The Puzzle Bass – Jazz Bass from Art Liestman

The Puzzle Bass – Jazz Bass from Art Liestman

One of things that I love about bass is the never ending creativity that goes into it. You might think that just means music, but it can also mean never ending technical and artistic development.

So what do you do if you are an bassist, a woodworker and an artist.  You build a bass of course. And that just what Art Liestman did.

By day Art was a university professor (now retired), but his passion is to build stuff.  As his t-shirts says, “I just make stuff”.  More accurately perhaps, Art is wood sculptor.  But beyond art, Art also makes functional pieces such as teapots.


About The Puzzle Bass

Art explains, “The body and neck are from Warmoth. The body is alder with a quilted maple top. The neck is maple with an ebony fretboard (lined, fretless) and a veneer of the same quilted maple on the headstock.

Purchased unfinished and did the artwork on top. The lines are done with pyrography.  This is essentially a hot scalpel  which is a more sophisticated version of a woodburning tool. So, the lines are cut and burned into the surface. The “missing” piece is carved out, leaving about a 1/8″ depression which is painted dark brown.

Cameron Hood helped me create the graphic for my signature in the Fender style font for the headstock. The finished bass was sprayed with water-based lacquer.

The bass has Lollar magnetic pickups, a Graph Tech ghost equipped Hipshot A bridge (piezo pickups in the bridge), Hipshot Ultralite tuners. The wiring is the standard J-Bass wiring for the magnetic pickups (and first three knobs), plus the piezos which go along with the magnetic output into a preamp board. The board is powered by a battery. The fourth knob is a push/pull pot – pushed you get control over the raw piezo sound with is quite dark in tone – pull up on the switch and you get the same but with a mid boost. The silver switch can select between magnetic signal only, piezo signal only, or a blend of the two. ”



Contact Art

Visit Art’s webpage for more about his work

Photography: Cameron Hood

Bass-Aholic is on Sabbatical Logo

In 2009 I wanted to try building a website and my idea was to build a site that would catalogue all of the dozen or so bass guitar brands that I knew about. By September 2014 the number of bass guitar brands in that catalogue reached 1001 with probably hundreds of leads left to research.

Unfortunately, over the last year or so other priorities have taken precedence.  And as website technologies evolve, the website has been in desperate need of updating, both functional and content wise.   There is simply not enough of me to manage all the issues that should be resolved.  As well, the website continues to cost money to maintain.

So for me this obsessive multi year project has simply outgrown my abilities to manage it, and just perhaps, its time to say goodbye.

The website has been shutdown.  Maybe we can call it a sabbatical.  It might not be forever.  I will keep the domain active.  But if it does return, it will be in an entirely different form. and the 101 Basses group on Facebook remain active.

Many, many, many thanks to countless friends, builders and otherwise total bassaholics that have contributed to the site.  You know who you are.


PS Comments are open on this post.

Bass # 104 Fender American Deluxe Dimension Bass V

IMG_8267[crop-sz]Almost a year ago Fender released its new Dimension series basses and I have to say that I was a bit blase about this new instrument.  Fender has a rather tried and true stable of basses so why do they need something new?

At the same time, the market once mostly owned by Fender, now has a lot more competition.  So I guess it was time for Fender come up with some new tricks.

The other thing that I wondered was if Fender had lost it’s edge.  It seems to me that in recent years there’s been a lot of really good basses coming from companies like MusicMan, G&L, Warwick and even the higher end SR series basses from Ibanez can certainly challenge Fender for sound and playability.  And if you want to go a little upscale Sadowsky certainly makes one awesome sounding jazz bass.

Today I had the pleasure of attending the “Fender Day of Bass” at the Vancouver Long & McQuade.  The event was hosted by Fender rep Peter Davyduck.  Peter is an awesome guy with lots of expertise and is a great player too.

Fender American Deluxe Dimension V Bass Guitar HeadstockI played a number of basses at the event, but for me this one, a Fender American Deluxe Dimension Bass V really grabbed my attention.

Overall the bass body shape and headstock are not much of a departure for Fender, but it does have a distinctive pickguard styling.  But what is most noticeably different about this Fender is its double humbucking (HH) pickup configuration.  And just maybe this is where “what is unique about this Fender” begins.

The bass has a five position switch that allows for picking up various combinations of coils in the two pickups, then routes that signal to an 18 volt, 3 EQ preamp.  I found that this configuration allowed for a great deal of tonal variation.  This is in great contrast to electronics in my Jazz Deluxe, which I find with a similar configuration to be pretty limited.

Overall the sound of this bass was quite different from what you’d expect from Fender and to me had more in common with that woody Warwick sound.  Something that I really liked about it.

Another thing that I really liked was the slimmer neck.  Previous Fender 5-strings that I’ve played have 1 7/8″ nut.  This one is 1 3/4″.  Just slightly thinner but much more comfortable in my view.

Fender American Deluxe Dimension V Bass Guitar BodyThe fit and finish of this is great.  I really like the violin burst finish and rosewood fretboard.  But if I had my wish I would go for neck binding and block inlays like my Jazz.  And I found the white pickguard is a bit boring. Maybe a tort pickguard?

One of my nits lately has been sloppy fret dressing.  This to to the point of drawing blood.  None of the Fenders I played today showed any signs of this and were smooth as silk.

I was also able to play the maple fretboard version of this, and while I liked it as well, the rosewood felt and sounded better to me.  I find this to be mostly a preference, I like rosewood.  It just has a warmer feel to me.  Others I talked to today preferred maple.

So in my opinion, this bass is a big winner.  I wish I could have taken it home.  I’d wondered when seeing big name players playing this bass if it was just because they got an endorsement deal.  But I take it all back.  This is a solid player.  One that I’d definitely be happy gigging with.


More information on this bass can be found on Fender’s website.

PS Thanks to Peter for having this bass event today!

Vintage Guitar Price Guide – The One Book For Serious Bass Collectors

2014 Vintage Guitar Price Guide

If you are serious about collecting guitars and bass guitars then the The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2014 is the one book you just have to have. But let’s be real, you’ll never read this book. Instead you will find yourself thumbing through it for hours on end.

And, you’ll  find yourself grabbing for this book every time you see an interesting or rare bass online or in a music store.  And guess what, before long, you’re  going to throw this into the recycling bin.  Why?!  Because every year you are going to want to buy the newest issue.  (Or maybe you’ll collect the old issues so you can track how much your investment appreciates ever year.)

Guitar dealers, music shops, professional players, and collectors trust it as the only source for accurate values on vintage gear!  (My favorite guitar shop always has a beat up copy on his work bench.)

So don’t delay, and order your copy directly from and save a bundle off the publishers direct online price.  The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2014 (Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide)

Highly recommended

The Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2014 offers the data experts use to track the values of guitars, basses, lap steels, mandolins, ukuleles, banjos, amps, and effects. And, new this year is practical, professional advice on maintaining your collection! With more 176,000 copies sold to date, The Guide has long been the industry-leading reference, trusted by guitar dealers, professional players, and collectors worldwide! The Guide includes historical data along with values derived from comprehensive research and hard-nosed, realistic market analysis. At over 600 pages with information on more than 2,000 brands, and illustrated with 1,300 photos, no other source offers more information. —

Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars – The 101 Basses Best List

Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars

Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars

Trying to make a list of The Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars is not all that easy.  Everyone has a different favourite and there are over 900 bass brands to choose from .  And even though there are so many brands, there are lots that just cannot be called boutique.

To get a good sampling of “who thought which was best”, I setup a polling page through TalkBASS.  I got a great number of responses, but there were lots of votes for great basses that I really wouldn’t consider boutique.   Sorry guys, but Fender Custom Shop is not boutique.  They are special order, big production basses.

There was  also a number of brands that we all think of as boutique, which have really crossed the line to main stream production.  Two that made the list, Spector and Sadowsky, have a long history of being thought of as boutique, but have really grown to being quite large companies.  I considered that offshore production should disqualify the brand, but still kept these two brands on the list, just because they really started out as being great boutique basses.  And in the case of Spector, they really were at the forefront of what is now a Renaissance of fine bass luthiery.

The Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars List…

#10 – Atlansia Victoria

Atlansia Victoria 5-string Fretless

Atlansia Victoria 5-string Fretless

Atlansia is a personal favourite of mine.  The only reason this brand is so low on the list is because the brand is not well known in the western world.  President and designer Nobuaki Hayashi (aka H.Noble) is a creative genius.  From art school to chief designer at Aria Pro II in the 70’s, to compulsive inventor Mr. Hayashi, produces some of the most innovative basses around.  The Victoria is, in my opinion, the most elegant of his designs.  Click for lots more information on Atlansia.  MSRP $4500 est.

#9 – Spector NS


Spector NS Series

Stuart Spector’s career started out because he wanted to have a quality instrument, but couldn’t afford one.  He set out to build the bass he couldn’t afford.  His first workbench was bolted to his bedroom.  Later on he met and befriended another young builder, Ned Steinburger.  Steinberger reworked one of Spector’s builds. That bass became the Spector NS and the rest, as they say, is history. The NS series basses are among the best known and loved of the boutiques.  Click for more info on Spector.

#8 – Ken Smith


Ken Smith

I have to admit, at the time of writing, that I do not know a lot about Ken Smith and really wasn’t sure what all the hoopla was about. So I turned to my trusty book American Basses: An Illustrated History and Player’s Guide to the Bass Guitar and read up. One of the interesting tidbits is that Mr. Smith was one of the early builders to build basses with a “B” string. This dating back to 1981. Click for more info on Ken Smith Basses.

#7 – Fodera


Fodera Yin Yang

Probably the most famous Fodera bass is the Yin Yang bass played by Victor Wooten. Vinnie Fodera started out by taking a guitar building class with Thomas Humphrey. Then he landed a job with Stuart Spector, working with Ned Steinberger and Ken Smith, all of whom are mentioned in this Top Ten Boutique Basses list. There must be something in the water at the Spector factory.  Click for more info on Fodera Basses.

#6 – Sadowsky


Sadowsky Bass

Roger Sadowsky does something very well that Fender seems to struggle with; He makes amazing Jazz Basses. For some time I didn’t realize that a lot of professional bassists weren’t playing Fenders. They were playing Sadowskys. Tal Wilkenfeld is one current endorser that shows just how good these basses sound. My own personal experience is comparing the Metro bass line to the American Jazz Deluxe’s at local stores. You might pay an extra grand, but you get that million dollar sound. Click for more info on Sadowsky Basses.

#5 – F Bass

George Furlanetto - F Bass AC-6 Fretless 6-String

George Furlanetto – F Bass AC-6 Fretless 6-String

The AC-6 from George Furlanetto is pure elegance.  The only thing I don’t like about F Bass is trying to search for it in Google.  But I guess Furlanetto Bass might be too hard for some to remember.  However, for some quite memorable playing of this bass you must check out F Bass endorser Alain Caron.  (Video)   Click for more info on F Bass.

#4 – Jerzy Drozd

Jerzy Drozd Barcelona

Jerzy Drozd Barcelona

Of all the basses on this list the Jerzy Drozd Barcelona is probably the most exotic. The styling of many of his basses are more like artistic wood sculptures made from many layers of many types of wood. Lots of stylized inlays and sound holes make these to-die-for instruments. For lots more info on Jerzy Drozd click here.

#3 – Carl Thompson

Carl Thompson Bass

Carl Thompson Bass

A while back I came across a video series on Carl Thompson.  If you’d like to get a sense of the man and his craft, this is really an excellent series to watch.  Carl Thompson’s basses have been around for quite a while, but they really came to fame when Primus bassist Les Claypool started playing a number of CT models.  Claypool bought his first CT by accident, finding a used one in a music store.  Later Claypool asked CT to build him more instruments.  CT basses with their distinctive hooked top horn have become a favorite amongst bassists seeking high quality boutiques.  Click for more info on Carl Thompson Basses

#2 – Jens Ritter Roya


Jens Ritter Instruments – Roya

Jens Ritter is firstly a luthier, but he is also a builder that has an unequaled sense of style.  He builds some of the finest basses, but these basses are also some of the most elegant instruments around.  Jens Ritter Instruments is located in the small wine town of Deidesheim, Germany.  Ritter has been building basses since the mid 1990’s.  The Roya is my favorite model, but there are lots of other awesome choices.  One of the most distinguishing features of Ritter basses and guitars are their finishes.  They produce finishes that stand by themselves as works of art.  Click for more information.  MSRP: unpublished

#1 – Alembic Series II


Alembic Classic II

If you needed to give another name to boutiques you might call them “Alembics”.  Alembic is arguably the original boutique bass guitar.  Alembic started out in a time when virtually all basses were either the big name (classic) brands or were cheap offshore knockoffs.  The company started out, not in luthiery but as a research group focused on improving concert and recorded sound.  Although the company builds guitars, the company is best known for its basses and has received a lot of high profile exposure from players such as Stanley Clarke and John Paul JonesThe Alembic Series II gets my vote for The Number One Top Boutique Bass Guitar  Click for lots more information and links on Alembic.  MSRP $23,000-$25,0000 est.


I noticed while I was building this list that six of the top ten boutique basses were American built. I wondered if that was because Americans built the best basses or just possibly the most popular (or best marketed) boutiques. In the end, it’s my belief that a great number of the best boutique bass guitars do come from the US, but the results on this list may be skewed due to the fact that the poll I took was taken on a predominantly American bass guitar forum.

BTW, if you’re a fan of American build basses please check out, American Basses: An Illustrated History and Player’s Guide to the Bass Guitar  (This is one of my faves)

The Best Boutique in So Many Ways

Ranking the basses on this list was problematic because some basses were better in some ways than others. Sadowsky for example really couldn’t rank in the original styling category could it?

Here are my “other best” on the list based on some individual attributes:

  • For Pure Technical Innovation — Atlansia  – When it comes to pushing the limits of technology and trying to “go where no bass has gone before”. H. Noble has it down.
  • For Building The Better Fender — Sadowsky – When it comes to taking the most popular bass ever built and making it one of the best basses ever built, the award has to go to Roger Sadowsky.
  • For Building The Bugatti of Basses — Alembic – (Notice I didn’t say Cadillac or Rolls Royce.)  Alembic is just the best.
  • For The Most Beautiful Woodwork — Jerzy Drozd – When wood and steel strings become art.
  • For The Most Beautiful Finishes — Jens Ritter – Almost every day it seems Jens Ritter posts another new bass with a finish that is new and original and just plain awesome.

… and of course I could go on all day.

toptenboutiques copyOkay, Let’s Get Shopping Now!

If you’ve read this far, you are probably looking for more.  So…

Shop eBay for the 101 Basses Top Ten Best Boutique Bass Guitars

Don’t Stop With Ten

Bass-Aholic currently lists close to 1000 brands of bass guitars.  Of those, over 100 are categorized as “boutiques”, but the list truly could be closer to 800.  The candidate list of about 100 brands was used as the basis for this list.  Check out the Boutique Bass Guitars Category on Bass-Aholic.  And, your GAS will continue to grow.

“Boutique Bass Guitar” – Defined

What is a boutique bass guitar?  Read the official 101 Basses Boutique Bass Guitar Definition.

More Resources

For the serious collector, or even for those that are just plain obsessed, you need to have a copy of the Vintage Guitar Price Guide.  (If you don’t know about the guide, read our review.)

Always Stay Tuned - Terri

Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars – “Boutique” Defined

So what is a “Boutique Bass Guitar”?  Before you can build a list of the Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars you really need to define exactly what a Boutique Bass Guitar *is*.

Even answering that basic question is open to lots of interpretation.  Some time ago I asked this question on my favourite bass forum TalkBASS.  You can read that thread here.

The official 101 Basses definition of a boutique bass is as follows:

Boutique Bass: “A high end, hand crafted bass made by a low production luthier that has been tailored for a specific bassists’ needs and requirements.”

Once you have a definition, the next step is trying to figure out which bass builders fit the bill.  The Bass-Aholic DataBass keeps information on over 900 brands of bass guitar.  So which of those 900 are boutique?

Once again I went to TalkBASS and started a thread there asking which bass guitar builders would be considered boutique.  The response was overwhelming . And if I took the advice of everyone that responded I think all 900 would have been contenders.  But in the end I was able to come up with about 100 bass brands that could be considered “boutique”.  The Bass-Aholic list of Boutique Basses can be found here.

In the end there were well over one hundred contenders for the top ten boutique basses.  I then setup a polling form and recorded the results from TalkBASS members.  Most of the results were not so surprising.  Some of the builders I was familiar with, but didn’t realize they had such a following.  The top two, however, seem to be no contest hands down winners.  Who were they?

» Click here to see the Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars List «


Top Ten Boutique Bass Guitars – #10 Atlansia Victoria

Atlansia Logo

Atlansia Logo

The only reason that Atlansia is at the bottom of this list is due to their lack of popularity in the market outside of Japan. This in no takes away from the products importance. Quite to the contrary,  Atlansia is one of the most innovative builders on this list.

Atlansia is the brain child of Nobuaki Hayashi from Nagano Japan. Mr Hayashi goes by the pseudonym of H. Noble, a name that is well known to anyone that is a fan of the works of Matsumoku. Matsumoku was a giant in the Japanese guitar building industry for decades, but unfortunately closed in 1987.

H. Hoble was part of Matsumoku during its period of going from budget guitar builder to producing products that rivaled the big American builders. He was, most notably, the designer of the Aria Pro II SB-1000 Bass that was used by several well known bassists.

After Matsumoku, Noble founded Atlansia and is currently it’s president and designer.

Noble is a true inventor and creative genius. Many of his designs are completely original and have features not found on other instruments. He has a long list of patents registered in his name for innovations in guitar and bass guitar design, and also in areas of design outside of guitar building.

Historically, the typical bass guitar had four strings, but over the years has has come in five, six or even more strings. Atlansia has bass models covering those, but also has a one string model, the Solitaire, a two string, the Dualist and a three string, the Trister.

Atlansia Victoria 5-String Fretless

Atlansia Victoria 5-String Fretless

Of all the bass guitar models built by Atlansia, my all time favorite is the Victoria. This bass comes in a number of configurations from 4-string to 6-string, fretted or fretless and with a variety of pickups, electronics and tailpieces.

Atlansia Victoria
(specs for model shown)
Body Walnut 2p Over 12years
Neck Canadian Hard Rock Maple,(Option : Carbon Fiber Reinforced )
Fingerboard Ebony 300-400r
Scale ( 0f-B ) 864mm ( 34 Inch )
Winder Goto
Tensioner Roller Type
String Nut Adjustable Screw Nut(Fit
Fret Jumbo Sbb-215
Position Marker Side Only 5mmdot
Pick-Up Atlansia Original Arcx5
Tailpiece Atlansia Original
Bridge Screw Type
Metal Coating
Controls 1v,3eq,
Finger-Rest None
Hi-Posi Cutaway Atlansia Cutaway
Body-Finish Oil
Neck-Finish Urethan Mut
Neck Joint Bolt On Joint
Case With Soft Case
Warrantee 5 Years

One of the nicest styling features, in my opinion, is the use of the bird as a sound hole instead of the tradition f-hole that most hollow bodied instruments have.

Of the more innovative features of this bass are the individual string humbucking pickups. This design allows for having one pickup that can be used for any string configuration. But beyond that, on many models, the pickups can be rotated to adjust the phasing of the field around the string.

The Atlansia Victoria comes in several configurations…

Atlansia Victoria 4-string Red

Atlansia Victoria 4-string Red

Atlansia Victoria 6-String Bass Guitar

Atlansia Victoria 6-String Bass Guitar

Atlansia Victoria Guitar

The Victoria has a similar guitar model

Pricing for this model is in the range of around $4500.00 to $5000.00 depending on features and current exchange from Japanese Yen.

Although I’ve yet to play one of these basses, what I’ve read about them and all my research indicates them to be a truly unique and a great contender for my Top Ten Boutique Basses List.

More sources of information on Atlansia:
New Atlansia Breeze Bass
Atlansia Guitars (English Version)
Atlansia Japan Website 

“Stay Tuned” as the Top Ten Boutique Bass countdown continues

Always Stay Tuned - Terri


Fender Serial Numbers – Finding The Age of Your Guitar

Fender Guitar Serial Numbers

Fender Dating – Written in Stone

Fender Guitar and Bass Guitar Dating

Leo Fender started building electric guitar backs in 1950 and produced his first bass guitar a year later.  Fender guitars and basses are easily the most popular instruments ever made.

The Fender company has gone through three major periods or eras in its existence.

  • The original company headed by Leo Fender ran from 1946 to 1965.  (Usually referred to as “Pre-CBS”)
  • From 1965 to 1985 Fender was owned by CBS (Usually referred to as “CBS era Fender”)
  • From 1985 to present the company (originally headed by William Schultz) is called Fender Musical Instruments Corporation

Initially all Fender production was done if Fullerton, California, but in recent decades Fender guitars are made in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Korea and China.

Collectors value instruments based on a number of factors.  Dating the guitar via serial numbers is of key importance.  In general the older the instrument the more valuable it is and having a pre-CBS era instrument is highly desirable.  A 1964 instrument can be worth 25% more than an instrument from 1966.  So knowing what you have can affect the price from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.  It’s no wonder there is such a fuss about guitar serial numbers and dating your guitar.

Fortunately, there are plenty of sources for dating your guitar and tracking its serial number, but sometimes it’s hard to find them all. This article will hopefully help to put the best resources in one place.

2013 Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide (Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide)

The Vintage Guitar Price Guide is an amazing resource for Fender guitar and pretty much any popular manufacturer. There is a new issue every year that reflects current trends. But if you are a casual observer you don’t need to buy a new one every year.


Vintage & Rare – Serial number identification and decoding

vintage-and-rareThis article “Serial Number Identification and Decoding” article on Vintage & Rare’s website is probably one of the most complete resources of serial number information for Fender guitars and basses.


The Guitar Dater Project


The Guitar Dater Project is a great quick and easy way to date a number of brands including Fender.  By entering the instrument’s serial number and a few other pieces of info you can get the year of manufacture and sometimes information about the factor where the instrument was built.  There’s not a lot of information here, but it’s another good resource.


Vintage Guitar Info

Vintage Fender Guitars, Basses, Amps. — Introduction and General Specs.  This web page and associated pages provide a wealth of information about Fender guitars.  It’s a great source of serial number information, but also shows how to recognize differences in logos and other details that help with the history of your guitar.

The Fender Bass: An Illustrated History

The Fender Book: A Complete History of Fender Electric Guitars

American Basses – An Illustrated History & Player’s Guide

Hope you find these links useful

Terri Tunes – A Bunch of Demo Music by Terri Breeze


Terri Breeze – Terri Tunes on Soundcloud

I’ve recently gone back and reworked my Soundcloud account.  I’ve got quite a bit of material that I’ve been working on over the past few years and I thought it was time to organize it in to something that can be shared, listened to and enjoyed.

I always say that I’m a bassist first and a bassist at heart.  But I really do enjoy playing a lot of other instruments too.  For those that know me as a bassist, this is not just bass music.  There is a lot of bass, but there’s also guitar, piano, ukulele and probably lot of other stuff too.  And, yes, sadly, I use a drum machine.  (I just don’t play drums that well)

I know so many talented people that produce volumes of wonderful music that is never heard.  I hope that my little attempt here might serve to show all of those people that getting it out there is not so hard.

Terri Tunes is all about me, and all about what I like to play.  I hope you find something here that you enjoy.

Thanks for listening!
Terri :)

PS Everything is copyright 2009-2013 by Terri Breeze – All rights reserved.


Luthier Roger Rossmeisl Riding the Crested Wave


Roger Rossmeisl at Fender c.mid-1960’s

(b.1927 in Kiel, Germany – d.1979 in Berlin, Germany) Rossmeisl, son of luthier Wenzel Rossmeisl, was a luthier that worked for Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker.  Roger Rossmeisl was hired by F.C. Hall in 1954 and was responsible for a number of Rickenbacker designs of the era.  Most notably, Rossmeisl designed the Rickenbacker 4000 electric bass guitar which was released in the 1957.  The 4000 design featured the “crested wave” body and headstock which has become one of the most iconic basses ever designed.  By the early 1960’s a second pickup had and a new pickguard emerged as the model 4001 (also RM1999) becoming probably the second most icon bass ever made.

Reference: German Wiki, Fender NewsJim Roberts American Basses