Bass of the Week: Doner Designs Navy Bass

This week we check out an incredible project led by the good folks at Doner Designs, a father and son team that pieces together themed instruments to donate to charity. Steve and Richard Doner started playing bass and guitar, respectively, in 2008 as a bonding experience that grew into tinkering with upgrades and modifications. Now their hobby is benefiting their community.

Doner Designs Navy Bass

“Each Doner Designs theme guitar is a one-of-a-kind custom creation,” they share on their website. “The purpose of these guitars is to give encouragement to kids who are fighting serious illness and to raise funds for organizations dedicated to helping sick children. These instruments are fully functional and constructed with premium hardware and electronics sure to please any musician, but are also works of art suitable for display and inspiration. A complete set of quality accessories is included so that even new players can get started immediately.”

Their past builds include Air Force and Army themed instruments, but their latest Navy Bass takes the cake. The instrument is modeled after the U.S.S. Shangri-La aircraft carrier and comes complete with landing stripes, number identification, and fighter plane graphics. It’s named after the same carrier that Navy Captain and Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell famously blind-landed a Banshee fighter plane on in the Sea of Japan. As part of the project, the Doners got Lovell to sign the bass’s body. “We named the aircraft carrier bass after the Shangri-La, CV-38, because of this inspiring story of Hope in the face of adversity,” they explain.

Doner Designs built the bass with an Allparts maple neck with an ebony fingerboard that was inlaid by Axetreme Creations. Its body is an alder Fender jazz body that was donated by Bob Verner, who also helped paint the bass. The electronics include a pair of Nordstrand split-coil NJ4SE pickups donated by and an Audere Pro-Z 4-band preamp. A hidden Gibson-style sidewinder pickup sits under the pickguard in the neck position and runs to a separate output, bypassing the preamp. The bass has over a dozen dial and switches to give a control center look, but the coolest addition is a military-style covered toggle switch that kills the J-pickups. Hardware includes a Babicz FCH bridge, JENZ tuners, and a Hipshot BT-1 Xtender key.

The Navy Bass has been donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Illinois and will be auctioned off at the One Dream Gala at McCormick Place on December 13, 2014. For more info, check out the Doner Designs website.

Doner Designs Navy Bass Photo Gallery:

Doner Designs Navy Bass Details:

Basics:Custom design, construction, finish and setup by Doner Designs in suburban Chicago
Body:Fender alder jazz bass body
Neck:Allparts maple neck
Fingerboard Finish:Tung Oil
Inlays:custom inlays by Axetreme Creations
Preamp:Audere Pro-Z four-band onboard preamp with boost/cut controls for bass, treble, high-mid & low-mid frequencies plus a 3-way “Z-mode” tone switch
Pickups:Nordstrand NJ4SE split-coil jazz bass pickups (donated by Best Bass Gear), Gibson-style sidewinder/mudbucker pickup
Bridge:Babicz Full Contact Hardware string-through-body bridge
Tuners:JENZ Machine Heads tuning machines; Hipshot BT-1 Xtender drop-D tuner
Controls:Three volume controls (one for each pickup), Three on/off mini toggle switches (one for each pickup), Momentary contact push-button kill switch (for machine-gun effects)
Outputs:Dual output jacks for stereo operation (one jack for the jazz pickups and one for the sidewinder)
Other:Signature on front of body by Captain James A. Lovell (US Navy Pilot & Apollo 13 Commander), Custom pickguard & back plates by Axetreme Creations, Doner Designs logo neck plate (donated by LazrArt), Custom mixed set of black and white DR coated strings donated by BassStringsOnline

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Share your thoughts

  1. Wow. At first glance, I thought, “What’s this overly busy looking paint job about”, but after another second, the image became clear, and this bass looks great! Amazing work by this father and son team. Nice job Doner guys!

  2. Thank you No Treble for sharing our story!

  3. Bruce Finkelstein

    Did you also do an Ibanez Delorean guitar?