Old School: 1973 Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow Bass

1973 Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow Bass - in caseOur Facebook friend Cuzin’ Locust Johnson (AKA Mark) shares some old school goodness with us – his 1973 Acoustic Control Black Widow Bass.

Acoustic Control Corporation’s Black Widow bass began in 1972, along with a guitar model of the same name. This was the company’s first and only guitar and bass model, according to the All The Transients guide to the instrument.

The Black Widow’s design was by Paul Barth, who worked with Rickenbacker and designed some of their early electric instruments. Barth’s company Bartell made the first instruments in the line.

Acoustic’s Harvey Gerst took Barth’s original design and revamped it, with deeper cutaways and an increased fret count. Barth eventually couldn’t keep up with demand, which led to Acoustic taking production to Matsumoto Moko in Japan. Acoustic later brought production back to the U.S.

According to All The Transients, it is “‘wildly guessed’ that no more than 1,000 of these guitars were made for Acoustic”.

Mark tells the story behind his old school bass…


Acoustic Control Corporation/Black Widow Bass Guitar/1973

How long have you owned it?

One year.

How did you come across it?

Craigslist nationwide search. I bought it from a guy in Mississippi.

Stock or customized?

Everything is stock. Mine is the Japanese version.

Specs (source: All The Transients):

  • Finish: Black on a “German carved” top (flat back) body
  • Nut: cast block with holes
  • Binding: triple w/b/w on body and headstock
  • Neck Joint: 2 bolt pivot with 3rd bolt angle adjust
  • Pickups: G – 2 wide singles or 2 buckers, B – 1 single
  • Bridge: G – large block tail piece, round saddle bridge; B – one piece bent tail/barrel bridge or large block tail piece, round saddle bridge

1973 Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow Bass Photo Gallery

Any special characteristics?

Less than 1,000 Black Widow basses and guitars were ever made.

What’s your favorite story about the gear?

The guy I bought it from was 21 years old when he purchased it new. He had the presence of mind to keep the original shipping box it came in.

Any notable musicians play the same instrument?

Jimi Hendrix actually played the guitar version. Check out the Black Widow fan page.

Do you use it on gigs?

Yes. It’s very similar in sound to a Fender Precision Bass.

Do you own any other vintage gear?

  • 1975 Fender Precision Bass
  • Old Acoustic Control Corporation amplifiers and cabinets.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m 43. I’ve been playing bass since 17 (took a long hiatus to concentrate on my family). I recently picked bass playing back up and currently play in a cover band (just a bunch of guys from high school). It’s the perfect release from my day job.

If you own any vintage gear you'd like us to spotlight in "Old School", we'd love to hear from you! Drop us a line at [email protected].

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Share your thoughts

  1. Frank Zappa turned his acoustic guitar fretless. I’m surprised Jaco never had an acoustic bass since he always spoke so highly of their ampsand always used them.

    • I believed I’ve read Jaco saying he prefered acoustic amps because the alternative at that time (Ampeg) were too Ampeg-y or distorted, he preferred the clean Acoustic tone. IIRC he cut bass a lot and boosted mids too.

      Being this rare, I wouldn’t be surprised if he never saw a black widow bass. Or more probably he just did not like them, not every brand can make everything good enough for every pro out there.

  2. I just can’t believe the (apparent) mint condition this bass is in, looks brand new although it’s 40 years old. Nice find.

  3. Sweet looking bass.

  4. Really, having been around in 1973 with a Kay-type bass I can say that while there were other basses if you look at the first Weather Report album Jaco was on it just says Fender bass; electric bass was and still is Fender. After bunches of bandmates saying “Why don’t you get a Fender? “, I finally did in ’78. I traded a Gibson G-3 and $100 in Red Bank NJ.

  5. Jaco was too busy to play anything else , but he did try Sting’s Steinberger back in 82 or so.

  6. Dam ! I want one : )

  7. Hurricane Jimmie

    I remember seeing one at a local music store….they were an Acoustic dealer. If I recall, it was a heavy beast!!

  8. Doc Blooze

    I played a black widow bass in a pawn shop in maybe 1975 or 76 and loved it.
    Reflecting back I thought it was a fretless. . Anyone ever seen a fretless Black Widow?