Bass of the Week: Carl Thompson Full Frills Serial #12520

Carl Thompson Full Frills Serial #12520 Bass

Carl Thompson is a pioneer of bass building. He built the first six-string contrabass guitar for Anthony Jackson and the first piccolo bass for Stanley Clarke, but he doesn’t rest on his laurels. The luthier is still pushing the limits and building world-class instruments in his New York City shop.

This week we’re checking out his latest build, which was made for the lucky customer Brian Kelly, who got a Full-Frills model with an enormous 38-inch scale. Even with the extra length, the bass is quite manageable.

“The bass weighs an astonishing 7.6 lbs and has a perfect balance point,” Kelly writes.

Thompson crafted the museum-quality piece with Macassar ebony, west African mahogany, pau ferro neck binding, olive wood, a bocote and walnut core, and red heart. The pickups are a pair of Kent Armstrong soap bars that feed into Thompson’s own passive circuit. Its volume and tone knobs are accompanied by two 3-way switches: one as a pickup selector (neck/neck+bridge/bridge) and one functions as a killswitch, full-range, and high-cut capacitor.

Photo Credits: Jocelyn Curry of J_Anne photography

Carl Thompson Full Frills Serial #12520 Bass Specs:

Body:Bocote, Walnut, Red Heart, Olive, Ebony
Neck:West African Mahogany
Fingerboard:Macassar Ebony
Pickups:Kent Armstrong Soapbar
Controls:Volume, Tone, Pickup Selector, Killswitch/Full Range/High Cut
Weight:7.6 lbs

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Share your thoughts

  1. Greywoulf

    Where do you find strings for a 38″ scale bass guitar? Do you hafta get them custom made, or do you use dbl bass strings?

    • Brian Kelly

      GHS makes a set of strings specifically for longer scale Carl Thompson’s.

    • John Draak

      Greywoulf, I used these strings for my fretless 37″ bass. I believe that they can go 38 1/2 ” but I’m not sure.Rotosound RS88EL Black Nylon Flatwound Extra Long (65-115), at amazon last week $38.41.

  2. Robert B Barwick

    HOW MUCH???????

  3. Kevin Lee

    I find inspiration in Carl’s designs, aesthetics, and philosophies regarding crafting artistic and musical electric bass guitars. I find aspiration in Carl’s humility, craftsmanship and philosophies regarding.crafting an artistic and musical life.
    Though there is scant little info available about and by Carl on the internet, every link I’ve followed regarding him has always led me to beauty, knowledge or both.
    Carl’s website has some great archives and links to Instagram and YouTube. I recommend highly the links posted by oconnerdc, My takeaway was a wry, sage and gentle personality who navigates life with a rare grace.
    Happy New Year, everybody!

    • Troy Hughes

      That was a truly eloquent compliment you left for Carl.

      • Kevin Lee

        Thank you Troy. Meant every word, and always look forward to anything Carl related!