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Cliff Bordwell (CB) Dola 5 in the works - COMPLETED!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mikezimmerman, Jun 7, 2016.


  1. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Hello, my name is Mike, and I'm a custom bass addict...:)

    I've had several basses built for me in the past, and though it's been a few years since I last worked with a builder (Alan Cringean of ACG) to commission a bass, somehow I always find myself returning to the thrill of envisioning a special instrument down to the last detail, then watching it come to life at the hands of an amazing artist and craftsman.

    Now I get to watch it starting again...

    For a while now I've been admiring the work of Cliff Bordwell. My friend @spade2you owns several, and I marveled at their beauty, craftsmanship, and playability. Cliff's Dola shape struck me as an elegant and unique singlecut design, and the more pictures I saw of it from different angles, the more I admired their sculpted contours:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Finally, a piece of wood showed up on the Wood page of Cliff's website:
    at-m-83.
    at-m-84b.


    It's not over-the-top wild grain, but I really liked the dark and light contrast and the subtle flame. Plus I've always been a sucker for the color of myrtle, and I hadn't really seen much spalted myrtle.

    From there, it came down to working out the rest of the details:

    Makore body -- mahogany is my favorite body wood for the color and the midrange tone, but I wanted something a little different. Makore is supposed to sound similar, but a little more even, and is a little more fine-grained in appearance. Also, Michael Tobias likes to use it for many of his basses, and he can do no wrong!

    3-piece Maple neck -- I've had lots of multilaminate necks, but I kind of wanted more of a simple look and more neutral tonal platform than I usually hear with woods like wenge.

    Macassar Ebony fretboard -- I love the sooth feel and brightness of ebony, and the grain of the striped Macassar variety is more interesting than plain black.

    Matching front and back ebony facings on the headstock -- a nod to the elegant look of high-end acoustic and archtop guitars, especially combined with the plain maple neck.

    For neck dimensions, I stuck with a 34" scale. I can play a 35" neck without much difficulty, but I tend to use 4-finger fretting a lot, and it's just a touch more comfortable on 34".

    I also requested the wide 20mm bridge spacing that I've become accustomed to on my Curbows. It may feel wide to some people, but it felt like home to me from the first time I played it. Along the same lines, I got up the nerve to request an extra-wide 2-3/16" neck at the nut.

    The neck dimensions should give me a wide, flat classical guitar-type feel, combined with being fairly thin front-to-back. I've never really cared for a lot of taper on my bass necks, and I really liked the first wide Curbow 5 and the old Warmoth Wide 5's I had with that width, but it's rather wider than most people like. Just to be sure, though, I snagged an old Warmoth Wide 5 that I ran across on Reverb, to be sure I still liked it as much as I remembered!

    It took a lot of going back and forth, but we ended up with these options for pickups and electroics:

    2 Nordstrand Bigman pickups with series/parallel/outer swithching -- My initial though was to go with Nordstrand Neo Blade dual coils, because I liked all the samples I'd heard, and getting pickups to fit the extra-wide spacing seemed like it might be a challenge. The tone seemed like it might be too close to the sound of the quad-coil Barts on my Curbow, though, and I really wanted something a little different.

    After hearing several people (including Cliff) who really liked the Nordstrand Bigman, I decided to go big all the way and get a pair of Bigman pickups, custom wound to fit the 20mm spacing. (Big Neck! Big Pickups! Big Sound!) They will give me a lot of tonal options that I don't get with the Barts on the Curbow, and the placement will put me more in the tonal range of one of my other favorites, Wal.

    Nordstrand 3-band with passive tone -- I'm used to 3 bands of EQ, don't like stacked knobs, and have grown to appreciate the value of a passive tone. The Nordstrand also has an adjustable gain, the help match output with my other basses.

    It's not a "build" pic yet, but the first shot of the top laid out for this group of builds was posted this week:

    005.

    Now the wait begins in earnest!
     
  2. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Awesome! Our basses will be siblings! If it wasn't for the custom bass shape, mine would be a Dola too. The Dola was one of the first CB Bases that really grabbed my attention. Can't wait to see how they both turn out!
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The burl top on yours is very striking, too!

    It is pretty exciting, but I've been trying not to think about it too much until the build actually started. :)
     
    mflatau likes this.
  4. mflatau

    mflatau

    Aug 19, 2008
    Thanks! I live in Florida and my folks live in Orlando. This past December I was able to go by Cliff's shop and pick out the top wood for my bass. He didn't have it listed online until after I picked it! While I was there I had him do a setup and fix a couple small things on my GC purchased CB SC 5 String bass. Cliff is the first custom luthier that I have worked with, but it has been nothing but pleasant so far.
     
  5. That reminds me. We really need to hang out. Without a band, I haven't hung out with people outside of bike races.
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  6. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The Omaha guys were just talking about that on FB...
     
  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Different luthiers have different approaches to scheduling their builds. Some seem to have a lot of different instruments in different stages of progress at all times, which can make it difficult to keep track of how things are going with yours.

    Cliff builds in batches of four or five basses at a time, apparently maximizing efficiency by doing the same step for several instruments in a row. That means that once your build actually starts, things seem to move along rather quickly!

    I saw today on Cliff's page (thenews4) the necks have been started and the headstocks have been roughly cut out. It's also cool to see the headstock overlays all lined up! The black-and-white ebony for another build is very striking, and I'm quite pleased to see the amount of grain in the Macassar ebony that Cliff selected for my headstock (2nd from the right). It should make a neat complement to the spalted myrtle top:

    zz28-s1tu1.JPG zz28-s1tu2.JPG
     
  8. Hotblack

    Hotblack Pay the cost to be the boss. Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
    Provided content for Genzler Amplification
    That Cliff makes some pretty basses.
     
    kesslari, TinIndian and mikezimmerman like this.
  9. There's an Omaha FB group??
     
  10. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Just an ongoing conversation in the Messages/Chat
     
  11. Oh, that one.
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  12. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    So exciting to see the headstock outline with tuner holes! There will be a matching ebony plate on the back...

    image.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  13. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Just got a fretboard picture from this batch. Cliff has quite the range of contrasting boards in this batch! Mine's on the far end...

    zz28-afb.JPG
     
    Dug2 and Arthur U. Poon like this.
  14. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    Cliff is the only Custom guy I would want to go to. I love his work and I think he's pretty reasonable pricewise as well.

    Plus he's only about an hour from my house, so that helps!
     
    kesslari and mikezimmerman like this.
  15. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Now I just have to play the game of figuring out which of the other fretboards goes with which other bass in this batch...

    The maple is for @mflatau 's custom shape with the cottonwood top.

    Black ebony for the "modified Pink Panther" with the black and white ebony top, and the pink ivory wood for the black limbs-topped Dola, or the reverse?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2016
  16. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    We have a photo of body blanks on Instagram, as well! I believe the second from the bottom is my Makore blank, but I'm not positive I can distinguish unfinished Makore from mahogany or Spanish cedar, and aside from @mflatau 's swamp ash, I don't know what the cores of the other two basses in this batch are:

    13298136_581858241992898_1451749976_n.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  17. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    And there is a shot of the body profile cut--nice!

    zz28-z123w3.JPG
     
    mflatau likes this.
  18. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Iowa
    Awesome
     
    mikezimmerman likes this.
  19. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    First shot of the ebony overlay being installed on the back of the headstock...

    image.
     
    bassman74 and mflatau like this.
  20. TapyTap

    TapyTap

    Apr 26, 2005
    Cool picture!