Part One: The Bass Guitar America’s Invention Dieter Mr. Albert Iannuccilli
Back in the Day… • Leo Fender created the first electric bass in 1951. • Inspired to make solid-body instruments in contrast to Les Paul’s hollow-body guitars. • Called the first bass the “Precision Bass”. • Use of metal frets, and electro-magnetic pickup revolutionized the concept of instrument making.
’51 P Bass • The advent of the precision bass changed music forever. • Its main features included a solid alder body, maple neck and fingerboard, stainless steel frets, and a magnetic pickup with volume and tone control. • This bass became the standard for the design of future basses.
A New Standard • Fender’s next bass in production was the “Jazz Bass”. • It featured a slightly longer width between frets in an attempt to persuade upright bassists to convert to electric. • Two single coil pickups were used also • This allowed for more tonal possibilities.
Age of Chrome • Around in the early 1960’s both model basses received a facelift. • The P Bass now featured a “split” pickup. • New colors of paint were used. • Chrome hardware was installed to give the basses a hip look. This was taken directly from the design of cars. • Later the chrome hardware was removed leaving the traditional appearance of each of these instruments.
Part Two The German Innovation
Ned Steinberger • In the 1970’s Steinberger created several new bass designs. • These designs included carbon graphite necks and bodies, headless basses, and use of new pickups. • Although these basses were cutting edge they did not gain popularity until the 1980’s when other luthiers copied Steinberger’s concepts.
EMG Pickups • EMG pickups are an alternative to standard alnico magnet pickups. • Ceramic magnets are used in place of the more common alnico type. • Different gauges, heights, and shapes of copper wire are used • The results create a more wider possibility for tone.
Warwick Basses • The first Warwick bass was crafted by Hans Peter Wilfer in 1980 and was inspired by Nobby Miedel, and the Washburn “Bantam” Bass design. • New body woods and complex lamination processes set this bass apart for its predecessors. • Wenge necks were used for increased stability, becoming a mainstay in the Warwick Design • Increased neck length resulted in more frets and extended instrument range.
Dolphin Bass • Odd body shape is claimed to be more comfortable to play. • Features 26 frets and ovangkol wood. • This design is the basis for other manufacturers.
Infinity NT • Hollow body design uses ovangkol with a maple top. • The combination of humbucking pickups, wood choice, and hollow body design create a sound similar to an upright bass.
Marleux Bass Guitars • Small shop based in Clausthal-Zellerfeld run by Gerald Marleux, and Tilman Antons. • Basses influenced by Leo Fender, and Hans Peter Wilfer. • Use woods specific to the Black Forest • Developed a new style of electronic circuitry which preserves each instrument’s unique character.
Marleux Bass Guitars • Marleux features 5 different body styles with a wide variety of options. • Consat models show direct influence from the Warwick “Dolphin” bass. • Mbass models are a unique design developed by Marleux and Antons. • JB and Roots basses are Fender bass “clones”. • The newest in the series, Marleux-Pagelli is a truly original fretless bass.
Ritter • Founded by Jens Ritter, who began crafting basses at age 16 • Created his first handmade bass at age 19 • “…what I make with my hands should be the best possible.”
Innovation is the sister of Invention • Using rare earth magnets and a hybrid “active/passive” design, Jens created his own style of pickups. • Switches are placed in the circuitry for each pickup creating a “Triplebucker” pickup. • Powerful balanced tone is the result.
Neck Joints • "The Neck Joint is a very special and mostly totally neglected sound influencing element. It is responsible for the dynamic and speed (Attack) of the bass and also for the string amplitude power consumption (Sustain).” • Ritter uses at least 10 bolts per neck joint.
Models • Models include the “Classic”, “Roya”, “Jupiter”, “Raptor”, “Okon”, and “Seal”. • All models are similar in specifications but with very dynamic body shapes. • Jens Ritter is continuing to innovate new designs in basses.
“…The German Stradivarius.” • Jens received most of his craftsman skills from his grandfather and father. • Resides in Deidesheim, a small wine-growing town. • Transcends music, woodworking and art in his instruments. • Newest basses seen as art pieces rather than instruments. http://www.ritter-royals.com/instruments-available.php