Mike's Bass Place!

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Bass 6

My First comission

A versatile fretless modern 6 String.

I named this bass after Mike's wife, Catherine Smith.

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A friend of mine who attends my church had approached me about building him a custom, unique Bass. After discussing his requirements at great length, we came to a few ideas. These flowed in a design which we refined into his final bass, in late July 2001. On the understanding that I wouldn't start this bass until I had finished "Lydia".

This bass would use the same body style as my 4th bass. Mike loved the shape, I offered a fresh design but he really likes this one - who am I to argue. The intention for this bass is to replace a Dean 6 string that Mike currently uses so a normal metal adjustable bridge and magnetic pickups will be used. Mike already has a very nice Ovation 5 string semi-acoustic, what's the point in 2 instruments doing the same role? Mike has settled on a sixer, he loves chords and all that Jazzy stuff, so extended range is important, in fact Mike often plays a lot of chords in our church service and the guitarist mistakenly gets the compliments, even when the guitarist has unplugged and away, the chord keep playing!

Mike loves Cocobolo, it's that freshly opened conker look. so the top of the body will be a Cocobolo plate. The neck is to be all through, but the Cocobolo top is to completely hide it, as I did with "George", bass 4. It will be headed with a nice angled back headstock with straight lines from the nut to the tuners. The hardware is to be black, but may use gold screws, which stand out well against the black. The fingerboard is going to be fretless with fretlines.

The pickups are yet to be finalised, Mike has leaning towards a ceramic loaded humbucker at the bridge and an alnico loaded J at the neck, inspired by "Anne", Mike likes the tonal options of the unusual pickup choice mated to the switching. I will leave a provision for a possible EQ circuit in the control cavity. The switching options will give the humbucker a 3 way switch: humbucker/single coil/phased and the single coil a 2 way switch allowing a phased sound with the humbucker. So the tonal range allows 6 combinations from very bright and clanky to full on power rumble. Each pick up will have it's own volume control which complicates the phasing but once mastered provides a great a greater control of the phasing options, especially my favorite "hollowed out mid scoop funky" burble. You could say that I'm enthusiatic about this system!



Mike really likes the design of "George" my 4th bass. I designed the bass as a wide necked 5 string piezo bass but it would translate to a 6 string magnetic pickup bass very well, the body will need a little widening, but not too much.

I did a few headless sketches and Mike provided a few of his own headed designs. Together we thrashed out a very clean looking design which we both though would work very well.

<<< This is an early design sketch adapted for the headless tuning system. In the end, Mike prefered a headed design, so this goes back into my design files. I tend to sketch using a J pair of Pickups because they show a cleaner pesentation. The line on the fingerboard marks the 24th fret line. This sketch also has a 2 band EQ and a single truss rod. Below it is the final body template cut from 3/4" MDF. If you can imagine a neck running though it. Mike and I discussed a tail piece, it's the first that I've done and I've been wanting to do one for a while but I haven't had the opportunity. Mike was a little unsure at first, but if he really doesn't like it, I'll cut it off.


Mike wants a bass which has plenty of sustain, that means either a bolt on carbon fibre neck (which is expensive) or we go for an all through neck. This has many advantages over bolt on designs, the neck is more stable, there is less chance for dead spots and a general smoother tone is achieved. Mike liked the idea of hiding the through neck from the front by using a top plate which covers it. This is time consuming but well worth the effort.


Mike played with all my basses and liked the Kent Armstrong pickups in general. Out of all of them he liked the "Anne" 5 string headless combination the best. So it's a Alnco J style in parallel to a fat sounding ceramic Humbucker. Each linked to a seperate phase switch. We also settled on J style cases for them both, but Kent has a habbit of making what he wants to!

After trying my Headless 5 string, Mike felt that he really didn't need an active preamp. This switching combination provides enough tonal variation with the switching options and the pickups are hot enough to give a potent output. Mike loved the humbucker phased and the Jazz in parrallel. If Mike stays with this combination, he will have 2 volume knobs and 2 mini switches or we could replace the switches with pull up knobs. I will allow space in the control cavity for a retro fit preamp for a possible future fit. A 2 band EQ on a single stack knob would be a good idea.


Black, I want it all black! Said Mike. You got it.

Here's the Hipshot Bridge which Mike liked the most, it boasts a big solid chunky styling, quick change top loading with hardened string rollers and adjustable string spacing. A very very nice piece of kit. It was a special order direct from Hipshot.

Hipshot Bridges are available in 4, 5, 6 or 7 string variants, with lots of string width options. Chrome, Black or Gold made from either aluminium or Brass. Mike wanted Brass finished in black.


Above is a picture of a Schaller 2000 in chrome satin on the left and a Schaller BM Light tuner on the right. They are available in the usual Chrome, Black or Gold but can be ordered in polished or satin forms.



Below are a pair of Hipshot Ultra-lites which are available in 2 styles (shown). They can be ordered in Chrome, black or gold. Mike has shown a preference for the Hipshots in black, but it really depends what I can get in the current mail crisis, in the wake of September 11th.