The Bass Guitar & I

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I started playing the bass guitar when I was more less 13 years of age - that's a long time ago now!

My first instrument was a home made fretless bass that consisted of a triangular body with a long flat piece of pinewood for the fingerboard. I added fret markers in blue biro and used plastic coated garden wire for strings that were tuned by four adjustable wood screws. My 'piece de resistance' was adding an old bakelite telephone mouthpiece inside its body, which enabled me to plug the instrument into a reel to reel tape player and record my gloriously distorted efforts of playing the riff from the sound track of the western movie 'Duel at Diablo' !

After a few months I elevated my status in the bass guitar world by acquiring a Zenta Telecaster bass copy; it cost me £32

Below is a rare picture of the Zenta Telecaster Bass in action complete with 'London' black plastic coated strings!

 

I soon out grew its short scale design, and graduated to the magnificent long scale Fender Precision copy in sunburst finish made by Antoria.

The Antoria is seen here during a back stage tune up with the Alvin Stardust Band. By this time I had removed its scratch plate.

 

That Precision copy stayed with me for many years until I de-fretted its neck and changed the body for an Antoria Jazz bass.

The Antoria Jazz body with the Precision neck as it is today.

  

During the reign of the original Antoria Precision bass I also acquired my dream instrument, a 1973 Rickenbaker 4001 in fire-glow finish, that cost me £410 and became my main sound for many years. It had that unmistakable twang  that was made all the more gritty by using Rotosound Swing bass strings.

The Rickenbaker 4001 in action. (Literally!)

 

I eventually part exchanged the Rickenbaker 4001 (a big regret…) for a new Ibanez Musician bass - Limited Edition. I used it as my main instrument during the 1980's.

The picture below is from Granada Television's  'Get It Together' music show during the recording of Alvin Stardust's 'Pretend' single in 1981.

 

I also used this bass guitar on sessions I did with the record producer Tony Visconti.

Tony is seen here playing my Ibanez:


I still own the Ibanez, but it's gained a few scars and war wounds since the 1980's, including character building scratches and a… broken neck!

The Ibanez LTD as it is today 

 

The headstock in close up that shows a selection of cracks and splits! 

 

During the 1990's I asked John Diggins of 'Jaydee Custom Guitars' to build me a replica 1960's stack knob Jazz bass. I had tried many original Fenders, but none ever matched up to my expectations.

The Jaydee instrument has a hand crafted birdseye maple neck and alder body. John used original Fender Jazz bass parts including two old pick ups, bridge, machine heads and wiring! The body is finished in classic vintage sunburst using nitrocellulose lacquer. This 'Super Jazz' is as good as any original Fender I've ever played or heard. But it wasn't all plain sailing with its construction. John's unit was gutted by a terrible fire during that time - lots of instruments were damaged, and my Jazz bass suffered water damage to the alder body (I guess from the fire brigade's water hoses…) This 'Super Jazz' is as good as any original Fender Jazz bass I've ever played, seen or heard.. see below.

 

These days I  to prefer to use my 1960's Fender Precision as it seems to fit most projects and is an absolute joy to play,and more importantly only has... four strings!

  

I've always been a huge fan of the 'Rickenbaker  bass guitar sound' and still have two 4001's in my bass guitar armoury. One is a 1978 stereo, the other my prize 4001 vintage 1963 re-issue.

 

Pictured below are three of my occasional bass guitars, they either have an unusual sound or...too many strings for every day use! (so, they only get tuned for a specific session / project). My original Washburn AB 40 is one of those many acoustic bass guitars that are often seen used in 'MTV un-plugged styled sets. This bass guitar was originally owned by the band "The Wonderstuff' (so I was told...)

 

The John Myung six string Yamaha Infinity Bass is the only bass guitar I own that has more than four strings, it has incredibly accurate intonation.

 

I decided to leave this classic bass guitar till last. The history of pop music and the bass guitar would not be complete without the style and sound of the Hofner violin bass as made famous by Paul McCartney. This is my 1963 violin bass, complete with flat wound strings…

   

It's a great instrument, the bass guitar!!!