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Hiya folks, hope you’re all warm and well and lockdown isn’t driving you all nuts. I need to ask the Basschat collective mind some advice about lightweight basses.

My left shoulder is knackered through a combination of old rotator cuff tear / weakness after a biking injury. It’s bad enough at the moment that if I pick up my bass with my right hand it’s painful in my left shoulder straight away. Even sitting down to play is painful. Reaching for a low F on the E string hurts, for instance. 

I’ve had recurring trouble with this shoulder for years and sometimes I can’t play bass at all. Just wondering if I’m destined to only play a Kala U-bass for the rest of my days or if something like a Hofner Violin bass might work for me? Anybody here had a similar problem? Or do I just man the flip up and hammer the co-codamols any play through it? 😆

A mate of mine switched from Jazz bass to a Violin bass after his back and shoulder problems got serious, and I’m wondering if I might have to make that decision too. I remember seeing old pics of Robbie Shakespeare playing a violin bass so I know they’re not just for Macca fans. Anyone else here gone through the same kind of thing? Thanks in advance 🙏 - Lee

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The Hofner violin bass is, indeed, excellent, and more versatile than is generally realised; there are other lightweight basses, too. Hofner offer the Club bass, and the Verythin, both of which boast much lighter weight than most of the P & J basses (around 2kg7...). A bit heavier is the Epiphone Jack Casady, at around 3kg6. The Danelectro DC is about 3kg, and the Longhorn about the same.
Hope this helps. B|

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@Dad3353 has pretty much covered exactly what I was going say.

Hofner Club if you don't want the Macca comments, same sound and weight but different style. With rounds they're a lot brighter than you'd expect but they are lacking in sustain due to design, no bad thing though I feel. The Ignition series or a proper German made one will be lightest as they are both fully hollow, the Contemporary series has a centre block to improve sustain, but it adds weight. 

Or something by Danelectro for a more 'usual' bass sound, a surprisingly aggressive tone with rounds and plectrum if needed. They have centre blocks so similar weight to a Contemporary series Hofner. 

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Hofners have pretty narrow necks and tight string spacing. OK if you're a pick player, but I find them difficult to play, being so used to Fender style basses. The Danelectros suggested by Maude would probably better suit someone switching from a conventional instrument.

Edited by Dan Dare
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I bought a Hofner Ignition as a beginner earlier this year and it probably wasn't the best idea for a full novice due to the tighter string spacing at the pick-ups but I'm okay with it now.
It is light, I weighed it at under 2.5kg. (Which as a 1st bass means everything I pick up now I think is heavy)
Taking @Dan Dare comments about the necks, the width doesn't change as much as a P or J bass across it's length, but compared to my Betsey Bass it's hanging next too it is wider at the head end but narrower at the body.

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it sounds like the reach to the low frets is an issue for you as well so i would suggest that a move to short scale would be a good idea, most of the basses that have been suggested are short scale, i would keep an eye on the balance of the basses too as this will have an effect on how they feel, there are also some alternatives to standard straps that can help. (i'm sure someone will be along to suggest the options.)

speaking as a man with a bad back the ergonomics of the bass are as important as the weight (but i will admit that most of my  favourite basses are lighter ones)

 

Matt

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I'd recommend a Lightwave - they're extremely light (probably half my Wal!), sound great and don't have the Beatles overtones 😁

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Shameless plug!  2.6kg, short scale.  You need a strap to prevent it blowing away.

 

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Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for meterman but Sandberg do a super light, a TT4 I believe,  and it might be worth looking at some of the Ibanez hollow body range, the AGB260 looks nice 🙂

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7 hours ago, meterman said:

Hiya folks, hope you’re all warm and well and lockdown isn’t driving you all nuts. I need to ask the Basschat collective mind some advice about lightweight basses.

My left shoulder is knackered through a combination of old rotator cuff tear / weakness after a biking injury. It’s bad enough at the moment that if I pick up my bass with my right hand it’s painful in my left shoulder straight away. Even sitting down to play is painful. Reaching for a low F on the E string hurts, for instance. 

I’ve had recurring trouble with this shoulder for years and sometimes I can’t play bass at all. Just wondering if I’m destined to only play a Kala U-bass for the rest of my days or if something like a Hofner Violin bass might work for me? Anybody here had a similar problem? Or do I just man the flip up and hammer the co-codamols any play through it? 😆

A mate of mine switched from Jazz bass to a Violin bass after his back and shoulder problems got serious, and I’m wondering if I might have to make that decision too. I remember seeing old pics of Robbie Shakespeare playing a violin bass so I know they’re not just for Macca fans. Anyone else here gone through the same kind of thing? Thanks in advance 🙏 - Lee

I have exactly the same issue with left shoulder. I swapped to a violin bass (a 1969 Aria copy as it happens) and it works fine for me, I don't think I could go back properly to a long scale. I roll the tone back a little and play with a pick so narrow spacing is a benefit, and it works fine for anything from 50s rock and roll up to The Killers.

I did try to use a Slinger strap that I imported from the USA. It carries some of the weight on your waist. I tried both the Sling strap which has a waist strap as well as a shoulder strap and also tried a full waist only strap. Both worked well for a bigger bass, the waist one in particular, but you can't bend down to pick up your pint during a set!!

But I don't need to worry with a violin bass, it is light enough. I get quite a few comments as they aren't that common on our circuit, but sound wise is good.

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Nothing much to add to the previous posts, only that after an accident I was in a similar position to yours for a while. The reduction in weight of the bass coupled with a shorter scale worked for me, and enabled me to carry on working. I have a Dano Longhorn (30.5” scale) which weighs nothing and would be my recommendation. Paul’s Dano 56 mentioned above would also be ideal IMO, pretty much the same instrument with a more conventional look if the Longhorn ain’t your thing. They are a lot of bang for your buck, and in the unlikely event you didn’t like it then you would probably recoup your outlay too. 

Maybe also worth a look is the Ibanez GSRM20B-WNF. Short 28.5” scale length, and marketed as a ‘first’ bass but from some comments on here I believe they are highly regarded. Not sure of the weight though. Hope you find something suitable.

Edited by casapete
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Some fantastic advice here, thank you, I'm very grateful!

Re: thin neck and narrow string spacing - I'm fine with that, my main bass for years was a Shaftesbury Tele bass copy which had a neck like a flipping mandolin, it was skinny like some of the 60's Vox necks and I got away with it live and on record. The bass I have now, my beloved MIJ Squier Bullet, has a wide P-like neck which I love but atm the scale length and weight is just a stretch too far. I think I've got some sort of trapped nerve in my shoulder or something which I need to get seen to. Even turning my head I can feel it :(

One of my favourite bass tones on record is "La Femme D'Argent" by Air, and I read an interview with Nicolas Godin where he said he played it on a borrowed Hofner Violin bass. I realise Air are a proper Marmite band but the bass on that track sounds great to my ears. 

Am seriously considering a 2nd hand Hofner Ignition if I can find one. The Family Man / Robbie Shakespeare connection seems to be pointing me in that direction. Do like the look of some of the short scale Ibanez Artcore basses though, and of course the Danelectro short scales. You've all given me a lot to think about. Massive thanks, everybody 🙏

 

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24 minutes ago, meterman said:

Am seriously considering a 2nd hand Hofner Ignition if I can find one. The Family Man / Robbie Shakespeare connection seems to be pointing me in that direction.

Sounds good 👍, Family man, Robbie and flabba Holt all got a great tone from their hofners, they also used the steinberger L-2 or XL-2 

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11 hours ago, meterman said:

My left shoulder is knackered through a combination of old rotator cuff tear / weakness after a biking injury. It’s bad enough at the moment that if I pick up my bass with my right hand it’s painful in my left shoulder straight away. Even sitting down to play is painful. Reaching for a low F on the E string hurts, for instance. 

 

Well seeing as everyone else has actually answered the question you asked, I will now answer the question you didn't ask. :D

Although it's not a rotor cuff injury for me, I have also struggled with playing bass and back pain for years ... 15 of them, in fact. I ended up owning a variety of VERY light basses (including far more Hofners than was good for me) and that all helped a lot.

BUT

By far the biggest result came from years of steady, constant Pilates exercises. It's not a quick fix and it ain't spectacular, but By God! is it effective if given time.

There are plenty of valid alternatives. Yoga and Alexander Technique spring to mind. In your case, given that your problem is injury-related, a decent program of physio would probably be the best option - though I suspect you've already been down that route?

The important thing is to deal not just with the symptoms (by selecting lightweight gear) but also the causes, as far as that is possible. Ultimately, dealing with the causes will do you far more good.

 

Edited by Happy Jack
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To remove yourself slightly from the McCartney connection you could try the Hofner Club bass too. I haven't tried one but looks to be still much lighter than a solid body.

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The Club (500/2) is pretty much identical to the Violin (500/1) apart from the obvious.

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24 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

Well seeing as everyone else has actually answered the question you asked, I will now answer the question you didn't ask. :D

Although it's not a rotor cuff injury for me, I have also struggled with playing bass and back pain for years ... 15 of them, in fact. I ended up owning a variety of VERY light basses (including far more Hofners than was good for me) and that all helped a lot.

BUT

By far the biggest result came from years of steady, constant Pilates exercises. It's not a quick fix and it ain't spectacular, but By God! is it effective if given time.

There are plenty of valid alternatives. Yoga and Alexander Technique spring to mind. In your case, given that your problem is injury-related, a decent program of physio would probably be the best option - though I suspect you've already been down that route?

The important thing is to deal not just with the symptoms (by selecting lightweight gear) but also the causes, as far as that is possible. Ultimately, dealing with the causes will do you far more good.

 

Thank you, top advice! Yes I've had physio in the past which has mostly been really helpful. But only so far, I'm always aware of my left shoulder and shoulder blade area. Yoga is something I enjoy, my wife's been a professional yoga teacher for 30 years so I'm in good hands. But there's a fair amount of positions I have to leave out of my routine due to it aggravating my left shoulder and neck area. We've just moved house so I'll try and find a new physio once lockdown is all out of the way. Thank you so much for the advice, really appreciated. Pint for you if you're playing round our way anytime 🍺

24 minutes ago, randythoades said:

To remove yourself slightly from the McCartney connection you could try the Hofner Club bass too. I haven't tried one but looks to be still much lighter than a solid body.

Actually the McCartney thing doesn't bother me really. If I was a young nipper in a trendy happening band I'd probably think twice about it, from an image point of view. But I'm old and er, 'road worn' now so I don't have to care about who played what or what basses look like on me. I'd play anything. (if I could lift it up off the stand without my neck and shoulder giving me grief, that is) :)

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I have a similar shoulder/back/ neck problem. Because of lockdown and no gigs my neck/shoulder started feeling much better. I have done a few gigs on guitar in august and september and was ok but last weekend, I went into my Studio / Loft and decided to run through a load of Police stuff, to see if (after nearly 14 years of playing it) I was still playing it properly. I was and I was delighted that I hadn't changed anything BUT my shoulder after about 45 minutes.

It's the angle when you put your hand on the neck. It opens the shoulder and it's sore. i have a violin bass and am going to try that this weekend, to see what difference it makes. Not that I could use the Union Jack Hofner violin bass in my Police tribute

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Cort action Junior (short scale)  has all the tones you need and is very playable!

in fact thro a zoom pedal i can get the stranglers bass sound"  :)

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23 minutes ago, aDx said:

...in fact thro a zoom pedal i can get the stranglers bass sound...

Maybe you could get it repaired..? :/

...

:lol: :P

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There's also the new Vox Starstream basses, if you don't mind the look. Certainly leagues away from Hofner designs.  30.32" scale and 3.00kg (lighter than a strat, apparently).

You might also want to look into a different strap system to take the weight of your shoulder. Or even eschew the strap and sit on a stool - certainly looks cooler than those braces style straps.

I agree with the above sentiments though, deal with the cause, not work around the symptoms and try some physiotherapy.

FWIW, I find that weight isn't necessarily the issue, sometimes it's just bad ergonomic design.  I gave up playing my old Warwick Thumb bass because it would leave me in pain for a couple of days after a gig. Used to be fine, but my body started changing when I reached 30. The body was so small paired with a massive neck that the nut seemed to be a mile away, not to mention being neck heavy. It really took its toll.  I now play basses that balance properly, not necessarily lighter and the difference is remarkable.  My latest acquisition, a Squier 50s P bass is fantastic in this regard. Quite light but it balances perfectly. It seems that Leo Fender got it right first time all those years ago.

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Just thinking, the other alternative could be upright bass, maybe an EUB.  Completely different ergonomics that may not aggravate your injury so much.

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Much the same situation here - old shoulder injury from jiu jitsu, plus a dodgy disc in my neck means my left shoulder can't take heavy basses any more.

I've found going shortscale helps, with a Fender Mustang bass that weighs about 3.5kg. I did try a Epi Jack Casady - but a word of warning; because they are hollow bodied, all the weight is in the neck, and therefore on your left shoulder anyway.

I've not tried the Sandberg superlight stuff but it looks great.

Good luck getting it sorted - i'm awaiting a referral for some physio on mine at the mo.

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I find cos of where the strap button is on semi basses it pushes the neck further away so I'd wonder if shorter scale would be negated by where the basses sits on your body ? I've got a rivoli which I love the sound of but rarely gig cos on a strap it feels like the nut end is a long way away

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35 minutes ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

Just thinking, the other alternative could be upright bass, maybe an EUB.  Completely different ergonomics that may not aggravate your injury so much.

Not with left shoulder problems, I'd guess. Both upright and EUB require you to play chiefly with your left hand up high.

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