BunnyBass Field Trip: 2003 NAMM show, page 6.
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Kinal basses. Okay, here is a perfect example of someone who is doing things the right way. Mike Kinal is certainly one of "real bass" guys in the neverending "real vs. fake bass" debate here at BunnyBass. We already have a few photographs of Mike's basses in the bass archive, but we took the opportunity to make a few more of the ones he brought down with him from British Columbia where he has his shop. As always, the work was first rate and all his basses seem to share a honest, earthy feel to them. We mean this in the best possible way and don't mean to suggest that the basses are not elegant - they are, in fact, individually built by hand with the utmost care. But there is nothing superfluous in their design and execution, and they are fundamentally practical tools for working musicians. The fact that they also happen to be very beautiful to feel and look at is just gravy!
This honeyburst MK21 was very beautiful in person, though the cramped shooting comditions and 10,000 bare flourescent bulbs didn't make for an ideal opportunity for photography.
Mike builds some of the nicest instruments around and they easily compare favorably to other basses that cost perhaps a thousand dollars more than his. While there are several models and many different options to choose from, one thing they all have in common is that they all have a strong voice built into them - a strong fundamental with thick muscular lows are the foundation of the sound here. Adjust the mids and highs as needed with the onboard electronics, the good acoustic sound is coming from the woods and structure, as it should be.
A close-up of the lovely flamed maple top and rosewood ramp between the Bartolini soapbars.
Here's an SK model 4 string wiith a Bartolini MM + J configuration. The SK models have a more symmetrical lower bout with two strap buttons on the bottom. Though it's difficult to see in this photograph, the top of this bass had a very gentle, luminous figured maple top. The satin finish was a perfect match.
Harry: "Yes! Yesyesyes!"
Henner: "These basses are so solid, they are really well-made."
A close-up of the flamed maple fingerboard. Being a bass player himself, Mike knows how to carve a neck that's comfortable to play on. The shoulders are perfectly formed and the edges of the fingerboard, together with the treatment of the frets, make for a neck that almost feels like it's been played hard for 20 years. A lot of basses look nice from across the room, but it's the sense of feel an individual brings to their instruments as they carve, file, and sand them, that separates the real basses from the rest.
Here is another lovely 5 string, this one with two Bartolini Jazz-type pickups and a koa top. The overall vibe of this bass is warm, fat, and organic. Simplicity is our favorite kind of elegance.
The fingerboard on the koa 5 string kinda makes your heart skip a beat.
Jon: "It's not the fanciest but it's my favorite one here."
Nancy: "The color of this wood is mesmerizing. It's so warm, and it looks like it's glowing from the inside."
Nancy: "I really like Mike Kinal. He genuinely nice and I get a good feeling from him and his instruments. And I really like what he is doing with the kids."
What Nancy's referring to is the fact that in addition to Mike's work as a luthier, he is also a teacher in the Canadian school system. He teaches his high school aged students how to build guitars and basses, together with how to play them. We've talked to Mike about his program and it sounds like an incredible example of hands-on 'experiential' learning. The kids put in long hours without having to be forced or pushed - further evidence that kids aren't afraid of working hard if they want the knowledge you have to offer! The curriculum sounds very good and perhaps can serve as a model for others - future BunnyBass interview topic? We hope so. In the meantime, visit [ www.kinal.com ]
[ continue to page 7 : basses : Nordstrand, Pedulla, Citron, Wechter ]
Table of contents.
[ page 1 ] introduction & setting.
[ page 2 ] basses & builders: Jens Ritter.
[ page 3 ] basses & builders: Michael Spalt.
[ page 4 ] basses & builders: Celinder, F bass, Dave Olson.
[ page 5 ] basses & builders: Rick Turner.
[ page 6 ] basses & builders: Mike Kinal. <--you are here
[ 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.