THE CHOICES & PROCESS
Ordering your own custom build
No matter where you live in the world, you can expect to be a part of the journey from start to finish. Build time is approx 3 months, depending on the time of year and the number of builds. When it comes to your custom build, it's all about choice. You get to choose:
Choose your own wood from available stock for your body, neck and fingerboard. Pop over and see for yourself or I can send you some photos for you to choose from. Aussie woods include: Camphor Laurel, Queensland Maple, Tasmanian Blackwood, Silver Ash, Northern and Southern Silky Oak, Flame She-Oak, Queensland Red Cedar, and Maple Silkwood. Imported woods include: Swamp Ash, Wenge, Roasted Flame and Curly Maple, Birdseye Maple, Padauk, Walnut and Ebony.
NUMBER OF STRINGS
4 strings for the purists.
5 Strings for the extended low end. My personal favourite.
Of course the electric guitars have 6 strings!
What do Paul McCartney, Mark King, Stu Hamm, Stanley Clark, Jack Bruce, Jonas Hellborg, Bill Wyman, Owen Biddle, just to name a few, all have in common? They all played short and medium scale basses during the pinnacle of their musical careers. 31" scale 5 string basses are my personal favourite, but you can choose your own scale length ... or maybe a few.
Bass scale length choices include:
30" short scale
30.5" short scale works great with 5 strings and, yes, the B string is great! Very comfortable!
31" unique scale found that's not short or medium but just right! My personal favourite.
32" medium scale that still fits into an electric guitar gig bag. Why go any longer!
My electric guitars feature a 25" scale length, the best of both worlds when it comes to feel, making it a little better for rhythm playing than a Les Paul, and a little better for lead work than a Strat.
FRETTED OR FRETLESS?
You choose the size of fret wire: narrow or medium. 24 frets plus zero fret comes as standard. You won't typically find zero frets on mass production basses off the shelves. They are more often found on boutique instruments. The advantages of a zero fret: Relieves pressure on the nut. The fret does the heavy lifting, and the nut just guides the strings to the tuners. Tuning is smoother.
Tone and sustain is consistent across all notes including the open strings. Consistency in lower action.
Fret size choices include:
Narrow (Mandolin size - the smallest or Banjo size- a tad more, for a smooth and fast feel. Think Lee Sklar)
Medium (the most popular fretwire for electric guitar)
Want something to match your gold hardware? Gold coloured frets are an option. Classy!
Or perhaps you want to go fretless? I offer unlined fretless builds for that clean look. To help navigate the fingerboard, side dots are positioned where the frets would go. A double dot or different dot is used to distinguish the 3rd, 5th, 7th ... positions.
The Southland basses feature a single piece Wilkinson bridge. 19mm spacing on the Southland 4 and 18mm on the Southland 5.
Your choice of classic black or chrome or gold hardware for the tuners, bridge, knobs, strap locks and screws.
The Southland basses and Highland electric guitars feature the monolithic Curtinsmith pickup - hand wound by Stonewall Pickups.
The two way switch is for parallel and series wiring. Wired in parallel, the tone is two bass/guitar P90s. Wired in series - a huge humbucker tone. The P90 construction, with four alnico V bar magnets, gives a fat tone and the extra pole piece screws give the pickup a more lively attack.
The three way switch is the tone switch. The middle position is disconnected and the other two positions are essentially two different tone controls that are completely rolled back: 0.015uf — OFF — 0.047uf.
With the series/parallel switch, along with the three way tone switch, it’s the six best bass and guitar tones that didn’t exist until now!
And you can choose your pickup colour too: Black, Matte black, White, Cream, Red Tortoise Shell ... and your choice of exposed pole pieces colour to match your hardware - chrome, gold or black.
I use a wood wax and oil finish that is hardwearing (also used on flooring) yet light enough to allow the wood to experienced. In between a matte and satin finish, it lets the grain pop while allowing a natural look and feel. Red Cedar and Camphor Laurel look great clear or with a burst finish. If we are working with Swamp Ash, we can do some interesting grain enhancing and colour finishes.
My 4 and 5 string short scale basses (30", 30.5" and 31") come fitted with Pitbull short scale strings (45-65-85-105-130). Tension and tone is second to none in these short scale sets. Or for something more old-school and different, you can opt for flat wounds or tape wounds.
I use Pitbull Gold Series Long Life strings on my electric guitars (10-13-17-26-36-46). The Long Life edition strings are 3-5 times more resistant to corrosion than other strings. They are long lasting with a natural sound, smooth feel and amazing tuning stability.
You will receive regular updates and photos of the build along the way, either on Instagram or direct to your email, so you too can enjoy the journey from start to finish.