Bass No. 27
I just finished my new universal bridge and needed a bass to put it on for NAMM this year!
Just for giggles, I did something completely different. Coming up with something new is a violent, painful way to create, this took 4 months of agony and hand work. I am pleased to say that this is the most amazing bass I have ever made. Admittedly, my bridge is a game changer. Physics has rules and laws, but for someone like me it represents an insolent teenager, standing in the corner daring me to "go ahead and try it". Well, I did, and I kicked its ass! This bass is unique on a number of levels. First, It is my only foray into the relms of the archtop/back instrument. There may well never be another one. From me at least. Secondly, the construction is completely different than any other guitar. This bass floats on both ends. I call it "bow strung", as in archery.
From the nut to the bridge is one piece. All the way through the instrument. The only point of contact is around the neck heel where it "becomes one". The internal support for the instrument is completely disconnected from the top and back. What this means is that the instrument is free to vibrate within the body, independently. So when you see the bridge block poking out of the soundhole, know that it isn't touching anything!
I really did not know what was going to happen when I strung this up. That is part of the adventure, the not knowing followed by either complete failure, or unadulterated success! I am happy to say it was indeed the latter. The result was phenominally playable bass. Stable, extraordinarily open, Natural volume and comfort abound. Inviting, woody, expressive beyond words. I think I am onto something.
This is also the first time I installed nylon tapewound strings on an instrument. I was aware of the stigma that seemed to follow the practice. Words like "flat", "flubby", "dim", etc.. were enough to keep me away from them, until now. I rolled the dice and they are my new favorite! I cannot speak to other's experience. I only make my basses, with my bridges. The bridge itself carries clarity to a whole new level, and these tapewound strings ring like a bell! Not to mention extremely quiet and low tension.
A few other points of interest, Just like always, this bass is true to the Ray Ross design. Always a scarf jointed headstock, brass nut, always. The neck system is intirely rosewood, as is the fretboard. Gotoh tuners remain my favorite, and are evident on all of my instruments. The body, top and back are bookmatched, spalted, soft maple that started off an inch thick each, and took a month of handwork...each. (Yikes, I must be crazy) Made in the same way as a cello or violin. The two halves connect around the outside edge and are completely open everywhere else. Not quite 2" thick at the highest point and 3/8" around the edge.
Anyone who knows me, knows I use Nordstrand single coils on my basses. This bass I decided to try something different. Enter the "Honey Badger". If you haven't heard of these yet, you will. I have never heard mids sing like with one of these. I don't know how Rod at Honey Badger did it but he is definitley onto something. Clarity, evenness, and power to spare make this the hottest, best sounding pickup I have ever heard. Thanks Rod.
Also perhaps noteworthy, this instrument was built on the golden ratio. The ratio of 1-1.618 exists everywhere. Nature, Architecture, the human body. It is a ratio of harmony and balance that works with everything. I just wanted to see how it worked with an instrument. Yep, it works with an instrument too!
Modern instrument design will probably tell you that this isn't possible, or that the execution is pointless. As I write this I can say with all certainty, they would be wrong on both counts.
If you can make it to winter NAMM this year, come find me at the Floyd Rose booth. You can play this baby for yourself!
Here are some more images for this bass:
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