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The #5 Custom Bass


The Bear Jew

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So here's another installation in the continuing story of our hero, #5, the fifth bassist in my band.

 

Last night, #5 got to play the prototype for his custom Jazz bass. A friend of ours (Chris) built it for him. The basic design is of an American Fender Jazz bass. It has a couple of nice extras: EMG active pickups, Badass II bridge and a skinny neck. It's a lot like the Japanese Fender Geddy Lee bass. Chris had it together last night, so he brought it to our rehearsal. #5 grabbed it and played it acoustically, commenting on the neck's comfiness. I played it for a minute -- it's a nice chunk of wood. Good weight. Feels sturdy. Good neck joint. Low action. #5 was FLYING 'round that neck like it was nothing. Chris and #5 worked out the final finish details. See, right now, this bass is a sunburst, but #5 wanted to do it over in flat black -- y'know, make it look EVIL. We all agreed this was a cool idea. I had a little brainstorm, and suggested Chris paint the headstock to match the body -- eliminating the Fender logo. Then, #5 took it a step further. He told Chris to put a Roman Numeral "V" on the headstock in silver. YES. An official #5 custom bass. An original, so to speak.

 

Of course, the proof in the pudding is in the tasting, so we took the bass downstairs to test it out.

 

We're used to the sound of my passive P-bass through the bass rig. It sounds great. We all love it.

 

However....

 

The #5 custom jazz.... HOLY CRAP. I guess there really IS something to be said for hand-constructed instruments. The clarity was astounding. So much punch. So much "ooomph." #5 said he barely had to touch the strings to get that booming sound. Amazing. He flew all over that neck. We told Chris he should make it a little harder to play or else #5 was gonna get all Voc Wooten on us. #5 gave me a dirty look, indicating the separation of Chris' body parts from their original locations if the action was changed. I took a turn on the bass. It's SO easy to play. I actually started to hate it for this reason. I kind of like struggling with a bass to get a sound. Makes me feel honest -- like I'm working for it. #5 has no such pretensions. He wants his playing to be effortless. I can't blame him. Wuss.

 

#5 didn't want to give the bass back to be finished. He wanted to give Chris his money right then. We convinced him that if he liked it now, he'd love it even more when it was totally hooked up and finished.

 

Total price? $600. Not bad for a totally customized bass, huh?

 

Looks like we'll have it in about a week or so. #5 is counting the minutes. He's a happy boy.

 

Just thought you guys might find that story interesting.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Chewster...

There ya go. Make that bass! You'll be glad you did.

 

Pernax...

I'm quite sure #5 will take plenty of pics when the custom bass is done. I'm thinking he'll be acting like a new daddy with his first kid.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Pic, pics, pics and more pics. You know how we are around here !!!!!!

RobT

 

Famous Musical Quotes: "I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve" - Xavier Cugat

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CMDN, it's been good to watch this little story run. Surely all your doubts and suspicions have been laid to rest now? Chris has come good on his promise (he didn't build that #5 assasinating bass). God, I love happy endings :)

 

CupMcMali...this monkey's gone to heaven :freak:

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Yeah, CupMcMali...

Chris came through with the bass, and he also mastered our new album. Did a nice job on the mastering as well. It's really great to have someone with those kinds of skills in our corner for a change. Maybe we earned it after dealing with all the loons of the past?

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Glad to hear that this stuff is working well for you. When the time comes that you are ready to pay for some of the recording services, you know you'll get your money's worth. Great to have a "sound" friend (see how many people remember albums that used that credit - I'm thinking of one from '72).

 

My only concern with all this positive stuff is that you haven't told me to bite you in a week - don't lose your edge :eek::P:cool::rolleyes:

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Sorry, Tom.

Bite me.

 

Yeah, things are lookin' good. #5 has been going on and on about this new bass. He says it's what he's been wanting forever. He just didn't know that it was what he wanted. See, he used to be a big-time Ibanez SGR-800 buff, but we have turned him over to the dark side of manly instruments made of wood. Now he's been awakened, so to speak.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Yeah... While things like graphite are lovely substances for a lot of musical things (like nuts, bridge saddles, neck splines, etc) I don't find much to be as manly or organic-sounding as wood.

 

#5's old Ibanez basses were cool, but they didn't sound woody and growly, and that's probably because there wasn't a lot of wood in them or something. He also has a really nice 5-string Hondo bass, but it's also kind of "boggly" and modern-sounding -- also not a lot of wood. We don't like that, so we asked him to use my P-bass until he could get his own -- my P-bass is VERY woody. Looks like he's gonna have his new custom Jazz next week.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just an update.

Chris is dropping off the #5 Custom bass tonight. I haven't seen it yet, but Chris says it looks amazing and sounds great. I'll let you guys know the rest tomorrow, after we rehearse with it.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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OK...

So we have the bass. Chris was late getting it done, so we didn't actually get the chance to hear it in a rehearsal before we used it for gigs this weekend. (I'll write another post about the whole weekend in the SSS forum. Check it out later... it's a good story.) We took it right to our first gig, plugged it in and rocked.

 

Initial thoughts:

Visually

Flat black is an interesting color. Since it's not reflective at all, it sorta looks gray under stage lighting sometimes. We asked Chris to paint the headstock the same color as the body, which eliminated the Fender logo totally (and you guys know we hate logos.) In place of the Fender logo, Chris has screened a silver "V" (for #5) on the headstock. Very nice. One quibble, though... the pick guard is tortoise-shell colored. It's not working for us. Looks like tits on a bull. It has to go.

 

Feel

The bass is SO easy to play. It's ridiculous. The action is incredibly low. The intonation is as close to perfect as I've ever felt. Great stuff.

 

Sound

Since we didn't get it until we had to play out with it, #5 didn't get a chance to fiddle with EQ, gain settings or anything besides the volume knobs on the amp before we played. Since we like to fly bt the seat of our pants sometimes, we just went for it. We weren't disappointed.

Hmm... The sucker was built on an ash American Jazz body wuth EMG active pick-ups and a bad-ass II bridge. What do YOU think? This combination (along with #5's style) produces a growly, gnarly attack with a ton of bottom and punch. It connects with my guitar sound in a really solid way that fills out everything really nicely.

 

We're happy.

 

We'll do pics this week.

Thanks for reading.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Glad to hear it worked so well !!

 

I assume the new pickguard will be diamondplate...

 

Reverend and a few others have something like that, and it's probably your kind of look.

 

I'll head over to SSS later for another installment.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Ok... So I have a pic or two of the bass. I hope the file isn't too huge for this site.

 

Lemme figure out where I can put it online so that I can post is here. Any suggetsions?

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=1470384&uid=823482&members=1 http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery/view?p=999&gid=1470384&uid=823482&members=1

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Yo...

Thanks fellas.

 

#5 likes the diamondplate pickguard idea, but he also found a nice "smoked mirror" pickguard that could also work. Either way, we all agreed that the tortoiseshell thing should be ditched.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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I've gotta admit -- I like the looks of tortoise shell on black. BUT, given the "look" you guys are crafting for your band, I think a move to smoked mirror or diamond plate would be better. Maybe you could find someone or someplace that would cut one from brushed aluminum? That would be pretty cool, too.

 

Keep us posted.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by robb.:

son of a whore!

 

stupid peavey and their surf guard allow me to "keep tabs on the industry and the competition" here at musicplayer, but i can't go to picturetrail to "keep tabs on the industry and the competition" by looking at the custom #5 bass.

 

motherfucker.

robb.

Bummer. By the way, you might want to ease up on the coffee in the morning, seems to contribute to greater agitation rather than "perkiness"! ;):D;)

 

Oh, and, BTW, it's a nice lookin' bass. The folks working on the Cirrus, Grind, Millenium and others might get some good ideas from checking it out... ;):D;)

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Hey thanks!

#5 mentioned something about trying to find a mirror or very thin steel pickguard. We found both smoked mirror and imitation diamondplate guards available online. Personally, I'd like to see this bass either totally nude (no guard at all) or with some kinda custom-made thing. Ultimately, #5 has to make the call. Right now, he's totally broke, since he just bought this bass.

 

Oh yeah, the guy who made the bass (Chris) also owns a studio... he has already mastered our new CD for free. It sounds great. NOW... guess what? When #5 went to pick up his bass, Chris offered to track us in his studio for free. This guy's altruism apparently knows no bounds. Either we are a WAY better band than we ever thought, or this guy has a lotta free time on his hands.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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