"WE GOT HIT WITH THE GRUNGE BOMB IN THE 90S, AND
THERE WAS NO POINT IN CARRYING ON. I WAS LIVING
in
se a ttle
a t
th e
t im e
,
to
m a k e
it
even
w o r s e
!"
Asked about his collection of basses,
Merv explains: “I've got about 10 basses,
all five-strings or converted from
four to five strings. I started out on a
Yamaha BB5000, which were the first
five-strings to come in the country in
about 1986. They had really tight string
spacing and I played them for years as
a Yamaha endorsee. Then I got to the
point where I wanted a change, but I realised there was
nothing on the market with that string spacing.”
He recalls: “I played five-a-side football for the
Bass Centre back then, so I'd go over to Wapping
every Wednesday. There were hundreds of basses
in that shop, but still nothing that was right for
me. Then I met Martin at the Gallery, and there's
nothing that he can't do, basically. I had three Gibson
Thunderbirds, converted them to five strings and
played them for a long time. I loved their sound but
they were a big old lump, with a big case that won't
quite go in your car, and you can't stand them up
because you've got to have a special stand. But the
tone is amazing, and I was looking for that tone, so
I tried a Les Paul bass and we put T-Bird pickups on
it. We did four of those. I've got small hands, so the
nut width is 40mm and the spacing is 15mm. On the
new album I used one of my Les Pauls. They're a bit
heavy for live, but I don't want to get them cavitied-
out because that might alter the sound. They're
back-breaking!”
Wait - surely Merv isn't paying full whack for
these things? No indeed, and here's a tip that makes
us want to give him his own bass-building column
in this magazine. “I get a donor body off eBay, strip it
completely, and then Martin does the rest,” he says.
“There's usually one bass in production, one being
stripped and one that I'm playing at the same time. You
can get the bodies from anywhere between £300 and
£400 if they're stripped. I've got the bass of my dreams
off Martin many times over, so it's like an ongoing
hobby now!” Living the dream, that man.
..
Heroes And Villains
is out now. Info: www.fmofficial.com.
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