The idea for the original Pimp-O-Matic started out as a bit of a joke, I wanted to make the most exorbitant and over the top bass that I could, so I sat down in front of the drawing board and started to get busy.
Now you might notice that elements of the design are inspired by Carl Thompson’s basses and you’d be right, I saw that big stripy thing that Les Claypool plays and that is what gave me the first idea to make something as nuts as that.
Though when it comes down to it, try as I might, I’m just a little too sensible to go all out like Carl does. So sat in front of my drawing board I felt the need to keep within the boundaries of playability, functionality, ergonomics and style.
The thing I really liked about the bass he made for Les is all those stripes of wood and the first time I saw it was a picture of Les posing with it in a magazine and you could only see a little bit of the bass.
Upon looking at more pictures I realised there was no pattern to the strips, it just seemed he’d raided hit off-cuts bin, plained everything up nice n straight, then glued them all together until he had enough for a bass.
I started thinking about what kind of person might wanna play this bass and I thought, anyone who would go all out and buy a bass that looked so over the top would probably take as much interest in he way he dressed. The next thing I knew, I had the image of a really sharp suit in my head, something made of really nice material with exciting but tasteful stripes (says the stubbly Yorkshire man in his uniqlo flannel shirt and dusty jeans). So I decided the stripes had to follow a strict and tight pattern.
Next was wood choice. I knew black walnut and maple were a must, both tonally and aesthetically. On the CT bass he uses strips of padouk (an extremely bright red-orange coloured wood) that really clashed with the cold but creamy brown tones of the walnut. So after a little bit of thinking I decided on Wenge (a dark chocolate brown coloured wood) to be the thin strips that separate each larger strip of walnut and flamed maple.
When it came to the shape, I definitely wanted to land myself somewhere in between Carl’s ‘far out’ shapes and something that was pleasing to the eye and more importantly comfortable to play with a nice weight balance.
Ok, enough about the old bass, what’s new?
Well first of all I’ve added a string (I mean one more not one singular), the original was a 4-string, solely for the reason that I’ve always played 4’s, I’m a simple player who gets easily confused when you change things around like adding strings, but the one thing nearly everyone has said to me about this bass was ‘why only four strings?’.
Next is pickups, I’ve really gotten into seriously high-end pickups in the last few years and also what you can do with them if you select to the right coil combinations.
The original bass had a pair of Seymour Duncan MM style pickups in the Jazz bass positions, each with its own rotary switch to select series/parallel/split wiring and the bass was passive. It sounded really good… But it didn’t sound truly amazing.
So for the new bass it has to be Delano, I’ve spent the last few years playing around with various high-end pickups and this year and after a lot of deliberation came to the conclusion that Delano are the most consistently brilliant sounding bass pickups with an incredible selection of different styles and tonal options.
Another thing I came to accept is that an MM pickup in the ‘sweet spot’ really does sound fucking brilliant and shouldn’t be messed with. Though one thing you might notice is that although the sound is really amazing, if you wanna sit into a really fat groove, you do notice a lack in low end frequency response that you would get from something like a jazz bass.
Now if I don’t wanna move the MM pickup from the sweet spot and I’m having a 24-fret fingerboard, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for a second MM pickup and also with two of them that close together I’d have to worry a lot about magnetic pull on the strings. Another thing to note is that mixing unbalanced pickups often gives an uninspiring and sometimes useless tone that no one wants to here, for example if I shoved a jazz bass pickup in the neck position, it just wouldn’t sound right mixed with the MM humbucker.
So here’s my idea that I just put to the guys at Delano and am waiting to here back from them to see if they can do it.
A single coil pickup that uses the same big 9.5mm magnets as the MM pickup and wound in a similar style to one of the coils of the MM pickup, wound RWRP to the bridge side coil. Fit all of that into a Jazz pickup cover and shove it in the neck position. Then wire it up with a 5-way super switch that gives the positions…
5- MM sweet spot parallel (true MM tone)
4- MM sweet spot series (fatter and boomier than normal)
3- outside coils parallel humbucker (like a jazz bass but more pick attack)
2- outside coils series humbucker (like a modern US jazz bass with the S1 switch pushed, but with more pick attack)
1-neck side coils stock pair (all the dynamics of a single coil, but with a wider frequency range due to the different pickup positions)
The idea being that you have 5 honestly fantastic pickup options (four of which are humbucking) all from three coils and a 5-way switch.
Then to cap it all of, the bass will be fitted with a John East U-retro 01 deluxe preamp, in short the best bass preamp in the world.
I started gluing up the laminates this week, here are some shots of the progress.
body wing roughly cut to shape, filler strips in the neck.
I’ll upload more tomorrow, its gonna be an epic journey creating the ultimate funk machine.