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Basslabs Doing It Differently

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickbass, Apr 4, 2001.

  1. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Has anyone checked out Basslabs basses or had the opportunity to try one? (JMX?)

    They seem to have a really different, (and cool), take on the fundamentals of bass building. For instance, the basses come with a cable that you connect to a charging plug on the bass for your batteries (I think they have lots of LED's), the bodies are supposed to be featherweight due to their hollow carbon fiber bodies, they use DeCapo Basstronic onboards (never heard of them), Elastic-Trem Tuning Fork Systems hardware (never heard of them), and Rough Crystal pups (never heard of them), aside from the more common components they offer.

    Then there's the necks, a "wave" shaped neck (rises to a rounded peak in the middle), and 3 types of angled "D" shape necks.

    Their design orientation is discussed at www.basslab.de/ENG/ETCH/etch.htm

    They sound like they'll build anything you can dream up.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I haven't had an opportunity to play them yet, I want to though, you can order one for testing (at least if you're in Germany).

    The DaCapo Basstronic is a bass electronic from German bass company Börjes and is very good from what I've heard.

    The Rough Crystal PUs are from legendary bass company Le Fay, and are considered state-of-the-art and used by many German luthiers and bass companies. You could say they're the German equivalent to Lane Poors.


    Elastic Trem is a German(?) hardware manufacturer, but I don't really know much about them, they're probably as good as ABM and ETS (both German too).

    Check out Miller Guitars, they do manufacture their basses in a similar way, but with a more conventional design.

  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks JMX. Now I don't feel like my knowledge of basses must be shabby, since I never heard of those. I wish German and English instruments were promoted more in the US. Last time I can remember seeing one used was by Mona and her Esh in Sammy Hagar's band.

    I can't imagine how light the Millers and Basslabs must be, (think balsa wood).

    Germany's 16% tax that Basslabs mentions is a pisser!
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    just to make sure, the 16% are already in there, you don't have to add them like in the U.S.
    Also you get these taxes refunded as a tourist, if I remember correctly. I don't know how it's handled when buying online or per mail.

    Most German bass companies are too small to get into the U.S. market. Some try it by getting a distributor like Salwender www.salwender.com or the Luthiers Access Group www.luthiersaccessgroup.com but usually they can just build enough basses for the German market.
    On the other hand most small U.S. companies like Warrior, Mike Lull, etc. are totally unknown here.

    BTW: Basslab has a great link page

    Other cool bass sites:




  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Thanks for the cool links, JMX! You are a bass connoisseur. I really like the angled upper horn on the Basslabs STD (or whatever the model is called). Too bad it doesn't show up well in their gallery.

    Have you checked out the report and pics at www.musicplayer.com? They have a good sized article with all sorts of exotic, new, basses from the "messe" (Frankfurt Fair) you went to.
  6. I'm not too sure I could get used to some of their (Basslab) basses. I would be interested in trying out one of these basses, only because it looks like a lot of scientific research went into their design (and electronics). Unfortunately, I can't find a store that carries one (at least not here in the general Vancouver area). I don't suppose Bass Northwest might have one of them - I'm taking a trip down there this weekend.
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Xavier- What would shock the daylights out of me, (I'm pretty sure), is the weight. They talk about a 70% reduction in weight. I guess they're talking about in comparison to conventional basses. So, I figure, err on the side of caution, and put the model weight at a hefty 9 lbs. That means one could expect a 2.7 lb. instrument :eek: !!!! It could be lighter than your cable!
  8. Vuden dat be sumpin. I'd feel quite naked (argh - what a thought!) with such a light bass. It would certainly take a bit of getting used to. But, hey, I'm all for progress and the advancement of technology (this from a guy who plays Fender's:)).

    I took the liberty to email the fellas at Basslab a short note yesterday (having had my curiosity and interest aroused by discussion here and information on their site). Mr.(?) Heiko Hoepfinger of Basslab wrote me back and (with his permission) I post his response, as it may be of interest to some of you:

    Hi, Xavier!

    Thanks a lot for your info! (I already knew the site.)

    I checked the discussions, but I could only find a thread "ugly or not". I´m very interested to know, what people think about our instruments, but I don´t want to discuss design. Did I miss another thread?

    Most people on the net are just looking for pics. Those who read, will also know, that we can make (nearly) every design and shape - even a Fender P-bass.
    IMO the Fender is one of the most boring or bad basses (just regarding design and ergonomics). I can´t understand people calling the P-bass ergonomic. They just got used to them, since they learned on those basses. IMO, the carved back of the Fenders is just a joke.
    (Yes, I know that this will offend a lot of people, who love their Fenders! If they love the sound and it fits to their music and playing style, then they should play them.)

    I wouldn´t want to play on those flat boards. I want the instrument to please my hands and give me more playing comfort (less weight, easy access to the highest frets, a shaped backside, good rest for the right arm, balance....)
    My "normal" job is physicist with the focus on physical acoustics. So the one and only approach for the project was sound - scientifically based. The second point was ergonomics. Then I tried to make "my" design, which is just a proposal for customers to see, what is possible. It´s somehow radical and not for everyone: "love it or hate it", but it´s definetely not boring or just another Fender-clone.
    Even the L-bow design has a physical approach, it´s absolutely not a design thing.

    I would really like to discuss any sound/technique issue and have some players to test our instruments. This might take some time, since we actually have a lot of work and there is still no distributor for the states.
    (Actually there is only one instrument at Bass Alone in San Diego, but one guy wrote, that he couldn´t check the bass, because they didn´t have a battery! They didn´t even knew the active/passive switch!. Is this the american standard in shops??)

    If I missed a thread, can you please email me again!?

    Thanks again!

    Best regards

    Heiko Hoepfinger

    P.S. Please excuse my English, it´s not my native language!
    P.S.2: If you like to use any of the infos above for the discussions, please do so.

    (end of letter) - In response, I have emailed HH pointers to this thread. Perhaps we may get some 'inside information'. Should be interesting.
  9. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    Hi, everyone!

    This is Heiko from BassLab! Xavier sent me an email about your discussions and he also published my answer. (Thanks, Xavier!)
    I didn´t want to take part in your dicussion, because I greatly respect a forum, where customers can share their opinions, whithout anyone having financial or business interests. I really appreciate to share my opinion, but I would absolutely understand, if you´d like to keep the manufacturers out of this forum.

    I just wanted to give some short infos:

    - Miller, BassLab and carbon instruments
    JMX, although I understand, that it might look as if Miller and BassLab are dong something equal, but the only similarity is, that both are hollow and that we use epoxy.
    The production process and use of materials is completely different.
    To make it short: Every carbon instrument I know is made just like those carbon car parts, although the requirements are absolutely different.
    (BTW, it took over 4 years to find the material mix and the production process we use.)
    Our instruments are not just another carbon instrument in a new shape. Yes, there is also carbon in it!)
    I could write a lot on this topic,..........

    - ABM and ETS Hardware (Elastic Trem System is ETS!)
    I think that ABM is also very well known in the U.S.? ETS and ABM offer the same functional design. IMO ETS makes better and even more differents finishings, but the delivery time can easily take up to one year ore more. (The guy who makes them is really crazy!)

    - Testing
    It´s very difficult for an european manufacturer to get into the U.S. market, although we really want to! We now have one contact person in the New York area. You can reach her via mail: uli@basslab.de
    She will soon get some instruments for testing and I´m very interested to know what you think!

    Thanks for your time!


    One question to rickbass1:
    Have you been to the "Franfurt Musikmesse"? Did we meet and did you try one of our basses?
  10. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    Hi Heiko and thanks for writing here !

    What ergonomics "rules" have you followed (or created) to design your basses ?
    I'm very interested in this topic since I've never played a bass which felt totally comfortable to me.
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Heiko - Unfortunately, no one in my immediate family has been back to Germany since one of my great grandfathers sold one of the family cows to come to the USA in the 1840's. (But I have every intention to see Germany before I get old; going to the Musikmesse would be a thrill!).

    I just came to your website and thought your design concepts made a lot of sense, after having done some research on the concepts of the theoretical "perfect string."

    Personally, I think it's great whenever someone with such expertise comes here and shares their knowledge. We do get some people who try and abuse the site by promoting their product, but adding good information like yours is certainly welcomed by me.

    Can you briefly explain why it so hard for European makers to get into the US market? Maybe if you knocked one of our jets out of the sky, held the crew hostage, and then blamed the US for the accident, it would be easier. (Seems to work for some countries. :rolleyes: )
  12. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    Hi, Nathanael! Hi, rickbass!

    < What ergonomics "rules" have you followed (or
    < created) to design your basses ?
    Uuuups!! Not easy (or short) to explain this topic!

    Generally: Take your instrument, play and just ask yourself "Why" regarding every little detail of your instrument and also your playing style.
    Example: "Why does my thumb has to crash against the neck joint every time I need a quick change to the higher frets?"
    You will automatically come to the next point: "Why do they sell them with 24 frets? I can hardly reach the first 20!" (I want my money back for those 4 frets!)
    "Why do I have to hold the neck in position, haven´t they heard of balance?"

    After some time you will come to those points, where you don´t have anything that disturbes you. You just ask, why they did it exactly this way.
    "Is the classic D-shape of the neck the only thing that works?" You will then need to take a close look at your playing style.

    The biggest approach, when I made the first instrument, was, that it needed to work (In this case: sound!) best, just better or as good as anything, what is available.

    Afterwards I carefully changed the points, that have always disturbed me (ergonomically).
    - weight
    I have never had problems with the weight of a bass, but I learned that many players do have this problem and also that it feels great to have a light instrument, especially on stage! I love to play my double neck, since it just behaves as a "normal" 5-string.
    - neck body attachment
    - neck shape
    - body shape

    At least you have some degrees of freedom left for the optical design, but that´s not the point now! ;>)

    BTW: I know, it´s impossible to make a perfect instrument (see "playing style")
    The best thing is to watch and talk to others. (Like always!)

    One project I always wanted to do, is to make a bass, that looks just like one of those Fenders, they made in the last century! Remember them? ;>)

    No, really, it should look like one of them, but it will feel, play and sound just like an "ordinary" BassLab!
    Hope I can make it within the next 4-6 months.


    Rickbass, maybe I should go for some hijacking!??

    I´m still in the learning progress in this point.
    My first thought, when I attended discussions like this, was, that I felt, that the americans were close-minded or - in other words - always occupied with themselves. (This is -of course- not true for everyone! Need to generalize!)
    (This starts with the language - why don´t we all use esperanto? Another thread, sorry!)
    One part of the problem is, that the interest and acceptance seem to be very focussed on the american market and products.
    Besides that, we do have the normal trade problems, import restrictions, political protection of the market, etc..

    IMO, you (not personally) make a lot of hype around products like Sadowsky, Ken Smith or Tobias, while nobody here would even particularly mention them.
    One reason they are also well known here is, that a lot of persons/traders are intensively keepimg an eye on the U.S. market and their endorsing industry. Some also go as far as calling it "imperialism"..... ;>)
    Shouldn´t go too far!

    O.K., I need to leave and work on my own Fender clone!!!


  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Heiko - Thanks so much for an insight to your interesting conceptual thoughts on bass building.

    Yes, I do remeber those Fenders...in fact, I have a `64 Precision that is totally original. I've had it since 1970 and it still gets used every week when I play clubs. With flatwounds, it has a certain tonal "personality" or timbre that I have not been able to find on any other bass I have tried, probably because the wood has "opened up" over time.

    As far as Americans being "occupied with themselves," we had a thread here a while back on this topic. Basically, it just has to do with our awareness. It is a VERY BIG country, relatively speaking, plus it is sort of isolated, in that, you can only go north or south, within a moderate distance to get to another country. And even then, you wouldn't identify someone as "Canadian" just by looking at them or listening to them speak, (until they pronounce "ou" or say, "eh?" at the end of sentences ;) ). Plus, the USA has never been occupied by another nationality and , historically, we are a relatively old country, even though we like to think of ourselves as a young country. But when you compare it to Europe or Asia, you see quite a few countries that were little more than loose aggregates of republics and regions, and forms of government that have gone massive revisions and outright revolutions.

    Anyway, the German bass scene looks very hot from where I sit. I just wish I could see it better, (e.g., a German bass magazine in English would really be nice). At least we get reports on the web about the Musikmesse.
  14. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    Thx for the answers.
    I was guessing right : it's all a matter of empiric knowledge, right ?
    Weight can be a problem for some of us, that's right. BTW, I've seen some kind of cross straps (X shaped in your back) and I'm curious about trying these.
    Anyway, beside weight, my personnal grieves about basses (and guitar shaped instrument in general) are about balance, but I guess it depends on you playing style) and plucking arm comfort/position.
    Then comes the neck profile and high notes access (but my current BassCollection 5er offers quite an easy access).
    About the neck profile, it seems to depend a lot on your playing style and likes/dislikes : we had quite a few arguings in here about the thin Ibanez necks vs. fat/thin fender necks.
    So, have you designed your instruments refering to your playing style/position ?
  15. David-Adler


    Feb 28, 2001
    Bonn, Germany
    I´m german too and I´m living around cologne, so I visited a music store and tried one of those basslab thingies, and they ARE really cool.

    But I still am for good wood-bases basses. But hands down - german luthiers ROCK...

    Just look at



    Just look at the Phantom Prices. The Basses ARE awesome.. the retail is 2350 Marks, wich is equal to about 1100 Dollars. And the bass plays GREAT - sounds a bit like an old Ibanez ATK, but plays f*cking incredible... tops my Sadowsky - hands down !

  16. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Yeah, they are awsome.
    I expect they are also expensive - right? Heiko doesn't have the guts;)to place any price info on the 'net. I think you should, Heiko, on those "standard examples" you show.
    I think your technology will justify the price....but still, we are talking musical instruments, not spaceware...

    Bottom line: I want to try these! I'll probably love them. I don't think I want to try to persuade my wife that I should buy one....
  17. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Just found price info on the series...hidden in the german department.

    Please accept my public appologies, Heiko.

    Now I know I don't want to persuade my wife. On the other hand, I have a G.A.S problem here......
  18. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    Hi, everybody!

    Please excuse, that I didn´t answer earlier. We had a lot of work (and still have).
    I was really astonished about the number of replies! Great!!!

    rickbass, I think you´re right with many of your arguments, although it can´t just be the "occupation" thing. I don´t know what it is...
    Maybe I can tell you something more, if I would visit the states. Maybe for the next NAMM??!
    I actually did a lot of travelling in asia, while I thought I could visit the states when I get old!

    Back to bass building.....

    There are a lot of things you can establish just by applying scientific methods, but some will only work by using your experience, which means empirical. It´s always a combination.
    The different neck shapes came from watching other people play, discussions, etc..
    Most of our customers take the normal "D"-shape. I´m not shure, if they really "want" it or if they are just overcharged by the range of possibilities.

    Suburban, I didn´t want to hide the prices!!!
    You are not the first one, that didn´t find them, so I think you don´t have to apologize! My partner redesigned the site -due to my time limitations-
    and I couldn´t find them too!!!
    BTW, what price range did you expect? Higher, the same, less??! Do you think they are expensive?
    BTW 2, the auerswald pricing must be two or three times higher. Minimum!
    I really appreciate his workmanship. "Sound" would be another thread.....

    David, did you read the test of the BassLab STD-6-string in the german guitar&bass mag?
    It was our first test in a mag ever, but there is more to come....
    Hopefully also in English!

    Thanks everybody!
    (Need to finish a double neck for the next test!)



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