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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

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Share your thoughts

Sam Harding

Am I being stupid or could you just play a fretless really badly and get the same sound?

Brandon Lewis

There were many musicians of the past that thought playing major 6’s and 7’s sounded horrible. For some even our beloved major 3rd was alien sounding. And diminished chords… they were out of the question! It may take a bit to accept this change. The 12 TET system has reigned for a long time. It is all that a lot of us have ever heard. But we are moving into a future where that is changing.

Brian Darrah

Sorry, this is the equivalent of painters who splatter paint on canvas and call it “contemporary art”. The sock on the headstock, playing a righty bass upside down as a lefty, AND the unique fret system?

This is someone trying way too hard to be “cool” and different. It was a cool idea when I read about it, not when I heard it.

Lowell Levene-Sims

Lowell Levene-Sims

Good work M.N. I look forward to seeing/hearing what you do in the future with this. I will never understand the willingness of people to dismiss something so quickly, even more so however, the mean-spiritedness behind so many comments is just disheartening. What a world we live in…

WilliamWhite

WilliamWhite

That sounded like me when I try to play an unlined fretless except faster and funkier. I think that micro tonal music could sound good but really this didn’t; it sounded like a badly tuned and intonated bass.

Henrik Somogyvari

Love every second of it.
Been listening to Mononeon (&related) now for a couple of days. Brings me back to the eighties, listening to Laswell and Golden Palominos (&related), spending the afternoons just enjoying the creative funky insanity.
Picked up bass playing again, and this peaked my interest to a new approach.
Fretless? Don’t know about that. Percy Jones is the only fretless bass player I’ve enjoyed listening to, and Zappa the only fretless guitarist (The torture never stops). Seems very difficult.