When it comes to music in particular the bass, I’m very discerning about how it’s sound is produced. The Electric Bass is pretty much the most recently invented musical instrument. Apparently first constructed in the 1930’s by a very talented man called Paul Tutmarc, the Electric Bass was born.
My understanding of the little that I know of Paul Tutmarc is that he was a musician seeking to make the life of future bass players an easier one in terms of travelling with and playing the bass itself. As with anything that is strange and different, this Electric Bass did not take off but what Paul Tutmarc did achieve was planting the seed as it were, in the minds of a few creative people; In the 1950’s, Leo Fender was one such individual who took the concept and ran with it.
So, from the 1950’ people witnessed a mass production of the revised Electric Bass, still known today as the Fender; the rest is history.
I truly wanted to own my own Electric Bass Guitar. A tangible piece of craftsmanship able to deliver a sweet noise, that would one day become my signature sound. It had to be all of these things including a sound that will be different and as competitive with other top brands. It also had to be in tune with my body, mind and spirit so the design and build did not take me long to perfect and now, I have that sound.
When playing my bass in seated position, my Marksman fits me snug because I shaped it to fit my body. Playing my bass in standing position is also very comfortable because it’s extremely well balanced. It’s not as heavy as one may find with most hand-made and good quality bass guitars.
Let me introduce you to the Marksman Bass. This profile shows the tuning pegs situated at the rear of the bass where they are tucked away to prevent accidental detuning and therefor limiting any potential damage to these sensitive controls. The other reason why I chose to locate the tuning pegs here is so that I would not have to have a head stock. Having the poles of the tuning pegs fixed through at the base of the thin body, captures every single vibration each string makes. All in all, adding to the vibrations generated through the bridge, truly generates and anchors the primary sound.
In this photo you can see a close up of the controls. From the jack socket and going ‘round clockwise, first we have the toggle switch. Flicking the toggle down, switches the XLR socket to on and into balance output mode. This enables the Marksman to have complete control, matching impedance to mixing desks and any bass amp head without the need for a DI box. The versatility of the Marksman in connecting to a desk via the XLR and to an amp head from the jack socket, can be done simultaneously without one affecting the other; when the toggle switch is up, the balance output is disconnected.
Next to the switch is the rotary pickup selector. This contours the sound in a finely tuned way making the sound variation between the two closely aligned pickups extremely subtle and smooth; the control works in both passive and active settings.
Next is the overall volume control with a pull-up mechanism. In normal mode, the Marksman operates as passive bass but without the use of the tone controls. In the pull-up setting, the Marksman is in active mode. In this setting, the remaining three rotary controls in the order of treble, mid-range and bass, come into effect so as to further enhance or tailor the sound output to my needs for and in any given situation.
The treble control is really affective. When in cut position this control gives the Marksman the ability to produce an almost fretless bass sound and in boost position, produces crystal clear highs for intricate playing styles such as tapping and harmonics.
I want to talk about the bass control next. This is as affective as the treble in that it can really taper the low frequencies. To produce a thin but clear sound, all that’s needed is to turn the control to cut position and I can have my own thin clear sound. In the boost position I can achieve a thunderous signal. When for example I want to play tunes that require that deep heavy sound that you hear in reggae songs, I can enable the Marksman to produce low frequencies to operate right down to around 32Hz*. It remains very clean and powerful and it never disappoints; I like playing reggae and dub plate riffs with the Marksman.
And now we come to the rotary mid-range control also with a pull-up action. Modern day music especially in contemporary fusion, demands a lot from bassists and so the Marksman possesses a specially designed active EQ system to take hold of those mid-range frequencies right across the spectrum. This bass copes with any situation, you name it, resonance orientated rooms and halls, loud and echoey establishments, there is a setting right here in this beautiful control that can deal with all those areas. In applications where I need the bass to cut through such as when soloing, the mid-range control is easy for me to use and its effect on the overall sound can be as subtle or as brutal as I want it to be.
In making sure that the overall sound output was on point, capturing the primary sound in the first place was of paramount importance. Achieving this was crucial. I wanted the best system fitted and after some research, I chose to employ the services of Charlie who at the time, worked as an instrument repairer for guitarguitar in Epsom; he installed a set of Bartolini pick-ups and completely rewired the bass to my exact specifications.
The Marksman construction is in two parts, the body and neck. The way I put together the materials for the Marksman was quite special and unusual. The inner body is made from birch plywood and is sandwiched between two plates of Brazilian mahogany, pressed together using a special process to create a different type of laminated body. I wanted my bass to have that signature sound that I was striving for and this process had a lot to do with it.
The neck and fretboard had to be made separate. I wanted to make sure that every note that I play had to have an optimal sound without imperfections, I will need to hear every note as clear as can be, no resonances and no flat or incoherent tones.
The neck is made from drop-forged aluminium alloy with the fretboard made from rosewood and again pressed together using a special process. There isn’t a trust rod as there wasn’t a need for that to be installed. The construction is rigid, steadfast and light in weight. So, I created the body with its beautiful round shape and attached the streamlined composite neck without a headstock together to produce a well-balanced Electric Bass guitar call the Marksman
1. What do I use for my backline?
2. A quality and reliable amp head and loudspeaker system that will produce my sound the way I want it.
Obviously in order to get the result I’m looking for the amplification and loudspeaker systems have to be on point too. I’m not an amplifier or amp head maker so I rely on other experts and use whatever matches my requirements. There are a good number of high-quality systems around but the one I use at present is the TC Electronic BH800 and it works real nice with my custom-built stack; yes, you guessed it, I made my stack too.
I have been making Hi-Fi loudspeaker systems and bass cabs for years and so I thought it was high time to make a top-rated stack for myself.
I’ll start with the negative, the cabinet weighs a ton and I’ve had it now since the summer of twenty-twelve. Here are the positives…
My NAUVE System 4 as it is called, is a tuned bass reflex enclosure and houses a 15” driver. The driver itself has an enormous magnet and a two-inch voice coil. The mid-range and low frequencies produced are extremely clean and the sound together with my NAUVE FL2 is well balanced
The FL2 construction is solid and robust. Some bass cabs have smaller drivers to deliver the full range and some have a high frequency driver built into the main cab. I prefer to have the high frequency driver in a separate enclosure so that I can choose to use it with the sub bass or not. It also allows me to use the
FL2 in other applications such as a different bass cab. Adding to this, separate enclosures for each driver is always a positive design because for one thing, I can align the two cabs symmetrically or forward of the sub bass to produce brighter top ends
Here are the specs to chew on: –
Impedance load is 8ohms
Maximum program input is 150watt
Play frequency band (with flared horn loaded enclosure) = 30Hz to 30kHz
Crossover frequency = 8kHz
Output sound pressure level = 96dB/1-watt 1 meter
Dimensions of NAUVE System 4* are: H) 640 x W) 485 x D) 435mm
Dimensions of NAUVE FL2* are: H) 135 x W) 480 x D) 300mm
I have played through many different bass cabs, amp heads and combos and there aren’t many I can truly say compare to my medium sized powerhouse. And the thing is, just like my Marksman Bass, I made these without any plans or diagrams; I made the Marksman in 1988 and upgraded it since then.
Together the Marksman, NAUVE System 4 and the NAUVE FL2 flared horn, is a perfect match made in heaven, I would gig on any decent stage be it big or small and feel absolutely comfortable and rest assured that I have the perfect gear behind me.