Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bombella BB00H6

The strings stay perfectly straight because the tuning pegs have been repositioned.
Photo by Suna

When I have taken Beccano to his guitar lesson the over the last month, I have studiously avoided eye contact with a new bass at the music store. All that ended today when Suna accompanied us to the store. “Look at this pretty bass, Lee. You should play it,” she encouraged.

So I did. That was it.

The bass is hand crafted in Mexico City by an acquaintance of the music store owner. Some of the other customers have also met the luthier, Bombella, is also reputed to be an excellent bass player and a very nice guy. He brought his first lot of basses to the US to sell, and Danny Rae got one because of their friendship.

The woodwooking originally attracted me to this beautiful instrument.
Photo by Suna

Bombella carved the instrument from a single piece of maple and inlaid two pieces of walnut on the body for dramatic effect. The fretboard is rosewood with what appear to be stainless steel frets. The instrument has incredible sustain in spite of a lightweight bridge—probably because the tuning pegs are offset so that the strings align perfectly from bridge to peg with no deflection.

The electronics are all active—the first time I have used this type. But after getting used to them, it will be hard to play my old ’72 Jazz bass again. And it did take a while to get used to them because there are no booklets to explain them. (This is, after all, a handmade bass, not a mass produced commodity.) Here is what I figured out:

  • The tone controls are stacked on the left (looking down as you play). The bass control is at the bottom, and the treble is on top. Both lock into a flat position in the center and can either attenuate or boost the frequency range they control.
  • The center knob controls the balance between the bridge and neck pickups. It also locks into the center or balanced position.
  • The right stack controls the pickup volume. The lower knob controls the bridge neck and the upper one, the bridge.

Because of the active electronics, the string alignment, and the single-piece construction, the instrument has an extremely wide frequency response. Harmonics and slaps balance perfectly when playing through a Fender 250 2-10 combo using minimal compression. It delivers a wide range of sounds with the same attack, depending on where you attack the string. Varying the attack only increases the variety of sounds you can achieve.

1 comment:

Suna said...

It's really a great instrument for someone who plays a lot of melodies and solos on the bass, like Lee does. The sound is clear, not muddy like a lot of basses. Of course, that could be the nice amp, too. What do I know. I just sing harmonies.

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