bob gollihur
BASSIST

Double Bassist Magazine Thanks to Double Bassist (now defunct, part of Strings Magazine) for mentioning my Double Bass Links web site. An interview, quotes, and photo of yours truly is included with their fine articles within a supplement on Double Bass and the Internet. The second issue shown featured me within a sidebar to a musicians' injuries article.

Thanks to Bass Player Magazine for mentioning my site! This is my personal bass page, with my background and instruments, with a few links to web sites within. Links to the referenced Double Bass Links, as well as the Double Bass Luthiers Directory, and Double Bass and Acoustic Instrument Pickups and Preamps pages are below, and repeated at the bottom of the page.

Bass Player Magazine






                    - Dec.
                    99

Gollihur Music
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Listing of dozens of Double Bass Luthiers (for repairs) from all over the world



1 eclectic \e-'klek-tik\ adj 1 : selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles
2 : composed of elements drawn from various resources   n: one who uses an eclectic method or approach

Oct 30







                2011 BogartsI have had a long-term love affair with music of all kinds. In fact, I went to college as a String Bass major with every intention of becoming a music teacher and performer. Fortunately, fate, luck, and perhaps a lick of good sense intervened, for I find it far more a pleasure as a semi-pro rather than a full-time avocation.

Since the age of eleven (after 3+ years of violin), when first introduced to a US Navy surplus aluminum upright bass, I have been fortunate enough to play many styles of music with many fine (and some mediocre) players. Everything from standards/commercial with fellow musicians union members (AFofM Local #373, and it was a great learning/growth experience) and rock with teen peers in the 60's, orchestral, and big band in school, more rock in the 70's in various bar bands, too many weddings and commercial party music gigs, followed by soft country rock, bluegrass, and some light jazz in the 80's, as big bass amps began to take their toll. And in between and always, a mix of the above whenever the occasion arose. Have upright and electric basses, will travel.

You can click to take a brief detour to a few self-indulgent photos of some vintage instruments and vintage Bob, and some glimpses into why we shouldn't revisit the 70's. And while we're on again, I'll disclose that the photo at right is from around 1999; my beard has gone quite grey over the last few years.

My first major published articles were in Guitar Player Magazine in 1979 and 1980, which seemingly foretold my "second career" as a writer. The first was on Bass Strings, the second on Bass Biamplification, which was pretty much pioneering that practice for club bass players. A pair of JBL eighteen-inch speakers in folded horn cabinets with a pair of twelves made for some pretty impressive (ok, extremely loud) bass, powered by Acoustic 360 and 450 heads split by a Biamp variable crossover. What a rig! -- my back still hurts just thinking about it. Not to mention that dull ache in my left shoulder from carrying a sousaphone around in secondary school. String basses don't march (unless you're a Mummer).

Some of my earliest basses and amps are now considered classic. I try not to let that bother me ;-). Frankly, at the time I really didn't appreciate the vintage quality of my first amp, an Ampeg SB-12 (at left), or my first decent electric bass, an early 70's Fender Maple-necked fretless P-Bass -- hey, there was lots of money to be made with that 60's Crown import bass (see photo at right, and below at bottom of bass images) that the musicians union guys referred to as a "Fender Bass" (the generic term of the time). Other amps that followed included a Kustom 200 with that slim, refrigerator-sized black plastic padded cabinet with three stacked speakers, a Fender blackface Bassman, a Sunn Sorado tube amp, Peavey, Acoustic, a Polytone, Music Man, and others.

Steady gigging slowed down due to real job (banking and data processing) pressures and travel in the mid to late eighties, but I still played reasonably regularly. However, when I lost my singing and speaking voice to cancer in 1990, that kind of put me off my game for a while, especially since I had just moved to a new area and lacked musical contacts. However, my faithful Kay string bass and Gibson fretless were always there for a few notes, and I eventually started sitting in with old and new friends here and there. As well, my help was requested to consult with other bassists to help them with their amplified sounds. A few year later, after a reasonable period of personal mourning, a return to some regular music and a group or two became a prime objective. 

Labor
 Day 2011 at Random Act of Blues gigSo, I continue to gig and sit in with new folks and old friends here and there, checking out the scene, here at the Jersey shore near Cape May and back around Philadelphia, taking projects and always seeking quality opportunities to play. I'm gigging with a variety of folks, my main electric bass project is the Random Act of Blues, (photo at left was 2011 Labor Day outdoor gig) where I am really enjoying expanding my knowledge and appreciation of a variety of blues, old to new, with some fine musicians. I also enjoy the occasional gig or jam with an informal group of players best known as Blame It On The Dawg, kind of a Musical Drive-By, though classic rock. I've also enjoyed sitting in with Steve Byrne, aka King Eider, an early ragtime blues guitarist, and playing with some Gospel and a wide variety of other upright bass oriented endeavors. 

But let's talk business for a sec; after my old Polytone pickup died in the 90's, and a 20 year-old homebuilt condenser mic gadget I built for my double bass no longer was practical, I started researching the double bass pickup market and was dismayed to see limited, also mediocre 20 year old choices, or high-end $500+ solutions. I stumbled on the pickups made by K&K Sound, which were somewhat obscure but quite amazing for their prices (and still beat others). See my page on their Double Big Twin, Bass Max, and other pickups for experiences and details. I became a dealer for them in 1997 (after recommending them to friends who had trouble finding them) and have sold many hundreds over the years, and was in their booth at NAMM 2000 in LA. I also had the pleasure of working with K&K to design the first upright bass pickup designed specifically for rockabilly and country slap styles. It has been very well received by the growing Rockabilly and Psychobilly community in the US and around the world. In 2000 we worked together on a Condenser Microphone system for double bass which has earned much acclaim.

Double Bass For






                    SaleI later expanded into selecting and selling other upright bass products, and have become one of the largest Upright Bass specialty company -- For details, visit Gollihur Music. And as it began with the K&k stuff, anything I carry has to pass the Bob Test. I've also made a great deal of effort to give back to the bass community by participating and supporting on-line forums as well as posting scads of information on my web pages, including my Upright Bass FAQs, over one thousand Double Bass Links, a directory of bass makers and repairpersons, and free upright bass classified ads.

VH1 Save the






                    musicI know in my case, it was my school experience that got me started in music. Carmine Guastello, the elementary school music teacher of the Rahway NJ public school system, inspired me, and I'll never forget him. When he came through my third grade classroom in 1958, playing his violin with great enthusiasm, I just had to play one. Truth be told, he was more of a showman than a player, but it was his wonderful enthusiasm that was such an inspiration, and he was a man who worked hard, loved children, and dedicated himself to promoting the joy of music in everyone. I hope if you remember someone who touched your life like that, that you let them know. And I urge you to support VH1's Save the music campaign to keep music education strong in our schools!

ON DRAUGHT

Here are some of the instruments I own; this is no collection, I'm a player and enjoy each bass' unique personality. My first bass was fretted, but I only owned fretless basses from 1972 until 1999. However, I violated the Prime Directive and bought a fretted '96 Fender American Jazz Standard 5-string in 1999, but quickly turned it over for a G&L L-2500 due to its narrower neck and bridge spacing. Since returning to the dark side, I have added several other fretted basses, but at heart, I'm still most comfortable as a fretless player. For some reason, I just feel more connected to the bass with fingers against bare wood. And while you'll see a lot of fours below, my electric play is almost exclusively five string, low B. I just love the advantage of having more notes under your fingers as well as the visceral satisfaction of low B notes.

Please note that the click-thru photo arrays are not available since PhotoPoint apparently kicked the bucket. At some point I'll put them up and link them elsewhere.

1941






                            Kay,
 click for






                            more photos Juzek Master Art (ebony diamond roundback) 1930's or 40's (yet to be determined) double bass. Highly recommended: Corelli 370 strings, wonderful low tension, incredibly arco friendly, best 'all-around' strings for any style I've ever played. It wore a K&K Sound Bass Master Pro for a while; that system combines two different pickup systems that I can mix at a tiny two channel preamp. I then used a Golden Trinity/Bass Max system for a few years since gigs have been mostly lower volumes along with an Acoustic Image Contra (now Coda) most times, but there has been a Fishman Full Circle in the adjustable bridge since about 2009. BTW, check out my Double Bass oriented links and Luthiers' Directory pages.

1941 Kay string bass, my first URB. I've had it since 1966 and will never let go. This sweetheart (serial #7440 for you Kay-o-philes) was a casual gift from the basement of a fellow student (a vocalist, now a lawyer and judge), and it that was a former magician's prop, painted gold & blue with no fingerboard or any other hardware. My Dad and I spent many an hour striping and rehabbing it, though our bassic knowledge was scant at that time. It has been many places and gigs over the years and sounds great! I had a K&K Sound Bass Max on my Kay, usually running through a Power Pack Preamp, but had supplemented it with a Golden Trinity Upgrade system, which added a condensor mic with a two channel preamp, leaning on the microphone since most my situations don't require much volume. Starting in 2011 I've been using the new Ehrlund pickup, which is a pretty amazing piece of gear. When I first saw it my expectations were low, but its realistic sound has really amazed me.  Visit Roger Stower's site for info on Kay basses and to add your serial number to the database. We have serial numbers for both Kays and Engelhardts within our FAQ section at Gollihur Music if you want to research your instrument.

Hoyt






                          Bass - click







                          to see more photosHomebuilt






                            Electric
 Upright Bass






                            - click to see more photos and
                            construction details I received this custom five string fretless from luthier Karl Hoyt in Fall 1998, and he did a superb job of building my dream bass; as I update this page in 2011, I can continue to proclaim how wonderful it is. Finding just the right five string fretless to move up to proved difficult, and I am glad that Karl could build an instrument that more than satisfies my needs and is beautiful to boot. It has been at home in my hands since the moment I got it. This custom Hoyt bass has a maple/walnut/maple sandwich body, pau ferro fretless fingerboard (on a slim and fast neck, to die for), gold Schaller bridge and Gotoh tuners, Lane Poor Pickups (hb at neck, wide at bridge, for a wonderful range of character available at a twist of the blend pot), and a Bartolini preamp -- deathly quiet and incredibly hi-fi; the bass' and Thomastik Jazz Flat strings' subtle character or aggressive growl are accurately conveyed. Karl also created a six string fretless for my bassist son, Mark, and has also built other bass guitars for me, shown below. Karl really does beautiful and very musical work. See below for its fretted companion. It's 8lb. 12oz. Both the fretted and fretless fivers get almost exclusive gig duty as my favorite and most useful ebasses.

Homebuilt Electric Upright Bass - Since I couldn't afford to buy one I decided to design and build one. After buying a used fingerboard and carefully planning and creating life-size drawings, I purchased wood from Exotic Woods, and the results are quite pleasing. I disassembled it in Spring 1999 to make some refinements to the body shape and finish; it feels and sounds great acoustically. I have posted even more photos and some commentary on my first foray into making music from blocks of wood, so you can avoid my mistakes (ultra short bridge) and get some ideas for consideration. I finally added the two pickup systems which I mix with a K&K Sound Dual Channel Preamp, and at last got the bass out on three gigs over the Labor Day 2000 weekend! Great fun! If you've seen the NS Design EUBs, you'll note that it pays tribute to them. See the Electric Upright Bass category of my Upright Bass Links page for a bunch of EURB makers -- they were a great inspiration and source of ideas for me - there are some wonderful instruments available out there. (Sorry, I did not and do not have plans for this or any other EUB)

Gibson






                          Ripper - click







                          to see more photosEarly I bought this 1973 Gibson Ripper fretless bass guitar (black/ebony -- rare??) new in 1976, and did a total overhaul 21 years later, in 1997. I replaced the original and non-stock HI-A pickups with a set of Lane Poors - what incredible sound and clarity, with an accurate conveyance of the wonderful character of the bass itself - highly recommended; I so wish that Lane did not go out of business! It also has a switchable Bartolini preamp with bass/mid/treble, but I was careful to retain the vintage look of the instrument. The pickups are a bit wider and a third tone control and preamp switch has been added, but note that the original rotary switch looks the same but now controls a pickup pan pot. This instrument has a very versatile range now, and with its vintage look intact is indeed The Stealth Bass. Also recommended: Thomastik Jazz Flats, very musical and responsive flatwound strings. It's 9lb. 2oz., but some Rippers weigh a ton!

  When I saw this early 70's Ripper on eBay, I couldn't pass it up. As much as I love my newer instruments, my old fretless Ripper "feels like home" -- no doubt due to the 20+ yrs when it was my sole electric bass. While it needed some cleanup work, this bass shares the same vibe. I was worried about the original pickups vs. the LPs in the fretless, but the bass sounds great and feels wonderful. Nice ebony fingerboard, and about the same weight (lighter than most Fenders) as my other one. I'm very glad to have added it to my stable, where it will no doubt be perfect for classic rock. It was interesting to learn about the differences in Rippers-- this one has reverse, unmarked tuners (my other Ripper has "Gibson" marked, normal rotation) and a semi-transparent pickguard with a barely-noticeable tortoise shell pattern. I like the feel and sound of DR Sunbeams on this bass. It's 9lb. even. While it is fun to play and sounds good it is on my list of basses to eventually put up on eBay.

Case Tip: I have the TKL (Epiphone Ripper reissue) hard cases for both my Rippers, though most recently have found it more convenient to use gig bags back and forth to gigs since I'm hauling my own gear and the basses are separated from the danger of heavy amps/cabs. While many bass gig bags won't accommodate the large body, the Fender dual gig bag I bought several years ago was perfect for the task -- the Rippers fit, and it's an economical alternative.

Hoyt






                        Acoustic Bass Guitar
 - click to see more photosHoyt Mango 5





 - click to see more photos I received this beautiful Hoyt 5 String Fretless Acoustic Bass Guitar in mid-1999; it was Karl Hoyt's first ABG. This acoustic instrument has a Florentine cutaway with spruce top, four inch deep mahogany sides, laminated graphite bracing, and as it was intended for amplified use, no sound hole; I'd be plugging it up anyway. The fretless neck is 34" scale with a maple headstock overlay and it has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. As with my first Hoyt bass, the neck is slim and to die for. With the Thomastik nylon core acoustic bass guitar strings, this thing sounds so sweet and warm it could simultaneously give you diabetes and heatstroke; it's set up for maximum mwah. The back view shows its three-piece purpleheart and maple neck. I hope to have more opportunities to play it out; it is a unique instrument.

Karl Hoyt finished this fretted companion to my fretless solid body five string (shown a couple paragraphs above) in June 2000. This bass has a mahogany body, mango top, flamed maple fingerboard, asymmetrical maple/graphite reinforced neck, HipShot Ultralight keys, Schaller bridge, and Lane Poor pickups (humbucker at the bridge, Jazz bar at the neck). It's wonderful. Originally, an Aguilar preamp was on board, but I didn't like its frequency centers and boost-only controls. I replaced it with a Bartolini three-band unit with a switchable midrange band, which I am REALLY loving. It also originally had chrome hardware but now has black, since I'm using the chrome on a project bass and like the look of black on this better now. The look of the mango wood of this bass is quite unusual, with extremely fine lines, and it is mellowing nicely with age. I had Thomastik Jazz Roundwounds on it for a while; they were a tiny bit slack (light gauge), though I loved their special character and midrange strength. I've since settled on Thomastik PowerBass rounds as my favorite roundwound- it's not a bright or clangy string like many others, these are warmer and have a lot of midrange character and complexity. The bass is just 8lb. 12oz, and the position of the bridge at the edge of the body means the neck is further into the body. I'm a medium sized guy and I appreciate that it brings the fingerboard closer to the center of my body, less reach. This sweetheart went back at Karl's for a new neck with a maple fingerboard, as the original Brazilian rosewood was having some problems. But that's the kind of guy Karl is, he takes care of his clients! This bass gets #1 gig duty and has made me ignore the rest of the group since it came back.

Fender AE






                        - click to see
                        more photosEminence Electric






                          Upright Bass - click to
                          see more This unusual bass is a '92 Fender A/E (Acoustic/Electric) Precision, made in Japan for a short run in the early 90's. It has a Lace Sensor p-bass pickup and a piezo saddle pickup in the bridge, with a pan pot to balance their output, and has an onboard preamp. The spruce top/mahogany body finish is a bit beat up, but after a good deal of work on the rosewood fingerboard and pickup mounts, along with some setup work, it sounds and feels quite good. 11-04 Fender didn't put a preamp for the piezo, which desperately needs buffering; initially I put a Graphtech preamp in it. However, the mag and piezo pickups really need separate EQ, so I got a modified K&K Sound two channel preamp board (I'm a dealer) and modified the control cavity to handle it. Each channel has 3 band EQ trimmers on the circuit board, so I drilled holes in the control cover so I can access them. The results have been extraordinary, it really improved the bass' range of sounds and versatility. In 2003 a fretted cousin joined this A/E, the Fender HMT; see below. The fretless is 8lb. 

This very cool Electric Upright Bass is the Eminence. It's a full scale, hollow body instrument complete with bass bar and soundpost. I first played and fell in love with the Eminence at NAMM several years ago -- it has the feel and sound of a double bass, which really appealed to me. This is the removable neck model, which lets you break it down into an even more compact package if you need to do so. It has a specially modified Realist pickup, and I really enjoy playing this EUB. Click here to check out my page on the Eminence electric uprights, also available with five strings; I am Eminence's No. 1 dealer.

82 Walnut Precision






                        Bass
 SpecialFender Precision






                        Elite II - click to see
                        more photos This '82 Walnut Precision Bass Special bears no relation to the later "Precision Special" Fender models - it is completely walnut, right down to the fingerboard, with a maple "skunk stripe" down the back. This was one of Fender's earliest stab at shall we say "modern" touches, and it is switchable active/passive, and the preamp is very nice. This bass has a great deal of personality and I really like its unique soul. Great big and warm tone that goes beyond the traditional Fender vibe, with an onboard preamp to help fine-tune the output to cut through the mix. It has real character, can be simply tasty as well as edgy and raw if necessary. It wore a set of Thomastik Jazz Flats for quite some time, which seems to suit it well, but I recently got a set of Maxima Gold rounds to put on this golden flavored bass, and they are nice-looking and -sounding, though the Thoms are more to my needs with this bass and will probably soon return. It's a hefty 10lb. 3oz.

The Precision Elite II is an unusual and versatile Fender instrument. I have to blame Fenderophile Bill Bolton's rave review as well as the many compliments I received on the looks of the similarly colored maple-necked p-bass I owned, and sold a few years back... when I saw this 1982 bass in such great condition, I had to have it. It is active, with two p-bass split pickups, and it has a really nice range of tones. It is constructed extremely well, tight tolerances, very precise neck with great action. It's a bass I grew to appreciate more every time I played it, although since I'm almost exclusively a five string player now I don't play it much and may end up selling it. It's 8lb. 13oz.

'71






                        Fender Fretless -
 click to see more photosFender





 HMT Bass An URB player by the name of Jon Dreyer, who left the horizontal bass behind in the 70's, was kind enough to sell me this 1971 beauty in early 2000 -- I purged mine, of the same vintage and color, back in the mid-70's when its neck twisted (see Ancient Eclectic Bass for a nostalgic photo of same). The bass needed a little electronic and neck work, but is now quite playable with its set of Pyramid Gold flats, and I look forward to playing it for many years to come. Thanks, Jon! Since it's a Precision fretless, I sometimes referred to it as a Fender Approximate Bass, which never failed to make the lead guitarist in my early 2000's band giggle. It's 8lb. 10oz.

I gave in to impulse and bought this new old stock 1990 or 91 Fender HMT bass on eBay. You may note that I have a fretless Fender A/E bass, shown above -- this is a later fretted version with a more rock 'n roll-styled neck, but it is otherwise the same. It has a Lace p-bass pickup along with an unbuffered piezo bridge pickup. Very light, but well balanced, the neck is jazz width and very slim. The black nylon-coated Labella strings fit it pretty well, though I'll probably put a set of Thomastik Jazz Flats back on it, as I prefer their stronger fundamental. It's a light 7lb.

Gibson Custom







                            Shop Leland Sklar, click to view other
                            photosEpiphone Ripper project






                            bass This Gibson Custom Shop Leland Sklar bass (1996-1999 production period) is a tribute to that wonderful bassist's old standby. It's a great-sounding, lightweight alder bass, with a mini-fretted fast neck and reverse mounted p-bass pickups. I received it in late June 2001, but my initial experience and evaluation was immediately positive - it really feels "like home", and has quickly become my favorite fretted four string. Lee Sklar's longtime Frankenbass companion is an old Fender Precision bass neck cut down to Jazz bass size, equipped with mandolin frets, mounted on an early Charvel body, also mounted with a pair of EMG precision bass active pickups mounted in reverse order.
I have a lot of respect and admiration for Mr. Sklar's longtime tasteful and distinct style of play, which spans from James Taylor's earlier works, electric jazz with Billy Cobham, and play with an incredible number of famous artists too long to list. Just like his, this Gibson stands out in the mix with a great tone, I especially like the p-bass pickup in the bridge position - I'll strive to play it as tastefully as Mr. Sklar would. The Gibson Sklar is a comfortable 7lb. 15oz. It was my pleasure to meet and chat with him at NAMM 2008, he's a really nice guy.

Ok, my fondness of Rippers has led me to this project bass- found the maple Epiphone Ripper body on eBay, and luthier Karl Hoyt was kind enough to lower his standards (he is always making sport of my Rippers, and while he'll deny it, he liked my fretless Ripper) built me three-piece five string maple neck w/maple fingerboard to mount on this very attractive (dark Gibson redburst) Epiphone Ripper bass body. Begging my time constraints, I sent it back to Karl to finish, and he did a really nice job. It has a pair of Lane Poor J-bass pickups and a Bartolini preamp. While the neck looks short, it is a 34" scale bass-- that long body and bridge placement brings the nut closer, which is frankly a nice position-- don't have to reach very far. The custom tortoise pickguard really brings it all together. Its large maple body makes it a chunky 10lb. 1oz, but damn, it is sweet.

Epiphone Expert 6 Though I seldom need a high C string, six-stringed basses fascinate me, and I couldn't resist these Epiphone Expert basses. They are obviously related to the fretless EBM-5 I once owned and enjoyed (shown on my Ancient Eclectic Bass page), with the same body style, pickup and preamp types. I am told they were a small quantity "prototype" -- I don't know, but it's well-made, and its quite narrow 2.05" nut and slim neck makes it manageable for my small mitts, as does the 5/8" bridge spacing -- which probably also accounts for their limited popularity, since that narrow spacing makes slapping near impossible. It has a three piece maple neck-through (the EBM series were bolt-on), rosewood fingerboard, swamp ash wings, and has a 34" scale. I drilled the fretted Expert's bridge, giving the B and E strings through-body mountings. It's 10lb. 8oz.

I picked up a second Epi Expert, and my friend and luthier Karl Hoyt did a wonderful job defretting it- it made a nice 6 string fretless, and the fill strips are nearly the same color as the rosewood (fingerboard image inset). I cleaned it up and applied some poly finish, and it looks, feels, and sounds quite good. The fretless Expert wears a set of DR Sunbeams, and is a wonderful mwah bass. A two-band preamp compliments the two jazz style pickups on these basses, built in the 90's. I'm glad I picked them up. It's 10lb. 2oz.

Spector Grabbed up this late 80's Gibson V bass in 2006, always wanted a similar set-neck fiver as a companion to my old fretless Ripper. At 8lbs 7 oz it's not the anchor Gibsons can often be, and its ebony fingerboard and comfortable neck makes it feel and look pretty good. The V has become a regular gigging bass, it has a slightly more aggressive, gritty voice, and cuts through a rock mix quite well. You'll find Thomastik PowerBass strings on it, which have become my preference for gigs with Blame It On The Dawg.

This Spector Spectorcore fiver is quite nice; I'm a sucker for f-holes, and its light weight sealed the deal. This bass offers a Fishman piezo bridge and preamp chip along with an EMG passive pickup. Since I bought this for my blues project in early 2010 it wears a set of Thomastik Jazz Flats. The string spacing similar to my Hoyts, and neck is excellent, with just a little tweak the action settled in quite low. The EMG was a little grittier than the active Lane Poor/Bartolini combination on my Hoyts, so I swapped it out for a Basslines.

Lane Poor







                            MinimaHohner This Lane Poor Minima five-string bass is certainly a odd duck! I am a big fan of Lane's pickups, which are in several of my basses, so I took a shot on a long-distance deal to check out his bass-making skills. I believe it to have been built in 1990. It has a graphite fingerboard that is scalloped between "frets" that are actually large flat protrusions off the board. It works surprisingly well and delivers virtually no fret noise. The volume is controlled by that large black roller below the strings, and it is active- no tone controls. I'm still getting used to it, and made a with a neatly integrated extension from the front strap point, from hardwood I later stained black, in order to shift the fingerboard closer to the center of my body. It sounds very good, with a very clean and strong response.

1-12 Hohner makes more than harmonicas... I had my choice between one of these fretless Hohners and a fretless Gibson Ripper (which I chose, above) basses back in 1976 when I replaced my twisted '71 fretless Fender P. When one came up on eBay I had to snag it. It has a maple fingerboard, like my original Precision, which helped me decide on the more robust ebony fingerboard of the Ripper. Coincidentally, the body size is almost the same as a Ripper. A tasteful touch is the very thin inlaid position lines that extend from the edge of the fingerboard only to the E string, where they stop. Anyway, this bass has an interesting vibe, the fact that it is semi-hollow is more show than go due to the thickness of the top, but it is cool and does have some acoustic characteristics if you milk it. I remember from my almost 30 year old experience with it that they came with strings that were four different colors, red, green, blue and gold, I think. It currently wears Labella tapewounds, though I may move to the Fender tapewounds for their different character when I put some more time into refining it. This isn't my photo, it's a bit bright and doesn't show some of the wood wounds on the bass' top. Still, an interesting trip down memory lane.

the gibson
 (1927






                            Tenor) - click to see more photosGuild
 Asbory -
 click to see more photos Ok, so it's not a bass, but it has four strings. This is my 1927 'the gibson' tenor guitar; if you've got to own a guitar, you may as well make it a four-stringer! Nothing sounds sweeter; the original tuning is higher than guitar: C-G-D-A, same as a tenor banjo. I've had it for over 20 years, and used to play it more frequently with a Guitar/URB duo I did in the early 80's. Interested in Tenor guitars? Join the Tenor Guitar Club on Yahoo. Also, http://www.tenorguitar.com/ BTW, D'Addario makes a nice set of tenor guitar strings for original tuning.

This odd duck is a 1986 Guild Ashbory bass, a toy-like fretless 19" scale, silicone-stringed electric. The pickup was out of sorts, so I installed a replacement from the original UK electronics builder/designer, and it sounds much better. It has an active/passive switch and an impressive upright bass-like sound. The short scale lets you do things otherwise impossible on a 34" scale bass if you watch your intonation. The photo is obviously out of scale from the others on this page, but this rarity bears a closer look. Visit the Ashbory Page for details about this unique instrument. Summer of 1999 a reissue Ashbory was introduced by DeArmond (Fender) and I saw one at Bass Day '99. They are widely available now. Read Mikael Jansson's article on the Guild Ashbory in Bass Player Magazine, online or in print in the Feb. 2000 issue. This is a newer photo, but the bass pictured in the issue is mine. It's not even 2lb!

REDISCOVERING YOUR ROOTS: This photo was from around 1966; I guess you can see a touch of the Beatles' influence. That's my mighty Ampeg SB-12 Portaflex amp alongside me, stacked on a second 12 cabinet. Impressive-looking, but it still was only 25 watts! The second image is from a Lafayette Radio (think Radio Shack of the 60's) catalog. See below for the significance (to me, anyway).

My first electric bass was a "Crown" -- a Japanese import. For some unknown reason, I did some awful things to it in my 20's after it was replaced by a Fender Precision. All I have left is it's partially sanded body. I recently wished I had it back, intact, just to satisfy my own curiosity about its sound and feel. About 35 years after that photo was taken, my sister found a torn piece from an old Lafayette Radio catalog during some minor home renovation. What a nostalgic rush! Less than two weeks later, I almost ignored the anonymous-sounding "Solid Body Bass" listed on eBay. Yikes! Somebody had a bass that looks just like mine! I had to have it. Let this be a lesson for those who still have their first bass. I've heard from other bassists far younger than I, who also mourn the loss of theirs. There may be a point when nostalgia will put you in that same position. All I can say is, hold onto your first bass, and don't hack it up too much!! BTW, it sounds pretty darn good-- a very live mahogany body and neck (no side dots!), and exceptionally low and narrow frets. It is now in the possession of my youngest son, who indicated an interest in following his oldest brother's footsteps and learning bass.


This is a difficult section to keep up to date, but it picks up in the late 1990's.

Well, I went for many years with just the four string fretless Ripper, but I really enjoying the different personalities of each these basses. I evolved (see, old dogs can learn new tricks!) to five strings and--- oh no, after 25+ years of fretlessness, frets! Early on I rotated amongst four and five string basses I owned, but the last few years, since about 2005, I focused on fivers, specifically, the basses built for me by Karl Hoyt. As I retire from daily duties at Gollihur Music I expect you'll see much of what I have up on eBay.

Fender Elite II






                    with
 fretless and stack in the backgroundThere's been a variety of amplifiers and speakers in the inventory over the years starting in the mid 60's, Ampeg, Kustom, Sunn, Peavey, custom/home-made, Acoustic, Polytone, Music Man, Carvin, Eden, Acoustic Image, Crown, Kern, QSC, Euphonic Audio, Genz-Benz, etc. It was a continuing after a quality system to accurately reproduce the sound of my bass, but I've come to discover that spending a few more bucks means the gear is far more capable and sounds good without a lot of effort.

The photo at right was a Memorial Day 2000 weekend classic rock gig in a great little fishermen's bar in Wildwood, NJ, with my rig at that time, Eden Navigator, BBE 362NR, Crown CE1000, Carvin 2x10, and Eden 212xlt -- this was a "Fender night" -- I took the Elite II and a similarly finished fretless P out for that gig. However, in spite of all the reputable pieces, I was pretty unhappy with its consistency, and it really unsatisfactory for upright bass gigs.

Euphonic Audio 208The Euphonic Audio VL208 and VL210 cabinets I bought in 2000 really made me smile; the first thing I noted was that I was hearing details from my basses that I never heard before, and the lows were-- well-- really low, tight, and solid -- no fatty flab at all. And the highs are sweet and real, not clanky or artificially crispy. I preferred the more pure and realistic sound-- if I want to fatten or crisp it up using EQ, I can do that myself, thanks. I had used a BBE 362NR to firm and sweeten up the lows with my past rigs, and after using the EAs, I removed and sold the BBE unit, because the lows were tight and smooth without it. And their off-axis clarity was a new experience for me and my bandmates.

In early 2001, after enjoying my own EA cabs on gigs, I became a Euphonic Audio dealer - click here to open a window with their latest and greatest. My band at that time required a lot of clean volume, so I bought a second VL210 and upgraded to a QSC 2402, and grabbed up a used Kern IP-777 preamp, a very sweet all-tube unit. FMR Audio's Really Nice Compressor, and a Korg DTR-1 tuner lived in the top space of the MONSTER rack. 2400 watts - it was sick.

Euphonic






                                Audio iAMP 800-






                                click to
                                see detailsBut after a couple years, as that band faded, I wisely downsized to two VL-208 and began gigging a Euphonic Audio iAMP 800 head (serial#0005) and it was killer, and has been my rig until November 2011. I have to retain this comment I wrote, which I find so ironic: This sucker puts out 800 watts into 4 ohms (1000w into 2 ohms!) and weighs less than 20 lbs! When I updated from that heavy six space rack to the 30lb. three space Grundorf rack, it was sweet... and now as I move to a 7lb. head that is even more powerful, how good can it get... things certainly have changed for bass players in the last 10-15 years!

Gollihur Music has had the pleasure of working with Euphonic Audio on product prototypes, and the latest generation NL-210 (two tens and a horn) is remarkable, so incredible that I special ordered a pair for myself. They arrived in November 2011 and I will post a photograph as soon as I complete the customization process.

Meanwhile, I continue to take new gear home and on gigs to spend time with them, as do the rest of the Gollihur Music crew. Another EA head and cab became a part of my own regular gear arsenal when they became perfect for a series of gigs. I've been keeping a Euphonic Audio Doubler and Wizzy 10 speaker cabinet at home for situations like a local festival where I backed a blues guy on fretless electric bass. There was PA support, and I actually stuffed the little sub-3 lb. Doubler into the bass gig bag pocket, and walked it in with the little 18 lb. cab in hand. It was perfect as a stage monitor, and it has served well for light duty electric gigs with no PA support.

The fact that I am only now getting to Acoustic Image does not reflect on my appreciation for this gear. I goAcoustic Imaget one of the original Acoustic Image Contras in 1999, before my adoption of EA gear, and this innovative little combo amp has just blown me away since the very beginning. While I enjoy the gear above for my electric bass life, make no mistake, MY UPRIGHT BASS AMP OF CHOICE IS ACOUSTIC IMAGE. The latest Series 4 Acoustic Image amp line has left the Contra name behind; the single channel amp is a "Single Channel Coda. It combines a ten inch downfiring woofer along with a forward facing horn, so the lows are nicely diffused and similar to an upright bass' sound in many ways, but the harmonics and the edge of the attack are there, too, due to the upper mids and high frequencies from the horn.

The Acoustic Image series 4 Clarus, Codas, Corus, and Ten2 amps have been wonderful. In fact, I have often carried a compact 5 lb. Clarus to critical and/or distant gigs as my backup amp, but not because I don't trust my bass amp - with its600 wattpower, two channels, and effects it could also sub as a PA head, and it did sub as a guitar amp at a gig in 2011 when my bandmate's head failed. The combos and heads are extremely clean and uncolored, without the usual bass amp response peaks and valleys - just honest linear response that is pretty hi-fi (in the traditional sense of the word). The Coda combo is actually less than 20 lb., yet it packs mighty punch for URB and coffeehouse electric bass gigs - I've really liked my Contra (now Coda) for use with my fretless ABG, too. I took my original Contra to NAMM 1999 in LA to demo the K&K Sound double bass pickups in their booth. After over eighteen months of raving about the Contra, I became a dealer for Acoustic Image in 2001, and have since become their number one dealer! I guess honest enthusiasm and appreciation for great gear pays off.

Enjoying the low life -- Bob

Someone posted the following in a bass list a while back. Perhaps you'll like it as much as I.


You have to pick up The Bass, as Mingus called his,
with audible capitals, and think of the slow years
the wood spent as a tree, which might well have been
enough for wood, and think of the skill the bassmaker
carried without great thought of it from home
to the shop and back for decades, and know
what bassists before you have played, and know
how much of this is stored in The Bass like energy
in a spring and know how much you must coax out.
How easy it would be, instead, to pull a sword
from a stone. But what's inside the bass wants out.

William Matthews, 1995

back to Gollihur Music home page

bob@gollihur.com

Second Story Visit Mark Gollihur's band, Second Story.
My son Mark inherited the bass gene, and wields a 6 string PBC, 6 string fretless Hoyt (shown at right), and a homebuilt 8 string. The photo below is Mark getting his first taste of fretless from Dad's Gibson Ripper over a couple decades ago. Second Story released their full length CD in 1997 and have additional entries available on mp3.com
Mark on






                      the Hoyt 6 string
                      fretless Mark at a







                      much younger age with Dad's fretless Ripper


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