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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by XavierG, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    I am a big Medeski, Martin & Wood fan. My jazz improv trio plays in a very similar style, but I have been lacking in the bass department in that I was missing a specific tone which I just couldn't get out of the basses in my arsenal. Chris wood plays a Hofner Violin bass on many tunes...

    see ==>

    I have to admit, I never gave much consideration to Epiphone basses, but watching that video and hearing that amazing tone.... I was blown away! That was the tone I was after. The guy isn't even going thru an amp.. he's plugged in to his PC via an Edirol interface. Wow!

    So anyway, immediately found and bought a used one (in as-new condition). Am out the door in a minute to get some Thomastik Flat-Wounds. Should be great!

    Here are pics.

  2. That's purty! Congratulations...
  3. Doesn't look like a viola.....:D;)

    Looks like a bass guitar...and a darn pretty one, not too dissimilar from my Rogue VB-100.

    Congrats! Those violin-basses have a great sound with the right strings. I like the neck and headstock binding on the Epi - nice touches. That's a really good-looking bass.

    Looks like the same tailpiece as on the Rogue, doesn't it? I wonder who provides the pickups for all the violin basses.....no visual difference with those chrome tops.

  4. rfclef


    Jan 19, 2007
    Woodburn, Oregon
    Love my Epi Viola... was my first bass, and I still dig playing it with my kids in the jazz band at school, and play it at church some too... Takes a second place to my Birdsong now, but I still think it is a sweet looking and great sounding bass. Congrats!
  5. i love mine. i've recently developed an affection for soloing the front pickup, and thumb plucking right over the bottom end of the neck/front PU. such a woody tone, closest thing you could get to a stand-up bass tone with a bass guitar.

    i played this way on a slow-crooner country song my friend wrote, and it sounded absolutely gorgeous.

    at inexpensive as they are, i think any bassists who want to develop a new (and basic) approach should pick one up and try it out. you might not be able to rock out with one (although i've used mine in a loud indie band), but it really does things that a P, J, or MM can't do, no matter what you try.
  6. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    I used to own one in the latter half of the nineties. It was a fun bass! I occasionally think about getting a custom 5 made.

  7. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    That is my favorite of the inexpensive viola shaped basses. If I were to get one, that would be it. I have played on a few times in various shops. Nice little bass for not a lot of money.
  8. nice clavinova there in the background. my sister's got one just like that (probably the same model).
  9. lowselfesteem


    Jun 24, 2007
    I love mine. When my band does a harder rock song it isn't quite what I need but for everything else it just has a classic old-timey bass sound. It's the only bass of mine that sounds different enough from the rest that my band notices the difference and it cuts through as well. I have the Labella beatle flats on it.
  10. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    Thought I'd mention something that might help some Viola owners. The strip of 'foam" underneath the bridge (on new basses) is packaging material. Take it off and you get the string vibrations going through the wooden bridge directly into the hollow-body.... Much better sound! Oh, you will likely need to adjust the height of the bridge upward to compensate for the missing foam, otherwise, you'll get string buzz.
  11. dmrogers

    dmrogers Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Eastman, GA
    That is a great looking bass! I have an Epiphone Les Paul (6 string) that I love. It is a solid piece of equipment. I sold it several years back to a friend with the promise that if (actually when, I knew he wouldn't keep it) he started to get rid of it, I had first dibs. He had some really Gibson vintage pickups put in it and then got tired of it. I practically stole it from him.

  12. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Some insider fun-facts about Chris Wood and his Hofner:

    At Camp MMW last year, Chris said that the main function of his Hofner is to help him release his inner guitar-player. He usually plays it with a pick, using only the bridge pickup (the "treble" switch on the Hofner). He also uses roundwound strings on all of his electric basses, including this one. (He explained that this is really for practical reasons: Playing in large rooms, the roundwounds help the bass project better than flats.)

    Of course, the video you linked seems to tell exactly the opposite story: He's playing fingerstyle, directly over the neck pickup (and I'll bet with the neck pup turned up). It occurred to me that in this particular case he might be using the Hofner to approximate his upright tone, as I don't see his upright on the stage anywhere.
  13. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    Interesting. Judging by the tone of that bass in that video, I'm pretty sure he's got flatwounds on there. He's got that "thuddy" flatwound sound.

    At any rate.. the chromes I put on are much better sounding than the roundwounds that were originally on there, but I've decided that I'm still not 100% happy with the tone. I'm going for the Rotosound nylons.
  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yeah, I agree that it sounds like he's using flats in the video. If my hypothesis is right that he was using the Hofner as a substitute for his upright at that gig, it would make sense for him to switch to flats for that purpose.

    BTW, when asked about what kinds of roundwound strings he likes, he said it didn't matter much to him. He said he'd been using Black Beauties for awhile because they didn't need to be changed as often. Evidently he doesn't like changing strings, because the black coating was shredded and half worn-off on the ones he was using.
  15. The tone of that Viola is really something--he's been playing a year? I've been playing forty, and had a hard time picking that up after watching (though I did, mostly); I'm going to go and get me another Viola, as my son ran off with mine. I was considering the Icon, but I think this sealed the deal for me.
  16. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    ... so I strung it up with Rotosound Tru Bass (RS 88M) Black Nylon strings.... What a difference!!!! Amazing tone. Feels great too, and it doesn't look too shabby with the black nylons on.

    If you're getting one of these, I'd strongly recommend the RS88M's.
  17. noisetree


    Feb 20, 2007

    Love the music!!!
  18. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Cool. Can you describe the tone, and particularly how it differs from flats? I've got a Rogue "Beatle bass" that I've been thinking about re-stringing.
  19. XavierG

    XavierG In Memoriam

    Here's a clip from our recent rehearsal.. drums, guitar and Viola bass strung with Rotosound Tru Bass RS88M's. The bass sound is unprocessed, direct from my amp DI out, into my mixer and into Adobe Audition. I thought I'd leave the bass tone "raw" so you can hear the true sound... uncompressed, no reverb... nada!

    This "cool" bossa probablly illustrates that semi upright vibe you can get with this bass. I describe the sound as a marriage between an Upright and an EUB.


    "A" Bossa

  20. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Very nice... tight bass... have fun!

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