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What's the bid deal with WEIGHT ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by davidchampoux, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. davidchampoux

    davidchampoux Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2008
    Quebec, Canada
    Always shopping for new basses (damn GAS), and I'm wondering what's the big deal about basses weight? I feel like everybody is looking for the lightest bass... I'm very curious to know what's the difference, tone wise... Or if this is just a matter of comfort and playability? I thought the heavier the instrument, the better the sustain and attack... Am I wrong?

    IE. I've seen a beautifull P-Bass at 10 pounds lately... Should I stay away and search for one more around 8 ?

    Do heavier basses have a lower resell value?

    Opinions welcomed!!

    EDIT : sorry about the 'BID' deal typo in the topic...! Still related though!
  2. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    It becomes very important the 4th hour of a 4 hour gig, IME.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    It really doesn't matter much to me at all.

    That being said, I am still stymied by how dUg Pinnick can use a mandolin strap on his boney ass shoulder all night long. That looks uncomfortable.
  4. Terror_Within


    Jul 26, 2012
    I don't really know about the resell value or a heavy bass vs a light one, however I do know that there are a lot of bassists out there that don't want a heavy bass cause it hurts their shoulder. I personally love a good heavy bass, but I have the strength/frame to handle it. My advice to anyone that has a heavy bass they can't sling for long is to buy a nice WIDE strap, and grow a pair! LOL
    In all seriousness though, its all personal preference. It's not just the hardware that provides sustain and attack, its the wood density, size and build of the instrument itself. No bass is "better" or "worse" than another one because of weight or hardware alone. It's a mix of the two. My advice, if you like the instrument and can deal with the weight, go for it. If you need something a little lighter for whatever your reason, try to find something with decent active pickups. Hope this helps!
  5. Anaughtybear

    Anaughtybear Guest

    Apr 3, 2012
    Fargo, ND
    There are a lot of things to consider, other than just the sheer weight. Comfort is one. Once you stand around for a few hours with a Gibson Ripper anchoring you down, you'll pray for a lighter bass.

    As far as tone, it's almost too complex to get into. I'm sure it will spark an interesting discussion. A solid piece of say, maple will resonate better than a chunk of particle board. Neck-through basses generally give more sustain than a bolt on, since the vibrations don't have to pass along any joints and different materials.

    Try the table amp trick for fun. Play your bass unplugged, then play it while the body is solidly touching any large piece of wood or other resonating material. It will make it quite a bit louder.

    Weight shouldn't have anything to do with resale value, although some more expensive basses tend to have a certain weight expectation, like a MM Stingray. I think it's safe to say that, all things being equal (pick-ups, strings, shape, etc...) a heavier bass is going to have a better, more solid tone than a fluffy six lbs bass. Same as anything, you just have to have it in your hands to tell if it is right for you.
  6. honestly, other than this - it never even phases me. I'll even add that unless it's the fourth hour on a four hour gig three days in a row.

    unfortunately, I haven't had those kind of gigs in a while . . . :bawl:;)

    my 2 main players are around 9 1/2-10 lb's and my V'r is a little less btw
  7. wilberthenry


    May 12, 2009
    My bass, a G&L L-2500 weighs over 10 pounds, but sounds great. I am considering an ASAT-semi hollow to get the tone, but not the weight. I heat my home with wood and between cutting/loading/splitting, and holding a heavy bass my back needs some relief.

  8. As others have said, when you start playing long gigs and/or practicing a long time, it starts to matter.

    Musicians often have fuzzy logic, so many of the correlations of tone, sustain, and weight aren't necessarily true. My lightest bass, a Rob Allen Mouse 30 at 5.5lbs has lots of sustain and one of the deeper tones known to man.
  9. webelo


    Jun 7, 2011
    Douglas, MA
    There's a video interview with Roger Sadowsky floating around where he talks about trying to keep the weight of his basses down. He accomplishes this by chambering them. If I remember correctly, people thought the tone was better (or maybe didn't notice a difference... I can't remember) from the chambered bodies.
  10. weight never phased me until I was in my forties..suddenly my back and shoulder became very aware of the difference between a 7 lb bass vs a 10 lb bass. I won't even consider buying anything that weighs over 8.5 lbs
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.

    Robert, I took the liberty of looking at your profile and, at 38 years old, if your back isn't bad by now, chances are it's not going to be. You're a lucky man.

    The tone argument (discussion?) is as old as dirt and I sit firmly on the fence about it. I've heard super-heavy basses that sounded great and some that sounded awful and the same goes for light basses. There's really a lot more to tone than just weight, although I think it can be a factor - one of many.

    For me, the weight issue is just about comfort. My back's not so great so even though I own some wonderful basses that weigh a ton, I'll only use them for shorter shows. For long-haul shows, I use the lighter ones.
  12. aasti3000


    Jul 18, 2012
    ....All of this is good information for me since I'm in the search for my first bass. Never even thought about the weight. Something else I have to take in consideration.
  13. Most of my Fenders weigh around nine or ten pounds, yet my Stingray--at eleven lbs--is very comfortable even after long gigs, perhaps due to its balance and a nice wide Levy's (4") strap. I play most weekends, three or four hours, and at 61 I have yet to feel any ill effects to my back or shoulder. Now, a heavy amp is different! I get the young-uns in the band to carry that. It might help that I do shoulder and back-specific exercises as part of my conditioning routine. Like any physical activity, playing live for long periods of time requires some degree of fitness-commitment; as a sedentary school teacher, I have to go out of my way several late afternoons a week to do this, bit its worth it to continue doing what I love without pain.
  14. Rodger Bryan

    Rodger Bryan Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2006
    With a 9.5 lb bass and a wide strap, I'm ok after 3 hours. Rewinding to 1984..... I had a boat anchor called a Peavey T-40 that I played on 2 hour sunday brunch gigs. By the end of the job, the muscles in my shoulder & back were sore and knotting up.

    When I'm checking out new instruments, weight & ergonomics are as important as tone and playability.
  15. faulknersj

    faulknersj Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2008
    Scottsdale Az
    IMO the type of gigs u play are the key here. For the 10+ years that I played 60 minute sets in strictly original bands I could care less about weight. Playing 4 hour sets 5 nights per week for the last 3 years has changed all of that for me. 9lbs is as heavy as I'll go now. If you don't play long sets, it shouldn't matter as much.
  16. baileyboy


    Aug 12, 2010
    My 10.5 lb Fender P is only good for one set before my shoulder starts to ache.
  17. For educational purposes..
    Wider straps distribute the weight better on the shoulder. However, if it's a back issue, the bass doesn't change weight no matter what you use.

    Back to tone, I think people use the logic that there is better or worse tone. Beyond tone, there are certain fundamentals of the sound in terms of attack, sustain, etc. It seems like the uber heavy guitars I've played over the years had a very strong attack, but modest resonance. Keep in mind that acoustic instruments are light and rely on good resonance.
  18. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    My frankenstein bass has a Mighty Mite Northern hard ash body. Mighty Mite stuff has a reputation for being on the heavy side...
    The body alone was 7 lbs, and I bought it because it was hard ash and for the weight.

    I just tend to find in general that the heavier the guitar, the better the attack, sustain, tone, etc., but admittedly that's a pretty hacky approach to getting a good tone. A lighter, well made bass can sound as nicely if not much better than a cheaper, heavy bass if a lot of thought goes into wood selection and construction. And I don't just mean the type of wood, I mean the very piece that becomes the body. I remember seeing a thread somewhere by a foreign luthier who built a < 5 lb jazz bass that had some serious growl and bite, and it was truly incredible what details he considered in construction to get there.

    I'm rambling but I guess my opinion is that you need a balance that satisfies you, and although I go for heavy stuff, weight doesn't necessarily guarantee anything (other than perhaps some back pain!:smug:)
  19. cstar


    Dec 21, 2011
    Oh also, if this is your first bass, I say watch out for any bass that has neck dive (i.e., the neck wants to tilt downward). That can be kind of important too.
  20. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    What he said...my main bass is 10 pounds, and I use a very wide strap for comfort. I won't even consider a bass that is near or over 11 pounds. I actually sold one of my favorite SR5's because it weighed 11.7 pounds.

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