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Buying a Bass

Hofner icon

I played bass tonight at my regular blues workshop.  Normally, I play guitar, but our bass player was out and we always have too many guitar players anyways.  So I tried my hand with a heavy Kramer bass.  For several of the songs ("Killing Field", "Early in the Morning", "Ti Ni Nee Ni Nu") the bass and one guitar are generally playing the same riff, so it wasn't a big difference, other than the fact that the bass has a much bigger scale.  At 34", it's quite a bit larger than the 25.5" of a Strat or a Music Man.

Nonetheless, I think it would be handy to be able to play bass on occasion.  So I'm wondering about the short-scale 30" models like the Hofner Icon (or "Beatle Bass") shown above or the Fender Mustang bass shown below.  

Fender_mustang

The Hofner style "violin" bass is based on the model that Paul McCartney made famous early in his career.  From what I can tell, there are lots of "knock offs" of the violin bass model out there, but the Hofner version seems to be the lightest, weighing in under 6 lbs, or roughly half the weight of the Kramer I played.  

The Mustang bass has been used by many players, none of whom played with the Beatles.  My guess is it's not as light as the Hofner since it's a solid body.  I'm sure there are tradeoffs in the tone, and all that, but honestly who really knows?  I also tried out an Ibanez Mikro bass, and that was pretty fun.  

Or maybe I should buy a Steinberger bass.  That's not a shorter scale, but the headless design makes it more compact.  Not sure if its any lighter or not.  And I've no idea what kind of amp to buy.

So if you have an opinion (even an uninformed one) let me know.  Or if you want to sell me a good condition bass and amp, that would be fine also 

 

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One thing that stands out to me about McCartney's Hoffner bass is that many of the Beatles songs would have been radically different had he not had such a light bass. One of the things that revolutionized the Beatles music was that Paul McCartney played bass. He is a natural melody man, so to put him on what is traditionally considered a rhythm instrument gave them a creative twist they would likely not have had otherwise.

And because the Hoffner was so much smaller and lighter than other basses, he was able to develop and play wonderfully melodic bass lines. Take the song Lovely Rita for example. The melody of that song is all in the bass line! That probably would not have happened had he played a heavier bass.

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