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Bass of the Week: Spalt Instruments Terminator 1

When we first started this column, our goal was to present instruments that range from beautiful to bizarre. This week we’re featuring a bass that falls somewhere in between.

Spalt Instruments Terminator 1 Full

The Spalt Instruments Terminator bass is part musical instrument and part modern art, thanks to luthier Michael Spalt’s creative background. He studied painting, photography, film, and set construction between schools in California and Austria before he began his career in guitar making. The model is part of his Hybrid line of instruments, which Spalt says is the culmination of his artistic background and building skills.

“Hybrids employ an aluminum skeletal structure with wooden wings and wood necks. These instruments embody my sculptural approach to guitar/bass building – they are stripped-down to the essentials. The wood neck dials in the tonal color and is comfortable to play. The aluminum imparts a warm tone and clarity to the sound. All metal and wood work is done by hand.”

We’re focusing on the first Terminator bass built, which features flame koa body wings, a wenge neck, and a cocobolo fingerboard. The five-string bass’s frame is black anodized metal, which is fitted with a pair of EMG soapbar pickups matched to a BQC preamp.

“Aluminum as neck material has proven to be problematic, and I felt it was important to retain the comfort and feel of a wooden neck,” Spalt explains. “This led to the design based around the central mounting plate (“body”), to which all the other parts are bolted. The low end on these instruments had a wonderful warm clear tone, and, since the initial response from guitarists was rather lukewarm, I decided to apply this concept to a bass – figuring also (correctly, as it turned out) that bassists would be a little less conventionally inclined than guitarists.”

Noting that the bass won’t fit on a conventional stand, Spalt also includes a custom stand for the hybrid configuration.

For more information, check out the Spalt Instruments website.

Spalt Instruments Terminator 1 Specs:

Body Wings:Flame Koa
Inlay:Spalt Logo
Pickups:EMG Soapbars
Electronics:EMG BQC Preamp