Bass of the Week: Stambaugh Designs Custom Bass

Stambaugh Designs Jonathan Chase Bass Closeup

I love it when readers share their basses with us. Jonathan Chase sent us the details of his new axe from luthier Chris Stambaugh, and it’s a real beauty.

It’s not Chase’s first Stambaugh, as he ordered one some 20 years ago and even used it in a TEDx Talk. More recently, he had converted one of his five-string basses to EADGC tuning, but the scale length was causing him wrist issues.

“My old 4-string workhorse was a sideman’s instrument: sounds great, looks good, doesn’t draw a lot of attention,” he explains. “I told Chris that I wanted this bass to be different: something flashy, eye-catching, and like nothing anyone had ever seen before. After 20 years as a sideman I wanted a little time in the spotlight. I also work as a public speaker, traveling the country to teach about disability advocacy and autism support, so if I’m opening a conference with some solo jazz why not do it on a memorable instrument?”

Together they opted for a short 30-inch scale that Chase says is a breeze to play. Stambaugh just the right wood combination to make a gorgeous bass: African Mahogany for the body, maple and bubinga for the neck, a Macassar ebony fretboard, and a stunning Spalted flamed maple top. Besides that, Stambaugh crafted an unbelievable inlay on the fretboard from abalone and flamed maple.

The bass sounds as good as it looks, too. It’s fitted with a pair of Aero quad-coil pickups as well as Ghost piezo bridge saddles. The magnetic pickups are fed into a Mike Pope Flexcore 4-band preamp while the piezo goes into a Bartolini piezo buffer.

“The real magic comes with the toggle switch in the middle, with one volume for the magnetic pickups and one volume for the piezo,” Chase says. “Blending in just a little piezo adds a bite to the attack that slices right through the mix. Cranking it up gives it a unique tone that is both round and full, but with a serious edge. Most of the time I play traditional bass parts with the piezo off, and when it’s time to solo I flip the switch to the middle position with the piezo volume 25-50% up, so my solo comes blazing out the gate with just a little more gain and a snappy edge with each attack, making it stand out in the mix and giving my solo tone a distinct color apart from my normal tone.”

Congrats to Jonathan Chase on his new bass and to Chris Stambaugh for a great build!

Stambaugh Designs Jonathan Chase Photos:

Stambaugh Designs Jonathan Chase Bass:

Body:African Mahagony
Top:Spalted flamed maple
Neck:Maple and Bubinga
Fretboard:Macassar Ebony
Fretboard Inlay:Abalone and flamed maple
Pickups:Two Aero quad-coil magnetic pickups, Ghost Piezo bridge saddles
Electronics:Mike Pope Flexcore 4-band Preamp (for the magnetic pickups), Bartolini Piezo buffer (for the ghost saddles)
Controls:Volume (push/pull active/passive), Blend, 4-band EQ, Coil Tap Switches, Piezo Volume, Magnetic/Piezo Selector Switch
Other:Tuned EADGC with a Hipshot Bass Xtender to drop it to D

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