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Plywood vs Hybrid

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by ERIC A, May 8, 2010.

  1. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    I am considering tradeing in my Shen Blonde towards the purchase of a Johannes Kohr K-64. I play a fair amount of "Roots" gigs, but 70% of my gigs are Jazz gigs. So my question is, (before I make the 3 hour drive) would a Hybrid bass sound that much better than a good sounding plywood. I know it all depends on the bass. But as general rule, would it be worth it?
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've got an old Kay and have recently conducted a search for a new carved bass. I played basses that were both above and below my intended budget, including Shen ply and hybrids. Once I had played a few basses, I felt that I could distinguish a noticeable "plywood sound."

    But these things are so hard to describe with words, at least for me. I would rather just say that the difference should be noticeable if the hybrid is a good one, and that it's worth finding out the difference with your own ears. I would suggest that the difference should knock your socks off, otherwise you can take advantage of the fact that you've got a perfectly decent bass while you continue your search.

    In addition, I think that I confirmed the rule of trying as many basses as possible. If there are any bass shops in your vicinity, I suggest paying a visit to start forming your own mental picture of the range of variation to expect. This will help you make a more confident choice, as well as let you test some of your assumptions about what sort of bass you really want. In fact, do this before you go and visit the Kohr if possible, as it will help you check out the Kohr when you are there.

    Are you planning on checking out basses for bowed tone? The other thing I learned was to get my own bowing technique into decent enough shape -- and to have a good bow of my own to bring along -- in order to adequately test basses.

    Best of luck with the search!
  3. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    Thanks for the reply! I play almost exclusively pizz. So, I am not that worried about the sound under the bow. But, I will hope to hear a very noticeable difference between my bass (which is a good sounding plywood bass) and a hybrid bass.

    Thanks again!
  4. brandau


    Jan 30, 2008
    fdek is right on. Just try a bunch. See if you can borrow some too and gig with them. As you know, The sound you hear solo compared to the band stand is totally different. I have a full carved Grunert and a Kay. The Grunert, as expected, has much more sustain and a more complex sound compared to the Kay. The Kay is louder and more punchy with more low end. I prefer the Kay for live gigs as it sits just right in the mix. The Grunert records better, but sometimes gets swallowed up in a live setting... goodluck
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    yeah, I've thought about what would and wouldn't be a helpful reply to this question off and on for a few days and I keep coming back to...it really depends on both basses, their setup and your ears. I think deciding to "upgrade to a hybrid" might be setting up for a let down. There are certainly some out there that would make you happier, but there are probably also laminate and carved basses in your price range that would also both under and overwhelm you.

    If you've got a bass that you can work with now, then start putting money aside, set up a budget that you're comfortable with, then start playing as many basses as you can. Play friend's basses if you get the chance. Your next bass will reveal herself to you. Give it time and don't try to engineer your next choice. It's usually not how it ends up working out.


    Mar 4, 2008
    Larisa, Greece
    Just to add my $0.02 i'd say that a hybrid usually gives a more complex tone under the bow, not easily found in laminates. Certainly there are exceptions, since i found a couple of laminates with very good arco response. For pizz work you can find excellent samples in both categories so the only real solution is to try as many basses as you can, in order to find what suits your own taste better.
  7. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    I appreciate all the replies and great advice. Their is a few Bass shops in the DC area, so I'll take a visit to each one of them and give their Hybrid's a shot. I know their are a lot of Eastman's around here. I have never heard of the Johannes Kohr until I saw the one I am interested in on Jerry Fretwell's site.

    Thanks again!
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I don't know what your budget is, but play everything that you can touch within a few thousand dollars of it. It helps to start to develop your preferences. The bass you love might be a hybrid, or it could be ply or solid. You might decide that there's not that much difference until you spend a few thousand more and decide that you can wait or you might play a NS that blows your sock off.

    That's what I would do anyway.
  9. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    The deal that Jerry is offering me is an even swap. I guess most of his client are Bluegrass players who want a plywood bass. So, the cost in this case would be a very attractive $0.00.

    Thanks again
  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Okay, well that does fill in some blanks. Go play it, you'll know.

    Your Shen has some value. It's a known quantity. As you said, the other bass isn't as common, so judge it as a player and if you feel like it's a good swap, make it. If it doesn't speak to you, then you might be better off with your Shen later on resell.

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