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Old 01-04-2015, 08:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My custom-made bass from start to finish

I commissioned a custom-made bass in January of 2014. The luthier sent me photographs periodically to keep me updated on the progress. Yesterday, I finally was able to take it home. I went to my bass instructor’s house so he could see it (he was the one that pushed me to do this) and he held it up so I could take photos.


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Old 01-04-2015, 08:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The theme of the bass is medieval (even though there were no double basses in medieval times). When my luthier went to France in late summer of last year, he sent me photos of his travels and one showed a type of cross carved on a wall from medieval times. I emailed him and said, “You realize you have to put that on my bass now!” He said he could. I originally wanted it carved into the back but he said that would compromise the wood’s integrity. He said he could inlay it but that would be very expensive. He then suggested as lady he knows who oil paints on instruments and he could have her do it then he’d varnish over it to make permanent. I said cool.

The cross is of a type called Occitan (pronounced “Oh-sǝ-tahn”). Occitania is a region of southern Europe that included the entire southern half of France but also other areas as Monaco. The Occitan cross was adopted as the official seal of Count Raymond V of Toulouse in 1165. There is a dialect called French Occitan which is very different from regular French and is still spoken and taught in French schools. I found that particular motif above on the internet. When my luthier showed my bass to another client, he too demanded the same motif be painted onto the back of a violin he is commissioning. Copycat.


By the way, that's my bass instructor in the photos holding up the bass for me so I could take photos. These were taken at his house.

Last edited by Lord Larehip; 01-04-2015 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 01-04-2015, 08:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Very, very cool.
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We made the tailpiece resemble a castle tower with battlements:

He carves his own bridges and I had it fitted with a Yamahiko pickup—considered the best double bass pickup on the market. The cost about $700 and have to be ordered from Japan but they are worth it:

Ebony bumpers are mounted on the treble side of the bass so you can rest it on the floor without damaging the wood:

I specified the varnish to be the color of a medieval monk’s tunic. He applied the varnish in a way typical of the early violins—sweeping brushstrokes, somewhat careless in application, thin coats that allow the original color of the wood to show through, tooling marks seen in the varnish near the seams. Very antique looking:

How much did it cost me? Won’t tell you except to say it was in the 5 digits. Now, he’s making me a bow to go with it. His bows are the best around and are in the 4 digits. I’ll have to get insurance for it also. It’s a one-of-a-kind and so stealing it would be stupid. Posting up photos of it in as many forums and social networks I can is part of my strategy. Let the whole world see it so that if it gets stolen, it’s going to be difficult to keep or sell.

Before leaving his shop, I had him pose with his masterpiece:

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Old 01-04-2015, 09:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow, that's a beautiful instrument. How's it sound?
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Old 01-04-2015, 09:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It came out beautiful. Thanks for sharing the process with us.

Now I must go on YouTube and look up more stuff like this.
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Old 01-05-2015, 02:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You do realize that you're now legally obligated to join a Rockabilly band, right?
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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This thread is worthless without soundclips.

...and responses to other peoples questions.
See location...
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Wow! Smart strategy about getting photos of it out there. I'd leave out the 5 digits part though.
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