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Plywood as a main bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Tiddleypidlei, Nov 9, 2019.


  1. Tiddleypidlei

    Tiddleypidlei Decent at bass. Suck at everything else. Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2014
    Hello fellow TBers,

    I was just wondering if anyone else uses a plywood bass as there main bass. Not a backup, when the setting isn’t the greatest for your fully carved bass, but as a main bass. Your workhorse, your sound, your go to bass.
    My main bass is plywood 2007 Upton Hawkes. It’s the only bass I feel comfortable playing, it has that thumpy pizz sound. It’s Arco sound is actually pretty good for a plywood. It’s lightweight, and I never really have to worry about it at gigs.
    I used to daydream about one day owning a nice vintage fully carved bass with hat peg tunners, and patina for days. Not anymore, I just can’t ever imagine myself with out my current bass, I love my bass way to much, it’s the only bass I’ll ever need in this lifetime.

    Pictures Included
    upload_2019-11-9_9-1-7.

    (This is not a I hate carved bass thread, or a I hate plywood bass thread, or one is better than the other thread. This thread is supposed to be for people who main on a plywood bass, like me ;))
     
    JRA, TideSwing, JC Nelson and 6 others like this.
  2. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I think you'll find that a lot of us weekend warriors are toting around plywood basses. Nothing wrong with that at all. I've played every kind of gig with my Upton standard imaginable, and recorded three albums. No one ever wonders about whether it's carved.
     
    zubrycky, Inky13, Kickdrum and 5 others like this.
  3. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I had only a plywood bass for 40 years, and never thought that I was missing something. However, all my playing was bluegrass, blues, and jazz, no bowing. When the day came that I could afford lessons and a carved bass, I found a carved bass... but I still use a plywood bass when appropriate.
     
  4. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Tallahassee
    I often think of selling everything and getting a plywood Bass. Force me to focus on the sound in my hands maybe. I know tons of people who only have plywood’s. Not everyone needs or maybe should have a vintage carved bass
     
  5. Richard Blair

    Richard Blair

    Jun 22, 2017
    Toronto, ON
    This is encouraging. I’m considering moving to a laminate bass rather than spending a ton of money repairing my carved bass.
     
    Dabndug, armybass and Tiddleypidlei like this.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    When it was time for a new bass a few years ago, I ended up with a carved instrument. But I certainly have no regrets for the 20+ years I played a ply.
     
    Dabndug, armybass and Tiddleypidlei like this.
  7. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I find myself taking my full ply 7/8ths more than my 3/4 hybrid. Both sound great to me, and for what I do. Like sevenyearsdown, nobody asks what I'm playing.
     
  8. 210superair

    210superair

    Sep 10, 2019
    I would never expose an expensive carved bass to what I put my instruments through. Not that I don't take pains to be careful, but with our schedule, you're bound to have an issue eventually. I feel bad enough beating up decent ply basses. I've cracked open my vb 80 twice this year, lol. It's a running joke among my music buddies that my bass will be made 100% of hide glue eventually, with no wood left...
     
  9. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I play a 2005 laminated New Standard Cleveland as my main bass. The sides are solid though...
     
    Dabndug, armybass and Tiddleypidlei like this.
  10. Tiddleypidlei

    Tiddleypidlei Decent at bass. Suck at everything else. Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2014
    This is the route I'm probably going to go. I'm not totally against the idea of one day owning a nice fully carved bass, but like fdeck and many others I want many years with my nice ply bass.
     
  11. I like that approach. A great player can make anything sound good.
     
  12. I think you can especially see those who are not on the bass everyday having a well set up ply as their primary bass. There is a ply bass/gut thing that some people like Nate McBride and Joel Grip in particular have as their primary set up that has a special character.
    I would still say it is an advanced decision to come to.
    A pro level ply bass costs more at this point than basic hybrid.
     
  13. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Tallahassee
    curious what a pro level plywood would be. Like a new standard?
     
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  14. A shop in Stockholm sell what they call a "Ply Pro", at 3k $. I haven't played it, but I've heard good things about it. Looks beautiful! Kontrabas PlyPro säljes i Gävle - Blocket
     
    Reiska likes this.
  15. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    Tallahassee
    One day a kay with a nice thick ebony board may be nice haha. My bass lust will never stop
     
  16. Sean Riddle

    Sean Riddle Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2013
    Ventura, California
    I met Mark Helias earlier this week when he was borrowing my bass for a show we were both on. He told me that he's been updating and improving a lot of old Kays and selling them. Even though I really don't have much if any need for a ply, I'm very interested in trying one of Helias's updated Kays and one James Condino's improved Kays as well.
     
    Keith Rawlings and Sam Dingle like this.
  17. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    My Cleveland was around $3800 new in 2005. I was not a full time pro then. However since that time, this particular bass has played several hundred performances (probably 700-800 at least) in the last 15 years and recorded 25-30 times in pro studios. Concert halls, outdoor all night festival jams and everything in between. With a pickup, with mics and a LOT acoustically. I would argue that I'm as much or more of a pro performer than many/most on TB and that this particular "ply" BSO sounds better than 60-65% of the "carved" real basses it's shared stages and studios with. Maybe that's me, maybe it's the luthiers that have worked on it or maybe it's just a great sounding bass designed and built properly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
    Phil Rowan, ericsmith, Joshua and 2 others like this.
  18. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Me too. Plays like butter and lots of compliments on the tone. Pretty much all pizz, though.
     
  19. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Definitely a ply guy here. An expensive bass isn't cost-effective for my business, and I'm really not the right person for the constant babying it would need in the Arizona climate.

    317col.
     
  20. WillieB

    WillieB Battling Bass Guitar Bulimia since 1975 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2010
    Columbus Ohio
    good looking bass there Steven. Kay?
     
    JeffKissell likes this.

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