Handcrafted basses

Basses



Headless bass (2016)




Contruction: Bolt-on neck
Neck: asymmetrical, no radius, adjustable trussrod
Frets: 22, + zerofret
Scale: 33,5"/85,6cm
Wood: Ovangkol, Iroko, Santos rosewood
Pickups:WSC soapbar humbucker
Tuners:Kluson
Bridge:Boston
controls:volume, tone, single/dual coil / passive distortion on/off
Finish: hand rubbed Polyurethane

Headless bass with normal tuners
The Steinberger-style tuning bridges are expensive and i couldn't find any cheaper alternatives. Besides that, you need double-ballend strings, wich are also more expensive than normal strings. There are headless basses you can use normal strings on, but i'm not fond of screwing the strings tight with and Allen wrench. Too tight and you damage the string, not tight enough and the string comes out of the clamp.
An alternative is using normal tuners in the body and that's what i did. It's a challenge to keep the whole thing as small as possible. The tuners are Kluson (the volin bass type), with small pegheads.
Total width of the body is 15cm / 6 inches.




Bassouki (2015)




Contruction: Neck through body
Neck: symmetrical, no radius, adjustable trussrod
Frets: 19, + zerofret
Scale: 28"/72cm
Wood: Meranti, Maple
Pickups:Vintage spec JB
Tuners:Fender
Bridge:Boston
controls: volume, 2 tone switches (different capacitors)
Finish: hand rubbed Polyurethane

My dad is a bassguitar, my mum is an Irish bouzouki, what am i? A Bassouki !
This is a solid body bass bouzouki. Instead of a soundhole, it has an inlay of veneer and ivory. Before you ask: no, i didn't shoot an elephant, i got some ivory tops of old piano keys (Thanks Simeon!).
This bass has a very short scale of 28 inch / 72 cm, making this a lightweight, handy-dandy little bass. Normal strings would have not enough tension, and sound all flabby, so i put on heavier strings. It plays great with this gauge: .055, .075, .095, .115.
I put the big tuners on so i don't have to buy special short scale strings, they can be expensive. You can wrap the thick E string a few times around the big Fender-style tuners, that would be a problem with the smaller tuners.
The pickup is a vintage spec JB pickup (bridge model). Slanted backwards this time, on a (very) short scale bass, the thickest strings (E, A) tend to sound fatter than the thiner strings (D, G). The pickup is slanted to compensate for that.
The fresh sawn meranti wood is still very light on the pictures, it's a sort of pink/salmon color, but that wil get darker in time, to caramel brown.




The Klassik (2015)




Contruction: Bolt on neck
Neck: asymmetrical, no radius, non adjustable trussrod
Frets: 24, + zerofret
Scale: 31.8"/80,8cm
Wood: Padouk, Maple, Lacewood, Oak
Pickups: MM passive + Vintage spec JB
Tuners: Kluson
Bridge: 4 single-saddle bridges, Kluson
controls: volume, tone, Pickup 1 on/off, pickup 2 on/off and single/dual switch
Finish: hand rubbed Polyurethane

Not quite stradivarius.
This bass is inspired by classical instruments like violin and cello, but it had to be something else then the standard Beatles violinbass. The vintage spec JB pickup gives it the growl of an old Jazz Bass, and forms a versatile combination with the purring MM pickup at the bridge. The scale is somewhat shorter than standard, about 32 inch/ 81 cm. I like this scale because it gives a little less tension on a standard .045-.105 set of strings, and therefore a little extra amplitude, i.e. just a little fatter sound. The shorter neck is also very comfortable.
The spots on the body are natural, they're in the wood, a very nice effect of the lacewood top. I made the pickguard of a few layers of veneer, the top layer from a nice piece of burl maple.
Ergonomics are part of this design as well: the bass is relatively small, lightweight (for a monsterbass..), the rounded armrest, good balance whlie playing standing up, as well as sitting down.
A lot of people like this design, though they keep asking me if the hole in the headstock is for hanging the guitar on the wall: No it isn't, it's just cool.




Curve Bass (2014)




Contruction: Bolt on neck
Neck: asymmetrical, no radius, non adjustable trussrod
Frets: 22, + zerofret
Scale: 31.8"/80,8cm
Wood: Meranti, Afrormosia
Pickups: MM passive
Tuners: Fender
Bridge: Boston
controls: volume, tone, single/dual switch
Finish: hand rubbed Polyurethane

Yet another special MonsterBass...
The goal was to combine a good design with a simple, fast to build construction. Well, it always costs a lot of time to build a guitar, but this was indeed a fast one. It was finished in about 25 hours building time (not including glue drying etc.).
Where was the gain: Thanks to the simple shape, the sanding went a lot faster. Short turns and corners in the design, take up a lot of sanding time. That's also the reason the neck flows into the headstock: no corners there.
Routing is simplest when it can be done from the front of the body. No complicated stuff: just routing the cavities for pickup and electronics, and it doesn't have to be precise where the pickguard is covering it up.
The thickness of the neck is the same overall, no tapering, looking from the side that is. The headstock though, is routed flatter because of the tuners.
The body is made from some glued-together planks, the build would have been even faster if it was a single piece of wood, but i wanted the typical grain of quartersawn meranti at the front. But that is rather soft. The back of the body, wich supports the neck the most, had to be a harder piece of wood.
Meranti can have different colors, grain and hardness. It is a common name for a number of related tree species, that's why meranti can have different appearances. The fretboard is the only non-meranti piece: it's made from afrormosia.
The pickup is a passive MM style humbucker, i can switch it single- or dual coil. The "single" mode gives the bass a clear sound, but with enough lows. Suitable for slapping, nice cripy sound. Switching to "dual" mode (coils in serial, by the way), gives it a lot more volume and low frequencies. Like hitting a turbo button. The sound in dual mode has the "growl" wich is typical for MusicMan basses.




JB PIezo (2014)




Contruction: bolt on neck
Neck: standard P-bass neck
Frets: 21
Scale: 34"/86,4
Woods: Iroko, maple, macassar ebony
Pickups: Shadow Piezo system
Tuners: Allparts
Bridge: Monsterbass
controls: volume, tone
Finish: Rubbed Polyurethane
Extra features: preamp onboard

Jazz bass, but different.
I bought the neck on a guitar builders meeting, i was told it comes from the Mighty Might factory, wich also produces for Fender. There's no brand on the neck, but the quality and finish are indeed fine: it is nice and straight, even and good finished fretwork, you don't cut your fingers at the fretends, abalone markers, so: good enough to make a fine bass from it.
It acually is a P-bass neck, but i picked the Jazz Bass form for the body. Somehow i found it more suitable for a piezo bass. The body is made from a single piece of Iroko, pretty tough and hard wood. It takes a lot of time to get it nice and smooth, but the beautiful woodgrain shows perfectly without the pickups and pickguard.
The bass is piezo-only, the Shadow pickup is built into the bridge, wich is made from macassar ebony, just like the tailpiece and thumbrest.
Looking at the back of the body, it seems that the neckscrews are placed randomly, but this is intended: the screws are not in the same woodgrain this way. It reduces the chance of splitting, and the joint is stronger.
Using a piezo pickup is often an attempt to achieve a double bass sound, but that's nonsense. Only 1 thing sounds like a double bass, and that's a double bass. Altough the piezo sound does have an acoustic "feel" to it, it is a class on it's own. This bass has a nice, warm sound. Lot's of low, without being muddy, and with a little sparkle of highs on top.
Verrry nice...




Shorty (2013)




Contruction: 1 single piece of wood
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fretboard. No trussrod
Frets: 19 + zerofret
Scale: 24.4"/62cm
Woods: beech
Pickups: Piezo system
Tuners: Wilkinson
Bridge: ebony single saddle on pinewoond plate
controls: volume, tone
Finish: Rubbed Polyurethane
Extra features: position markers on neck side

Shorty, the Ultra Short Scale bass.
The whole bass is made from a single piece beechwood. It was laying around for 20 years or so, and i didn't know what to do with it, until i had an idea for this little experiment.
A very short scale bass, like having a capo on the 5th fret of a normal bass. The strings are from a 5 string set, but without the thinnest one. By using these heavy strings, the tuning can be normal E-A-D-G. That works fine, the strings have a normal tension.
The strings are mounted at the back, so normal length strings can be used. I wanted to wind the thin string ends on the tuners, and not the thick part (the E and A strings).
Though it has the typical "thump" sound of a schort scale bass, it has good sustain. I was worried that such a short scale with heavy strings wouldn't leave much sustain at all, but that turned out better than i thought.
The piezo system is the same i have used before. 2 piezos directly under the bridge, resting on a pinewood resonance plate. This plate has to be soft wood for the best tone, hardwood tends to kill off the low frequencies and has annoying resonances.
Under the plate is a cavety so that the plate has room to vibrate.
The piezo pickup is different from "normal" pickups, it has a more acoustic sound, and it picks up a bit more playing noises as well. This bass has no preamp onboard, it has a passive tone circuit and works fine on most amps. However: the piezos have very low impedance (about 350 Ohms), not every amplifier can cope with that. A preamp may be needed to correct that.




Legacy 5 (2013)




Contruction: Bolted, with 3 M8 bolts
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fretboard. Stainless stel non-adjustable rod. Ash, American walnut fretboard
Frets: 24 + zerofret
Scale: 33"/84cm
Woods: Ash body and neck, american walnut fretboard
Pickups: EMG HZ-40 soapbar humbuckers
Tuners: Warwick
Bridge: Schaller 3d-5
controls: 2x Single/dual switch, 2x volume, tone, stand-by switch
Finish: Rubbed Polyurethane
Extra features: position markers on neck side, 5 string

The Legacy 5, big brother of the Legacy 4s.
The body is made of 1 piece Ash, a slab of 4.6 cm (1 7/8 inch) thick. This Legacy also has a construction with 3 M8 bolts, the screw-ends are put under the freatboard before glueing it on.
The sustain is superb: zero-fret, brass nut, a quality Schaller bridge are a big help. This was going to be an all-round bass, so i chose the EMG HZ40 passive soapbars. These are humbuckers with a coil-tap, so theu can be switched single or dual, for even more sound variation. For instance the neck pickup in humbucker mode, add the bridge pickup in single coil mode = Fat lows with sparkling high, very sweet!
Often the EMG HZ's are said to be lacking character, and indeed, they don't have a specific sound you always recognize, but they are very good all-rounders. This doesn't mean they sound flat or weak! You can get a fat sound, but also a groovy Jaco Pastorius sound, or Mark King slap. And this without noise, even if they are passive pickups.
The electronics are placed in a block of ash, screwed in the body from the backside. The whole block fits nicely in the body, without visible screws. At the 24th fret, a piece of fretboard is routed away, to get a little more room for slapping and plucking.
This bass has become an allround workhorse indeed. Low action, slightly shorter scale for just a little fatter sound, and a lot of sounds available. Super bass!




Legacy 4s (2012)




Contruction: Bolted, with 3 M8 bolts
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fretboard. Stainless steel non-adjustable rod. Bangkirai, paduak fretboard
Frets: 22 + zerofret
Scale: 30"/76cm
Woods: Padouk+bangkirai neck, meranti body
Pickup: WSC soapbar humbucker
Tuners: Warwick
Bridge: ebony strip on padouk
controls: Single/dual switch, volume, tone, capacitor switch
Finish: Rubbed Polyurethane
Extra features: position markers on neck side, short scale

The ML1H form 1985, and the Dolphin from 2006 have a bodyform the plays comfortably. Further development of these models lead to the Legacy 4s and Legacy 5.
The Legacy 4s is a short scale bass, with a surprising of sustain. Usually, these kind of basses have a short "thump" sound. The tone dies out quick, especially on the E and A strings. Because of the massive construction this bass doesn't lack much sustain compared to a normal size bass. The ebony and padouk bridge gives a warm wooden tone, and the humbuckwer helps too.
I mounted a little thicker string set (50/70/90/110 set). The whole package together is a fast playing little bass, with a wonderful warm purring sound.
The body is not made of glued together planks, but it's one piece solid meranti, which is underrated as guitarwood by the way. It is easy obtainable, not expensive and sounds great!
A novelty on this bass is that the neck is not attached with woodscrews, but with 3 sturdy M8 bolts. Before the fretboard is glued on, the screw-ends are places on the neck. This construction adds to the sustain no doubt.




6-STRING (2007)




Contruction: Neck through body
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fingerboard. stainless steel non-adjustable trussrod. 8 piece neck including fingerboard
Frets: 24 + zerofret
Scale: 33.5"/85cm
woods: Padouk+meranti neck, meranti+zebrawood body
Pickups: EMG 45J Active
tuners: Kluson
Bridge: Single saddle type
controls: volume, tone, capacitor switch
Finish: Polyurethane
Extra features: dot markers on neck side, battery compartiment at back.

Back to serious stuff after building the steelguitar. This was missing in my collection: a 6-string. The sound is really great, thanks to the padouk tonewoods, and the EMG 45J pickup. It has an accent in the mid frequencies. Very inviting to play solo's and "in between" stuff (guitar players are usually annoyed by this...:-)). It sings!
The low end is there too, of course, the low B string delivers its rumble just fine.
The body has an ergonomic design: no sharp edges, round, the high notes are easy to reach, and you can play sitting down comfortably. The bass is not that heavy, due to it's relatively thin body. Only 34 mm, and that is new to MonsterBass!




DOLPHIN (2006)



 Contruction: Massive body, neck through body
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fingerboard. Steel reinforced, non adjustable
Frets:28 jumbo
Scale: 34"/86cm
woods: Meranti and Mahogany body and neck, Wenge fingerboard
Pickups: WSC soapbar humbucker (bridge), WSC HOT P-BASS
tuners: Gotoh
Bridge: Schaller
controls:volume/volume/tone, single/dual switch for humbucker, tone switch
Finish: Polyurethane
Extra features: dot markers on neck side, 28 frets (plus zero-fret)

This bass is very versatile. The deep P-bass sound combined with the soapbar near the bridge, Give this bass a wide range of sounds. From old-school P-bass to sparkling high tone. Although the pickups are passive, they sound like active. Very comfortable to play, this is a workhorse.





SKYRAY (2005)




Construction: Bolt-on neck
Neck: a-symmetrical back, flat fingerboard.Steel reinforced, non adjustable
Frets: 22, extra wide, extra high. additional are the zero-fret and the diagonal fret
Woods: Bangkirai body and Jatoba neck
Pickups: WSC Hot Jazz bass
Scale: 34 inch/86 cm
Controls: volume bridge pickup, volume neck pickup, tone control, tone selector switch
Finish: hand rubbed Polyurethane
Special features: extra diagonal fret and cutaway on the neck for slapping and pulling technique, The tone selector switch selects the capacitor for the tone control, giving more variation in sound. Neckshape is a-symmetrical for better playabillity

Heavy and hard woods are used, giving this bass a clear, bright sound with lots of sustain. One of the neck bolts is directly attached to the steel neck reinforcement bar for optimal contact between neck and boby


Why the picture on the right? Well, i used to be an aircraft enthousiast, when i designed this bass it somehow reminded me of the shapes of a 50's jet fighter, the Douglas F4D "Skyray" (the plane in the picture). That's is where the name came from.






LJ1 (2004)

After my bad luck with the M1J i was left without an extra-takeaway-spare-bass with a small body. Simultaniously with the LJ3G i built this bass from the same wood: Bangkirai for the body, and Jatoba voor the neck (bolt-on). The result is fairly heavey because of the woods used, despite of the narrow design of the body. It plays very well. The bass has a good sustain and the sound has a lot of high frequencies, due to the JB pickup, wich is meant for the bridge position. The wood gives possibilities foor a much heavier and fatter sound, so i'm considering to replace the pickup with a humbucker or an active PU.



MB1J (2003 / alterations 2007)

Made of mahogany, beechwood and meranti. Only 1 jazzbass-type pickup, right in the middle between (imaginairy) fret no 24 and the bridge. Has a bright and deep sound.
In fact, when i tried to solder a new wire on the pickup, the coil broke. Of course the end at the inside. Bad luck. So i tried something new: winding my own pickup. 10000 windings with a very thin copperwire later, a replica of a '67 vintage jazzbass pickup was born. More about this in the "Pickup" section of this website.
Because of the slightly shorter scale, the MB1J is easy to play. Altough this is my heaviest bass, i'm not getting tired playing this one. The construction is neck-thru-body.


2007: I decided to change te body a bit, and also make the neck a little flatter. This is how it looks now:



M1J (1995)


I needed a not-too-big bass i could take with me as an extra, with a relatively small body, and as short as possible, but with a normal scale. Besides that, i wanted a bass that would be suitable for the funky stuff: slapping en pulling the strings.

So i went to work: enough space under the strings near the neck for playing, a wide and flat neck, a single coil pickup near the bridge and on top of that: a build-in preamp. That indeed was enough to give me the sound i was looking for. The body is purely functional. Big enough to keep the bass in balance, a cutaway for playing it sitting down, and no extravagant extentions of some kind.

The entire bass was made of mahogany wood. Bolt-on neck, Schaller bridge, Fender-style tuners (to be honest: I found them too big at first, but i had them lying around, so...). The pickup was a very old JB-clone, and not an expensive one eather. I am speaking in the past tense, because this bass no longer exists. Due to the flat neck, it had the tendency to bend. It just got worse, and i decided to tear it down and use the hardware for another bass, the MB1J.



O2J (1987)


The combination of the old oak-wooden body and neck, and the two JB-style Schaller Humbuckers (they don't look like'm, but they are!), makes this one the most versatile of my basses. The sound can vary from Fender-Precision Bass-like to the funky stuff with lots of attack.

Made of a rafter a 300 year old farmhouse, the wood of this bass could tell quite a story. Before you can use an oaktree as buildingmaterial for a house, meaning the tree being big enough, it must be a couple of centuries old. Funny idea, the tree where this wood came from, began to grow around the time when Columbus discovered America.
The rafter was cut up in 2 cm thick pieces, with a bandsaw. There were a few old handmade cast-iron nails in the wood, causing the bandsaw to break. At the back of the bass, you can still see the burning mark of this, as well as pieces of two of the nails.
There aren't many guitars and basses being made from oak, and with good reason : You have to be sure that the wood is old enough, and no longer is "working". The moisture-level in the wood has to be constant. Oak often cracks when it dries too fast, so a good, dry piece of oak is not so easy to find...

If you decide to make an oakwooden (bass)guitar, be prepared: this wood is hard and cracks easily. So be very careful when using a router or other electric tools. Make sure your drill is sharp, or it will cut pieces of wood that you didn't plan to (my own experience talks here...).



ML1H (1985 / some alterations 1996)


Made of meranti and limba wood, fitted with a Schaller Bassbucker and a slightly shorter scale then most basses. It's not a real short scale bass, but somewhere between short scale and standard. Because of this, the strings have less tension and greater amplitude when playing. This makes it light to play and gives this bass it's warm and full sound. This bass is my oldest, it's appearance has changed a little over the years, but i built this one in 1985.

The shorter scale, and greater stringamplitude makes it less suitable for slapping, the strings tend to hit the pickup that way. Otherwise a real good bass, also for studio recordings. I love to play it.

The construction: neck through body. The neck is build from 7 pieces of limba wood. Since it's all the same color you don't see much of that. I'ts my only bass with an adjustable truss rod. Not thatineed to adjust it: it's been more than ten years sinceibuild it, and the neck is still straight. After this much timeiwould be very suprised if it would bend, anyway. It's proof that my concept of building the neck this way has worked. The small pieces of limba were sticked together bookmatched, so possible bending forces were ruled out.