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NBD!! Custom Stambaugh - Beautiful Koa top

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Symphony2040, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Symphony2040

    Symphony2040 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008

    I usually don't create NBD threads, but as you can see, this one is really, really something special. To be honest, I've had this bass for about a good month or so now. I wanted to sit on speaking about it due to my habit of buying and selling basses. This overview/review may be rather long, but it is well worth writing. Hope you enjoy the read!

    PART I


    This is a custom, 6 string Chris Stambaugh bass that I had purchased off of the TB classifieds early this year. It was sold from a very generous and kind seller that allowed me to hear it before purchasing, and ensured that it was delivered in one piece.


    This bass features a Walnut body with a 5-piece Maple/Koa neck. One of the main selling points for me was the breathtaking Koa top, which features a ton of beautiful and distinctive patterns. It should also be mentioned that, the original owner insisted on the bass having domestic woods.

    Finally, the bass has a high gloss finish that never feels off or gets in the way when playing, but looks all the more perfect.


    The 'ramp pickup' actually contains a concealed Aero MM pickup. The ramp pickup is great since it doesn't distract from the beautiful Koa top. I have a very light touch, so the ramp doesn't bother me in the slightest. Thankfully, the height of the ramp can be adjusted from the back of the body.

    The entire top makes me think of fire and Autumn. Strangely, the center of the pickup ramp reminds me of the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. Combine that with the gorgeous inlay, and it all kind of comes together. :smug:

    Speaking of the inlay...


    Another one of the main, and perhaps primary selling points for me was the glorious and incredibly detailed vine inlay. The inlay really reminds me of a beautiful Celtic design. This, coupled with the Ebony fingerboard, really makes the entire bass more of a showpiece than just another instrument.


    I remember sitting on the decision to purchase this bass for a few weeks, and was surprised that it hadn't been purchased sooner. I'm really glad that I took the jump, and can now fully appreciate this work of art.


    Other than the hidden Aero Pickup that can be found in the shell of the ramp, this bass also has a Hipshot A Style Peizo Bridge by Graphtec. This is my first time owning a bass with a bridge like this, so I am still learning a lot about it the more I play the instrument. What compliments this special bridge is the rather uncommon TCM 3 P preamp by Noll Electronic.


    This is a parametric preamp that provides an incredible amount of control thanks to the ability to control the frequency for ALL controls. Yes, this means that there is a frequency control for Treble, Midrange, and Bass (Hence the three stacked knobs). To top it all off? The Master volume knob can be pulled up to enable a passive mode. I haven't tested the passive mode that much, but it is always a nice feature to have. The controls in the picture above are as follows (from left to right):

    1. Knob 1: Master Volume (Active/Passive)
    2. Knob 2: Balance; Turn the knob left (Neck) is for the Aero pickup, turning it right (Bridge) is for the Peizo
    3. Stacked Knob 1: Treble Boost & Cut / Treble Frequency
    4. Stacked Knob 2: Midrange Boost & Cut / Midrange Frequency
    5. Stacked Knob 3: Bass Boost & Cut / Bass Frequency
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
  2. Symphony2040

    Symphony2040 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Part II


    So now to the big question...what about the SOUND? Well, let's just say that this is perhaps the clearest and most colorful sounding bass that I've ever heard. The bass has a piano-like clarity and is consistent all around the fingerboard. You know those 'grey areas' on the lowest strings around the 15th fret and up? Chords still sound clear and articulate when played in that area. Since I have the action set extremely low, it takes no effort to play and yet, still rings like a bell.


    Speaking of which, the original owner did warn me that it was a very 'bright' bass. There are definitely some familiar tones that I can't get out of this bass. For example, the burpy, gritty sound of a bridge pickup being soloed is one of these sounds. However, one thing that I will say is that, this bass can really sound like a P bass on steroids, a sound that I really appreciate and have never had the chance of experiencing before.

    Rolling the balance towards the bridge is also a very unique sound. It is very...airy and open, acoustic even. I find that every little sound from playing the strings can be heard when utilizing the bridge, but it helps that I have a delicate right hand technique. To be honest, I typically keep the balance in the middle, or solo the Aero pickup.


    Also, I guess it would help to mention that, I have this bass tuned DGCFBbEb. So, the top 6 strings of a 7 string bass, but tuned down a whole step. Obviously, this bass has a very specific purpose, and it having a clear sound is perfect for the type of music that I intend on composing. I actually intend on setting it up with standard B-C tuning, just to hear how it would sound.


    Anyway, thank you so much for reading! I'm very pleased with this bass and feel that I have a special connection with it in just the short amount of time that I've had it. Is it perfect? No. I don't know if that perfect bass exists yet, but so far this is easily one of the best instruments that I've had the chance of playing. I'll leave you all with some pictures of the bass during the build process. These final pictures were provided by the original owner. :)





    Last edited: Feb 10, 2020
  3. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Wow, that is amazing.

    The koa top and the elegant fingerboard inlays are a great match.

    Congrats on the new bass!
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  4. Nightman

    Nightman If it ain't low, it's got to go! Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    In a word, ‘Breathtaking’!!
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  5. DrMole

    DrMole Supporting Member

    Everything aesthetic about that instrument just works. Brilliantly.
    It looks very well balanced in width both neck and body. I had to double check to verify it truly was a six-string. Completely unlike some six strings that have a width approaching that of an ironing board.

    Glad its sound is on par with the appearance. Definitely in my top-five eye-candy basses.
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  6. Robert B

    Robert B Somewhere under the rainbow Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Wadsworth, OH, USA
    Wow! I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful instrument! Congratulations!
    instrumentalist and Symphony2040 like this.
  7. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    Those inlays are something else. They are going to frame your left hand as it zips around
    instrumentalist and Symphony2040 like this.
  8. 68Goldfish

    68Goldfish Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Port Orchard WA
    Wow, what a piece of art!
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  9. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Stunning! So beautiful.
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :laugh: yeah, i'd say!

    simply beautiful! ;) congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  11. Symphony2040

    Symphony2040 Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    That was definitely something that I noticed as well! This bass is easily the most comfortable 35 inch scale bass that I've ever used. Moving around the neck feels effortless, and it having 17mm spacing was also a big plus.

    I guess I should have also mentioned that, when I first picked up the bass, I was absolutely blown away by how light it was. It is easily under the 9 lbs mark and balances extremely well without a strap.
  12. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
  13. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    It's rare that I read a post that's that long... but first, it was VERY well written... probably inspired by that gorgeous bass...

    That inlay work, to include the tasteful binding on the body, is definitely memorable. I was going to go practice... but I need to distract myself with something non-bass to get that work of art out of my mind before I go back to my plain Jane workhorses. :)
    Symphony2040 and Heavy Blue like this.
  14. pingvuiini


    Feb 2, 2009
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  15. quindecima

    quindecima Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2016
    Walterville, Oregon
    I remember this Bass and had given thought of purchasing it myself but other things got in the way. Nice!
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  16. I'm a bit far, or I'd come around to meet this bass in person. Congratulations!
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  17. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Just gorgeous! One of the most unique NBD's I've ever seen on TB. :thumbsup:
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  18. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston

    and Holy Crap!!!

    That's all I've got....

    Symphony2040 likes this.
  19. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Congratulations & Compliments, that is a spectacular instrument.
    Symphony2040 likes this.
  20. I kind of regret selling my Stambaugh .I also picked it up used. He's a great builder and it seems he only got better since I had mine (mine was dated mid 2000s).

    Beautiful bass and I'd love to hear some sound samples with your unique tuning
    Symphony2040 likes this.

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