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Atilla Balogh Odyssey Bass !!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Winston TK, May 16, 2004.


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  1. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Just last weekend I spotted one of these in my local bass emporium. I picked it up and gave it a quick try and was absolutely blown away. I remained obsessed throughout the workweek.

    Yesterday I returned to the store and luckily it was still there, so I rented it for the month.

    This bass is unbelievable. Apparently, this particular bass was a custom job built in 1977, and it is still in almost mint condition. The workmanship and materials are amazing. Mahogany body and neck; what looks to be an ebony fretboard; Bartolini pickups; brass bridge; gold tuning keys; and a mind-numbing array of mini-toggle switches and knobs.

    The feel of the neck on this bass is wonderful. Quite narrow string spacing, but not too thin a neck overall. Playing this bass is a dream.

    I still have yet to completely figure out what all the controls do, but the tones I was getting in the store yesterday during my quick onsite test were very encouraging.

    Do any TB-ers out there either own one of these fine instruments, or know anything about them?

    My research so far has turned up some interesting tidbits about the luthier (Atilla Balogh) and his Odyssey Guitars Company (based in North Vancouver, BC, Canada in the 1970's and 1980's). Sadly, however, Mr. Balogh passed away in the 80's and his company went with him.

    His legacy lives on somewhat, though. Apparently Mike Kinal (another local world-renowned bass builder) studied under Atilla for awhile.

    Any additional information that any of you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Hey, Smash.

    Maybe one day we'll actually meet in person. We seem to have mastered the habit of trying the exact same gear from the very same store!

    I'm glad you had a chance to witness and briefly experience that Odyssey bass. I ended up doing a great deal of soul searching while I had that instrument in my hands. So many aspects of that bass really impressed me -- with the incredible playability of that neck being the prime motivator. But, in the end, after considerable testing in a number of different situations (home, rehearsal, live), the cons simply outnumbered the pros.

    I did manage to figure out all the controls. As a matter of fact, I DID open it up and checked out the wiring. Unfortunately, that only added to the confusion (!) In the end, I just found it to be too bass-y in all settings. A real shame. Just no much-needed punch. Also, there was considerable neck dive, particularly when playing standing up. You really had to work to support that brass-laden headstock.

    Thanks for your critique of the bridge. It's funny how I never really noticed those questionable elements.

    I'm still glad I had the chance to try one of these basses for myself. A fine bit of mid-70's nostalgia! Hopefully it will go to a good home.
     
  3. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    I have an Odyssey catalogue at home. I could scan it if you guys are interested. It might not be today, but possibly on the weekend.
     
  4. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    I would love to see that catalog. I have a '78 Odyssey that was one of the lower models. It's a got a DiMarzio P pickup, all maple except the ebony boad, and I'm willing to bet that same horrific bridge that y'all experienced. Fortunately, mine's set-up to play like a dream! Unfortunately, a co-worker is borrowing it, and is out of town for a month or so, so I don't know when I could get pics.
     
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Attila Balogh? or Balogh Attila? Sheesh, I should know something about him, as he is Hungarian, too :oops: (guessing from the name, I'm 99,99% sure that he was/or he emigrated), I will try to dig something up here, too
     
  6. bmc

    bmc

    Nov 15, 2003
    Switzerland
    PM me an email address and I'll get it to you on the weekend sometime. I have visitors, so I can't say when I'll get to you.

    If any others want a copy, pm me an email address.

    cheers
     
  7. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Quick searches yielded no result. But I'm sure he was. The name Attila is rarely ever found in other languages, and even Balogh is relatively common here - it used to refer to an ethnicity, a smaller tribe, very-very long ago... maybe less than a millenia ago, but many centuries, still.

    Anyway, me too, I would love to see that catalog, bmc :D :cool:

    will try to look up some more info
     
  8. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    PM sent. Smash and Winston: any chance this store might have that bass on a website or anything? I'd love to see it.
     
  9. bigbossguitar

    bigbossguitar

    Jan 4, 2008
    Hi,
    If you still have access to the odyssey catalog, would it be too much to ask if you could email it as an attachment, i have an odyssey guitar, i had the matching bass which i wish i never sold,
    it's the red sunburst PRS style body.

    Thank for your time, monti
     
  10. my understanding is that luthier rick miruzzi (based in sydney) used to have something to do with attila when he lived in canada.

    i have a a re-conditioned miruzzi bass that i bought about 15 years ago from rick.

    it was one he had built in the 70's as a 4 string and then had put a 5 string fingerboard, bridge, tuners on it. PJ config bartolini's. interesting bass as it essentially has a 4 string neck on it. complete beast of a thing, but rarely gets used anymore (baby, work, lack of talent).

    if you search for miruzzi on the forum, there is a guy (can't remember his user id) who has posted shots of his. they all have the same body shape so may point you in the right direction.

    from other posts i think rick has retired from building though ...

    cheers
     
  11. Bassflute

    Bassflute Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Vancouver
    Endorsing Artist: MTD basses and strings

    Attila was an absolute genius of a builder, and was AT LEAST 20 years ahead of his time. I knew him quite well, used to hang out at his shop, and was a big admirer of his instruments (and still am). His early instruments were conservative, bolt-on stuff, then he got into 24 fret neck-through things, but his finest instruments (this was in the late 70's) were his archtop chambered basses, with two Bartolini's (called Hi-A back then) a trapeze bridge and a wooden carved saddle with a piezo pickup. Tone chambers under the bridge gave you incredible live string-bassy kind of punchy tones, especially with the fretless models, and you could blend the piezos with the magnetics, which were placed radically back by the bridge and fingerboard. Workmanship was superb, as was balance/weight/ergonomics. Beautiful purfling around the body, carved spruce tops on a mahogany or ash bodies, these were radical, state of the art instruments that still sound and look great today. I last played one about 6-7 years ago, and they are still a classic instrument and have aged well. I still would like to find one.

    His company had a very rough time during the Reganomics-induced recession of the early 80's. He developed a bit of a drinking problem due to pressures in his business, and one fateful night he was walking through his shop a little bit drunk, acidentally fell against a band saw, pulled it down on top of him, and crushed his windpipe. The saw was so heavy he was unable to save himself and suffocated, and was found the next day by his business partner.

    His untimely death in his early 40's was a great tragedy to the world of bass and guitar design; one can only guess what he would have come up with in subsequent years. His instruments are still a great testament to his genius. And BTW, he was equally or even more inspired at guitar building, and built some really radical avant-garde stuff in that field, as well.

    20+ years later, he is still missed by all that knew him. One of the true greats in this business, and inspired many musicians and fellow luthiers. His instruments are still greatly admired by those who recognize superb workmanship and unique design.

    I would love to know where that is, BTW. Or did you buy it?

    Cheers,
    Cameron
     
  12. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Whoa! Talk about raising a topic thread from the dead!

    Cameron, thanks so much for posting this very informative blurb on Mr. "Odyssey" Balogh. It was a great read.

    The so-called "bass emporium" in my original post was none other than the Long & McQuade location here in Vancouver, BC. It's funny, too, because I was just thinking about this very instrument while out walking yesterday.

    I didn't end up purchasing that bass. I had the great opportunity at least to test it out in a live performance situation, though. Strapped on, that instrument felt absolutely majestic. Unfortunately, the actual tone of the bass just didn't win me over. Despite quite the array of controls, the overall tone was always just too "dark" for my taste. Getting any kind of top-end "zing" or midrange "honk" just didn't seem possible. And, the overdrive switch (all the rage in certain active basses of the era) just seemed a little silly.

    But, I'll always have great memories of the remarkable workmanship that went into the making of that bass. The tuning machines alone probably made up more than half the mass of the whole instrument! (Heh heh.) And, that neck was fantastic! It's a shame it didn't work out for me, but hopefully it ended up going to a good home.

    I've seen a fretless version of this bass pop up from time to time here on craigslist. I bet THAT instrument is EPIC!

    Hopefully, more and more people will have the pleasure of experiencing Attila's fine work firsthand one day. What a great legacy to leave behind.
     
  13. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    The first bass guitar I bought. Mother's Music in Edmonton, about 1980. I had a choice between a 70's Precision or the Odyssey, and I thought I had to have 24 frets to play Spider's bass solo on Streetheart's "Under My Thumb". Mine had a maple body and neck, ebony board, and a nasty Dimarzio P pickup. I think I paid $550 for it, and I wish I had it still! About a year later I traded for a '75 Jazz that I loved (until I mutilated it with a spokeshave -so it began. . .)

    Paul Iverson has often spoken of Attila's genius over the years I've visited his shop. Thanks for the history Cam, and glad to see you back here -trust all is well with you!

    Laurence
     
  14. Bassflute

    Bassflute Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Vancouver
    Endorsing Artist: MTD basses and strings
    The pickups back then were very dark. Change them to more modern stuff and all that you were lacking will be there. It's not the instrument.

    Thanks, man, aside from recovering from bypass surgery, with a 1' incision down the front of me, and about 2.5' incision down my leg, I'm getting better.

    What's this about a 4 piece bass salsa band you didn't invite me to? Sheesh!

    :D

    Let's get together sometime.

    Cheers,
    Cameron
     
  15. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    This really is an old topic. I remember Attila well. I first met him in Vancouver when he had a little shop on Cambie St. and 18th doing mostly repair work. I lived just around the corner and dropped in often. He was just starting to build a few custom guitars then. He was a real craftsman and taught me quite a few things about setting up and maintaining my basses. I kept in touch with him right up until he was in full production with his factory in North Vancouver and visited there once and he showed me around. They were turning out some fine instruments. I was on the road a lot then so wasn't able to stay in touch. It was a shock to hear of his untimely death. He was quite a guy.
     
  16. bigbajo60

    bigbajo60

    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    Back in my youth... most young men were expected to have that famous Farah Fawcett poster on their bedroom wall...

    I had a picture much like this taped up on the wall (right next to the Farah poster... :smug:):
     
  17. Bassflute

    Bassflute Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2006
    Vancouver
    Endorsing Artist: MTD basses and strings
    That was the solid body; he later made an ash bodied version with a carved spruce top and a piezo bridge as I mentioned in the previous post. That would have been late 70's...

    Cheers,
    Cameron
     
  18. Based on that photo, that is definately whart Rick Miruzzi has (was?) building in Sydney Aus for the last 15 or so years.

    Mine looks exactly like that,except with an extended 5 string fingerboard.

    Cheers,

    A.
     
  19. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    I found this posting from Ken Lindermere, on of the partners in Oddyssey:
    (After reading this, I remembered that my bass was a "Hawk" model.)

    "In doing some research on guitars the other day I ran into this web site and thought it might be worth shedding some light regarding the postings here. It was a long time ago, and some of the details and timing are a bit hazy in my mind, but here are the basics.

    Odyssey Guitars was a Vancouver based company started in 1977 by Ken Lindemere (me), Joe Sallay, and Attila Balogh. Joe and I had a retail music store in Vancouver and Attila ran a small guitar repair shop. We did repairs on site and used Attila, who had previously worked as a finisher in a high-end furniture factory, for any refinishing work. Over a period of a couple of years we became friends and eventually decided to start Odyssey. Basically Joe handled sales and Attila and I did most of the design and production. By 1979 we had another 5 people working for us and were producing an average of about 50 guitars/basses a month.

    The Hawk guitar and bass were lower-end instruments ? natural maple with a flat finish, very basic electronics with low-cost pickups that Larry DiMarzio wound especially for us, a 3 piece maple neck (lacking the veneer stripes), lower cost machine heads, rosewood fingerboard, plastic covers instead of brass, etc, and a different body design ? but used the same basic neck-through-body construction as the higher-end Odysseys. These retailed at CDN$595.

    There were 3 basic Odysseys in both guitars and basses, all the same body shape and electronics (Dimarzio PAF?s on guitars and Bartollini on the basses, 2 tone, 2 volume, pickup selection switch, phase switch) but made from different woods, and generally with either a red or tobacco sunburst high gloss catalyzed lacquer finish. Since we also did a lot of custom work the electronic configuration and finishes sometimes varied, and we also made several with active electronics and built-in 6-band graphic equalizers. We used Schaller machine heads and machined all the knobs, strap buttons, cover plates, bridges, and tailpieces from solid brass. The bridge sat on a brass block imbedded in the body. All the guitars had 24 frets and a 24-3/4?scale. The necks were 5 piece laminated maple - basically 3 3/4" maple boards separated with mahogany veneer strips. The Model 300 had a flat-faced mahogany body, unbound ebony fingerboard, and retailed at CDN$895. The Model 200 had a carved ash body, unbound ebony fingerboard, and retailed at CDN$995. The Model 100 had a mahogany body overlaid with a carved figured maple top and ebony fingerboard. Both the fingerboard and body were bound. It retailed at CDN$1295. We also made a few semi-acoustics with basically the same design as the Model 100, but with a hand carved (hollow) spruce top. The pickups and tailpiece were mounted onto the through-the-body neck and the bridge was an ebony archtop style bridge. The arrangement stopped any movement of the pickups and therefore eliminated feedback problems at high volumes, and the floating spruce top and bridge produced an archtop type sound.

    I sold out my shares in 1981 to take advantage of another business opportunity and Odyssey closed its doors the following year. Attila went to work for Ayotte Drums and was killed in a freak accident in 1987 when a sanding machine fell on him as he was working alone late one night. Joe started a small wholesale musical instrument company and is still living in Vancouver distributing guitars, strings, etc. After spending 20-odd years managing an industrial distribution company in Vancouver I now live in Santiago, Chile.

    It?s nice to know that some of the instruments survived are still being played and enjoyed.


    This is in addittion to my previous posting. This guitar is the top model -Carved Top Series 100- Model # G100TS. TS stands for Tobacco Shaded. The 100/200and 300 series comes with Tobacco or Wine Shaded sunburst finishes. The -Carved Ash Series 200 -is similar but instead of using choice maple Attila used ash and the series 200 has no binding. The - Mahogany Series 300-Has the same body shape as the two previously mentioned models but lacks the binding and carvings on the top also the electronics are more simple. The Hawk Series 400 is Attila's economy series made of select maple and has clear natural finish. The hardware and electronics are somewhat simplier then the previously mentioned models. The semi-acoustic Series500 spruce top binded TS/WS finish and Series600 are with choice of noble hardwood with heringbone binding with TS/WS finish and both model with 7 band graphic equalizer. All of these guitars are made as 4 string bass guitars also. The Series500 bass model is fretless. All the models are neckthru constractions. All of these guitars are fantastic and priceless treasures."
     
  20. Winston TK

    Winston TK Hairpiece Adventurer

    Oct 8, 2001
    Burnaby, BC Canada
    Oh my God! This resurrected thread just keeps getting better and better!!
     



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