Bass of the Week: Doner Designs Time Machine Bass

Doner Designs Time Machine BassDoner Designs always comes up with awesome basses for a good cause, and it looks like this one will need an amp rated at 1.21 gigawatts. Steve and Richard Doner were inspired to build the Time Machine bass back in 2015 when the “Back to the Future” movies were popular on television again.

The Chicago-based father and son team functions as a part-time charity operation and built the labor of love with the intention of auctioning it to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Though they avoid direct references to the movie series, the bass has “flashing lights, a selectable destination year display, a device resembling a flux capacitor and a complex array of electronic components sure to please fans of the time travel entertainment genre including those who don’t play bass.” As you can imagine, the process in crafting the instrument was very time intensive.

“The concept was a natural fit because Richard was in engineering school at the time,” Doner writes. “This enabled him to design and build the custom circuit boards required for the various time machine circuits. Constructing all of the components, making everything fit into the bass body and overcoming various challenges ended up taking roughly 300 hours over the course of more than three years.”

The Doner Time Machine bass is crafted from a Warmoth body and neck and features a Nordstrand pickup, an Audere preamp, a Babicz bridge, and Hipshot tuners. Although it wasn’t designed to be a practical instrument for regular use, it does play like any other premium bass.

“Prior to initiating a sale process, Doner Designs is seeking to increase awareness about the guitar and the fundraising purpose to help maximize proceeds for the ultimate beneficiary,” Doner adds. “[We are] hopeful that Christopher Lloyd and/or Michael J. Fox might agree to sign the bass which could add additional value in a fundraising auction. When details of a sale process are available, Doner Designs will make an announcement through its social media pages and website.”

Doner Designs Time Machine Bass Specs:

Body:Warmoth
Neck:Warmoth
Pickup:Nordstrand
Preamp:Audere
Bridge:Babicz
Tuners:Hipshot
Pickguard:Axetreme Creations
Finish:Nitrocellulose Lacquer

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Share your thoughts

  1. Steve Doner

    Thanks No Treble!!

  2. That is the most original custom bass idea I’ve ever seen. It took all of about 2 seconds to recognize the flux capacitor, but the 1985 digital time piece really brought home that it was a “Back to the Future” bass. Thanks for sharing, its a masterpiece.

    • Steve Doner

      Thanks for your kind words Kelsey! We were going for more of a generic time machine, but BttF is the most iconic of all time travel stories so that had to be a key part of it.

  3. But does it play? Sound samples please :)