StickXBL™ prototypes with BassLab resonant beam

This instrument is currently a prototype. Watch this page for pricing and date of availability.


Emmett Chapman plays a prototype
I'd like to announce a new Stick model, now in final prototyping stage and ready to exhibit and play.

I've just assembled and set up the first two prototypes of an extended 36-inch scale-length Stick with BassLab sub-contracted through-neck beam construction in Germany. These will be on display at the Frankfurt Musicmesse world trade show March 5th through the 9th, played live by Greg Howard at the BassLab/Stick Enterprises booth K08 in hall 4.0.

The booth will accommodate a Mercedes light blue maxi-van, which will also serve as a large sound room for Greg's scheduled Stick performances as well as bass guitar demos by BassLab artists and Reiner Dobbratz, a well known luthier co-exhibiting under his business name LeFay. Greg will also play and demo the two prototype Sticks outside the van at lower volumes for visitors to the booth.

Upon setup and first play testing of these two instruments, I observed some interesting qualities:

  • The sound is somehow more open and "live", though not by means of any discernable natural reverb. The hollow shell construction throughout the length of the neck-beam seems to acoustically reinforce the mid and low frequencies, and at the high end there is a gloss and polished resonance that seems to rebound from the hard lacquer finish, reflecting harmonics back into the sustained strings.

  • Along with this live sound is a related lively "feel" in tapping the strings, a bit of a bounce and percussive attack. I had to double-check myself to make sure this wasn't just a subjective reaction, perhaps unduly influenced by the unfamiliar sound, the slick appearance of the metallic finish, and by what I had learned about hollow structures. Indeed, these characteristics do all seem to be bound together, including the responsive "feel" when you tap this instrument. The magic is there!

  • This through-neck beam is more rigid than any hardwood, laminate or man-made material I've ever used in construction, yet the fretboard reacts nicely to tensioning adjustments from The Stick's rear surface truss rod.

  • This prototyped model sets up well with lowest string tapping action and responds to the lightest touch.


Both prototypes featuring BassLab
through-neck beam construction

BassLab in Kassel, Germany, designs and builds some interesting and avant guard instruments (see their Website at www.basslab.de), including their current line of four bass guitar models and one guitar model. They also take unusual custom orders. Their main concern, however, is acoustic science and unique composite materials that enhance the sound of various stringed instruments, including violins, some traditional Japanese instruments, and now The Stick.

Heiko Hoepfinger, founder and owner of BassLab, has a diploma in theoretical physics and since 1993 has applied his knowledge to improving sound mainly in electric bass guitars. In 1995, he received a patent in the field of acoustic materials and began BassLab in 1996. He blends various composites to "tune in" the desired tonal characteristics of whatever instrument he is working on. He refers to this well researched process as "monocoque design", where the outer hull is the sole supporting member.

My first BassLab Stick prototype is lacquered in metallic silver with blue linear fretboard markers. The second prototype is in metallic watermelon red with black fretboard markers. A wide variety of metallic and solid colors will of course be possible when actual production begins. The five markers are 1/4-inch lines extending all the way across the fretboard width and abutting against the "leading" (higher pitched) fret. They are spaced perfect 4ths apart along the fretboard, starting at the 3rd fret and repeating at 8th, 13th, 18th and 23rd frets. Octaves along the fretboard are at 1st, 13th and 25th (highest) fret on this extended 36-inch scale instrument.


Rear view of a prototype
These prototypes are equipped with our patented Rails™ fret system, Flaps™ dual nut system, and the standard Stick adjustable bridge, belt hook and shoulder strap. The silver prototype is equipped with an ACTV-2™ EMG pickup Block® module and is tuned Baritone Melody/standard bass in heavy gauges for Greg at the show. The red prototype has the PASV-4™ Villex pickup Block module and is tuned "Matched Reciprocal" (my tuning) in medium gauges.

Best, Emmett.


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