Bass of the Week: StoryWood Music Model 4R-5 4-String J Bass

StoryWood Music Duke Ellington School Bass

The Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, D.C. has produced numerous famous alumni ranging from Dave Chappelle to Me’Shell Ndegeocello. The high school got a major renovation in 2016 and now, with the help of another alumnus, a piece of the school will always be in the hands of a bassist.

Duke Ellington School: Ben Williams PerformanceJazz bassist Ben Williams teamed up with Tyler and Teresa Townsend of StoryWood Music, who specialize in creating instruments from reclaimed and salvaged wood, to build a bass guitar made from wood salvaged from the school’s old wing. Together they gifted the bass made from the original historic building back to the school for the students to use and enjoy.

“We were fortunate to come across a limited amount of this beautiful 120-year-old wood that was reclaimed and saved during the massive renovation of the school,” Tyler Townsend said. “We knew at that moment what a special opportunity this was and that our goal would be to give back to the school with an instrument. More than 45 years of beautiful music has been absorbed by these beams, and every guitar and bass we’ve made with it has been something special. Working with an alum like Ben, who is so supportive of his alma mater, has been a perfect fit.”

StoryWood built the bass from reclaimed Heart Pine beams that were in the original Duke Ellington school building. The neck is actually a piece of 100-year-old maple reclaimed from Creighton University while its fingerboard is rock walnut that spent 100 years under water in Panama. “This combination of aged and old growth reclaimed wood adds a resonance and tonal quality as well as a beauty that is unlike anything you can buy off the shelf,” they explain.

“It has always been my belief that instruments, especially those made from organic materials, absorb the energy of their surroundings,” Williams says. “I can only imagine the energy this bass already possesses. I have so much love for my alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and I can’t think of a cooler way to give back than this beautiful instrument built from the very walls in which I honed my craft. I am extremely excited and honored to team with StoryWood in the creation of this wonderful gift to the school.”

Several vendors donated to help complete the project: Hipshot sent some Ultralite Tuners, Babicz Guitars provided a full-contact bridge, and Gator Cases provided a TSA-approved hard-shell case. Williams reached out to Aguilar who provided a set of their 70s Era jazz pickups.

“When I first started playing this brand-new bass, my ears were telling me that I had a vintage bass in my hands,” Williams said. “Like it already had years of playing in it, which is all you could hope for. The students should really enjoy playing this bass for years to come.”

Congratulations to Ben Williams and StoryWood Guitars for their good deed!

StoryWood Music Model 4R-5 4-String J Bass Specs:

Body: 120-year-old heart pine reclaimed from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, thin clear water-based finish
Neck: 100-year-old maple flooring reclaimed from Creighton University's old gymnasium
Nut:1.5″ Graphtech nut
Fingerboard:Water-recovered rock walnut that spent 100 years under water in the lakes around the Panama Canal, reclaimed maple dots
Pickups:Aguilar 70s Era Jazz Set
Bridge:Babicz FCH Full Contact Bass Bridge
Tuners:HipShot Products Ultralite Clover Peg Tuners
Case:Gator TSA Hardshell Case

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