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Custom build recommendation for new 5er -- my new DEVON bass!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by szusman, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It seems that no one is making my "dream bass" -- so I am looking to commission a new 5-string bass with these specs for UNDER $3000:

    mahogany body (light-weight, or chambered)
    exotic top (redwood possibly)
    *I prefer a more traditional body shape
    1-piece maple neck (birdseye or flamed maple)
    *35" scale
    *1.75" at the nut; 18 or 19mm spacing at bridge
    *graphite trussrod
    *bolt-on OR set-neck
    ebony fingerboard with pearl dots
    soapbar pickups (dual & singe coil capabilities)
    9v preamp that emulates the MTD transparent hi-fi sound
    *I prefer a V/Bl/B/T preamp with coil tap & active/passive switches
    Hipshot ultralight hardware (black)

    This bass has elements of Fodera, Sadowsky, Alembic, and MTD. I suppose Fodera might build this for $7500, but... is there anybody out there who will make the above bass for under $3000?

    I've been told Hanewinckel is my best option, and I'm strongly considering him, but I am open to other makers as well before I pull the trigger on a deposit. Maybe a Surine Homage? Stambaugh? Benavente?

    Any feedback, my fellow TBers?
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
  2. UpperBout

    UpperBout Supporting Member

    Check out HJC Customs. I don't own one but played one briefly that belonged to a local friend. As you know (since I bought one from you), I'm predominantly an Alembic player. But I've often considered building an Alembic-esque custom, and this would probably be the place I'd have do it.
    Bass of the Week: HJC Customs Alchemy Fretless 5

    Also May Custom Basses: May Custom Basses | Facebook (I don't have direct experience with these, but they are also on my shortlist for a custom. A player I respect speaks well of his.)

    My other local bass playing friend love his Tom Clements. These have many of the characteristics you describe. Tom Clement Instruments | Specializing in Hand-Crafted Lightweight Basses and Guitars

    I'm not 100% sure these exactly hit your target budget, but I think they are close.
  3. audreycashin

    audreycashin Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2010
    long island, ny
  4. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    You can try John Toon. He's on TB, but I forget exactly what his nic is and he's not on too often. His website is http://www.toonbass.webs.com/ . Based out of Kansas City.
  5. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Some good ideas already suggested, but I'll also toss in Alan Cringean's name (aka ACG). Not sure about the "traditional body shape" but I think everything else you've mentioned is well within his oeuvre, and his wood work is second to none.
  6. RoBer


    May 12, 2010
    Bass Player, composer
    I would suggest to look this beautiful Surine Regency 5 for sale in perfect condition that has pretty much all the specs you asking for.
    All the best
  7. RoBer


    May 12, 2010
    Bass Player, composer
  8. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Great suggestions! I've begun emailing for quotes. Unfortunately the Regency is a little too exotic-looking for my taste. I do however like their Homage body.

    By "traditional" body, I mean a double cut design based on a jazz bass body (but very open to variations).
  9. I've been building for a few years now and here's my thoughts...

    1. I had a look at your specs there. They look like any number of basses I see for sale on this forum. I'd really seriously look second hand.
    2. $3000 is still extremely cheap to have someone hand build you an instrument. That's minimum 100 hours at $30 an hour not including parts or consumables. I'd keep saving if you want new.
    3. Before you take a second look at HJC, you better read this... HELP!Where is HJC CUSTOMS?

    BTW, Tom Clement is a lovely guy and I've only heard good things about Stambaugh too.

    P.s. A lot of us who go after hand made custom basses go chasing magical unicorns that don't exist. Many end up underwhelmed by what they are given even if it's an excellent instrument. Keep your expectations reasonable. ;)
    TrustRod likes this.
  10. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for your note. The challenge is finding a neck with 1.75" width at the nut and 35" scale length... and the mahogany body is not as common as ash or alder. But those three things are must-haves for me.

    Clement and Hanewinckel will do it in my price range; those are my top picks so far. But still considering Stambaugh and Benavente as well.

    I know I might find a used Roscoe SKB with specs pretty close to what I'm wanting... any others? (Sadowsky and Smith are 34" only; MTD and Spector are too thick at the nut; Alembic is a little exotic in body style.)
  11. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    I can recommend two buddies of mine, Keith Horne and Mike Lipe. Both of them have their shops here in the same building as mine, in Fillmore, up in Ventura county. I work directly with both of them, providing them with truss rods, custom hardware, and special neck machining services.

    Keith is a custom builder, who can build just about any special bass project. He could easily build what you are asking for, probably for under $3000. There are several threads here on TB covering basses he's built for BassHappy (aka Rick Kennell). Keith can be reached at: keithhorne1@gmail.com and 213-400-6702

    Mike Lipe is better known for his guitars. He's been building professionally for over 45 years. I've been supplying his partially-machined necks for about 16 years. We've done maybe 800 guitars and basses over that time. He mostly builds guitars, but he does turn out some 4 and 5 string basses. I think I built him two 5-string bass necks this past year.

    Mike doesn't really do full completely custom basses, but the reason that I recommend him is that his standard basses are really close to what you are asking for. He regularly does softwood chambered bodies with decorative wood tops. He's built quite a few mahogany bodies with redwood tops, and many other combinations. Also, most of his necks are one-piece roasted flame or bird's eye maple. Almost every item on your list is routine for Mike. He can be reached at: mike@lipeguitars.com or (818) 352-6212. His web site is www.lipeguitars.com
  12. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
  13. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars
    As a builder who doesn't really fit your description (I don't do "J-style" basses, and most everything I make is over $3K), I could recommend a couple of guys who might fit your needs.

    -Chris Stambaugh is 100% custom-shop, more flexible than most custom builders, and has lots of happy TBers. He's a great guy who's been building for a long time and will absolutely listen to your needs.

    -For a direct "J-style" build with some custom aspects, consider Nino Valenti. He's an ex-Sadowsky employee who does some very nice J-style builds with custom flexibility. Another longtime TBer and stand up guy.

    Beyond those guys, there are LOTS of great smaller builders out there that can do what you want.
    Conor Wenk at American Son Guitars in Woodstock NY makes a very fine-sounding and comfortable bass.
    He's a grad of Roberto-Venn, and then worked at Santa Cruz Guitars for a while, and is now building on his own.
    I played his first few basses after he built them and was quite impressed.

    You always have to weigh the equation between a lower-priced 'local' builder with less name recognition,
    vs. a better-known builder whose instrument will hold its value better for potential resale. I know resale is not usually first on your mind when considering a custom, but it's advisable to consider this at times, as your needs and tastes may well change in the future. Mine certainly have.
  14. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Collecting quotes from Stambaugh, Clement, Valenti, and Benavente. Will report back when I decide. Thanks for all the suggestions -- these four guys' designs seemed to resonate the most with me...
  15. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Great recommendations here. I can definitely recommend Nino Valenti and Chris Stambaugh.

    If you want a P or J shape then I think Valenti. If you want something more custom then I'd give Stambaugh the nod.

    It looks like you're getting a few different quotes which is always smart. I will say that as a happy Stambaugh customer, one of Chris' weaknesses is fast responses via email. I always recommend calling him.
  16. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I would second the recommendation of Hanewinckel. I currently have my 3rd Hanewinckel. The first two were 6-strings, which is why I no longer have them. When I found a 5-string available, I snapped it up, knowing that Pete's basses are the real deal. I would also recommend May Custom Basses. He makes some incredible looking instruments. I got to spend five minutes playing one at the GC were he is (was?) the guitar tech. Haven't been there in a while so I don't know if he is still there.

    My current Hannie....

    kittywithabanjo likes this.
  17. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Alembic body style ranges from mild to wild. The "mild" would be Elan, Distillate, Spoiler, Rogue, Europa, Small Standard (Stanley Clarke style) and Essence body styles.

    Wild would be the Balance K, Spyder, and the Triple Omega. The large body Series I and Series II Point and Omega basses are somewhere in the middle.

    You won't get a new one from Alembic in the $3,000 range, but you can find some really nice used stuff in that price range. Especially Essence, Rogue, and the occasional Stanley Clarke Signature (short scale). You might be hard pressed to find a 35" scale Alembic. They are out there, but very rare.

    This link takes you to a page that shows outlines of some (not all) Alembic body shapes.

    Alembic Bass Index
  18. bang for your buck expert craftsmanship is an oxymoron, if you want something nice with materials like that and high end hand built quality you should probably prepare to pony up some more cash for the job or start preparing for disappointment. That's said, when I bought my new old stock modulus genesis from planet bass tony had another nos genesis with barto soap bars on his site, if you have him change out the preamp in it to meet your specs it may get you close to where you want to be price wise and you could get a really well built, hand built and unique instrument.
  19. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    That Genesis looks pretty killer. Wish it was mahogany, but alder is my next favorite. I will think about it. I do have a Celinder preamp that needs a new home. Hmmm...
  20. szusman

    szusman Supporting Member

    May 15, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Just discovered Devon basses. Another fantastic design. This is going to be a tough decision!

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