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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by r_simonini, May 3, 2002.
Anyone play Curbow instruments? I am looking at a used exotic petite? Any opinions?
Greg Curbow has been making basses for years. IMHO, he is one of a very small but elite group of Master Luthiers who take the art of making a great instrument to the extreme. If you like his designs and strategy regarding the bass, you can expect a wonderful instrument in every way - tone, playability, workmanship.
With a fourth on the way. I've known him for a long time, and I will actually be going to his shop tomorrow.
My three basses are an '89 fretless 4 string with brazillian rosewood neck/fretboard and a mahogany body, a '95 5 string Int'l Petite rockwood neck/fretboard and purpleheart/lacewood semihollow body, and a '93 6 string Int'l petite with a purpleheart neck/ebony fretboard and a flame maple/mahogany body. All three play, and sound amazing. If you've never played a rockwood neck, you owe it to yourself to find one.
There are a couple of used Int'l Petite 5 strings floating around the net right now. I think gguitars has one, and there are a couple at www.gbase.com, too. You'll be hard pressed to find a used 4-, or 6- string, though.
If you go to the store section of his website ( www.curbow.com/store ), there is a newer gallery than on the main page. I have it on good authority that the first 6 basses will have full galleries by the end of the weekend.
i've got one! it's the greatest sounding bass i've ever owned...it's a '95 rockwood 6 string..._all rockwood_, so, it's a heavy beastly affair...i would carry it all day, though. the only thing that's getting to me is the 20mm string spacing at the bridge. i just got into a band, and by the end of the first set, my hands are killing me. oh well. greg builds some awesome basses, though, imo
Rockwood neck. Can someone explain this further?
I read on the site that he uses graphite necks. Is this graphite?
nope, it's actually wood-75 plies, iirc...it's void free birch that is impregnated with phenolic resin and then heated and pressed. so, though it does contain a synthetic substance, it retains the sonic qualities of wood, but it is nearly as strong as graphite. they used to use this same exact material for airplane wing struts in world war II. it's also known as phenowood and dymondwood. he does, however, employ the use of dual truss rods and graphite reinforcement...these are two bars of graphit that run the length of the neck and flank the two truss rods. they're for added stability, like you really need it or something. hee hee
How about the string spacing on these instruments? I have a Modulus w/ 17mm spacing and this is 20mm. Anyone find problems with this?
In addition, I am finding great price deviations between used curbows. One lists for 2200 and another for 1300 and another for 1800. They are all the "int. exotic petite" models but why the great price difference? Did he change the design?
Actually, the necks have graphite stiffening bars in the necks, but they are not made of graphite.
As for the string spacing, you should inquire about that bass to bass. He will do whatever spacing someone wants, so even if his standard is 20mm, that doesn't mean every one you see has that spacing.
The price differences on the used ones you've seen don't really denote any major differences in quality. The places just have different expectations of what they can get, or they are on consignment, etc...
yeah, the 20mm string spacing kicks my butt...that's the only thing that chafes about my 6'er. oh well, i play it anyway, becuase it's so RoXoRz.
I'll add my $.02, since neptoon's got my old bass, and I've got a new Curbow on the way myself.
First, I've always found the Rockwood necks to be amazing! They seem to combine the best elements of both graphite and wood, and are faster to play on that anything else I've ever played (to me, at least). Second, the quality of the work on all the Curbows I've seen or owned has been pretty much flawless, and the carved tops are particularly nice.
Not everyone likes the standard 20mm spacing and flat profile, especially on a 6, but I do--it lets me do some things cleanly that are harder with narrower spacing. But you do have to wear it a bit higher than you would with a narrower neck, to keep the wrist in a good position. There seem to be plenty of Petite 5's with narrower (17/18mm) spacing, though.
Some possible negatives are the weight--Curbows tend to be heavy, though well balanced. Also, some folks find the small body size and the contouring on the non-carved top Petites a little uncomfortable, depending on how you like to rest your right arm. That's one of the reasons I like the carved top better, aside from the fact that it just looks cool.
Once you get a bass is it possible to change the string spacing?
Most Curbows have bridges with adjustable spacing, so you can probably get the strings a little bit closer on the bridge end. There's not a really wide range of adjustment, though--you could probably bring the spacing by about 1mm or so if you wanted to maintain the same space between the G-string and the endge of the neck. To change the spacing on the nut end, you'd have to get a new nut cut.
He put my new Fralin pickups in my MIA 75 reissue. It sounds absolutely killer now.
I also saw the Zebra top for Mike's bass. Here's a pic (I'll email some more pics to you on Monday, Mike):
Curbow did a quick sketch to give you an idea of how it might look. But, it was mostly freehand, so don't worry if it isn't 100% what you want.
He also had some nice pieces of Spalted maple, and Buckeye burl that he was in the process of bookmatching. I might have to snag the spalted top for my next bass....
I played Dave Pomeroy's all rockwood 7 string with piezos while I was there. Super sweet, and super heavy. Studio tone from God.
Thanks a bunch, Jason! Both the zebrawood and the body shape he has sketched out are exactly what I was hoping for...
Cool. I 'm glad to hear it. I had to keep kicking him to get him to draw it so it went straight to the 12th fret--He kept wanting to slope it back down. He ending up liking it more than he thought he would. He said he could position the body on the board so the two 'eyes' wouldn't be on there if you didn't like them. IMHO, it's the little things like that that add character, but I'm not the one who's going to own it (although, I probably will play it first--nyah, nyah )...
Thanks for steering him straight on the shape. You know precisely what I want! As for the "eyes", I'm with you, and I like the wood to have some character. I'm not quite sold on the "f-hole" (if that's what it is) in the upper bout, though--a single one seems a bit half finished, somehow. I think I'd rather have no hole, or have a couple in some sort of pattern, like a simplified version of the blue Bennedetto:
We probably should take this offline or to another thread and stop hijacking poor r_simonini's thread!
20mm spacing on a 6 ??? I may be in the minority here but I wish more manufacturers offered this "wide" spacing (standard) on their 5 & 6 strings.
PS. I played a few Curbows at a store in Fort Lauderdale and they were amazing instruments.
So I bought the Curbow today qnd I am blown away. I feel inspired by this instrument.
you should be careful about your hands. Tendonitis can bring a musician (like myself) down. I have pretty small hands and the 20mm spacing hasn't bothered me yet.
yeah, i've extended the length of my playing along and along...plus, i haven't played in a band setting in nearly 8 years. so, i'm still trying to get my endurance up....doing warm ups and exercises, that kind of thing. during our rehearsals, i usually take breaks, so i don't go past my limit. i went from a warwick thumb 4 with 19mm spacing to this beast, so, i'm still getting used to playing a six string, as well. hey, i'm glad you're digging your new axe. you'll have to post some pictures!