Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Working with Wilkat

Bill Wilkat is the luthier I began my bass project with. I tend to be an email junky - and Bill got back to me quickly - and was a really nice guy. He seemed very willing to do what I wanted - and to build the bass I had in my head. Not to mention the fact that his basses looked very, very nice!

The bass in my head turned out to resemble the Thunderbass - as made by Pedulla. Bill drew up a prototype, and sent it to me to view. I loved it. Smaller body shape - yet familiar - and the body was smaller by a bit - which I like too (not being a huge bass = huge sound kinda guy). Nothing wrong with Fenders - they did it first - and got most of it right - I just like a smaller bass, cause I'm a smaller guy. :)

The woods Bill went with were partially what I had in mind - and partially what he came up with. We got - Zebra for the top. Beautiful piece too - just lovely to look at. The middle was a 'neck-through' looking piece - with 5 alternating layers of bird-eye maple and maple. Under the Zebra was a thin sheet of Walnut. The back was Butternut - no, not bread - a very nice, lighter kind of maple, I believe. To finish it off - he applied a few thin layers of finish - enough to give it an oiled look. This I the only thing I would change. Although I love the oiled look - it so much easier to bang up an oiled bass. I would have had him apply a nice thick poly - or some other shiny top coat - that protects. That's pretty minor - cause its really a beautiful bass. The hardware, of course, was all Steinberger. That was actually the primary reason I stopped using the bass. The Steinberger design is great - and the bass is wonderful - sounding, looking, holding, everything! However, Gibson are a bunch of sods, because they have started selling the Steinberger line again (after buying the line and killing the originals, they first started out with the Korean "Spirit" line, they've mostly gone external to do so - parts made from other companies, like Moses for the new graphite line) but they don't offer many parts at all. So all the folks that have bridges, you can't get parts for, or the headstock, and it's a pain to have them made. A company I had make some of the string holders couldn't do it in metric, for whatever reason, so the tuners felt 'off' after that. Anyway - I'd had enough - waiting for parts that wouldn't come about. So I made other plans.

I sold some stuff - mainly the Steinberger hardware - neck, tuners, brigde and all - even the pups - and bought a beautiful Warwick Thumb NT 4 string. Sight unseen. Found it on Bassgear.com - started emailing this guy - who was a college student. He didn't budge on the price - and I bought it anyway. Great decision! That bass was one of the best I've ever played. Tight, focused, with lots of mids and a nice, dark, metal tone! Oh, the beauty! I waxed it when I needed to. I even got ahold of the company to fix up a spot where the previous owner had worn through a bit. No problem - wax, elbow grease and a hair dryer fixed it right up! (THANKS Dale Titus!!). I loved that bass.


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