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Semi-HollowBody Bass - Tone Pros / Cons?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lokire, Mar 1, 2006.

  1. I'm working out some of the final details on my Stambaugh Custom, and one of the big decisions I have left to make is whether to go Semi-Hollow or stick with a solid body. Chris tells me that a semi-hollow body design will yield a 'hollow' tone and though it's a cool sound, he doesn't reccommend it for a bass that's meant to be a players main instrument. So I have to decide:

    a) If the 'hollow' sound is one that I would like and be able to make good use of


    b) If I'm willing to sacrifice some of that solid-body tone for the awesome looks a semi-hollow body (with a sweet cutout design).

    I love the look, just not sure if I would love the tone as much as a solid-body. So if anyone with experience with a hollow or semi-hollow bass could chime in and let me know your opinions on the tone and its flexibility, or if you have any soundclips - that would be cool :)

  2. Second page already??? :ninja:
  3. My Stambaugh 6 is chambered, against Chris' advice; he told me it would dominate the tone & rob me of the versatility I was after. I wanted to lighten it a bit, but I also had a hunch I would like the end result. I do(like it)99% of the time; the only downside for me is a very slight loss of clarity below low D. The upper register sounds great, though- gets a kind of guitary tone if I work at it. I imagine Oteil could really make it sing; in my hands, I often hear it complain.:D My bass has no soundhole(s), which may or may not have a big impact on the overall tone. I think keeping it sealed tightens it up, as it doesn't really sound like a hollowbody. I don't know how extensive the chambering is, though. You might mention my bass to Chris- he said he really liked the tone.
  4. Thanks. The primary reason I'm thinking of doing it is for the looks. Weight isn't much of an issue for me, I kinda like 'em around the 9lb area actually :bag:

    I sent an e-mail to Chris asking about maybe minimalizing the hollowness. Making it a more shallow cut and just the area underneath the cutout, instead of the whole upper wing.

    I just know that when I see basses like these:


    I look at those sweet cutouts and go "wow" :cool:
  5. What do you think? :smug:

    (My concept drawings as of now)

    Attached Files:

  6. Those are sweet. I don't like the DB-style f-holes, though; those are specifically made to work w/the whole design of a violin, cello, etc, & I can't imagine they have any benefit other than aesthetics:eyebrow: on a completely different instrument, be it a Telecaster, ASAT or whatever. That top bass is on the cover of 6 string bassics; a Ken Bebensee, yes?
  7. I like the drawings- are you going to show the neck-through lams?

    Edit: Hey! Did you ask for permission to use 'my' finger/fretboard extension?:D
  8. Yeah, I'm definatly gonna have Chris leave the neck lams out in the open :smug: . On some neck through basses, I'm not real into full face tops. If you've got all those beautiful laminates in there, might as well show them off from the front :D .

    And yeah, those are both Ken Bebensee basses. A good part of the influence for this bass is from KB. I love all of his work. Along with some Ken Lawrence influences and some Stambaugh too (yours ;)). I love how that fingerboard extension looks - I sketched a bunch of a different styles and that one looked best to me, hope you don't mind :)

    Do you not like just the DB style f-holes, or cutouts in general?
  9. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Just for the looks? Interesting reason... why not inlay a piece of ebony there?

    I'm not sure about chambered. I'd rather go with solidbody on my next basses. The chambers can introduce a number of problems, like conflicting frequencies and cancellations, swelling, etc.

    BTW those are a helluva lot of switches and pots...
    My new bass has 3 pots and 2 switches (v/v/t; series/parallel; tone switch: .047, .100 uF or tone pot bypass), and I rarely use even anything beyond the vols. :ninja:
  10. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA

    Your fretboard extension? You mean like the ones on the Curbow Slappers for the last 7 years? :D
  11. I thought about that too, but I don't think it would be quite the same for me. I guess it's not just the looks, but also the idea of having a chambered body like that. Seems like the ultimate "custom" thing to do. :smug:
  12. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    It seems to me that Sir Paul McCartney has done pretty well for himself using a hollowbody bass as his Number 1.
  13. Yggdrasil


    Aug 16, 2001
    Not to mention Jack Casady - Guild/Alembic Starfires 67 -72 or so; Les Paul Sig/Casady Sig for over 10 years now.

  14. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    In a way a control cavity makes a bass semi-hollow. Just a thought.
  15. Since your getting a Stammie made for you, how about selling your KL to me for real cheap?? :D I know that the most exquisite CocoBolo top on earth shouldn't stop your from giving it to a young man with a dream:D
  16. I don't think so. That bass will be with me for a long long time ;)

    Good point Moo, I never really thought about that. But like Bassteban said, it's enclosed which might minimize the 'hollow' sound. Hmm....
  17. Any other opinions / experiences out there?

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    With a dynamic pre amp and finger style I cant see how a hollow or chambered body would limit you.
  19. Schwaa


    Feb 25, 2006
    This is my Yamaha BEX4

    I haven't gotten an amp yet but it did sound really good at the store. Semi-Hollow, the chambers take up most of the body but it has one thick solid pieces straight down the middle.
    So 2 large chambers, each with it's own sound hole. I think the f clef looks good on this design, but not on all designs.

    A bonus is that I can hear it pretty good not plugged in so I can practice without an amp.
  20. And this one's about as dynamic as they come :D

    Thanks Schwaa (and welcome!!!). That's another plus side for me; having a more pronounced unplugged tone.

    And BTW: Which one of those two cutout designs (post #5) do you like best?