Unnamed German maker, ca 1890. 4/4 sized instrument with long body but low shoulders for ease of playing. By the use of a set of Clifton adjusters on the bridge, I am able to set the action quite low for bebop playing when using an amp and quite high for use without an amp. The bass has a very powerful bottom end and is capable of making itself felt without the aid of an amp even in such surroundings as a full symphony orchestra plus brass and rhythm section. It is set up with an Aubert bridge, Thomastik Bel Canto strings (excellent for plucking and bowing) and a David Gage 'Realist' pickup.
Incidentally I try to make an effort to play without amplification wherever possible. To this end I make use of an Audiotechnica ATM-35 microphone. In case you're thinking of getting one, here are some tips:
1. Do! They're cheap and very effective.
2. Attach the clip to an f-hole and extend the goose-arm across the front of the bass. Position the mic head roughly in the middle with the head facing the front of the bass (quite close to the wood).
3. Run the mic straight into the PA, even if using a pick-up with a bass amp as well. Poor results will follow from running the mic into a bass amp.
Double bass luthiery:
For my repairs and set up I go to Lawrence Dixon in Clapham who is an expert and a nice guy to boot. We have worked together to get my optimum set-up, include a bridge/fingerboard arch that provides good bow clearance without the usual extremes in action differential between the strings. (Please feel free to email me for Lawrence's contact details.)
I have a bass designed and built by inventor Mo Clifton of Clifton Basses and Guitars. It was originally intended as something to practice on in order to keep my chops in shape whilst on tour. Mo's brief was to design an instrument that would collapse into a viola case enabling me to carry it onto an aeroplane as hand luggage and that would take a mere ten minutes to assemble in the hotel room. He designed and built the bass in under two weeks. After a bit of tweaking, including the addition of a David Gage 'Realist' pick-up, the 'Frequent Flyer' bass was born. You can see pictures of it here. Since the prototype, Mo has been engaged to make a number of Frequent Flyers.
Clifton 'Downright' 5-string bass. Mine was made from bubinga and looks and sounds fantastic. You can read about this model here.
Fender American Special Jazz Bass, 4-stringed. This model is assembled in America from parts made in Mexico. I tried every Jazz bass in the shop including the more expensive American Strandard and this sounded and felt the best.
Guitar 2. Godin SD 22 Leaftop solid-bodied electric guitar in natural finish with rosewood fingerboard. The two single coils and bridge humbucker created a 'fat-Strat' sound but the fingerboard and neck feel nicer to me than any Strat I've played. Strung with D'Addario roundwounds (10 gauge).
Guitar 3. Godin 5th Avenue acoustic archtop. Made from pressed Canadian wild cherry, this guitar may not quite have the warmth and body of a Gibson L5 but it makes plenty of sound and at a very affordable price. I find it perfect for acoustic jazz rhythm playing, Freddy Green style. Strung with Clifford Essex phosphor bronze roundwound strings (14 gauge).
Guitar 4. Takamine ETN60C electro-acoustic nylon stringed guitar.
Guitar 5. Alhambra classical guitar.
Guitar 6. 4-string Grafton Clipper archtop resonator plectrum banjo made by Andy Perkins of Andy Banjo, Faversham, Kent. Tuned in 'Chicago tuning' (GDBE).
1. Mark Bass 'Little Mark' 250w head.
2. Euphonic Audio speaker cabinet containing 2 6's, 2 4's and a tweeter. (Weird eh?)
3. Eden Electronics 'Nemesis' 2x12 speaker cabinet.
4. GK Microamplifier (I've had this for over 15 years and it still works; I only use it occasionally now).
1. Fender Hotrod Deluxe 112
2. AER 60w acoustic amp.