Bass of the Week: AMJ Guitars Fretless Bass

AMJ Fretless Bass Body

No Treble reader Deryl Gallant wrote in to us with a cool story on the creation of his AMJ Guitars fretless bass. Strangely enough, it started out as just a neck for his Fender Jazz and ended up with a body of reclaimed wood. Gallant tells the story:

“In 2015 I visited Adam Marsh Johnston of AMJ Guitars to get the neck of my poorly de-fretted Fender Jazz fixed. Instead, after an exciting conversation about my dream fretless neck, the journey of a custom build was set in motion,” he explained. “I had previously replaced the electronics in the bass but wasn’t satisfied with the results. When finished, the new neck from Adam was incredible and showed the true quality of the electronics. Yet, it wasn’t complete.

In the spring of 2016, we started talking about a matching body. During the discussion Adam suggested something unique, and a tad experimental: Elm. The previous year, many of our city’s Elm trees were infected with Dutch Elm Disease and half of these trees were set to be cut down and destroyed. The beetle feeds on the soft inner bark which is integral to water transportation in the trees. The timber quality is quite high as the beetle does not feed on the harder interior wood. Most of these trees had been part of our city’s landscape for many years and it was a huge loss. Not to let a good opportunity go to waste, many woodworkers in our province found a way to treat the wood to be used for commercial purposes: furniture, restaurant bar top, jewelry, and musical instruments.

Along with many other fine instruments made from typical woods, Adam has crafted an acoustic guitar and this recently completed electric bass from the Elm. Ukuleles using Elm and Spruce reclaimed from Pianos are also on the horizon. When he suggested Elm, I instantly fell in love with the idea of using wood from my hometown. He even knew the wood came from an approximately 100 year old tree just down the road from the city’s major theatre where I’ve done a lot of playing in my career. The whole thing just sounded right. And now that I have the bass in my hands, it’s not just the idea that sounds right: it plays, sounds, and looks incredible. I couldn’t be happier.”

AMJ Guitars Fretless Bass Specs:

Top:Bookmatched Elm
Finish:Nitrocellulose Lacquer
Neck:Birdseye Maple
Fret Lines:Holly Veneer
inlays:Mother of Pearl Side Dot Markers, Water Slide AMJ Guitars Decal
Neck Reinforcement:Double expanding truss rod, Graphite stiffeners
Pickups:Seymour Duncan Antiquity II
Wiring:Vintage style cloth wiring
Other:Shielded Cavity
Tuners:Hipshot HB2 Lollypop
Bridge:Hipshot A style bridge (Aluminum), Hipshot string through body ferrules
Bridge Spacing:19mm
Pickguard:Custom 3 ply
Strap Buttons:Dunlop SLS1033BK Straplok Dual Design Strap Retainer System

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Share your thoughts

  1. Timothy Craig

    Great body design! Is this just a one off or will these be available for purchase?

  2. chris

    Love the reclaimed wood concept. Would be great to try alternatives for fingerboards as well, such as phenolic, metal, etc. I’ve done bodies out of basswood soaked with CA glue, and it gets extremely hard.

  3. Love my AMJ….Adam was a dream to work with .,,. Really cool to see the bass on No Treble