In 2010, extreme flooding left a trail of destruction across much of Tennessee including the area surrounding Nashville. Many musicians from all walks of life were affected by the natural disaster. Wooten Woods, Victor Wooten’s home base and teaching haven located near the Duck River, was temporarily overrun by water and had to be evacuated. Thankfully it was restored with the help of the family and friends.
Signs of Mother Nature’s wrath are still occasionally found at the river bend that borders Wooten’s land, and Slawomir Waclawik and Benjamin Harrison of Rybski Basses decided to make the best of the situation.
The duo set out to craft a bass out of only materials found in Wooten Woods. The river bend provides for interesting woods by exposing them to moisture, warm temperatures, and nutrients from the bio-rich river. With the help of Wooten Woods grounds keeper Glen, Waclowik and Harrison removed interesting driftwood and sections of downed trees from the location and took them to their shop in Wartrace, Tennessee.
The resulting Rybski Wooten Woods Bass is built entirely from their harvest, excepting the hardware and electronics. The bass’s top was cut from the trunk of a washed up box elder tree. The striking red streaks are caused by a natural defense mechanism in the tree that causes chemicals to be released during stress. Similarly, other woods on the bass exhibit spalting, which is coloration caused by fungus growth. The fingerboard is spalted wester sycamore, and the pickup covers are spalted maple. Rybski also found hackberry and walnut for the body as well as maple, oak, and bodock to make the laminate neck.
As if that’s not cool enough, the bass’s position markers are tiny shells taken from the Duck River that were sliced with a gem saw and suspended in a polyester resin, then inlaid into the fingerboard.
All the effort of creating a truly unique bass didn’t hinder Rybski from focusing on it’s playability. Similar to their other models, the bass has a thin, fast playing neck and comfortable body shape that balances well sitting or standing. They fitted it with a hand scalloped brass nut and Hipshot hardware including a Type A bridge, Ultralite tuners, and a D-tuner on the E-string. The custom handwound Rybski P/J pickups are matched with an EMG preamp with a 3-band EQ and a parametric midrange for tonal flexibility. DR Strings bring it all together.
As you can imagine, the bass was a real process. Check out this sneak peek video of the making of the bass. It starts with Victor Wooten being presented (and surprised) with it at camp, and his reaction is priceless:
Rybski Wooten Woods Camp Bass Photos:
Photos by Liz Hamilton Design & Photography
Rybski Wooten Woods Camp Bass Specs:
- Body: Hackberry core, Walnut Accent
- Top: Box Elder Top
- Neck: Maple, Oak, Bodock
- Fingerboard: Spalted Sycamore
- Inlays: Shells from Duck River Suspended in Resin
- Pickup covers: Spalted Maple
- Back Cover Plates: Spalted Maple
- Pickups: Rybski P/J
- Electronics: EMG Preamp with 3-band EQ, Midrange Frequency Ring
- Bridge: Hipshot Type A
- Tuners: Hipshot Ultralite, Hipshot D-Tuner
- Nut: Hand Scalloped Brass
- Strings: DR Strings
For more info, check out the Rybski website.