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One trick ponies? Gretsch hollow body, Rumblekat, Jack Casady etc?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AlexanderB, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    What about hollow body style basses and how they can be used in different musical styles? I am mainly looking at Gretsch 5123 or Broadkaster but Epiphone Rumblekat and Jack Casady could also be of interest. (I am aware that they are quite different in terms of scale, body design etc.)

    Selection of basses on display in MI shops is poor in Sweden and I have not had the chance to play one yet. In fact I might have to order one before playing it first.
    My question is if they are kind of one trick ponies or not? I saw Ed Friedland review the Eastwood clone and that bass seemed somewhat limited to me, tone wise.

    I know the above Gretsches and Epiphones can sound big, thumpy and "dead" but is it also possible to have a more solid body Fender like sustain and "envelope"/"decay"?
    By the way - what about dead spots on these basses?

    And how do they work in a band with a loud-ish drummer and half stacks (on a leash)? Is it a tone that cuts and works well not only for Motown? I realize these basses are not intended for metal SPL but can they be used to play CCR, Stones and ZZ top etc live without feeding back?

    Today I play Precision or Jazz (five string) through one or two Ampeg SVT-410HLF powered by either LMII or Pre/power amp. Clean, thick and deep tone.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    Depends what you want. If you're after a thumpy, bassy tone the Epi Rumblecat is a good choice. But it's a one-trick pony to me. If you expect bright, pianolike sounds with long sustain you willl be disappointed. After checking the Gretsch and the Epi Jack Casady I ordered the Lakland Skyline Hollowbody (with barts) and never regretted it. Thanks to the clever electronics the Lakland HB offers a broader range of tones, has a longer sustain and sounds more open than the Epi JC. The Lakland HB has a lot of low end beef and fits well in my band mix. If you like your Preci you'll also like the Lakland HB.
  3. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Thanks for the information and good luck with the Lakland! (A Lakland was not in my scope as it is a bit expensive. I will still have a look at it since you recommend it.)

    Piano like and "zingy" is obviously not what I am looking for but it would be nice to have sustain, presence and clarity similar to my Precision with nickel rounds, although with a different "flavor". My 30" scale Longhorn sounds nice both noodling at home and even more on stage but does not speak with the authority of my 34" basses. Does the same apply to the Gretsches or Rumblekat?
    I have no intention to use flats - I have tried that a couple of times and really dislike both the feel, tension and sound. An eventual hollowbody would also be strung with rounds.
  4. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    I didn't check the Lakland HB (far too expensive for me) but the Lakland Skyline HB and mail ordered it from the states (incl. taxes, customs approx. 30% less than street price in germany).

    As I also love the tone of my Squier Matt Freeman Preci with Nickel Rounds the Skyline HB was closest to what I was looking for. Neither Epi JC, Rumblecat, nor Höfner 500 or Gretsch delivers that sound. Let your ears decide.

    Shameless plug: I am selling an Ibanez AGB140 hollowbody long scale. The sound is close to a MM Sterling ...
  5. petch

    petch Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Medina, Ohio
    I am amazed at the versatility of my Lakland Skyline HB (with Chi-Sonics in this case). With roundwounds it is a completely different beast than with flats, and the pickup variations permit quite a variety of sounds. Love it! Looked at the Casady first then went for the HB. There have been some for sale here on TB at very attractive prices recently.
  6. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Lakland has excellent sound files online, and they really represent the sound of that bass well. It's a very different sounding bass, not for all ears. I liked the pick version best, but that's just me.

    I've never heard a hollow body that sounds like a tonal variation of a solid. The closest would be the semi-hollow Warwick Star bass (which is quite pricey). I think if you buy a hollow you have to be comfortable with the thump and short sustain. They are used as a substitute for an upright in jazz situations, and have a wonderful, unique sound when played with a pick.

    I've heard many complaints on this forum about being too dark in the mix and not cutting.

    The Hofner and Hofner clones I've owned did have feedback issues at volume, however you can cut small squares of foam rubber and stuff the insides and that helps.

    Long story short is that hollow bodies are a wonderful addition to the tonal palette and the light weight is great for those with back issues. Just be aware that there are many situations in which it may not be the best choice.
  7. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Thank you for the detailed and helpful replies! :)

    What you say is basically that it will sound more in the direction of my Longhorn (compared to Precision). A bit shorter sustain + tone more focused on low mids rather than upper mids and the very lowest range.

    I will look at the Skyline samples, for sure. (But the Gretsch is prettier... :D )
  8. Thelastdeadmous


    Nov 19, 2011
    I'm a recent bass convert from the guitar world so I won't be as knowledgeable as some of the others here, but I recently picked up a Gretsch 5123B and its definitely not a one trick pony. You can get a lot of pop on the bridge pickup and a fairly mellow sound off the neck pickup even with round wounds. The TV Jones Thundertrons are nice and growly with a little tube overdrive too if that's your thing.

    Add to that I got mine for $750 (the pickups are 250 alone) I can't imagine where you can get more value in the 600-1000 price range.
  9. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    With stainless roundwounds you can actually get a bright, piano like tone from the Rumbelkat.

    I just did a quick recording of mine with SS rounds, with the neck pickup on 0 and the other pickup on 10, tone on 10. Please ignore the sloppiness. The first part is fingerstyle, the second with a pick.

    Of course you can get a thumpy old school tone too, I used mine with flats in a country band for years.

    Attached Files:

  10. You may want to also consider the Eastwood Classic 4. The Eastwood website has links to youtube clips showing the bass.
  11. mc_muench


    Sep 28, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Dearmound "Guild" Starfire, just picked one up about 2 months ago love it, go from thump to funk in one flip of a switch, but if you can find one they are relativley cheap, 500-700 USD
  12. As someone who owned both a precision bass and a Jack Casady signature, I can tell you that these basses sound very much alike.

    Of course YMMV...
  13. @ AlexanderB:
    I have a Epiphone Rivoli RI and I love it. It is very different to my long scale basses yes, but the difference is exactly what I like about it. I did have rounds on it but have just thrown on a set of flats for the variety. Running a boost or pre in front of your amp will give you loads of sustain. I use a Sansamp BDDI and the sound is huge. You won't however get the 'bite' and 'grind' of say a P, but depending on your genre, it works. For me, in an alt rock setting, I like it as a change from my solid bodies. IMHO.
  14. AlexanderB: There is a Lakland Hollowbody for sale at swedish bass forum www.pratabas.se , not mine - just a tip!
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Same here...And the Jack Casadys I've owned.
  16. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    I feel the same way, though the Casady has a bigger low end to my ears.
  17. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    You might like the DiPinto Belvedere semi-hollow, which has some of the "air" and "thud" of a hollowbody, but sustain due to the center block, and cut/zing courtesy of the hot single coil pickups (at least with rounds). On the neck pickup, it sounds like a Precision with some hollow "air," and in the upper frets it really sings. It's an excellent bass tone-wise, and it worked for me in an old-school metal band. In fact, Chris DiPinto himself told me one of his bands used a Belvedere for recording metal tracks, and they liked it.

    For a hollowbody in a metal context, check out the live Queens of the Stone Age DVD Over the Years and Through the Woods. I believe they used vintage Yamahas. I got similar stage tone with the DiPinto.

    DiPinto Electric Guitars & Basses Belvedere Standard Bass

    Full disclosure: I sold my Belvedere because I didn't like the short upper horn, which produces a long reach to first position when standing. Many players aren't bothered by this, but it bugs me.
  18. Calexia13


    May 22, 2007

    Here is my jack casady bass. I have added a Triumph bass pickup. For those who are wondering, it's got 3 coils, and 3 positions. First sounds like a J (single coil), 2nd like a P-bass, 3rd like a mudbucker.

    I also added a Supertone bridge, changed the tuners to short ear schallers. Relocated the strap pin for it to hand better and combat neck dive.

    The only thing with the pickup is you need to boost output as it is really low output. I think it is lo-z. I use a tech 21 blonde to boost the signal.

    I also added a see through tort pickguard made by pickguardian with 5 ply binding.

    It sounds real nice, between this and my reverend PJ I have a hard time deciding what to play.


    Attached Files:

  19. Hey Calexia, how did you get the hipshot bridge to fit on the arched top of the JC?
  20. Calexia13


    May 22, 2007
    Initially I called Hipshot last christmas season, they said that they would come out with a fix for the jack casady bass soon....
    They never did, other than offer some felt.
    I just went ahead and ordered the bridge and thought I would try my luck.
    To my surprise it fits right in, it's got sort of an arch on it that works for the bass.
    I put nothing else on the bass, other than take out the sockets are re-glue them with gorilla glue, to make sure they would not slip out as they had with the 3 point whenever I tried to have the action real low.
    Hope that helps.

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