansas City
    Per your original question, some things lend themselves to being upgraded on these kinds of bases. Electronics, yes. It's fairly easy to swap out controls and organize things the way you want them. The pups on the Icon sound fairly good to me. The right strings will go a long way for tone. There have been a few different posts on re-routing the bodies (or cutting a hole in them as it were) and the general consensus is that it'd be a bad idea to try and fit something like a Darkstar as you'd be cutting quite a bit of wood. I'm sure someone's done it with good results but it seems like it'd be a scary mod. I would think the same for upgrading the bridge to something like a tune-o-matic. I don't think there'd be much for it to hold onto or anchor into. As I said in my previous post, the way these bases almost intonate is part of their charm.

    Regarding looking for a shortscale, the hofner basses are a lot of fun to play and there are a lot of us here that'd recommend them. I noticed you have a Mustang, isn't that shortscale?
     
  20. ii7-V7

    ii7-V7

    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Yes. But, I'm going to play short scales exclusively and it's my only short scale right now. It's a Squier Vintage Modified and even though I love it, I have some extra cash and I'm looking to get something a little nicer. I'm thinking about a Hofner CT or a Lakland Skyline 30. I might instead get and Ibanez AGB200 and use the etxra cash to upgrade my amp as well.
     

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