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NBD: Hofner Ignition Violin Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Aloe, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    So my newest arrival is Hofner Ignition Violin Bass:


    I've never tried one in-person before mine arrived to me by mail.

    I was looking for a compact carry-around bass that's easy to play and I got this: 4.5 lbs of weight and low action. My ABG is both heavier and harder to play, so I'm excited at this part. To my surprise however this 30" scale bass isn't significantly shorter than my 34" electric basses.

    I can say that violin basses is a completely different world, both by ergonomics and by sound.

    Weirdly enough, the narrow string spacing is not a problem for me. Neck dive very present, but an arm over the body helps to mitigate it.

    Currently two things to do, first is getting new strings (I'd prefer rounds), this seems a problem considering this is a short-scale and has those weird guitar tuners, seems like shops around don't carry short-scale strings at all. Any recommendations welcome.

    Second is fret dressing, there're several frets that seem to be higher than the rest, so playing after 12th fret is a buzz world.

    I'm also thinking of upgrading those weird tuners. Really not fond of stock ones, the guitar-like string hole is one problem, but aside of this they don't seem to have a smooth action (I've properly lubricated them, of course). Maybe re-drill the bass for Ultralites? Anyone ever done this?
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Congratulations, enjoy!

    Just on the strings~ I put on Chromes but had to use medium scale, short scale are a little to short and the silk ends up on the nut.
    BazzaBass and Aloe like this.
  3. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016

    yeah, due to long tailpiece it needs like 32-33" from ball to silk, that's likely medium scale, not short.

    it's a good news that Chromes fit though.
    BazzaBass and Samatza like this.
  4. I have an Ignition bass as well. I've owned many German made Hofner, and I also have a 500/1 CT version.
    Be careful when buying new strings. You noticed that the Hofner tuners are basically guitar tuners, and they have a very small hole. For that reason you need to make sure that the strings are made both to the correct length and the correct diameter. LaBella makes very good light gauge flats for Hofner. Make sure the set says "for Hofner Bass, or Beatle Bass". They are affordable, and do the job well. I prefer the Pyramid Gold flats for short scale. These are original equipment on the German made basses and they'll give you the classic McCartney sound. They are very supple, playable and will last for many, many years, so despite their initial high price, they become the most economical in the long run.
    I've played Hofner for over 50 years, and never found a need to change out the tuners. I guess you get used to the balance of the instrument. I also own a Jack Casady bass, which is 34 inch, and can go back and forth on them without any problem. But, I guess that's from lots of practice. Good luck with your bass.
    BazzaBass, Rocker949 and Aloe like this.
  5. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    right now I'm thinking I want this bass to sound bright (and I'm already adding treble for it with rounds). it's a pity, Dunlop doesn't make SuperBrights in medium scale.

    on the other hand, I might like if new strings had a more defined low E and kinda more sustain (less sharp attack), and the key to it might be flats indeed.

    I'm not sure, what strings do come on Ignitions. for me it's stainless rounds with red silks and rough texture. I'd say that this could be a Rotosound 66 set, but not really sure.
  6. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Love it. That's really cool. Enjoy!
    Aloe likes this.
  7. Rocker949


    Apr 20, 2005
    I have a few Ignitions as well as some Hofner Contemporary violin basses. No German ones yet, though. Although this is from 2012 and may not be completely applicable now, this is an interesting review of the Ignition. In addition to the video which is kind of long, this guy also has a lot of written comments he has put in answers to questions. He notes that although his preference in basses would be a P bass or a Status Graphite, this bass has got some positive comments from other musicians. Also, it is obviously good for any songs requiring a McCartney sound.

  8. west al

    west al Ready, PLAY! Supporting Member

    You may want to check out Beatle Bass Strings by La Bella. They are made to fit the tuning peg holes on Hofners.
    Rob Martinez likes this.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i've always liked that look, OP --- it's a classic! congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:
    Aloe likes this.
  10. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    I just got the Labella Beatle Bass flats, they are fantastic. I know you said rounds, but regardless.

    My Ignition Club is slowly becoming my go to. It's just so smooth and cool.
    Splash7 likes this.
  11. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    I'm still excited with the bass. No new strings yet, but invested in a leather strap and spent time tuning action and intonation. That weird bridge is very useful, those metal pieces under the strings are pieces of fret wire, so they can be individually moved to one of four spots, allowing more precise intonation tuning than just moving the bridge.

    The thing that surprised me a bit is that there's something that looks like 60 Hz hum, slightly pronounced on bridge pickup soloed, even less pronounced on both pickups and not observable with neck pickup soloed. This reminded me of a Yamaha BB with a P and blade J pickup. But it should be two humbuckers here, right? Wondering if that's normal behavior or there could be some electric problem in my bass.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
  12. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    I noticed they make them in two sizes: 50-100 and 39-96, which one did you go?

    I think I'd prefer something like 43-104 that they do in medium scale (760FL-M), I wonder if those fit nicely.
    Tried to contact La Bella, but their website gave 'unexpected error' on submitting this question to them.
  13. spike42

    spike42 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    I once bought a used Ignition Club that previous owner had strung with the 39-96 set. While they sounded
    great, I found they didn't have quite enough tension for my taste. Replaced them with the 50-100 set and
    then had great sound and great feel, at least in MHO.
    Aloe likes this.
  14. spike42

    spike42 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2007
  15. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    yeah, I expect 39-96 to have very little tension, as my rounds are 105-45 (I believe) and E string is still floppy.

    is there a notable difference in sound between 50-100 and 39-96? like 50-100 has more overtones? is the 50 string notably heavier than the 100 one?
  16. spike42

    spike42 Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2007
    Hi, tone being entirely subjective, I typically reply "IMHO" only.....that said, I didn't note much change in
    the overall sound between the 39 - 96 set vs the heavier ones. Bearing in mind of course that the light gauge
    strings came on the bass, with an unknown amount of "miles", while the heavier set I installed were brand
    new....so probably not a fair comparison. They have since broken in nicely and sound....well, they sound
    like Labellas, which have become my string of choice on most basses.

    To your second point, I did notice the difference right away, only in that I found the light set totally unusable
    for that particular bass....way too floppy, at least for my "technique" (such as it is). While I'd love to further
    experiment with something like Pyramids, I'm happy with the cost and performance of Labella 50 - 100.
    Aloe likes this.
  17. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Different strokes for different folks, but I don't understand why someone would buy a hollow body bass to make it sound bright.

    I have 2 knockoffs, fretted and fretless, both with Labella Beatle bass flats. I got them because they give me a great round tone that I don't get on my solid bodies.
  18. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    okay, in latest three weeks:
    1. tried La Bella flats 50-100, really didn't care for the sound. this bass sounds just great with rounds IMO.
    flats on it are really great with a pick, but I don't play pick. one more thing to mention is that 50-100 flats are especially hard for fingerstyle on this bass due to tighter string spacing.

    2. upgraded tuners with Grover Sta-Tites. this required widening holes a little though.
    Sta-Tites are much better then the factory tuners: don't slip and hold tuning better. but they have smaller buttons, this is a drawback.

    probably will end up with HipShots just to be able to use long scale strings.

    thanks everyone for suggestions!
    Rob Martinez likes this.
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