Upsetting things that you've done to your own instruments.
When the world was simpler, when we were all young, when, in fact, we published our first monthly issue in October, the call went out for oddness.
We (us) desired to hear from you (them) with reference to any peculiar changes or customisations you'd made to your favourite instruments... bits added, lumps taken away, designs twisted evily, or just colours applied with all the artistic eye of a mentally deficient ironing board.
What we got was Pete Tindal of Hastings, who, if the truth be told, was something of a disappointment since his bass was not only sensible but a beautifully simple and elegant situation to an old problem — the fretted/fretless interface.
"Our band's songwriting demanded very specific sounds which were not obtainable from any one conventional bass," wrote Pete. He considered a double neck — one fretted, one fretless, but dismissed that as far too cumbersome. It would have to be a purpose built job.
"Early this year, having visited numerous manufacturers of custom guitars, it was the Mansons of Crowborough who impressed me with their technical ability and enthusiasm."
He laid the plans on the table. "Primarily my requirement was a high response pick up which could capture both percussive sounds associated with a fretted bass, and the rounded tones of a fretless."
The solution was to build a neck which was fretted up to B on the E string then entirely free of the old silver/nickel strips. "To prevent fret rattle and string buzz when glissing from B to C (ie fretted to fretless), the frets had to be tapered in height from F." From there on, the rest of the construction was fairly easy.
"Rainbow pickups made by Kent Armstrong were wired in parallel; an active and passive tone circuit and a master volume control were installed, along with treble boost and a separate tone control which can be switched in and out individually for the two pickups.
"Hugh Manson designed a brass bridge which has separate string height and pitch adjustment. He also recommended Schaller machine heads (M4S's). The neck, a straight through type, is Brazilian ebony with a maple splice. The body and fingerboard, with Dutch wire frets, also consists of Brazilian ebony. The tuning keys and bridge cradle were black chrome to match the control knobs, switches and black gloss spray job by Clive Cherry."
As a result, the Tindal bass can be slapped, fingered or bowed; the last technique is possible thanks to the slight cut away on the body to supply room for the bow, and the 16th of an inch rise on the A and D strings to lift them clear of the rest.
"Overall, the design has been a success and the band have commissioned another guitar from the Mansons," concluded Pete. Considering this bass featured a price tag in the high hundreds, the best recommendation is that they're going back to the same people for another model.
The band wanted an instrument which could create a tight, percussive anchor as part of a rhythm section (fretted), yet be ready to supply all the Yew-dee-doo glissandos needed to partner singer Lulie's vocal lines (fretless). And that is exactly what they got. Happy ending.