Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tom Martinson A/K/A TLM Basses

Sorry about the length of this.

I bought one of his basses on ebay. It's called "Blush". It's beautiful!

The body is Padouk with a strip of curly maple down the center and a Padouk pickup cover.
The neck is Hububali and the fretboard is Ebony and Bloodwood.
Four string, fretted, one pickup, volume & tone control.

Cons:
Some of the edges of frets are rough. Fixable, but it's a new bass.

The action is MUCH too high. I'm talking close to 1/4 inch.

Laugh at this if you want, but his signature on the headstock isn't clear.
Hey, it's a handmade bass! Where's the 'cool factor' if I can't show that off?

Pros:
I haven't weighed it, but it's REALLY light!

Construction on the body & neck are top notch.

I looked at the solder joints. Nicely done!
I used to wire electrical panels in machines. I know what a good solder joint looks like!

Nice tone, great sustain.

The neck has no warp or twist.

Conclusion:
I like the bass. Where it's important, the work is quality.

Now a story:
I took it to a local luthier to get the cons taken care of. This man, I'll call him Joe (not his real name) , is a well known builder and restorer of fine instruments with an international clientele that's a who's who of the music business.

As Joe looked over the instrument I said, "The action is really high"
Joe: "Wow, that is. It shouldn't be a problem to adjust."

Me, turning bass over: "Should I be concerned about this?" I pointed to the screws holding on the neck. They are phillips screws and they're kind of bunged up like they were really torqued into the wood. Joe's eyes bugged out & his jaw dropped.

Joe: "That's not a lot of overlap to hold the neck on a bass! This is going to cause problems! I'm not sure what we'll be able to do with this." Sighting down the neck; "And this neck is all warped, too."

With an exasperated sigh; "I'm not sure what we can do with this, but we'll try."
He wrote up the paperwork and when I asked for a price quote, $150. Without new strings.

So I went home to have lunch. Thinking about this, Joe seemed to have given up on the bass.
Do I really want to drop $150 when they're sure their work won't make a difference on my hand made, one of a kind instrument?

I have experience in woodworking. Padouk and Hububali are VERY dense woods. I'm guessing Martinson used a drill press to get these screws into snug holes and that's why the neck mounting screws are bunged up. I don't think they're going anywhere.

Also, the grain of both woods are running the length of the bass, as they should.
I don't know squat about building basses, but I'm disagreeing with Joe.

So, I called Joe and told him if he didn't think the bass was worth it, I'll get it before they do any work on it. When I picked it up, he predicted I'd have trouble with the bass.

I took another look at the neck when I got home. I don't see any warp.
I'm taking it to another reputable luthier in a nearby city, tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted on what he says.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"BEST VARITONE EVER"

So I bought one of these from CertainBass on ebay.

With my Ibenez Soundgear 480, I didn't notice any change in the tone.
I emailed Dave about this & he said

"sometimes they work funny with active electronics, sometimes it's OK. It's possible to install it in an active bass before the preamp circuitry. I have two protoypes of active varitone pedals that will handle any kind of input, and it's even strong enough to push a raw power amp."

He offered to take this varitone back & sell me a prototype for cost. Nice guy!

So I tried my TL Martinson through it, kick ass! The Martinson is passive and only has volume-tone knobs. Growling like a pissed off rottweiler!

I plan to get a blank rack panel & mount this on it so it can be in my rack permanently.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Squier Affinity Jazz V

So I bought a bass here .

I have 6 words about this bass:
I'm in love!
Too much bass.

This bass has so many tonal options I don't know what to play with first.
I'm not complaining, I'm bragging!

Ed was great to deal with.
He talked about nicks in the bass and made it sound like the previous owner was a little rough with it. I have found one minuscule nick.

The knobs had been volume-blend-treble-bass, but before he sent it, he tested the bass and made it volume-volume-treble-bass because the blend knob was making it lose some punch.

Ed, you should mod basses for a side business.

Thanks for a great instrument!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First post

Does everyone say 'First post'?
I'm going to use this to review products & services I buy online and locally.

I want more than 80 characters.