I saw a press release from Wendler on the Harmony Central web site and curiously followed the manufacturer's link, and got very intrigued by the bass guitars.
I emailed Dave Wendler with some questions about price and finish options, and he replied promptly. He explained that he used a variety of woods and could shape the neck profile to fit my specifications, which pleased me. I measured up the neck on my trusty Ibanez Roadster which has great playability.
We settled on a tung-oiled mahogany neck, with pao ferro fingerboard. Dave kept me informed of construction progress, with photographs of the instrument in various stages.
You can read more about Wendler's passive Magnetic/Piezo pickup system on their web site. In tone, it tends to be very dark and deep. I find that plucking the strings with my right hand up the fingerboard - just like a real upright - gives the best results.
Technically this was my 40th birthday present, but experts disagree as to whether it was this or the VK-8.
Carvin BK5 Bass
This instrument was built from a kitset from Carvin, hence the lack of a brand name decal. But it is effectively a Carvin B5.
I don't use the active electronics much, for some reason I get better results with passive plus outboard amp modellers.
Here's an mp3 of me playing a riff from Porcupine Tree and demonstrating the different sounds you get from blending the pickups and changing the coil tap on the HB2.
This is my latest acquisition, and it freaking rocks. When it arrived I did what I swore I would never do and went back and re-recorded Listen using the VK-8 as the "hammond organ". It sounds awesome now.
I believe this has version 2.0 OS in it. I'm not risking uploading a new version into it - it sounds just fine the way it is.
This weird thing is a Stick Enterprises 10-string Chapman Stick® in white oak - a fantastic instrument that I use mostly just for bass lines.
I knew about the Stick from Tony Levin playing on Peter Gabriel's albums, but I didn't see one "in the flesh" until Johnny Fleury did a demonstration at a music shop in Auckland, NZ. I ordered one through the shop, and at the time they said that Stick Enterprises had told them that they could only deliver if two instruments were ordered. The store was a bit nervous about ordering two when they only had a confirmed order for one, but they went ahead and ordered two and requested that one be shipped at first.
I don't think they ever took delivery of a second instrument!
I ordered this guitar from the Carvin web site, without talking to any of the sales people on the phone or anything. It was quite a weird experience.
- Alder neck and body, tung oil finish
- Active electronics and Fishman Piezo-Acoustic bridge
- C22N and C22B (later swapped out for a M22SD)
- Coil tap switches for both pickups.
I have since sold this guitar to my bass-playing friend Tony, and replaced it with a similar instrument (see Carvin DC127).
Sometimes I feel a little silly about letting this one go, because its playability was extremely high - it just felt really comfortable. The DC127 I ordered to replace it - although I liked the slight changes in specifications that I made - just doesn't feel the same.
Tony is really enjoying it so I'm glad about that.
When I sold my TL60 to Tony The Bass Player, I ordered up a replacement instrument with similar specs:
- Fixed Bridge
- Tung-oiled Alder neck and body
- Rounded body style
- No inlays
- CT-style headstock
- C22B, H22N pickups
- Fishman Piezo-Acoustic bridge
- DC200-style active electronics
- Black chrome hardware
Basically I wanted the same specs as my old TL60 but with the following changes:
- rounded body sides (not available on TL60)
- No tremelo (the piezo pickup was sensitive to creaks and popping sounds)
- No neck inlay dots (I like the clean look)
I've never felt the same way about this guitar as I did about the TL60. This surprised me - it was supposed to be a better instrument for me. However it remains a quality instrument.
Update: I've gifted this guitar to my godson who no doubt will play it more than I did.
The black beauty here is the Ovation Elite Model 1868 steel string acoustic, the version with the ebony fretboard. I bought this guitar second-hand for $600 in Berkeley, CA, a few days after my wife and I got married on the California coast.
Another fine product of the Carvin factory in San Diego.
- Bolt+ with Floyd Rose Trem
- Floyd locking nut
- plain maple cap on Alder body
- Maple neck (tung oil finish)
- No inlays
- Headstock color to match body
- H22N,T pickups
- Center position AP11
- Cream bezels
- On/Off switch for bridge pickup
- Black chrome hardware
- Black plastic knobs (K8, K9)
Body finish: Originally I wanted the off-book "blue denim" stain all over the body. But there is a reason that this finish is "off-book". It doesn't always look great. In this case, the end grain really didn't look so good. Sean at Carvin sent me some photos of the unfinished body with just the blue stain, and we mutually agreed that blue-burst edges would be a good idea. The results were beyond my imagining, and much closer to my original inspiration than I thought I would achieve.
My classical guitar of choice is the http://www.godinguitars.com/godinmultnylonsap.htm. This guitar has wonderful tone, sounds remarkably great unplugged, even though it is only slightly thicker than, say, a Les Paul. The pickup system is phenomenally good, and the built-in 13-pin hex pickup is ready for a Roland guitar synth.
I've since gifted this instrument to my nephew, who no doubt will play it more than I recently was.
The "Fat Lady" is a wonderful product of the Carvin factory in San Diego. She's a Holdsworth "fatboy" model, which means a hollow body - you can tap it and hear a hollow "bok" sound.
You get to specify your options when you order from Carvin, and I had a very clear idea in mind for this guitar:
- Flamed maple 1/8" top
- Ruby stain, gloss finish
- matched headstock
- Birdseye maple fretboard
- No inlays on fretboard, side dots only
- Clear satin finish on neck
- Black chrome hardware
- 2 coil taps
- Engraved truss rod cover: "Fat Lady"
Even though I'd specified gloss on the body and clear satin finish on the neck, they managed to do it. I relocated the strap post from the back of the neck joint to the top "horn". I think it hangs better this way. Others disagree.
Hear the fat lady sing:
This little multitracked demo shows off some of the sounds I can get from this guitar, using the Line6 POD 2.0 and Digitech GSP21 effect units. The timing is a little wonky in places.
Here's another piece featuring the Fat Lady: Greener Pastures:
This solo composition is going for the warm jazz tone but the HF2 doesn't quite want to go there. I'm perfectly happy to go where it wants to, however.
Update: In recent years I installed a Graphtec GHOST piezo bridge in this guitar. Details available on the Carvin Forum: Haunting the Fat Lady.