Maezzi Hollywood (referenced) project

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by JIO, Jul 25, 2021.


  1. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I was first made aware of the Meazzi Hollywood 34" scale '60s vintage Italian bass by @Dynacord 's tb post covering his recent acquisition of one. NBD! vintage Italian retro-futurist content So cool - it shot right to the top of my list of awesome vintage designs. They are pretty rare also. A guitar version was also made. (2nd pic)

    Soooo.., my next project is going to be creating my own version of one. Not an authentic clone but a lovingly referenced version with the aim of maintaining the basses unique vibe/character with some contemporary improvements. The original bass is on the heavy side, so making a light-weight version is top priority. The original is semi-hollow-body in which the joint is hidden with a binding strip. (as seen in pic below) It has sophisticated electronics for being early '60s - reminiscent of Burns of London from the same period both introducing/pioneering active electronics. Read all about it on David's thread. To what extent I reference in this area is to-be-determined. I'm thinking of a twin P-bass pu set-up as I've always wondered how that would sound and David said it sounds more-or-less like a P-bass. Also thinking about mahogany and splitting the 1-1/4" thick (thinner than original) body in two for internal chambering/lightening. I did this on my Glam-P/J (alder/maple mix) and it gave the bass a unique subtly acoustic tone. The original has the jack on the rear but I will instead locate it on the front or side. I've tried a rear mounted jack once and it kept interfacing my body/leg in an uncomfortable manor. Sometimes what seems like a good idea never caught-on for a good reason.

    David was nice enough to do tracings of the body, pg, control plates and body/hs badges - just got them yesterday. So now I need to start hunting/gathering what I'll need to start - starting with a nice 1 piece slab of wood for the body.

    upload_2021-7-24_12-20-15.jpeg upload_2021-7-24_12-36-14.jpeg upload_2021-7-24_12-23-12.jpeg
    upload_2021-7-24_12-20-34.jpeg upload_2021-7-24_12-22-20.jpeg upload_2021-7-24_12-22-43.jpeg upload_2021-7-24_12-44-35.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
    Freekmagnet, KaraQ, Flying B and 14 others like this.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Very cool! Crazy '60's custom metalwork!

    I presume that the two sliding-arc things are pots, not multi-position switches? It'll take some clever metal and plastic work to recreate those, but it'll be worth it.
     
    Indiedog and JIO like this.
  3. More interesting JIOness! This should be good. I was also wondering if you are going to do up the controls like the original.
     
    Indiedog likes this.
  4. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    Really looking forward to seeing what you do with this! There was also a Bass VI version as well. Mine is not semi-hollow but solid high grade mahogany plywood. I think the binding on some of them was just decorative though I could be wrong. However there are extensive cavities under the metal plates (not all that different from some of the Ampeg scroll basses - as Bruce is on this thread) and there is the large cutout and cover plate on the back for the (original) preamp - it does give it a semi-hollow aspect to the tone. Mine is on the heavy side by contemporary standards at about 10 1/2 lbs. Could certainly be made lighter. Also the body is pretty thick.

    On the pickups, I think they sound roughly similar to the single coil P bass/Tele bass type. They do have pretty cool adjustable polepieces in a seesaw setup very similar to some Hagstrom/Guild pickups.

    The one on the treble side is just an arm attached to a (master) volume pot. The one on the bass side is a pan set up and could be made much more simply - the original is a crazy complicated Rube Goldberg system of gears to operate two volume pots to achieve what could be done with a single balance/pan pot now.

    meazzi guts gears.JPG

    The two standard knobs are a tone for each pickup. The only thing that was not original on mine was one replaced pot on one of those - for which I was grateful as I then replaced it with a push/pull to be able to bypass the preamp (which is only on the bridge pickup).

    The other REALLY crazy feature is a mercury kill switch which mutes the bass and disconnects the battery (under the 'Hollywood' badge) when placed on a stand.
     
  5. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I'll attempt to recreate the controls to a point but I will incorporate the mercury kill-switch as these units are (still) common on heating elements.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
  6. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Yah, the 'clunky' offset design of the three plates (1 pg/2 control plates) really appeals to my aesthetics. I'm hoping to find that thin metal material in SF somewhere. The pg will probably be cream or parchment pg material as anodizing one small piece would be excessive.
     
  7. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    Clear Lucite or similar painted gold underneath might be a cool option. Like on some the the Gretsch pickguards and pickup surrounds.
     
    JIO likes this.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    If this were my project, I'd make those metal control plates from aluminum, and give them a satin brushed finish. Or maybe thin stainless, polished up.
     
    JIO and Dynacord like this.
  9. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Yes, have done that a number of times and it looks really good. This one was an off white but it gives it depth. I actually like that idea better than metal - again, not trying to 'copy' the Hollywood - I'll be doing my own take of it.

    upload_2021-7-25_16-32-49.jpeg
     
  10. Interesting and cool project! I’m looking forward to watching it come together.
     
    JIO likes this.
  11. Kenan

    Kenan

    Sep 13, 2014
    Bayshore Metals at
    244 Napoleon St, San Francisco, CA 94124 is a good resource. I don't know if they have what you need, but I've sourced some stuff from there for my landscaping business.
     
    JIO likes this.
  12. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    For sure - know them well. They were going to be my first visit, but I think I may avoid metal for my version. Thanks anyway! :thumbsup:

    I fabbed this bridge E saddle for my '63 Burns of London Vista Sonic bass with brass sourced from them.

    upload_2021-7-25_19-38-11.jpeg
     
    Videojunkie and Beej like this.
  13. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    :) Welcome aboard!
     
  14. I am concentrating on my Ghia, so I shall watch the sawdust fly vicariously!
     
    JIO likes this.
  15. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    It will be a slow moving process...
     
  16. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    A few random thoughts... Of course it could be done in any color. All the basses I've seen (I only know of about 5) have been black. The guitar version came in black, red (very similar shade to your Burns), a trans red/black burst, green (a pretty ugly house paint shade IMO) and there's one catalog image that looks like either a pale blue or a silver (if it were me I'd probably go for something like a nitro Inca Silver personally). All had matching headstocks (black on the bursts). Finishes were an early poly and VERY thick - I'm sure this adds to the weight factor...

    Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 7.50.37 AM.png

    Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 7.51.50 AM.png

    Meazzi Red.png

    LOVE the case... Same as the Italian import Fenders used.

    Meazzi Green.png

    Some of the other Meazzis which had flat tops even used celluloid top laminates (the Meazzi drum kits from this time were AMAZING with celluloids we never saw in the US - see Max Roach playing one in the Summer of Soul movie).

    On the basses I've noticed 3 basic variations/combinations: with/without the side binding, with exposed adjustable polepiece pickups vs a simplified version (see the green guitar as an example - also on the green one note that there are no visible fret tangs, these used thin strips of rosewood as binding - it's near invisible) and with the Fender type bridge vs a separate tailpiece and bar type floating bridge (this has a smaller ashtray cover for just the tailpiece and the rear metal plate is shaped differently) and larger higher quality tuning machines vs more medium quality machines with pearl heads. Some had headstock badges or stickers and others were just blank.

    On all the basses, the neck pickups seem randomly positioned. Some very close to the neck and some further back. Mine seems pretty close to the typical P-bass position.

    This can all be much ado about nothing as it's clear that this is an 'inspired by' build but perhaps source ideas to extrapolate off of...
     
    God's Favorite Bass and JIO like this.
  17. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Thanks for posting David! The more info/pics/references the better. I'd seen the red but not the green, burst or pale blue. The red, at least in that pic, looks like Fiesta red. I kinda' like the green, but green is like purple to most people. Black looks good and offsets the pg/control plates nicely. Not sure what colour it will be yet but will definitely avoid a thick finish. That case has always been a fave - such a great design. Wasn't aware the Fender cases were from Italy - were they imported during the CBS years? There was also the "sunglasses" case which I've only seen a pic of in the Fender the golden age 1946-1970 book.

    upload_2021-7-26_8-59-31.jpeg
     
  18. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    Happy to help!

    I like green but that particular green doesn't really do it for me. Now if it was metallic... Or even just darker or lighter than that shade.

    On the cases, what most of the foreign distributors of Fender did in the 60's was imported the basses/guitars in bulk without cases and then sourced the cases domestically. I've seen UK and Scandinavian (and Canadian) 'Fender' cases - all different - but the Italian ones (the same as the Meazzi ones but with a "For Fender" badge on them) are by far the nicest.

    As to the 'sunglasses' cases that Fender offered as an upgrade in the US, I don't know where those were made.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
  19. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    Here's some pics of the 60's Fender cases for the Italian market:

    1966-fender-jazz-bass-fiesta-red-4.jpg

    1966-fender-jazz-bass-fiesta-red-1.jpg

    On a tangent, it seems like the Italian distributor imported a bunch of these Fiesta Red dots/binding '66 Jazz Basses - have seen about half a dozen out of Italy over the years (not in person but via the various dealers).
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2021
    Low8, God's Favorite Bass and JIO like this.
  20. Dynacord

    Dynacord

    Jan 1, 2005
    Poland
    I forgot, there was also another catalog shot of a more medium blue:

    Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 7.37.33 PM.png

    Another shot of Meazzi's red:

    195786132_10215236619789150_5025956576321569463_n.jpg

    The model is "Zodiac" (no bass version so far as I know...)

    Note that they did a lot of the clear raised secondary pickguards much like on some of the Coral guitars/basses.
    For a truly wild pickguard, check out the Meazzi Hollywood Acoustic Prinz Bass:

    2725431816_6d9d3f4b7e_o.jpg

    There was also a very similar Jupiter Acoustic and there was a bass version as well. Can't find a picture of the bass ATM but here's the guitar - has that same guard:

    IMG_3364.thumb.jpg.521b94124e22ae9927a3545bb5844909.jpg
     
    Eli_Kyiv, daveman50, Retro and 6 others like this.
  21. 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.

     
    May 21, 2022

Share This Page