Friday, August 29, 2014

Rebirth of.... 2 BASSES??

We live in interesting times! No sooner have I had my Toby Pro-6 supercharged with an OBP-3 and MIDI, than I rediscover a couple of old gems I haven't played much recently.

1. My 4-string fretless - my "bastard bass" of the body from my original Hohner 4-string from 1988, which I heavily modded using various wood planes and repainted myself. It's an ugly bastard, but the fretless neck is beautiful - a solid slab of ebony.

2. My Hohner B-Bass V, a nice to play 5 string with a crap preamp, which consequently sounds dull, muffled and crap compared to all the other basses I have, despite playing beautifully and being great for slap, tap and fingerstyle with heavier strings on it than I generally use. This thing saw 3 months of action in Andorra and played great, it just doesn't sound good compared to modern active basses. It's got passive pickups and a tiny built-in preamp with basic bass/treble.

So, in reverse order...
For the B-Bass V:
I scored an OBP-3, complete with exactly the wiring I needed already fitted (it was plucked from another bass) for about £60 delivered - steal, complete with push/pull pot for MID switch AND bass/treble stack. Win!

Next I ordered up a new slot-in bridge from Thomann, which I've got, and a CTS stacked 500K/500K pot (a la Jazz bass) to bring the 2 pickup volumes onto 1 pot. I thought about MEC-warwick style blend-and-volume but wanted to keep the costs down a little. So we'll go from vol - vol - stacked bass/treble to vol/vol - treble with push/pull - stacked bass-treble!

So far I've got the pickup volumes wired up, then realised I - gulp - have a little shaving to do inside the control cavity as the CTS pots are really meant to attach to the control plate on a Jazz bass. Arse! Well, I think I can safely manage that, there's a good 6-7mm of wood on the top, and I only need 2mm off (I'll have to shave the whole pot top face, mind - eek!).

Sourcing the control knobs is a PAIN! The "Alpha" sized pot already attached to the OBP-3's bass/treble is 6mm/8mm shaft size, piece of cake to pick up a good looking slightly domed stacked knob. Single knob for the treble, no worries. But the stacked knob for the CTS pot is a real PITA, expensive and not carried in many places in the UK. Consequently, I pay under £5 for the Alpha sized one and £12 for the CTS one at Allparts! Jeez...

And that Fretless 4-string neck? Well, when I took it off the old bass body I found this, which is lovely of me to leave on there -

So apparently I've decided that 20 years mounted on a crap body is long enough. I'm tempted to leave myself another Easter egg comment in CD marker pen this time with the new date on!

The body was an absolute steal on eBay: a complete, loaded Allparts 3-piece alder in 3-tone sunburst, with fender covers and neckplate, all for £116 shipped (eek!) - it's immaculate too, after a little neck adjustment (which I have to complete - you can see the strings aren't straight yet) I got this rather beautiful creature:

My word, retro-tastic! I'm going to need to do a fair amount of head-scratching to get the neck to work well, but the outcome will be a lovely bass.

Wish me luck, it's fun and games at Basexperience tower...

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