Bass of the Week: Stambaugh Designs Retro Switcho

Stambaugh Designs Retro Switcho Bass

Bob Kowal wrote to us to share a wild piece of his imagination that came to life thanks to luthier Chris Stambaugh of Stambaugh Designs. The bass, called the “Retro Switcho,” couldn’t have a better name. Its vintage orange finish and six – that’s right six – switches make for something that looks like it could be from The Jetsons.

Stambaugh put a great writeup on the instrument on his website:

“This is an example of a build where the client came to me with a fully-realized vision; I was just along for the ride. At the time, I luckily had a connection for doing the custom machine etching in the pickguard and backplate. It’s hard to say which detail draws the immediate focus of the viewer; the swarm of oval pickups or the incredibly unique body shape. Or maybe the wonderfully vivid finish, which was done with a pearlescent automotive urethane. The color of the finish moves with the light, which is why the bass appears in different shades in different photos. Three Delano P pickups were split to form six independently wired mini pickups, hence the inspiration for the name of the bass. The pickguard has two three-way switches to allow for various tonal possibilities. Close examination of the backplate reveals three holes that lead to hidden trim pots that adjust the EQ.”

The bass was built with an alder body, three-piece maple neck, and a Pau ferro fingerboard that’s inlaid with white “recon quartz” block inlays. The fingerboard also has white binding and black side dot markers. Other features include Hipshot hardware, black anodized aluminum knobs, and an Audere preamp that was specially programmed for all the switching. Stambaugh gives a deeper dive into the switch functions.

“Six split PU halves divided into two banks; one bank for the E and A strings, the other bank for the D and G strings,” he writes. “Each switch is wired to select any single PU half in its bank. This allows nine “single split PU” arrangements, which will run to the preamp as one PU. Normally these switches can only go ‘A-AB-B’ not ‘A-B-C.’”

Thanks to Bob Kowal for sharing!

Stambaugh Designs Retro Switcho Bass Specs:

Neck:3-piece Maple
Fingerboard:Pau Ferro
Inlays:White “Recon Quartz” Blocks
Side Dots:Black
Pickguard:3-ply Black Pearloid
Control Plate:3-ply White
Pickups:3 Delano Xtender Split Style
Electronics:Audere 3-Z 3-band Preamp, Six Pickup Switches, Rear Trim Pots
Bridge:Hipshot B-Style
Tuners:Hipshot Y-Style
Knobs:Black Anodized Aluminum
Finish:Orange Metallic Gloss
Other:Tilt peghead, White caps on the mini-switches, 60s style function etching on control plate, Satirical commemorative etching on back plate

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Leave a Reply to Ray Cancel reply

  1. Greywoulf

    Is that an April Fool’s joke? -It looks like a clearance sale at a soap factory…

  2. Scott Wilson

    That is an incredibly unique design. The pick guard is what does it for me. Does it come in a five-string version? LOL

  3. Ray

    Stambaugh makes awesome basses! Period.