Huh. OK, so Portland Music Co. seems to have nothing in hollowbodied bases. Apple Music Row carries Epiphones, including the viol-bass, starting at $399, but I’m damned uncomfortable in there, being closely scrutinized by the salesdude as though I were gonna walk out with it under my coat. Too self-conscious, perhaps, but still, it harshes my novice shopping mellow. Trade Up Music (on Alberta) has the un-branded sunburst Höfner 500/1 knockoff (sadly, with failing varnish) for $299. Their Division location had no hollowbodies. Old Town Music has a Höfner 500/1 knockoff (a Johnson, I think it was) for $299. I called Guitar Center (both Beaverton and Clackamas) and they only stock the Ibanez Artcore, at $399.
I emailed Jay Turser two days ago, to see if they could help me out by identifying a local dealer who has at least ordered a JTB-3 in the past, but haven’t heard back from them. Called them today, but somehow 4.30 EDT == not business hours, and I can but assume they’re closed on weekends. Pity, because their website is so outdated as to be no help at all — in its world, the JTB-3 isn’t even a product.
Aesthetically, I really want to get a fatty archtop like the JTB-3. At least, I think I do, but I’d want to play with it a bit first. The Höfner 500/1 viol-form basses are very comfortably small (shortnecked, yes, but I mean body width and depth)… of course, I’ve only played one sitting down, resting on a knee… might feel different strapped-up. But (and this is terrible) I really don’t want a sunburst paintjob, hate the switches on it, and even though I don’t associate the viol-form with Sir Paul, it seems that everyone else does, and I’d rather not ride that vibe and find myself perfecting the sub-hook to Day Tripper. Then again, I imagine that that’s the first task of every aspiring electric bassist, in the same way that the intro Jaws riff was de rigeur for upright bassists in the 7th grade. Meh.