Bass of the Week: HJC Customs Alchemy Fretless 5

Vuyani Wakaba with his HJC Customs Alchemy Fretless 5 Bass

Back at the Winter NAMM show this year, we ran into our friend Vuyani Wakaba roaming the floor with a smile from ear to ear. He was overjoyed by his new HJC Customs Fretless Alchemy 5, which is this week’s Bass of the Week.

Wakaba teamed up with luthier Harold J. Cagle for the custom creation. It features an African wood motif with highly figured Khaya Mahogany for the top and back, Andaman Padauk body core, a 13-piece padauk and wenge neck with Gaboon Ebony pinstripes, and a Gaboon ebony fingerboard covered in marine epoxy.

The bass’s matching pickup ramp hides a pair of Bartolini soapbars the size of jazz bass pickups. Each pickup can be repositioned by the player under the ramp to get different overall tones from the bass. The ramp is also fully adjustable and radiused to match the fingerboard.

Other features include a Noll preamp, a Graph Tech piezo system, and Hipshot hardware. Here’s Wakaba giving a rundown of his bass:

HJC Customs Fretless Alchemy 5 Photos:

HJC Customs Fretless Alchemy 5 Specs:

Top & Back Woods:Highly Figured Khaya Mahogany
Body Core Wood:Andaman Padauk
Neck Woods:13 Piece Padauk & Wenge Neck With Gaboon Ebony Pinstripes
Fingerboard:Gaboon Ebony With Marine Epoxy
Hardware:Hipshot Ultra-Light Tuning Machines & Hipshot Bridge
Pickups:Bartolini Soap-bar Pickups
Piezo System:Graph Tech

For more information, check out the HJC Customs website.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Absolutely Beautiful Piece of Art. I’d be thrilled to learn fretless on it.

  2. Wow, No Treble, 2nd time in a month where you have failed to link to the luthier’s site.

  3. At least the ramp looks removable. I will never understand those things

  4. She’s a beauty! I’m feeling the pull towards going fretless!

  5. Thanks for article Kevin, I truly appreciate the piece.


    The pickup ramp with movable Bartolini pickups was created by Andy Zoldos. A bass luthier out of Michigan as well. Andy first came up with the idea while creating my bass… See the link above. It is really great to have the ability to move the pickups to get many different sounds. I love my bass and will NEVER part with it! Excited to see other bass builders using the idea… =)

  7. bvdon

    What a nice build and it sounds great.