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Violin Bass sound qualities and which to buy..

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lewisallanreed, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Hello everyone :)!, new here, just started a new thread.. Hope I'm doing everything the right way!
    ANYWAY, lets get to the big question(s):
    I was gonna buy a violin bass since I totally fell in love with the shape of this instrument!, but a bassist friend of mine argued that the sound that this kind of bass makes isn't as clear or bright as todays basses and she was never gonna buy one because she likes to play slap bass.
    Now, my point is that I DID SEE (or should I say hear) a guy on youtube who played his violin bass with a lot of treble and it sounded twangy/thumpy enough to me.
    The girl group I'm joining plays many different genres so I'll need a versatile instrument for the future.
    I don't know... Can anyone help? I feel kinda nooby.
    (also do you suggest any particular brand?)
  2. My opinion: Semi-hollow violin short scale is not the most versatile bass out there.

    I own three Hofner Icon B-Basses. They came strung with rounds, and they were bright and growly. But, to my ear, bright and growly with the semi-hollow chambers was not a good combination.

    I put flats on all of mine, and now they sound thumpy and tubby, like McCartney. But that's what I was going for.

    I suppose you can slap anything, but if you're going for a good classic funk R&B slap tone, good luck getting that from a violin bass.

    It sounds like you like the look (which is admittedly cool) but this may not be the bass for your needs. Only one way to find out: Get your hands on one and plug it into a band mix.
    dabbler likes this.
  3. The German made Hofner 500/1 is the best, period. It's got a great woody low end that records well, and doesn't sound anything like a typical P- or J- bass. And they use flats, not the usual roundwound growl (although you can put rounds on a Hof, but to some that's heresy).

    The Contemporary version of the Hofner (the 'CT') has a center sustain block, so it's got a more 'modern' tone. Plus, it's quite a bit cheaper than the Germans. Steer clear of the 'Icon' Hofner, which is cheaper still, but for a reason.

    The main drawback to a Hofner is they're much more fragile than a solidbody bass, so you do have to watch out for them a little more. Still, they are lighter, which can make a difference after a long night. Another reason McCartney still plays his after fifty years.
  4. Easy, mate.

    I can assure you my Icons are top-notch basses, and I've A/B'd them against the other Hofner models.
  5. I dunno. I've heard that many people prefer the Icon to the CT, but I don't recall how the specs differ.
  6. The much more expensive 500/1 and similar high-end Hofners are obviously better-made basses. But as for tone and playability, I could not justify the extra cash. The Icon nails the thumpy Beatles vibe perfectly, and they're very well-made. That's why I ended up with three (in three different colors).

    At any rate, it sounds as though OP is just getting into this area, and I have no idea what the budget is, but most people delving into violin basses for the first time are looking toward the entry-level Hofners, Rogues, Epiphones, Jay Tursers, etc. They're all similar, let you get your feet wet and get the idea, and won't break the bank.
  7. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Thank you all for the quick replies! :)
    Ok, first of all, Electracoyote, I'll admit that I'm a bit of an aesthetics fool :) I get carried away pretty easily. But I have to tell myself that Sound is the point here. Infact I have to say we do like Funk...
    I'll consider trying other kinds of basses.
    As for the comparison with Fender P- and J-, mcarp555, that's been really useful: we like both a Beatles sound and a raw, bare bones sound like, I dunno, say Kim Deal from Pixies, or generally a typical Fender-y tone.
    The weight, I have to say, is kind of important: I have a semi hollow guitar (a sort of john lennon replica by epiphone) and that already bites my poor shoulders :)
    I'll look out for that.

    ALSO I remembered that that girlfriend of mine said violin basses can't hold notes long enough. Since you have Hofners, you can confirm that's not true, right? It just sounds so false.
  8. In general, yes, a solid body full scale bass will have longer sustain than a short scale semi-hollow like a violin bass.

    That girlfriend of yours is one smart cookie. ;)
  9. I had no problems getting tones like the Pixies when I had a Violin bass (although I mean songs like Hey and Where Is My Mind?), so I wouldn't fret there, you can always put rounds on it or bright flats.
  10. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    About budget: I was not sure if it was better to start off with something cheap or to invest more money.
    I guess it depends on what you mean to do with your instrument.
    I can't tell if I'll be any good playing bass. But since I can play guitar at a pretty good level (even a teensy tiny bit of Django) I figured I'd give it a try.
    But I always look carefully before buying, like all of you.
    cabcreaser likes this.
  11. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Oh, that's a pro for the Hofner. Thanks :)
    I guess I'll just end up counting pros and cons..
  12. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    You bet. She is :)
    A bit nerdy, I might add.
  13. Texas twelve

    Texas twelve

    Nov 1, 2007
    I spend months reading reviews on Beatle basses. Played a few different ones, and ended up buying a Hofner ignition.

    With Labella flats I was blown away at the sweet, warm, slightly woody sound.

    The first time I used it at band practice two different guys commented on how good the tone was. Not to mention, I love the violinish look. Also, after about an hour, the fact that it weighs about 1/4th what my jazz clone weighed is a definite plus with me.

    I don't slap, and don't even play hard, so that style may not fit this bass, but, for me, the Hofie is a perfect fit.
  14. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    There's a good variety of short/medium scale Vintage type Semi-Hollow body basses to choose from as well. Like the Epiphone Rumblekat etc.
  15. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    I have a 5000/1 deluxe that I really like. Their are pricey
  16. MagnificentB


    Nov 5, 2012
    Bucks, PA
    I have a 500/2 CT Club that I bought right here on TB a few months back. After playing long-scale Fenders and Rics for years, I absolutely LOVE this bass, light as a feather and it sounds great! Compared to those basses, it does feel a bit delicate however and as noted above, you need to take a bit more care with these basses, at least compared to Fenders, which seem indestructible.

    From what I've read the main difference between Ignition, CT and German made 500s are that the German and Ignition basses are hollow-body, whereas the CT basses have a solid block through the center of the body which gives it a more 'contemporary' sound, hence the name "CT".

    Obviously, the other difference is price. I found the CT 500/2 to be a compromise between the very expensive German version and the much cheaper Ignition and Icon series. CT series basses feature German-made pickups. I cannot comment on the Ignition or Icon basses, but plenty of people on TB own them and swear by them.

    For my part, I found the quality of build on the CT series quite good.

    Good luck!

  17. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Ok, so, if I'll buy the bass, a big part in sound will be played by the strings (sry for the terrible pun :) )... I'll have to fiddle around with those depending on the prevalent style we'll choose. Gee, to think I used to put anything on my old guitar...
  18. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The Hofner club is worth considering. I find it to be a lot more comfortable to play than the violin and they sound identical.

    Edit: Duh, you said you fell in love with the shape of the violin bass....but the club is still awesome.
  19. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Oh thanks, I definitely try those too. Also, I'll go to the music store tomorrow. It is a pretty big one, so hope I'll be able to put my hands on as many of them as i can, (I just can't wait, btw). Then I'll let you all know.
  20. lewisallanreed


    Feb 19, 2014
    Yeah, looks pretty good! But is still don't know how much I'll spend.