Did the 4.5 hour trip to Nashville and back in one day. I am all hopped up on the New Gear junk.
Thought I would post about my experience ordering a custom cabinet. This was my first order, and I thought some people find my experience helpful if you're on the fence about going custom versus high-end production.
A little background about me. First, I am a no-talent local hack. Bong, bong, bong player with no real chops per say. I have a couple of positive traits. First, I have a decent ear. Second, I worship drummers that can keep good time and will kill myself to lock in and live in the pocket. Finally I have good time.
Played 10's for the last 20 years or so but found myself pining for 15's. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the switch so I bought a 1972 Sunn 215s. After taking it to one band rehearsal, I was told to never return with 10's again! rofl. I had have to baby the cab for fear of setting it on on fire with the Kilo. All this lead me to start reading everyone's reviews on Greenboy and fEARful cabs.
I play pretty simple music. I don't need orange juicers right now. I am kind of an old school guy and love me some old school tone without mud. Further, I don't miss the farty days yore.
With that said I stumbled across Mark Robertson's (BNA Audio) build for Chris. It took my breath my breath away. After reading about other's experiences with BNA, I decided to contact him and place an order.
I knew I wanted a Super twin 15. I also knew that I didn't need a six or a juicer. I explained to Mark that I had very simple tone and sonic needs.
I was torn between 3015's or Faital 15PR400's. After reading JohnK's Faital report, I asked what Mark thought. Mark agreed that while the 3015's are very impressive, I would be an idiot if I failed to give the nod to the Faitals.
Other than that, I made a decision to let Mark handle the aestetics. While I loved Chris' cabinet, I didn't want a carbon copy. I explained to Mark that I was comfortable giving him free reign to finish out the cab any way that he wanted, with one exception. No hot pink. I guaranteed that I would purchase sight unseen.
My reasoning behind letting Mark do his thing was simple. Custom builders will happily accept orders and build every detail to your spec. The problem with this process is that the builder doesn't have any emotional buy-in. Sure, you will receive a fantastic sounding cabinet, but in the end, the builder has no emotional buy-in. OTOH, give the builder the latitude to make some creative decisions and you get his/her very best work!
Poor Mark was both giddy and horribly stressed about the process. He was giddy about the finished product but wasn't sure if I would would love it, or just find it acceptable/satisfactory. It seems that Mark is deeply passionate about wanting every single customer to be ecstatic about their purchase. His sincerity and passion are both refreshing and contageous.
On Thursday, I received a text saying that my new baby was done and to start driving early Saturday morning.
Mark told me to me to meet him over at his friend's photography studio. They were working on beauty shots for 4 different cabs, including mine.
After that we grabbed some lunch and talked about real life and bass life. One of things that I noted about Mark is that he spends most of his time complimenting those people that he respects....Greenboy, Don Barry, Mike Arnopol. Here is guy building these incredible cabs, but he prefers to talk about other builders and all the cool things that they are doing. A very humble guy.
After being prodded a bit, Mark shared his music journey. I was specifically interested in his jump TO upright. If you ever chat with Mark, ask him about it. It may be one of the best stories ever in terms of who he is as a human being.
Next, we ran over to the music studio to meet another TB'er. His real name is Tom. I do not know his TB name. He was there to pick up not one, but two cabs. Greedy Bastich! I helped schlep cabs although picking up his Bassic 15 was ridiculous. It is not only easy to one hand, but I felt like I could throw it across the yard.
I sweet-talked Tom in to letting me fondle his Lakie 5502. I have been pining for one but was concerned about neck feel. Let's just say that Tom is responsible for helping me to put another dent in my disposable income. My wife thanks you, Tom!
Sadly we cut in to Mark's pre-rehearsal time for a pick up gig. We just told him to just give 'em a whole lotta 1-5 and toss in some tasty right hand tidbits every now and then to wow the crowd.
All in all, I just can't say enough about Mark's professionalism and concern to give people the highest quality product possible.
As a human being, I find myself bummed out that he lives so far away. We got along so famously that my wife and I intend to return to do a night on the town with Mark and his wife. I know that my wife will go ga-ga doing the lower Broadway shuffle. Mark said he would be honored to host.
In my opinion, there has been no better time in history for we bass players. We mere financial mortals can buy boutique cabinets.
If you're in the south and looking for a super cab, call Mark and pick his brain. If you live elsewhere, do some homework and find out if Mike Arnonopol, Don Barry, JHawke, or any of the cutting edge small builders are in your area.
I am only going to toss up one pic of the cab. Perhaps Mark will be kind enough to post up the beauty shots when he receives them. In the mean time, he is working on a matching cab for the Kilo. And he is going to help me locate an upright to help corrupt me further.
Thanks Mark !
Oh, I guess I need a DISCLAIMER:
The OP did not receive any compensation or renumeration for this post. He spoke from the heart about Mark, BNA the some of the other custom builders. Had Mark done a crappy job, the OP would have happily talked smack.
In addition, the OP not only paid full retail, but was so ecstatic with the final product that he threw another 90.00 on the fire to compensate the builder for Paypal fees, unseen costs, and a show of appreciation for putting his blood, sweat and tears into building the OP's Dually.
Finally, the OP does acknowledge a budding bromance with Mark at BNA.