…Another string to my bow! (Just the one….)

One of the bonuses of being a guitar maker is the people you meet. Musicians are a funny and strange bunch (that’s rich coming from a guitar maker!) but every once in a while one turns up who is not like other people.

Andy Rowe is an artist who works in many mediums, one of them being sound. He is the kind of guy that gets an idea in his head which just won’t go away until he has made it real.

He intends to use it for one of his installations and performances – take some time to check out his website – If you think a 1 string bass is strange check out his self made giant jack plug which he plays as an instrument:

The slate pipe banjo draggers perform an improvised piece for an enlarged jack plug and tablas – seventh video from the top –  here.

Luckily for me he is not a guitar maker so he turned to me to help make this one happen.

The biggest problem we had was deciding which note to tune the string to. This was key to deciding the scale length and everything else comes from that. I had a gut feeling it should be a low C so it could also be easily tuned to Bb which would suit most musicians/tunes but Andy explained that he is not a ‘real’ bass player and wanted it to be as simple as possible. After a lot of thought and discussion we ended up going for an E – like the fattest string on a normal bass – so ‘normal’ bass players could get on with it easily without having to think about it too much (I am fighting the urge here to tell my bass player joke).

Once that was sorted the rest came out easy -34″ scale with 22 frets, maple neck and alder body. It may only have one string but we’ll get the most out of it because the individual piezo saddle/bridge will have full midi and the capability to also sound like an acoustic bass. There will be a volume for the midi and another for the piezo which makes the acoustic sound.

It was a bit of a surreal when I drew on the width of the neck – how wide do you make a one string bass neck? Will it need a truss rod? I will do a test to find out.

This will be the first instrument I work on in the new year. An interesting project – can’t wait to see what he does with it! Part 2