THE LUTHiEH
THE lO W DOWN
THE
LUTHIER
WELCOME TO A NEW COLUMN WRITTEN BY GEORGE
MARTIN OF THOMAS AND GEORGE MARTIN
DOUBLE BASS MAKERS, THE BRITISH FIRM
RESPONSIBLE F
o r
THE W ILLIA M S
c
OT ELE
c
TR I
c
BASS RANGE. THIS MONTH GEORGE R
u
NS IIS
t h r o u g h
t h e
in it ia l
s t a g e s
o f
a
h ig h
-
spec
ELECTRIC BASS BUILD. READ ON!
W
elcome to our new bass-building column! For this build,
we've decided to make a four-string, bolt-on bass guitar. The
starting point is our Gagliano model, but we plan to reduce
and simplify the horn where the strap post is situated. We're
doing this to make the model look more elegant and give the
instrument a more classic look. Our basic design works and will look
pleasing to the eye, but as we want all of our basses to be individual, we
sometimes change small elements of these designs. The Gagliano has
smooth lines that flow together well, making the basic shape.
As this bass is going to be a four-string, we're going to use a 34”
scale length, the standard for this instrument. Scale lengths can vary
depending on what the player wants to feel, taking into account the
number of strings and whether the instrument is fretted or not.
Shorter-scale instruments can lack tension: this can of course be
counteracted by different strings, but the tone of the bass will change
too. We usually recommend a longer string length for five- and six-
string basses as the clarity achieved on the low B is improved with
increased tension. Accuracy when playing on a fretless bass is also
improved by having an increased string length.
Another important consideration when designing an instrument is
the wood choice. This can have a huge bearing on how the instrument
sounds, feels and looks. Different types of wood will also affect the final
weight of the bass, which is something that people often comment on
as it affects the playing as well as the transportation of the bass. There's
nothing worse after a hard night's gigging than lugging a ton of timber
back home!
For this bass we're going to use three different choices of English
wood: ash, sycamore and walnut. As is the case with our double basses,
made in the workshop alongside the bass guitars, we are very proud
to use homegrown woods. Each has its part to play in making the
Williamscot tone.
5
As this is going to be a smaller instrument we are going to use denser,
heavier cuts of wood: these will supply a clear and responsive tone with
sustain that will go on into next week. We're going to use heavier ash
for the main bulk of the body, with a thin slice of walnut and maple
before a top of beautifully book-matched walnut. This should make
for a visually striking instrument, with the ash providing punch and
weight to the sound, the softer sycamore a rounded tone layer and then
the more dense walnut giving cut and sustain to the sound. See you
next month!
www.thomasmartin.co.uk
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BASS GUITAR MAGAZINE
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