Need help with custom bass specs

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JehuJava, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    I am cosidering having a custom bass built for me. The luthier has many specs requirements that I don't know how to answer.
    Ex 1: Position and spacing for pick ups.
    I've can't say that I've played that many different basses to say which spacing (distance from bridge) is right for my sound.
    Ex 2: Fretboard radius.
    I know I like a flatter fretboard. But how do I know how flat is too flat?
    Ex 3: Fret height.
    Again, how do I really know?

    I know what kind of sound (exactly) I want from the bass and how I like the bass to play. Should I tell him these requirements and let him make one for me?

    What if his interpretation of my sound is not my sound and I hate the bass?

    Someone please shed some light...

  2. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    Find out what you like...use that as a guide line. If you have a bass with a radius you like better than others, go with that. Find out what size frets your favorite bass(es) has, and go with that.
    As for not getting what you want...that's the risk you run of having one built.
  3. I would do what SoCom says, and also talk to the luthier and tell him what your looking for. Your playing style, which basses you really like, and so forth. Ask for his opinion on where the pickups should be placed to get the sound you want. Ask his opinion on what size fret wire would be best for your playing style. If I'm not mistaken, most basses are made using "Jumbo" wire.

    For the neck shape; tell him you want it like an elongated D or like a baseball bat sawn in half. Maybe you can tell him you want it "thin and comfy." Or what ever way you can get your point across.

    If you get some versatile pickups like the Bart Quad Coils, you should have plenty of settings to try and get "your" sound.

    This guy should be able to work with you and help you out, not everybody knows all the geometry that it takes to build a bass. If we did, we would just build 'em ourselves.
  4. At least your guy is asking questions. I worked with a luther once who when I asked his opinion on pickup placement said, "Well, I put them where I think they look the best." That SHOULD have been all the info I needed to run far, far away!

    PU placement is very important to the basic tone you get from a bass. For me, starting with a traditional Jazz bass placement gets the most versatility. Then, it comes down to pickup itself and the preamp. It is my experience that there is not a "do it all" pickup. I would rather a bass do a few things exceptionally well than many things just okay. For me, a jazz bass PU placement is a great starting point.

    Regarding fret height and fretboard radius, that is a function of your playing style and personal preference. Any luthier worth his/her salt should be able to guide you in the right direction. If you have a favorite "brand name" bass that has the feel you want, their website should give you the info you need, or your luthier might already know - all of the better luthiers I have known are very familure with the better brands as most have made a living at some point repairing instruments.

    Good luck!
  5. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Just a suggestion. Since you apparently don't really know what you want or need (that would be me too!), why not get a bass built by an established luthier like Elrick or Hanewinckel, etc.? They have developed their "custom" styles based what generally works best.
  6. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Thanks for all the insight guys. I really just need to do some homework on what I really like.
  7. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Morch is the custom bass luthier I was investigating. Anyone ever play one or heard anything about them?