Global Bass Online November 2000
Check out the GiveAway from BASSIX Studio
all looking for that Ultimate Music Store, all and forever in search of the
Ultimate Bass. Some of us chase this dream forever. Some ‘settle’ on one
bass, maybe two. The luckier ones, the ones with a Day Gig (what a joke for a
name) and the ones with either an endorsement deal or a Rock Star's income may
own 5, 10 or in the case of Ed Roman, proprietor and serious guitar and bass
collector, 120 instruments and growing.
Ed has a name for this illness, this all-consuming
hunger, this Search For The One Instrument that will meet all our needs. He calls it G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome). Ed
has it bad and he is the first to admit it.
starting out as a bassplayer, Ed now plays guitar as well. The difference
between him and most of us is that his case of G.A.S. has inspired (or driven) him to become a collector and distributor and seller and
luthier of not hundreds, but thousands of guitars and basses.
On top of all this, Ed
also has a wicked sense of humor that is shown throughout the site. Little
anecdotes, stories and histories, all of it making for some pretty fascinating
reading. Much of his humor is born from the endless frustrations of trying to
run a huge business efficiently while refusing to allow valuable time and
resources to be wasted.
His response to the
bane of his existence: Stupidity, is
hilarious and woven throughout the site. From his complete lack of use for
answering machines and e-mail ports, his frustration with inferior and illegal
copies of classic guitars being pawned off as authentic, his words make
captivating and informative reading, even if you aren’t presently in the
market to deal with your G.A.S. situation.
We have included in
this article a number of photos taken directly from his site, (with his
permission~a very good thing to get) to give you an idea of some of the services
he offers. From custom paint jobs, to custom pickguards, to custom pretty well
everything and anything. From 15 string monster basses to 4 string classics,
His repair shop is
second to none and his inlay department, he says is run by one of the finest
inlay artists he has ever seen, much less employed. On top of all of this, he
has his own line of instruments, culminating all he has learned over the years.
He also offers a
creative idea in instruments that will have you considering how much you could
get for your house on the market today. A brilliant idea that has him offering
you a whole line of instruments in one block package. Add on top of that the
unique idea for fretboard inlays tied into this idea that is totally his own.
All of this will be covered in the pages to come. So why not hang around for a while? Come join us as we visit one of the BIGGEST music stores we’ve ever seen. Oh, and bring a drool bib. You’re gonna need it!
Bass: Fifty thousand hits a
day must generate a lot of actual business. Needless to say, this is what you do
Roman: I’m not doing this
for the money. Well I am, but that’s not my principal motivation. It doesn’t
have to be, because I do so well with it, that it’s not something I have to
GB: Because of your passion for it, do you think?
That has a lot to do with it. People understand when somebody cares. They
eventually see through it. The only problem I have is deprogramming people. They
come to me, they’re preprogrammed, full of preconceived
notions. If I can get 15 minutes with them on the phone, in that 15 minutes I
have to turn them around from 15 years of thinking.
You say on one of your opening pages that you are not impressed by the
Old Guard, that in fact you are bored by it. By this of course, you mean the top
four or five manufacturers, that wouldn’t and couldn’t change what they have
been doing for up to 50 years. Established product lines that, as you say,
people are programmed to always consider first when buying an instrument.
When I make statements (deprogramming) and they’re pretty bold and
brash, I can back `em. I can back everything I say. I’ve made mistakes and
I’ll make more mistakes. I will be the first to retract them and apologize.
I’ll admit I made a mistake, but you can’t move forward without making some
mistakes. The guy who hits the most
home runs is also the guy who strikes out the most.
Ed offers a wide range of custom paint jobs. He also offers the ability to reproduce anything you supply as artwork. Below are a few examples of some of the more exotic and stunning custom paint jobs available on both basses and guitars.
Ed Roman respects the small luthier. In fact he expressed a clear wish for any independent guitars makers who see this article to contact him about their product. He is actively and consciously searching for builders of integrity. He says, “ I am always looking for people with new and different idea’s and are not afraid to show `em. I would generally buy almost anything. Even if I personally don’t think it’s gonna sell, I might buy one for my own collection, because it’s different.” He is also a realist and understands that the small manufacturer that manages to become successful
eventually faces the
need to mass-produce. He has seen it more than
once and says he will
see it again. He feels it is
inevitable, but wants to do business with the luthiers that have not yet made
that leap. In speaking about one particular luthier that he presently buys from,
he sees he can see that the individual is becoming so successful that changes
are inevitable. “I
just see the writing on the wall. I could see the change. I felt that way for
about two years, I could feel it coming. I was in denial, I was in denial and
finally I realized, ‘Hey man, the train has come and gone, that train has left
GB: Do I have my numbers right? Do you have a collection of over 120 guitars of your own?
Ed: Personally, hmmm, between 80 and a hundred and twenty.
Do you also presently have any kind of storefront operation?
GB: The 13 year old time waster playing “Stairway to Heave” at 11 with a guitar that hasn’t been tuned since it left the factory?
Ed: Well, we don’t have that problem! We’ve got problems, but not that one!
You were originally a bassplayer?
I was actually originally a guitar player and I am back to playing guitar
in the band I am in now. I’m primarily a singer and I find I can sing a lot
better when I play guitar but I basically got forced into playing bass about 20
years ago, because the other guy was a better guitar player than me. Also we
wanted to keep it a power trio and I switched to bass. I love to play
bass! I really enjoy playing bass. It really makes no difference to me if I play
bass or guitar. Currently I am in a 4-piece band and we have a great guitar
player and a great bass player but whenever the bass player is off somewhere I
will usually play bass. I can fill in but primarily I am still a vocalist.
Apparently, you are also in the recording studio?
Yeah, I am quite busy. I’ve got 4 CD’s in the process right now. I have
fallen asleep at my computer a number of times.
On your pages, you refer to your inlay artists as being the very best in
Before he joined World Class Ron worked for Carl Thompson Basses
creating for artists such as Stanley Clarke and Les Claypool
the search to find a suitable person for the job, Ed had to interview over 30
people. He searched for 3
In the search to find a suitable person for the job, Ed had to interview over 30 people. He searched for 3years before he found Ron. Ed thinks so highly of Ron’s work that he guarantees that any repair will never break again. Below are a few examples of before and after repairs.
Below: Five photos from stages in the repair of a badly damaged Warwick. A job Ed Roman is certain most other repair shops couldn’t and wouldn’t even try. Ed also guarantees that when the repair is done, you won’t even be able to see that anything was ever wrong or damaged with the instrument. The customer was so pleased with the repair he ordered a custom inlay job as well.
You want to see a repair that will make you crazy, I just put it one the web
page a couple days ago.
It’s on the BC Rich page. It’s a section called the Amazing BC Rich
Repairs. It’s a guitar that literally fell out of an 8-story window.
GB: It was from your site that I discovered that Bernie Rico, the creator of BC Rich guitars and basses passed away a short time ago.
8 string USA BC Rich Bich Bass
Ed: He was one of my principal influences as a guitar builder. The problems with BC Rich guitars was when he started he built some of the most incredible guitars you ever saw in your life. But he didn’t have the first clue about marketing. In his mind the way to sell guitars was to sell them for a lesser price than somebody else. Of course, that’s the worst thing you could do.
was the #1 worst mistake to make, you must always sell your guitars for the most
expensive you can and you must promote yourself as being the best by saying you
are the most expensive.
On your site, you sell a bass that you recommend very highly. The Warrior
Bass. All Warrior basses have a theme. I noticed also with your own series of
guitars and basses that you have involved a story that is expressed in the inlay
on the guitars. Your Crusader Series involves the theme of The Knights of the
Ed: The Crusaders are Warriors that are made for me. A private brand name, the inlay is done by my inlay people.
I noticed also that you have a penchant for collecting a whole series of
instruments from a manufacturer, for example the BC Rich.
I try to buy one of each model. Some people collect colors, some people collect
years, I like to collect models.
something I feel very strongly about that I haven’t put up on my site. When
you buy a collectable item very rarely does it become collectable.
And why would that be?
GB: What you’re saying is you are paying $10,000 dollars for a guitar you think of as collectable, that is actually worth at most $6000 now, in the hopes that in 25 years it may be worth at least $10,000?
And at the rate of inflation, that ain’t no deal! For example, PRS is
kinda my main whipping boy. I admired them SO much and then when they changed, I
just couldn’t…I had a hard time with that one.
GB: Do you find most of them change invariable at one time or another?
Every one of them. Even Dave McNaught will
sooner or later. (Editor: the inlay expert) So will I! I’m building 6
brands of guitars here you know? Seven if you count the basses. I don’t know
of anybody else in the industry that builds a product like the J Frog. I build a
bass that’s consistent with Alembic and Carl Thompson quality. The bass that I
build is called the ‘Roman and Blake’. That’s the latest thing we are
doing. Ron Blake is my partner in that. He is my employee in everything else,
but he is my partner in that one.
guy is a genius and I feel he deserves a piece of that.
I was looking at picture yesterday from about 25 years ago. I realized at
one point that everything and everyone in that picture, except me, was gone.
Does this kind of thing tie in with what you are saying when you say that
Blake and MaNaught are wonderful artists and wonderful friends. That you enjoy
their company and their expertise NOW…
And being smart enough to take advantage of them NOW is smart. Don’t
wait until they become better known because at that point their prices are gonna
be higher, Number 1, and Number 2, their quality is not going to be the same.
And in 20 years, if you’re still doing this, you will have to find another
‘Blake’ and another ‘McNaught’.
Twenty years?!?! We’re talking about 20 months! I do think that
McNaught will give me a longer than usual run, I give him 5 years total. It’s
already been 2 years.
We asked Ed if in building his 7 lines of instruments, or in any of the instruments he buys from other luthiers, whether or not he has ever come across an instrument that seemed to be set apart, a cut above the others. An instrument that had a special ‘something’ that couldn’t be measured, but could be felt, could be sensed. Something he thought held a quality that was truly remarkable?
I don’t want to blow my own horn here, but frankly some of the ones I have
been building have been blowing me away. I took 3 guitars home Friday
night. We rehearsed with them and I was knocked out.
also have an `86 PRS that I would put in that category. I know exactly what you
are saying. I’ll tell you what though, what is blowing me away though is my
Quicksilver’s. They seem to have a personality in two and half weeks. I’ve
been building guitars for a long time and I could never say that about my other
has a humorous section dedicated to the explanation of why he believes that a
guitar made of 200-year-old wood is superior to one made of younger wood. In
this section he has a mock conversation with a pseudo-salesman from one of those
giant music Super Stores. Just one more location on the site that combines humor
with an object lesson. Though the site is predominantly a site for guitars at
this point, there is a strong presence in basses. Ed has a strong desire to
develop that aspect of the site even more than it is today. As mentioned before
he welcomes luthiers to contact him.
site made up of 1300 pages, with over 2700 instruments made by 400 manufacturers
Easily one of the most incredible sites we have yet come across in terms
of sheer site, accessibility, useful information and enjoyment. Tons of photos
too. Established luthiers and many you may have never heard of before. When I
grow up I’m moving there.
can reach Ed Roman at:
offices are located at:
New Fairfield Road, CT
His website can be found at:
photos are taken directly from the site of Ed Roman World Class Guitars with
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