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What does "semi-hollow" do for a bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Yamarc, Apr 6, 2003.

  1. Yamarc

    Yamarc Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    What does this actually do for a bass? Does it affect the sound that much? what semi-hollow is your favorite? (player or bass)
  2. kroth


    Apr 6, 2003
    a semi- hollow bass will have real fat, warm low end, very organic sounding. oteil burbridge designed a semi hollow with Modulus graphite.
    my fretless p-bass is a rare semi hollow fender that will get the coolest upright tone or the fattest p-funk sound . it is not real crisp and aggresive , but it sure fills the room
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Funnily enough - I have the Bass day video where Oteil plays this bass and the tone sounds horribly thin and not warm or fat-sounding at all - I would describe it as scratchy and trebly!!
  4. kroth


    Apr 6, 2003
    I have yet to see that video, but maybe oteil was having a bad tone day. my semi hollow sounds great as long as I don't solo the piezo by itself. If I do then the sound is too squeaky clean, especially for any kind of aggresive playing styles. But mixed in with the regular magnetic pu, it sounds great. as good as the modulus sounds, they are almost too clean. Mine never quite sat in the mix well, so I canned it and went passive(one bass is passive anyway). I like the authentic grind of a passive p-bass thru a good clean amp. plus it makes a great backup in case the active ones crap out. after years of hi-tech stuff, I found out I am really a analog, passive kind of guy
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    in my experience with my hollowbodies, the body being hollow tends to add some depth to the midrange, as well as a nice "woodiness". i have solid body instruments with the same exact pickup and electronic layout, and the deeper mids and woody tone are the biggest differences i can hear.
  6. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Interesting question. I have a Ren 5 that's a hollowbody and don't perceive much of an effect on tone. There's some natural reverb that I can perceive through a quality amp, but it disappears at high volume. A lot of hollowbodys like the Coronados or Rivolis are reknowned for a "tubby" upright tone with a short decay, but you could achieve the same effect with a solidbody, flatwounds and some technique modifications.

    It's the same thing with hollowbody guitars. I listen to Robben Ford and go "that's definitely a hollowbody." Then I listen to Eric Johnson playing an ES335 and for the life of me, I can't tell the difference between that and his strat! Depending on your technique, your pickups, your amplification, the room and whatever else is in your signal chain, there may not be much of a difference.
  7. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    I used to own a Godin A4 and will own another semiacoustic in the future after I pay off some debt.

    John's description, "adds woodiness," is probably the best I've heard. Think about the difference in sound between an acoustic and an electric guitar. That will give you a feel for the difference in sound. A semiacoustic bass is really very different sounding than an electric.

    I don't know if this helps, but I used my Godin when laying down a bass track for a friend. <a href="http://artists.mp3s.com/artist_song/2190/2190197.html">Click here to find his song at MP3.com</a> I used TI jazz flats on the Godin A4 when recording the song.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I have a Dan Elctro Hodad with a semi hollow body and the coolest thing it does is feedback like a guitar if I put it up to my amp.

    I agree that the midrange is pumped up somewhat. It also has a thumpier sound than my other basses.
  9. my theory is that a hollow body translates some of the fundamental lows of each note into midrange overtones- producing a characteristic "honk", which can be warm or cutting depending on the type of strings used.

    with steel roundwounds it can be aggressive-sounding-
    this is a clip of Simon Gallup (The Cure)'s Gibson EB2 (strung with Roto swing bass)

  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Semi-hollow means the bass might be lighter than a solid body bass made of similar woods. Otherwise I can't think of anything that would be generally attributable to the body.

    Might be louder acoustically, unplugged. Strings and electronics can play a big part in the sound. I played a Conklin Groove Tools fretless 4 with tapewounds that sounded way to close to a Rob Allen fretless.
  11. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    You nuts man! :D

    I have that dvd and I think his bass sounds pretty good. Scratchy and trebly? Well first of all he DOES spend most of his time in the upper range of his bass since he pretty much solos the whole time. So there is your treble. ;) I'm not sure where the scratch thing comes from :confused:
  12. Yamarc

    Yamarc Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Okemos, MI
    I guess I am primarily thinking about Anthony Jackson and Otiel. Anthony plays a semi-hollow 6 string with no electronics, just a pup hard wired to the output jack. His tone- INCREDIBLE. I know that a lot of this comes from his hands, but I wondering if I can't accomplish the same thing on another custom built bass. The same with Oteil...I don't think he sound scratchy or trebly, just warm and full in the lower registers. So I guess I am wondering how much of these guy's sound comes from the fact that their basses are semi-hollow. I like the idea of a "woodier" sounding Modulus and a "warmer, growlier" midrange...Anyone feel free to respond.. Marc
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I just think it's a pretty horrible tone - no warmth at all to it and exactly the sound I avoid when buying or looking for a bass.

    Of course tone is purely subjective - which is why a lot discussions here are a complete waste of time! ;) So - I suppose it's difficult to describe a sound in words - but scratchy is what comes to mind - so Jaco's tone on say, "Shadows and Light" is close to my ideal tone and Oteil's tone on this video, is about as far away from that, as you can get - I can only say : horrible!!
  14. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    My semi hollow fretted Nordstrand SC6 is hands down the best bass that I've ever played. It does indeed resinate more, it has a woodier tone, it is warmer than a solid body, it has more pronounced low mids, and it can get a beautiful, almost fretless growl. Mine has an alder semi hollow body with a maple neck and ebony fretboard.
  15. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Well :spit: on you then! ;) :D
  16. Are you sure that's not the black Dick Knight?
  17. yeah- I'm sure it's the Gibson EB2 as it's from The Cure's 1991 appearance at the "Great British music weekend"- check it out in the "Cure Play out" video.

    I might put up a clip of the Dick Knight long-scale bass from the "show" video for comparison.

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