BunnyBass Field Trip: 2003 NAMM show, page 3.
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Spalt Basses. This is a Spalt bass, designed and built by Michael Spalt. Equal parts musical tool, finely crafted scientific instrument, and contemporary art-work - these basses may come across as "weird" in photographs but in person they are quite stunning. The thing you can't get by looking at these quickie photos are how incredibly sensitive Michael Spalt is in the treatment of the materials. Each part is lovingly handled in such a way as to respect the innate characteristics of the material. The hardwoods are fluid, organic, and remind us of what they really are (flesh), while the metal elements are formed with the exacting beauty of fine surgical tools. These are works of art and they are striking. In no way is Michael Spalt sitting at a drafting board fiddling with the contours of his headstock, trying to make it (barely) different enough from a Fender to avoid a lawsuits!
This particular one is fretless and has a Lightwave optical pickup system installed. Ooh - Henner looks like he is playing a million notes per second in this photograph!
The headstock is comprised of several modules, the various parts bolted together to form a skeletal structure that is both functional and fascinating to look at.
Harry: "You definately cannot ignore this bass."
Jon: "the evolution of bass guitars and humankind come together - very cyborg..." (none of us know what Jon is talking about)
Nancy: "Well...that is SO pointy...I have never seen anything... like it...?"
We like the back of the bass just as much as the front. None of the elegance of the materials or details come through in these NAMM show snapshots - if we get one of these into our studio it'll be easier for you to appreciate the incredible amount of work and thought that has gone into creating these instruments.
By the way, the piece of wood (it's spalted - hehheh) supported by Henner's left hand can be positioned and secured at any angle.
Here's a nice picture of Harry with Michael Spalt (unfortunately we don't have a photograph of Tania Spalt). Here Miachael is holding one of his vViper basses. This particular one is fretless, and has a combination of 1) piezo mounted in the hand carved wood/bone bridge and 2) Bartolini pickup, mounted on a pivoting element. The movable element can be instantly secured in place so that it does not move during playing, or it can set to remain movable to accomodate quick and radical changes in tone. The movable pickup is no gimmick - the range of musically useful tones available from this bass is enormous.
The bass sounds great and plays like butter. Michael Spalt is building real instruments, he is not making bass-art only to be looked at.
Here's Michael helping to point out some of the finer points of tone control on the vViper bass.
Spalt basses is one of only a few avant garde design studios out there. If you'd like to see more examples of their work, please visit their website.
It's also worth noting that in addition to the line of Spalt basses, Michael and Tania also produce the beautiful Totem Guitars, and run L.A. Guitar Garage in (of course) Los Angeles. Busy, talented people, and also very nice too!
[ continue to page 4 : basses : Celinder, F bass, Dave Olsen ]
Table of contents.
[ page 1 ] introduction & setting.
[ page 2 ] basses & builders: Jens Ritter.
[ page 3 ] basses & builders: Michael Spalt. <--you are here
[ page 4 ] basses & builders: Celinder, F bass, Dave Olson.
[ page 5 ] basses & builders: Rick Turner.
[ page 6 ] basses & builders: Mike Kinal.
[ page 7 ] basses & builders: Carey Nordstrand, Geoff Gould, Harvey Citron, Abraham Wechter, Lightwave.
[ page 8 ] basses & builders: Hanewinckel, Michael Pedulla, Moses Graphite, VF Guitar Works.
[ page 9 ] interesting!: Daisy Rock guitars, King Doublebass, Burrell (the twisty bass).
[ page 10 ] other cool stuff: Coffin cases, Nancy's balalaika, the Strapture strap, Jeff Berlin.