HELP! Info on Riverhead basses???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jsonnenblick, Jun 15, 2001.

  1. Hi. I have the option of buying a really cool-looking used bass, but it was made by an obscure Japanese company at least 8-10 years ago. The brand name is Riverhead. The bass has a carved flamed maple top, walnut back, 6-piece bolt-on neck, 24-fret ebony fingerboard, Bartolini PJ pickups and electronics (after-market) and a gold Badass II bridge (aftermarket).

    Any thoughts or info on the bass or the company?

  2. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Hi there! I too have been looking for info on River Head basses...just wondering if you found any? Thanks
  3. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Just thought I would revive the dead a little guys.........I had one of these in white from the late 80s. It had a headstock but all the tuning was done from the bridge.
    Anyone have any pictures that they can post and more info maybe? :help:
  4. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: Anybody!!!???? :help: :help: :help: :help: :help: :help:
  5. 6-3-2


    Sep 20, 2003
    Umm they are still around and I believe owned by the same company that makes Bacchus basses, I think the parent company is deviser.
  6. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    :meh: I thought it was headway (parent company). i'll take your lead and check it out though.
  7. That's funny, I just bought a headless Riverhead steinberger copy. It's a strange little guy: it's got a bolt-on neck that is glued on. After having taken off the finish, I can say with relative certainty that this was the factory's method for attaching the neck, as the body had no holes drilled for mounting a bolt-on. But the thing sounds pretty nice, has cool soapbar-style pickups, and an ebony fingerboard (I think: it looks too dark to be rosewood). Incidentally, I couldn't stand the shape or strap mounting positions of the stock body (which looked like a Steinberger cricket bat mixed with a child's drawing of a rocket), and the body was a wreck anyhow, so I cut off all of of it that wasn't in line with the bridge/neck and am in the process of making new body wings for it.
  8. fcoda


    Jan 23, 2002
    I remember in the mid 80s the Riverhead bass - made by Headway it was called the Unicorn , headless bass , they offered 2 different pickup configs. I see them on ebay from time to time. I saw it used by Dave Pegg of Jethro Tull during the A tour.
  9. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I had one that I picked up for a gig overseas a couple of years ago and it worked fine. It was a 5 string flamed maple top over I don't really know. I would guess ash or alder. Maple neck with ebony board and passive J pu's. It had a transparent pick guard that I removed and it was fine for the small venues that we played in. I ended up donating it to a church that had a need for a bass over there.I had a hard time finding any info on the thing back then so I'm not surprized that you're not finding too much on it. One thing I have to mention, I did find out that they made a limited edition J bass that they had a fairly hefty price tag on it but whether the one I had was one of those I never was able to find anyone who would know.
  10. hooky_marr

    hooky_marr Supporting Member

    Finally discovered this thread - maybe someone here knows something.

    As far as I was able to gather from a few people' webpages, Riverhead in the 80s manufactured several lines of headless instruments, all marked "Designed by Headway" - it's unclear which was the parent company. They had a US sales and distribution office in Illinois; maybe another existing company was representing them in North America.

    The headless lines included:

    - An early line which was a straight-up copy of the original Steinberger B2, and was quickly changed due to a lawsuit.

    - The RUB series - Riverhead Unicorn Bass - which is the flying-v / Steinberger P-series clone, also the most common one from what I can see. Most prominently played by Michael Manring. Also had a matching guitar line, the RUG series. After the initial 1980s run, capitalized on the Manring connection and re-released the Unicorn in the early 90s in various exotic woods.

    - The RPB series - Riverhead Phantom Bass - is a unique, faceted/angular design not unlike an F-117 stealth fighter; it also had a companion guitar model, the RPG. (Michael Manring's brother Doug plays one, according to his website - you can see a pic of the guitar there in his gear section) Apparently they came in a few different colours, the most common being white and black, but also in a metallic blue, a cream, and something called "desert yellow" unless I'm misinformed.

    The Phantom bass looks like this (i apologize - this is the only pic I can find, which I snagged off a Thai secondhand marketplace message board.) What you can't see is the mini "headstock" with its string clamps,


    This is the one I'm looking for, incidentally! :) Contact me if you've got one..(Yes, I'm going to post something in the classifieds.)

    I'm not sure, but it's possible that the Riverhead brand existed before that, making decent Fender-style instruments. More detective work is required...

    Most sites note that the original Riverhead factory was destroyed in a fire; the brand re-emerged recently, as noted by another poster, as part of the Japanese Deviser company (; they now make much more traditional-looking electric guitars, basses and acoustics under both the Headway and Riverhead brands.
  11. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Thats the one that I had! Except it was kinda like a pearl white color. It was about 17-18 years ago that I bought it. I no longer have it, but I am trying to find the person that does and re-obtain it.
    Thanks for an excellent post. :hyper:
  12. hooky_marr

    hooky_marr Supporting Member

    My pleasure.

    What were we thinking, selling these? Ah, youth. :)
  13. bgartist

    bgartist Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    They make a jazz bass that looks like a cross between a Lakland and a Sadowsky. I think it was called a Riverhead Gracia series by Headway. I bought an ash/maple 5 string about 4 years ago. It was an absolutely killer bass-looks and sound. I sold it when I got my Pedulla. Now I wish that I kept it.
  14. This is the bass I'm still using after nearly 20 years.Haven't found one as comfortable to play so why change.It still sounds fantastic.
    Sold in Australia as the Riverhead Jupiter.I've only seen two others and they were both on MTV film clips.

    Back in 1987 when I bought it it was about $1800 Aussie dollars.Expensive back then,but I've had my moneys worth.

    It came out not long before the fire burnt down the riverhead factory.
    I also own the Unicorn bass in black with single coil pick ups.Some of these came out with a sc pick up at the neck and a switchable humbucker at the bridge....sounded like crap.

    If anyone can find one like the picture it you wont be dissappointed!

    Cheers Bevel19
  15. daofktr

    daofktr irritating, yet surly

    Feb 15, 2005
    aurora, IN
    looks like what would happen if a ric boinked a 'wick.
  16. HMMMM... ricwick.
  17. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I have one of those weird ones with the heastock that has two tuners pointing back too. I used to have two; one had two soapbar looking pickups with passive electronics and a rosewood fingerboard, and the other one (pictured) has an ebony fingerboard with active electronics and a PJ pickup configuration.

    I do not really have any information on them. They seem like high quality intruments although it is not one of my main basses.
  18. RikBass


    Nov 15, 2006
    Perth Australia
    View attachment 46348

    View attachment 46349

    Hi, to reopen an old thread here is a couple of pics of my riverhead jupiter and its original hardcase.
    i love it, wont sell it.( well everything is for sale if the price is right!)
    Rock ON!
  19. swoff


    May 7, 2011
    Howdy Guys,
    I,m looking for a Riverhead Unicorn preferably black. Im in Brisbane Australia
    Happy to pay for shipping etc. if needed
    Would love to hear from someone eMail....
    Cheers Steve