Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Bill Merchant and C extension

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Jul 11, 2005.


  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Just wanted to post a plug for the amazing work of NY luthier Bill Merchant. I recently took a trip to have Bill do some work on my bass and can't believe what a great job he did. He's also a great guy and I learned a lot from chatting with him in just a short amount of time.

    I now have one of Bill's extensions on my bass. I don't want to get into the whole neck resonance argument, etc. but what I can say is that having the extension on my bass has definitely improved the overall sound and response of the instrument.
     
  2. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Pictures, man, pictures!

    Oh and can you give us an indication of how much it cost - I'd love to have a bass with an extension somewhere further down the line.
     
  3. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Yes I should take photos of mine but in the meantime, here's the link to Bill's page:

    http://www.merchantbass.com/acoustic/cextension.htm

    The cost was USD 1400 although I think it's usually like $50 more or something like that for the cost of the string. I didn't have a chance to get a string and Bill had a Spirocore lying around so he gave that to me.

    It is a lot of money but I feel like I have a whole new instrument. I actually wanted to put one of Bill's extensions on my previous bass but did not think the bass was worthy of it. My current bass is a much more resonant instrument and the extension enhances it significantly. It's not just about having the lower notes but it's what you can do with resonance of the instrument. Especially for playing arco, being able to set the low string to a suitable note (e.g. D for pieces in G or D, or C for pieces in C or F, etc.) just makes the instrument sound so much better. However for jazz work too, it's wonderful for playing pedals, low notes on ballads, etc.

    What I like about Bill's extension is the refined appearance - it's not as big and obvious as some other designs and the Maple body with the Ebony fingerboard is nice. One reason for that (which I think also helps keep the cost down - I think his price is low at least compared to the other NY guys), is that he uses manufactured capos. He makes the latch for the E but the other gates are made from cast bronze. The design makes it very easy to alter the stopping pressure as well as the tuning of each gate. Bill also did a wonderful French polish job on the extension body and matched the varnish to the bass.
     
  4. As a fellow Canuk I'm curious about what's involved in dealing with an American luthier. I assume you made one trip down to drop off your bass and another to pick it up. Did you encounter any grief getting your bass back and forth across the border? Any duty or other monies payable at the border for the work done? (They seem to wanna whack us with GST for just about everything... grrr....)
     
  5. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Wanted to update this thread with a few things. Firstly, I finally got pics of the extension here. You may note by the way that Bill fixes the extension to the scroll with screws. This is an interesting point because there are some luthiers that do this (Mario Lamarre is another I believe) and others that do not. I believe that both Bill and Mario believe that fixing the extension (and not just having it held there by string tension) is an important element in improving the sound. I asked Bill why he didn't hide the screws under the extension fingerboard but he pointed out that it makes it hard to remove the extension when you have to dress the main fingerboard. The screws are no big deal and don't get in the way at all.

    As to the GST, Eric I will send PM or e-mail.