Global Bass Online November 2000
Check out the GiveAway from BASSIX Studio
chat with the creator of this months Global
Bassix Studio’s Alan HatSwell…
Global Bass Magazine is proud to
present for the first time, a wonderful giveaway prize with this November issue!
Courtesy of the generosity of
Bassix Studio’s luthier and owner, Alan Hatswell, we will be presenting some
lucky winner, somewhere in the world, absolutely free, a Bassix Studio Electric
Stand Up Multi-Tech Bass.
To give you a better idea of the incredible value of this giveaway we present our readers with an interesting and informative article and interview with the creator of these fine instruments, Alan Hatswell…
Alan, can you give us a bit of history as to what brought you up to this point
in time, as a musician and a luthier?
Alan: As a young teenager, I wanted to
play a musical instrument and settled for guitar. I played my first gig at the
age of 14 in a dance band at the local village and I have played in various
bands, both pro and semi pro ever since.
have always been a ‘Maker’ but my roots are in automotive engineering. I ran
my own company in the 80’s constructing specialists vehicles. I actually made
my first bass (a traditional ¾ scale acoustic double bass) in 1976 and the bug
has never really gone away. After 37 years in the motor trade, I decided it was
time for the change and on the 1st of November, 1998 I started Bassix.
The first model (the semi acoustic ‘Transition’) had its debut at the
Wembley Music Show at the end of November 98 and as they say, the rest is
Do you presently have the time (or the inclination)
to perform in an ensemble, and if so, please tell us a bit about it...
I currently don’t have the time to exercise my musical inclinations as I have
just moved house and I am looking forward to the 6 month rebuilding and
alteration programme, but in the future – who knows?
Have you ever been involved in any
recordingventures, and if so, please tell us about this (these) recording.
Yes, during the mid `70’s I returned to playing in a band after a few years
‘resting’, and it was at this point I took up proper bass playing. (All
previous experience was with Bass guitar). I jumped in at the deep end with a
3.4 scale German-built 40’s instrument and played for some years with a folk
rock band called ‘Barbary Farm’. We produced our own album and had limited
sales at gigs, etc.
From what I have gathered, one of the rather
inventive ideas that you are offering electric bassplayers, is the chance to
finally embrace stand-up bass playing without the daunting physical differences
that are presently found between a conventional electric bass and a stand-up.
What have you done with your creations to make that transition less
I was approached by a friend of mine in 1998 and asked if I would like to
play again, but due to a medical problem (I found it too painful to stand all
night with the mighty Fender hanging around my neck) I started looking for an
alternative instrument. I found it impossible to find a EUB (electric upright
bass) at anything like sensible money at that time and decided to my make my
own. After a short survey of the market it seemed clear that I was not alone and
that many other bass guitar players felt the same. This was the final push I
needed to ‘get making’. The idea of the 34” scale on my original model
meant that many bass players could convert to upright more easily but still
retain an instrument that had its roots in the style of a proper double bass.
Has this been well received and do you find that it
takes some time and effort to allay the fears of conventional electric players.
Generally, all my instruments have been well received and once someone
has ‘had a go’ most fears disappear.
What would you say are their chief concerns?
Most players are mainly concerned what they will hit ‘bum’ notes, so
initially I mark the side of the fingerboard to help orientation.
Can you give us a few examples of the positive
feedback you have received from bassists about your creations.
I can only say that I have not yet encountered an unhappy customer.
In picking the various components, are you involved
in any of the separate construction of those parts, for example the bride or the
nut, the tuning pegs or the pickups?
I buy the smallest number of parts possible and these are only strings,
preamps/EQ’s, end pins, tuning machines and some pickups.
Do you use various manufacturers of a particular
pick up style or have you settled upon one or two. If so, who would they be and
what about them set themselves apart from all the others.
I use Schaller pickups on the semi acoustic range. Kent Armstrong Humbuckers on
the Jazza and solid body range and I create in conjunction with Kent Armstrong,
individual wound magnetic string sensors for the Bassmaster Multi Tech. My
designs are such that I am not restricted to any particular manufacturers for
brought-in items, allowing a wide choice for my customers.
GB: Can you give us some information n the materials used in the construction of your basses?
wood is used in the structure of my instruments. My basses are made from modern
composites. Polyester, carbon fibre, glass fibre, epoxy, etc. etc.
Are you able to confer with a client, and taking
into account what the musician wishes to accomplish sound-wise, help them work
towards that end?
I am always happy to work with a customer to achieve his or her required
sound and have even made mock up systems to help with the choice.
Is a prospective client able to come to your
offices or perhaps even via the Internet, choose from various woods and
I am always willing to see prospective customers here. (I work from home in a
small workshop in my rear garden) and let them try a selection of instruments to
help their final choice.
GB: Can the client also make choices as to other parts of the instrument as well?
The choice of finishes available, including wood grains are immense.
Almost anything is possible. I am always happy to use any good quality
components to customer’s choice and will always quote accordingly.
Can, for example, a bassist over 6 feet tall or
perhaps 5'2" have a bass built for him or her that takes their stature into
I am very pleased that all my basses can be played by people of varying
stature-they are all fitted with 18” or 21” extendable end pinds for easy
upon the complexity of the individual basses, for example the Multi-Tech, where
a customer can have the choice of multiple upgrades to the bass, what generally
is the 'lead time' between the original order and the shipping date?
Currently I try to keep the various specs of instruments in stock for
immediate deliver, but even starting from scratch the build lead time is weeks,
GB: Tell us a bit about the Multi-Tech. What were you hoping to achieve by offering an upgradable instrument, where the client could literally handpick from a series of upgrades for their bass.
I always felt that playing a bass
instrument relied heavily upon the personality of the player and as such,
choices of specification
should be available to match the individual requirements. When I designed the
Multi Tech, I took into account possible requirements from the purchaser
(complexity of the electronics, tune machines, surface finishes, etc.), so that
the basic structure could be adapted to accommodate them. Some upgrades can e
dealt with after purchase. For
example, upgrading from a 3 band to a 5 band EQ, or I am always pleased to take
an instrument as a trade in for another model.
Hatswell, luthier and creator of the Bassmaster Multi Tech
How has the public responded to the Multi-Tech's
The Bassmaster Multi Tech is very new on the market, but general response has
been very encouraging.
You also offer a rather unique service, allowing
the musician to upgrade their bass, literally by trading the instrument back to
you in exchange for one higher up in the model range. How have your clients
responded to this rather intelligent and inventive marketing idea?
Getting back to my trade up scheme, so far no one has taken me up on this unique
offer. I can only suppose that having taken time to ensure that the right
instrument was supplied in the first place, this may prove to be a rare
GB: The Jazza Crossover Model appears to be the next logical step in the development of an instrument that will allow the bass guitarist, often having spent years thinking they could never tackle the stand-up, to finally expand their musical value and versatility. It has a rather exotic shape. Can you tell us a bit about your choice for the shape itself, and the rather large housing for the bridge itself. It almost appears from the pictures supplied, that the housing for the bridge also serves other functions as well. Perhaps containing some of the electronics?
The shape of the Jazza was largely decided by the need to keep costs low
but have enough style and size to be noticed. The bridge and front body section
are made in one piece and hold the pickup, controls etc.
GB: The price for the Jazza is surprisingly low, clearly allowing the player to own a rather unique instrument for the price of any lower to mid range conventional bass. Also the instrument is of a size to allow it to transported in a conventional car. All of these factors add to up to a success story, not only for you as a luthier, but for the player as well. Can you tell us a bit about the feedback you have received from players on this instrument.
Yes, the price is low, as I said this was one of the criteria when the
original design was conceived. The general reaction has been good, but as I will
be able to offer the Bassmaster Multi Tech in short scale form for only about
20% more, I wonder which will prove to be the most popular.
The Bassix Studio JAZZA
As a luthier, from time to time, I am sure that you
have perhaps unwittingly created an instrument that so captures the essence of
all you are trying to achieve, an instrument that 'speaks' to you. A bass that
seems as if it contains something more, a 'soul' if you will, that makes parting
with that bass to its new owner, tantamount to losing a child to the world when
maturity comes and the children leaves home to embrace their life. Has this
happened to you?
As you rightly say, it is sometimes like losing a member of one’s family when
an instrument is sold. Yes, some do speak to the maker, this seems to be true of
my Bassmaster. Every one I create makes the hairs stand up on the back of my
neck the first time it is played-strange feeling but very satisfying.
With regards to strings for your respective basses
in their various models and sizes. Do you offer replacement strings or can you
recommend particular manufacturers for the new owner?
Strings play an important part in all my instruments but I have found on
the 34” scale basses I prefer Rotosound black nylon wound and
¾ and full scale my favourites are Tomastik Spirocore.. The choice of
strings can be very personal and I am sure many of my customers will have their
Can you venture into a five string (or more if so
desired) for these basses?
I have produced 5 string versions of my semi acoustic range, but I really
find that a good player will make enough use of the normal 4 not to need the
extra cost and complication of the 5 string.
Have any of your clients used your basses for
Symphony work or Chamber ensembles?
I am not aware of my instruments being used for symphony work as this was
not the original idea behind them – but who knows?
How do the basses respond to pizzicato and using
Pizzicato was always first in my intentions, but the semi-acoustic range and the
Bassmaster can be bowed.
Does the client have option of lines being placed
on the neck as position markers?
I try to discourage neck marker lines, although they are possible, as I
feel it upsets the overall appearance of the instrument, but I often mark the
edge of the fingerboard with suitable reference points.
Now from your supplied information, it is stated
that you have some new innovations in the pickup for the double bass. Have those
innovations come to fruition yet, and what would they be. If not yet in
production, when do you project it to be?
There are two ideas regarding pickups when the original basses were first
made. The first idea, which proved too expensive to produce reliably, was for a
loop laser, but it involved so much electron gadgetry to produce a natural sound
that I discounted it. The second idea was the individual string sensors which I
use on the multi Tech. This has proved to be an excellent system with which I am
Can the client supply a particular colour request,
either via a j-peg through e-mail or my simply mailing you a colour swatch or
any other example?
As I mentioned before, the purchaser can have virtually any colour or
You appear to be very much in a creative time of
your life, with new models and ideas coming to you on a regular basis. Can you
give our readers an inkling of what you see in store for the future with Bassix
I see the future of my business concentrating on the Bassmaster models as
the most prominent instrument, particularly as a short scale version will be
available, but of course I will continue making to order any other models in my
In a hundred years, many of your instruments will
still be around, although neither you or I will be. What would you hope people
will say about you as a luthier, and about your creations?
I hope that long after my demise people will continue to play my
creations and get as much pleasure out their playing my basses as I have had
Alan Hatswell’s Semi-Acoustic Series
For all instruments, a vinyl bag is offered, but for a nominal
extra charge a hard case will be supplied for the bass. Alan also has a mail
order plan that allows him to ship anywhere in the world. Demonstration Models,
ever so slightly use, are available for much reduced cost. Contact Bassix for
more details. See below…
Luthier Alan Hatswell can be reached via e-mail at
website for further information can be found at http://www.bassix.net
for Snail Mail:
c/o Alan Hatswell
155 Chestfield Road, Chestfield, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3LR (England)
or call 01227 791640 /
you’ve worked your way through
the whole Bassix article. Hey, you might as well know exactly what it is that
you are going to be up all night, losing sleep over, hoping you’ll win, right?
how do you win this beautiful instrument? Actually, it’s relatively easy. What
you have to do is go to the actual Bassix site (the URL is provided just above
this note, and look for a bit of information. We want you to tell us exactly how
many ranges (or styles) of EUB (Electric Upright Bass) Bassix offers.
armed with that easy-to-find information, we need you to send us a 50 word note
letting us know why you NEEEEED this bass. Send
email to Global Bass Magazine, or
snail mail to either address on our ContactUs
page. We welcome humor, witty
answers, intelligent thoughts and so forth. Needless to say, smart-mouth or foul
language gets deleted immediately.
winners name and the city they live in will be printed in the January issue of
Global Bass Magazine. We reserve the right to use a photo likeness of the winner
in future issues for both Global Bass and Bassix Studios promotional materials.
costs or charges for this prize or its delivery will be passed on to the winner.
The winner does not have his name
or contact information passed on or sold to any advertisers list. There are no
warranty’s expressed or otherwise for the prize, except those provided by the
the contest with the required information need only be done once. More than once
does not alter or increase your eligibility
or chances to win.
Good Luck! And better writing!! May the best feelings win!!!
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