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Brubaker Shop Tour!!! - Lots of Pics

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Quadzilla, May 27, 2005.


  1. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Background:

    I was shopping custom basses a little while back and ultimately ended up rolling the dice on a new builder to the market (LeCompte) and that gamble paid off, but that's another story. While doing research pre and post my purchase, I stumbled upon a local builder by the name of Kevin Brubaker (founder and "da man" of Brubaker guitars).

    After a few games of voicemail tag and the help of Brad Johnson, Kevin and I finally connected. We agreed upon a date that I could come up to his workshop (which happens to be about 10 min from my house………WOOHOO!!!).

    Onto the Shop!

    Walking up to the shop, I could hear my favorite sound coming thru the walls - the sound of bass! Walking in the door and turning the corner, I spotted Kevin with a customer trying out his new addition. A beautiful blonde Brubaker (the bass guys, no chicks were present on this trip!!!). The customer's name was Eric and he certainly knew his way around the fret board. It was quite clear to me from minute one that not only does Kevin pour his heart into designing and making his instruments, but also satisfying his customers as well and listening to what they have to say!

    Kevin greeted me politely and went back to his customer for a few minutes while I situated my camera, notepad and tried to keep my focus while being surrounded by beautiful instruments in various stages of the build process. When Kevin was thru, he came over and gave me another warm greeting and proceeded to give me a tour of his shop and to show me his goods, ahem….so to speak.

    We started in "main area" where the woods are kept and a lot of the final assembly including electronics takes place. I got to meet Kevin's right hand man, David DeMarco. David has been with Kevin for 10+ years and has worked hand in hand with Kevin on his designs, particularly the innovate electronics designs which I will get to in a moment.

    Kevin showed me the various build areas and walked me thru the process. A special note here: I noticed that some of his machines looked unusual or unconventional. Kevin proceeded to tell me that he and David actually had to design and build many of the machines from scratch. The engineering that went into these machines is amazing. It's quite clear that these guys aren’t your average builders!!!

    Kevin also showed me the various woods that he hand selects for his guitars. The spalted, flamed maple, etc that he picks are simply amazing. Some of the woods don't even look like much at first glance, but as soon as he rubbed something on them (oil maybe), man-o-man the rich, deep grain just jumps out at you! It literally looks like you could put your hand "into" the wood!

    Electronics:

    I then spent some time with David. David walked me thru their electronics. They have designed and patented a unique electronics package in that the pickups are wired to a circuit board with an external contact connector that's in control cavity. Then a modular housing contains the rest of the electronics (pre-amp, battery, pots, switches, wiring and custom circuit board) that also has an external connector that mates up with the pickup connector that connects when the modular housing is inserted all of which is held in by one large coin slot bolt. The unit pictured is actually a beta unit that is made of a composite material. The final production pieces were not on hand, but are machined aluminum vs the composite material and an aluminum insert also goes into the body, more of a retaining plate if you will. The benefit of using the aluminum is that it will not expend and contract nearly as much as the composite material and it's also self-shielding (vs using shielding paint or copper). The other key thing here is that if an owner wants to swap out his pre-amp, he can just swap complete housing units in seconds!!! They also have some other rather interesting innovations coming - top secret stuff that I was sworn to secrecy on… Man do these guys have it going on or what?!?! Ingenious!!!

    What’s Coming Up?

    Kevin then spoke about some of his future plans. He is currently building another workshop in Northern Virginia. He plans on having them do some final assembly tasks for now and they will only work on two new lines of basses and guitars that he is introducing for now (they may do more down the road). These new lines will be more of the "workingman's" type lines (though they are not named that). The cool part is that they will still be made in Kevin's shop (not overseas) but they primarily be offered with few options. They will be painted units vs his custom stuff, but will have killer pickguards that will set them apart from others (flamed, spalted, etc). Some of his early units are pictured below in their build state. He's going after the $1500 price point. I think it's a great idea. A U.S. Fender costs almost that much. I'd much rather spend a few more bucks and put my money with a custom builder and get a killer bass with killer electronics and have the Brubaker name on it vs buying one made in a factory. This is just my personal opinion, but I feel that Kevin will do well here if marketed properly.

    Marketing, etc…

    Speaking of marketing, Brad Johnson is working heavily with Kevin in this area. Kevin also has an arrangement with Metro Sound of Northern Virginia (http://www.metrosound.com/html/mainframe.asp) and they will stock an sell many of his new line items (they currently also stock some of his custom stuff).


    Wrap-up!

    All and all, it was a great experience. I need to add that I heard some phenomenal playing from Kevin, Eric and Brad that made me sick (I need to practice more)! Kevin, Eric, David and Brad also took the time to eval my new LeCompte bass, which they all gave high marks too (but that's another discussion, after all, this is a Brubaker story). Good times, great people, KILLER basses!

    Quadzilla

    Uploading the pics now….
     
  2. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Here are come pics of the shop. This includes many of the machines that Kevin and David designed and built themselves. I really dug the frett board cutter!!!

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  3. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    As mentioned above, the killer, innovative electronics!

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  4. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Couple shots of body and frett woods! Mmmmmmm, yum!

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  5. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Some axes at different stages of the build process. Wish I had a big overcoat on while I was there to stick a few under!!!

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    Had to slip in one of my LeCompte (left of the 6 string Brubaker) :D
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  6. bassturtle

    bassturtle

    Apr 9, 2004
    Awesome job, man! Always a blast to see behind the scenes!
     
  7. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Meet Kevin and the gang!

    Kevin with Eric

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    Brad Jamming!

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    Brad, Kevin and David

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    Brad making me drool with his bad ass axes!

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    Bad news is I forgot to take a shot of me there! :crying:
     
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    Cool! Brubaker stands to make mucho big bucks if he sells out his removable preamp module idea...I don't why anyone WOULDN'T want that in their bass.
     
  9. bassturtle

    bassturtle

    Apr 9, 2004
    Bah, that Brad guy is a hack :spit:
     
  10. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Quad, nice job man :D Pics are extremely cool ......

    Brad, that 6 you're holding :eek: :cool: :bassist:
     
  11. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Joke or ????? You gotta be kidding me!
     
  12. Toasted

    Toasted

    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
  13. bassturtle

    bassturtle

    Apr 9, 2004
    Totally kidding :D Note my use of the :spit: smilie.
     
  14. jivetkr

    jivetkr

    May 15, 2002
    NJ
    Brubaker is awesome. Ive been wanting one for so long & those shop pics may light the fire under my a$$!

    The modular preamp & neck attachment are brilliant ideas. That & the basses are beautiful.
     
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Fred, It was great meeting you and hanging out at the shop. Great pics. Thanks for all of the kind words and glad you had a good time... I did too. It's always fun when people get the chance to see the product from raw wood to the finished product.

    Your LeCompte was very nice, I'll post some comments in your review soon. Hard to believe Bud hasn't been building longer judging from the finished product.


    And 'turtle, I'm not "a" hack... I'm THE hack;)
     
  16. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Great meeting you too Brad! It was an awesome experience. I had not toured a builders workshop in over 20 years. Back then, I was just a 14 year old kid riding my bike when I stumbled upon a luthier in Dickeyville, MD in an old mill. Turns out is was "KT" guitars. The owners were very cool and gave me a tour even thought they knew I was just a local kid with no cash.

    Anyway, they made some really cool and high end stuff back in the late 70's and early 80's. Most of their basses looked a lot like Alembics and were of the same qulity too (or very close to them). I've recently had a chance to play a couple of KT's that were for sale locally and they were awesome!

    Anyway, touring Kevin's place made me think of that childhood experience. Fond memories indeed. Looks like I just made more yesterday!
     
  17. Akito

    Akito

    Dec 1, 2003
    Spokane
    Very cool! I want that black bass!
     
  18. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    How dare you bring one of my basses into the presence of someone who actually knows what he's doing. j/k :) Actually, thanks to you and Brad for the kind words.

    Very cool pics. What are those big aluminum(?) contraptions? One looks like it's possibly a fingerboard slotter. There isn't anything in my shop that remotely looks like that stuff.
     
  19. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    I see you eyeballing that LeCompte, Brad. ;)
     
  20. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    He's eyeballing it because the headstocks look almost identical. :ninja: