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Heavy Music with a Hollow Body Bass?

Heavy Music with a Hollow Body Bass?

Q: Here’s my problem: I’m a big fan of archtop guitars and I love the lighter tonal quality. I also don’t like playing solid body basses since they don’t go well with my slightly weaker left shoulder (which is made worse since I’m left-handed but play right-handed). That’s not the real problem though. The big problem is that the band is a hardcore/heavy metal/alternative rock band, and the bass I use is more suited for pop/jazz – a Hofner that was my first and only bass guitar, and I can’t bring myself to purchase another bass. So my question is this: is it possible for me to play heavy metal/hard rock music on a hollow body bass without sounding incredibly out of place? Can the airy tone of my notes go with the heavy sound of the genre or will I sound perpetually out of place?

A: Interesting question! While I don’t have direct experience, I have an educated guess. That guess is that you can make anything work, but in this case, you may have to get creative if you have feedback issues.

As far as the tone goes, you will most definitely have to tweak some EQ to get a more “metal” tone out of your bass. That can likely be achieved on your rig and/or with an EQ pedal – and possibly other effects, depending on what you want. For metal, you really just need it to cut. A little clank goes a long way in a metal band.

While I am no master tone-o-phile, I have found that most of the magic for bass players lives in the mid-range. I tend to run everything flat and tweak HI-mids for clarity and LOW-mids for punch. You may actually decide to lower your bass setting, which serves to enhance the highs as well.

A decent EQ pedal or DI with a good EQ can really help you to dial in the tone you need.

Playing with a pick will also help with your attack greatly.

Now for the acoustic properties… My bet is that your situation will result in feedback. I don’t know whether Hofners have a tendency toward feedback, but most acoustic instruments do. I spent years touring with a great banjoist/slide guitarist, Tony Furtado. He actually filled his banjo with bar rags and coasters, which completely eliminated feedback but didn’t alter his amplified sound. It most certainly did alter his acoustic tone, but we were a loud band so it didn’t matter. Again, not being that familiar with the Hofner bass, I’m not sure if this would be an issue for you.

If it is an issue, you will have a hard time getting around it as there is no way to stop the feedback loop without cracking the bass open somehow and filling it, basically turning it into a solid body.

Aesthetically, I think it might be kind of cool, but I’ve always loved Hofners and have wanted a real one for some time. I hope that helped at least a little bit.

Readers, this is one of the more interesting questions I’ve received, and I’d love to hear your take on it. Please share your thoughts, experience and solutions in the comments.

Have a question for Damian? Submit it to the Ask Damian Erskine Forum. Check out Damian’s instructional books at the No Treble Shop.

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Share your thoughts

Karl

Karl

Get some gnarly effects!

ken

ken

the Hoffner has no F holes so i dont think feedback is going to be a problem however i just bought an Allan Woody Epiphone which is a hollow body and it soiunds awesome very growley and lots of BOTTOM!!!

patrick f coleman

patrick f coleman

rondo music as a hofner copy bass for under 200.00 which stands up to every copy I’ve run into so far.. w. F holes you can fill in if you choose. feels just like a hofner..intonates really well, and sounds sweet to me.

Enrique

Enrique

When I was using a Rickenbacker 4001 I used the Ric-O- Sound device with two amps,
a Fender Pro Reverb and a Marshall 100w head with an Electro Voice spkr. in a homemade cab. Thus the bridge p/u was directed to the Fender whereas the neck p/u went to the Marshall. The peculiar experimentation allowed for versatility in midrange while
allowing the bass to be a bass. This worked well in studios and in small dance hall/auditoriums but not so well in smaller “elbow room” venues. But then the 4001 is not hollow, so I cannot tell how this might sound with acoustic basses such as the J. Casady
Epiphone or the Hofner “Beatle bass”. The Feedback problem haunts hollow guitars and basses. Grand Funk’s Mark Farner stuffed his Messenger guitar with foam rubber and put tape over the f-holes. This made for an ugly guitar but it controlled the feedback.
Chambered solid bodies don’t seem to have this problem.

Scott Edgards

Hollowbody basses Are just pure Magic & fun… They van serve any genre of music; with their electric capabilities (magnetic pickups!) & a good amp, you just pay some extra care on (unwanted!) feedback.. My Epi & Ibanez (artcore) hollow-basses never gave me any worries in ‘heavy’ music…