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Bass of the Week: MonoNeon’s Microtonal Bass

MonoNeon Microtonal Bass

Most No Treble readers will recognize MonoNeon as a forward thinking bassist with a unique style that blends R&B with modern experimental music. He often plays with microtonality, meaning he uses quarter tones in addition to semi-tones that are created on fretted instruments.

“My fascination with microtonality is ‘casual’, similar to my fascination with Dadaism, Color Field, and other visual art stuff,” he explains. “I was introduce to microtonal music by David Fiuczynski, I met him during my brief stay at Berklee. Ever since then I’ve been kind of a ‘micro-dilettante’ and really been trying to embrace my desire to inhabit another pitch space that is not only 12 sounds. Hopefully more people will begin playing microtonal music, not only in the avant-garde classical stuff but combining the sounds of Julian Carrillo and Albert King, Ivan Wyschnegradsky and The Bar-Kays, or Easley Blackwood and Rev. Milton Brunson… just ideas I think about.”

MonoNeon now has a new microtonal bass that better facilitates the style. Tim Cloonan of Callowhill Guitars reached out to him and the two collaborated on the design, which also incorporates the bassist’s colorful palette. It’s built with a Honduran Mahogany body, an 11-piece maple/wenge/myrtle neck, and an Indian Rosewood fingerboard. The pickups are a pair of Nordstrand MM5’s matched with an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp.

MonoNeon gave us a rundown of how the bass’s fret system works. “The microtonal system used on the bass is 24 tone equal temperament, literally stretching the 2:1 (octave) to put 12 more notes in it. Each whole-tone within the octave is now comprised of equal 4 parts instead of 2 parts. In 24 TET the quarter-tone (50 cents) is the smallest interval, not the semitone (100 cents).”

If you’re trying to imagine what that sounds like, check out this video:

MonoNeon’s Microtonal Bass Photos:

MonoNeon’s Microtonal Bass Specs:

Body:Honduran Mahogany
Neck:11-piece Maple/Wenge/Myrtle
Fingerboard:Indian Rosewood
Pickups:Nordstrand MM5
Electronics:Aguilar OBP-3 Preamp