Q. Which body woods have the best tone?
A. I don't know. It's such a subjective topic. I personally like ash, mahogany and poplar, even though poplar isn't that pretty. I've also used Ponderosa pine a couple of times and it sounds fine. The only wood that I'm kind of wishy-washy about is alder. Sometimes it sounds great, sometimes it doesn't. I still offer it as a standard wood due to the fact that it's been used in solid body instrument construction for a very long time.
Q. What about top woods?
A. Ask this question to a million people and you'll probably get a million different views. I've used all kinds of woods for tops and I can't say this one sounds growly or that one sounds smooth, or whatever. A top wood will effect the tone, but in what way or to what degree I don't know. They look pretty though and I can get just about anything. Keep in mind some exotic woods can be extremely expensive.
Q. What's this about an accent stripe?
A. I've been building a lot of basses with a thicker accent stripe between the top and the main body wood than your normally see. Most basses you see with accent stripes like this have a thin stripe. I like them thicker. I think it looks great and lets you see more wood. I usually aim for something that contrasts with the color of the top, say something like a walnut top might have a maple accent. Yes, it will cost more, but since it's only seen around the edges I try to go with a little bit lesser grade wood to keep the cost down. You essentially end up with two tops on the bass. Again, I don't really think the tone is affected that much by the double thickness, but it sure does look hot.
Q. Which neck woods are the best?
A. I don't think there's a substitute for good ol' hard maple. Three piece, quarter-sawn maple necks come standard on all of our basses. I use some wenge and bubinga from time to time, maybe a few other woods every now and then, but mostly as stringers in multi-laminate necks. I don't particularly like building all wenge necks, but I'll do it. The stuff makes me itch. I've had great luck with five piece maple/wenge necks on five and six string basses. They're very stable and look cool.
Q. What about fingerboards?
A. My personal favorite fingerboard wood at the moment is Pau Ferro. It's great to work with. It's got a great feel to it and a tight grain. There is nothing at all inferior about the tone, at least to my ears. It's naturally a little oily and doesn't shrink and expand like ebony sometimes does.
Q. What is the best way to care for the satin finish on my bass?
A. Wiping the bass down with a dry dust cloth or something like an old t-shirt works best. For sweat stains, heavy fingerprints or spills use a lightly dampened cloth and dry off immediatley. Also products like Endust, which contains no wax works well on heavier stains. Do not use oils, waxes or polishes on the satin finish. These will cause the finish to become shiny in spots, giving the finish an uneven and unattractive look.
Q. Can I get an oil finish on my bass?
A. Not from me, you can't. I just don't believe in oil finishes, not on a bass anyway. I know lots of people do them and swear up and down about it, but you won't get me to do one. I've spent a lot of time and resources coming up with what I feel is the best finish I can offer. I use a very durable catalyzed conversion varnish for all my finish work. There is an extra charge if you want a specific color, burst or dye job. A little FYI, I used to paint cars for a living, very expensive cars. I know what I'm doing.
Q. What about a nitrocellulose lacquer finish? Can I get that on my bass?
A. Sorry, no lacquer either.
Q. Can you make a bass that sounds warm and fat, with lots of definition and a great slap tone and still give me that growly "Jaco" tone?
A. While I can't guarantee all those things, I will do my best at making recommendations and steer you in the right direction if you need some help picking out parts and materials. Keep in mind that what we build are custom basses and the bass you order will end up sounding how it ends up sounding. I use the best materials I can find. If you're putting the good stuff into a bass build it only makes sense that bass will end up sounding great. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever built a bad sounding bass.
Q. Why do you use DR Sunbeam strings and can I get something else installed on my bass?
A. I think the Sunbeams are probably the most sonically pure string I've heard to date. The nickel plating keeps things smoothed out. I used to offer other strings, but it just got to be too much to keep up with. If you don't like the Sunbeams you can certainly change the strings when you get the bass in your hands.
Q. I didn't see anything on your site about neck-thru basses. Can I get a neck-thru?
A. Sorry, I don't build neck-thru basses. I only build bolt-on neck and set-neck basses.
Q. What's the difference between a bass with a bolt-on neck and a bass with a set-neck?
A. It has to do with the construction methods. The bolt-on neck, as the name implies, is secured to the body with screws and the neck can be removed. Bolt-on neck basses are generally considered to have a punchier tone. Set-neck basses have necks that are glued in place. The neck is not removable. With set-neck construction the neck joint can be contoured to feel more comfortable then the bulkier heel of a bolt-on style bass. A set-neck bass is a good cross between a bolt-on neck bass and neck thru-bass, offering the punchiness of bolt-on neck bass but the feel of a neck-thru.
Q. Do you build customer's designs?
A. I used to build customer's designs from time to time, but I've decided that I would rather focus on my own designs and no longer offer that as a service.
Q. Can I get you to make me just a neck or just a body?
A. I've considered doing stuff like that in the past, but not any more. I consider myself a bass builder and not a parts maker. It's the whole bass or nothing.
Q. What's your current build time?
A. It generally takes me about six to twelve months to fulfill a custom order. I'm currently running closer to a six month build timeframe.
Q. Do you require a deposit for a custom bass?
A. Yep, 50% of the agreed upon quoted price. That's 50% before I start to do any work, not 25% and then you pay me as I continue to build the bass. When the bass is finished I'll need the balance plus S&H within 7 days after you recieve your final invoice.