Each MüB begins with getting to know the future owner both as a bass player and as a person. All I learn finds its way in his bass. I always suggest to name the bass before looking into specs. The right name captures the owner's vision with great clarity. Unhortodox perhaps, but for me it's extremely insipring and it's fun.
Once the build starts the owner follows the entire process through pictures and constant updates - daily at times. As the build unfolds ideas always pop up. Each is discussed thoroughly. Any question is asked before proceeding, every doubt clarified. The future owner is not just a client. He's my creative partner and the outcome a truly joined effort. It's not like - you place an order here and the bass comes out at the other end six months later. That's why each MüB is unique to his owner.
Here's a case history.
The Über-Jay V Nemesis.
Matt wanted a five string Über-Jay bass with a lot of attitude and unique, striking look. Now, unique and striking means something completely different to each of us. What did it mean to Matt? I asked for a name. He came up with Nemesis. The Goddess of retribution. Energy, disruption, darkness. An uncompromising, unstoppable force. We were ready to make sawdust.
After going through many options we fell for this rotting, scarred and outrageously elegant AAAAA Buckeye Burl top. You always know that all other options were wrong when you see the right one.
Dark and unusual. To match the Buckeye we selected a similarly dramatic looking Black Limba for both body and neck.
Gabon ebony helps focusing the tone. Natural grey streaks instead of jet black enhance the look. And it's good for the environment, which for a bad-ass bass is a cool twist.
The final combo. A solid, well rounded, articulated, snappy tone capable of subtle nuances with dramatic head turner looks.
I believe necks are at the heart of tone and playability. This one is made of a tapered Wenge centre laminate, Maple and black accent lines, Black Limba sides. Inside there's a truss rod and two carbon fiber reinforcement spars.
A double black and white accent line along body and neck adds a touch of elegance to the combo.
This is when I usually draw colour sketches of the bass. I like drawings, they are the most effective way to render something that still does not exist. Better than computer programs, they bring out the soul of a bass and not just the forms.
Right on the onset, Nemesis inspired us an unorthodox use of the top. Instead of the obvious book matched side we decided to flip the top over and go with the unmatched side. The asymmetrical look adds drama to an already striking top.
Nemesis was to weigh around 7.5lbs. Constellation chambers got us there while keeping in check balance and ensuring a solid tone, far from the hollowness some chambered basses produce.
Woods and construction quality of a neck, neck joint tightness and length all contribute to the tone. My neck pocket goes all the way to the first pick-up, wherever that is. A tight, long neck pocket increases body/neck bonding, improving attack and sustain.
That's its beauty. They usually get filled up with black epoxy, sawdust or left overs from the same top. Mostly I don't like doing that. Imperfections are to me as integral to the look as the wood itself. Large voids were filled with crystal clear glue which lets walls and underneath wood show. A 3D look that is both charming and unique.
Along the edges and on top of the electronics cavity, voids were filled with tiny bits from left overs. They were chosen to recreate a look as natural as possible. I recommend this activity during long rainy days.
The headstock plate is made of two pieces joined together. Bark and knots were used to complete the mosaic.
A bass with such a name was screaming for an Inlay. So we obliged. Nemesis is portrayed as a winged goddess, holding a sword in one hand and a scale in the other. I wanted to include those elements in a minimalist, modern design.
Done. The wings are made of white MOP and mark the 12th fret. The blade is made of abalone and its tip points to the 15th.
Eventually we added a Svarowski ruby crystal right under the tip of the blade at the 17th fret. Just like a little drop of blood.
These are located under each tuner. It's an option I that offer on all basses and it seemed to work particularly well here.
Über-Jay Nemesis. The bass is sprayed with lacquer. The body is clear gloss and buffet to mirror finish. The neck is satin which makes it very fast.
Black limba is a fantastic wood. Great to work with and truly fascinating once finished. Screws are all stainless steel. Those holding the neck are counter bore deep into the wood and almost invisible. Behind the cavity cover is an Audere Classic preamp with high/low mids individual controls.
Here's the result of all that work on the headstock plate. It's a tricky proposition to imitate nature's work. It takes a lot of effort to understand how a certain look works and requires great attention to details. Very time consuming but immensely rewarding.
"... After wiping the puddles of drool off the beautiful finish from everyone inspecting it before i got to plug it in, I hit the "go" button and let her rip!! Lets just say that I have never seen a sound guy smile so hard from what he was hearing come out from his p.a! Such amazing clarity indeed! And what a thing of beauty to play! I am super impressed indeed! I have spent endless hours just staring at the finish looking at all the beautiful "imperfections" in the timber and admiring their beauty and how you have managed to make them perfect yet retain their imperfection! that resin filling and keeping of all those knots etc is just marvelous! What a story that timber will continue to tell for many years to come! Thank you for creating such an amazing and unique instrument! this baby will be played and played for many years to come!! Matt".