Kevin Rutmanis' (Melvins, Tomahawk) custom Eric Chaz longhorn bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sjobi 1, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    I initially put this in another thread, but thought it deserved it's own, so here it is.

    Last January I acquired Kevin Rutmanis' orange Eric Chaz custom built long horn bass. Kevin is the reason I started playing bass. (I'm a painter, and started playing to have another creative outlet)

    The Melvins are probably my favorite band, and Kevin's time in the band is my favorite era. I'm also a huge Cows fan, and I really dig his newer band Hepa/Titus. Anyway, he made a post on Instagram saying that he was selling this one, send a message for details. I could not believe it. For me this is the most insane Melvins artifact ever, I wouldn't even trade it for one of Buzz's Les Pauls. Fortunately I must have been the first person to message him and his asking price was reasonable, given the instrument, the owner, provenance and meaning of it all to me. I had thought of messaging him about 6 months earlier to see if he wanted to sell either of his longhorns, as I'd only seen photos and videos of him playing a Bass VI the past couple years. I didn't message him because I thought that would be presumptuous/rude. After I bought this from him, I told him that I'd thought about asking him previously, to which he replied something like "haha, don't ask, don't get." And I replied, "Okay then, is the green 'Shove It' bass for sale?" I think that amused him but said he's keeping it.

    A little history on this unique instrument for those not familiar. When Kevin was in the Cows, he played an early G&L SB-2, with the two single coil MFD pickups. After the Cows split up, he joined the Melvins in 98 or 99. Footage from that first year or two shows him playing an SB-2 or a P bass usually. Sometime in 2000, he had this bass made by Eric Chaz. It has 24 frets, 2 tone and 2 volume controls, 3 way switch, a BadAss II bridge, and a Music Man style headstock with Music Man tuners. Initially it had a Precision split pickup in the bridge position and a jazz pickup in the neck position. At some point (maybe 2002ish? those pickups were changed for the G&L MFD pickups, like in his old SB-2 bass. However, as far as I know, the neck MFD single coil was long discontinued by G&L, so it's sporting two bridge pickups. The SB-2 and Lynx basses do have different pole spacing in that neck pickup, and this bass is hotter than those basses (I've A/B'd it against a Lynx) and I know the wiring/pots/caps are different, I think the neck pickup is a bit different, making a bigger, more gnarly sound. This thing is a friggen MONSTER noise machine.

    Some time in 2003 he had a second long horn bass made, also with the two G&L MFDs, that's the green one with the "Shove It" inlays on the fretboard. From what I can tell, the only other differences between the two are that the green one has a matching painted headstock and a forearm relief cut in the body, and obviously not the big plastic cover around the bridge pickup, where the split P was. The green and orange Chaz basses were his main (as far as I can find, only) basses for the rest of his time in Melvins and Tomahawk. After those bands, both were also used in his current band Hepa/Titus. Only more recently has he started playing a Bass VI, and I did see him play an early SB-2 when the Cows mostly reunited as the Cowz at Bash 15 in Minneapolis.

    This one was used on many Melvins and Tomahawk tours and several records. Most important to me, I believe it was used on one of my favorite albums of all time, the Melvins' "Hostile Ambient Takeover" album, which I think is some of Kevin's best work.

    This is the most well used instrument I've ever seen, let alone played. Two of the volume knobs and one of the tone knobs are broken off, one of the volume pot shafts is completely sheared off. I assume this is from him slamming his slide down the bass. The lower part of the fret board is kind of scalloped, also from his slide. Plenty of dings, scratches, dirt and other gnarly details, when people talk about mojo on an instrument, this one may well be the king. Yet is still plays perfectly fine. Actually, after I first agreed to buy it from him, he asked if I wanted to see some current pics of it, saying that it had some scratches. But I declined, I figured it would be in very well used condition, as long as it still worked I didn't much care. Other than a little wipe down and new strings (Kevin's last set are in a bag) I've kept it exactly as I received it, gaffer tape and all. It did not come with a strap, but after 7 months of searching I found another of the weird Ralph Marlin Uncle Sam strap that he used on this bass from later in his tenure in the Melvins and after.

    Anyway, I could go on and on about this sparkly, funny looking thing but I've already written half a novel so here it is. Now and then I plug it in and play a little Night Goat or Eye Flys, but it mostly just hangs proudly on my wall, it is my most prized worldly possession. I thought some of you might dig it.

    IMG_5069.jpg IMG_5072.jpg IMG_5071.jpg IMG_5070.jpg

    A few videos of the bASS in action:

  2. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Kevin Rutmanis is one of my favorite bass players. Totally original sound and style. Love Cows, love Melvins. I'm pretty much into everything the guy does. Amazing score getting his bass. Congrats.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
    StayLow and Sjobi 1 like this.
  3. b15fliptop


    Feb 17, 2004
    Really cool! I know him more from Tomahawk, but he was great in that band. Saw them on the Mit Gas tour.
    Sjobi 1 likes this.
  4. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    This fall I made a bass to copy the orange bass’ tone and play regularly, as playing the orange one frequently made me nervous. I thought about getting another SB-2 or Lynx and swapping the neck pickup out for another bridge, but then I thought it would be fun to add a 3rd pickup and I didn’t want to hack up a nice old G&L. I found this MIM Fender Jazz body with a new P-Neck and did my thing. It gets that nasty tone, and I can switch it up with the Tbird pickup when I want. I do play the Kevin bass now and then, but this is meant for playing all the time.

  5. Eon Sky

    Eon Sky Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2013
    Pacific Northwest
  6. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    Really cool. He's a really good player, and it's obvious you're really passionate about his playing and this bass. Good find! Dont ever let it go!
  7. ihaveaquestion


    Jan 9, 2018
    Great, thanks for sharing this experience. I always loved the sound and looks of this bass.

    Kevin inspired me to want a longhorn. How comfortable is this body shape sitting and standing?
    ErikP.Bass likes this.
  8. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    Never! I told my wife, if there’s a fire, once she and the kids are out and safe, next comes that bass. She said “Even before your artwork?” And I replied “I can always make more paintings, I can’t replace that instrument.”
    ihaveaquestion likes this.
  9. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    Standing feels great, not much unusual about it. Sitting is different, the curve that rests on your leg is quite a ways forward compared to the P and J bodies I’m used to. If you slid it over to your left leg it might sit in a more regular spot. Honestly though I hardly ever sit down with it, I find myself standing and wanting to swivel my hips around while playing. :D
    ihaveaquestion likes this.
  10. chanson

    chanson Supporting Member

    Is the action really as high as it looks in that pic??
    ErikP.Bass likes this.
  11. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Thanks for sharing. I remember that bass from when Kevin was in Tomahawk.....very cool.
    Sjobi 1 likes this.
  12. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    It is high, but there is definitely something weird going on with that pic. I noticed that after I loaded it up. Not sure if it’s the angle or some lens thing or what. The action is a bit high, I assume because of all the slide stuff he does, but not as crazy as it appears in that pic.
    ErikP.Bass likes this.
  13. McFarlin


    Oct 27, 2011
    Austin, TX
    He's an excellent dancer.
    ErikP.Bass, Sjobi 1 and AaronVonRock like this.
  14. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    He has the oddest stage move of any bassist while playing. Kind of a bizarre swirling motion.
  15. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    As Buzz said in the Melvins documentary "We didn't have to explain ‘weird’ to Kevin” or something like that.
    AaronVonRock likes this.
  16. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    just bumping this to say, thanks, this thread has led me into a Melvins listening binge, which I'm really enjoying :)
    ErikP.Bass and Sjobi 1 like this.
  17. Sjobi 1

    Sjobi 1

    Nov 23, 2009
    That's actually a replica of his green bass, also made by Eric Chaz. I believe a member of this forum had that one built a few years back. Here is his green bass.

  18. ErikP.Bass


    Nov 23, 2004
    @Sjobi 1 Congratulations!!! Awesome story and information. Thank you for for sharing. I found the thread while searching information about Longhorns. Never listened to him or his bands at all but dig what’s been shared...and will be listening to more.
    Sjobi 1 likes this.
  19. retroXvertigo

    retroXvertigo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2017
    Very cool. Didn't he have a P bass pup in the bridge at one point?
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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