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R. Howells one-off metal bass guitar - one for the scrap heap, perhaps?


Part of me really wants to like this "one-off R. Howells handmade metal bass guitar" currently being offered for sale on eBay UK, as someone has gone to a lot of trouble to engineer this piece completely out of metal (which metal, we aren't told).

But another part of me wants to scream, "No no, it's all wrong!" The neck looks exceedingly long, but perhaps that's because the body is small. It may be my imagination, or else the angle of the photograph, but in the full length picture it looks as if the neck is wider up at the nut than it is at the body end. I suspect that it is actually parallel along its length, which would be unusual but not unusable. Of course, playability would all depend on how it intonates. Are the frets positioned correctly for the scale length? They may be, but the cynic in me thinks that this is unlikely.

Look at the engineering of the tuners which are integral to the headstock. I have to wonder if this perhaps was a project by maybe an apprentice metalworker. A certain R. Howells, most likely!

Down at the other end of the bass we find a very solid piece of hardware with adjustable retainers for each string. Quite what purpose these are supposed to serve, I do not know, for they are behind the bridge - which itself does not seem to have saddles of any kind. Maybe the tailpiece blocks are intended as fine tuners, but this does seem a weird inclusion where adjustable saddles would be considerably more useful.

The angled jack on the face of the bass is a nice touch, as are the hand-turned contol knobs, but this bass has not been wired up nor has it been finished having only a dummy pickup mounted in its aluminium pickguard. (And considering the detailed metalwork elsewhere, why does the pickguard look so crudely cut out? Was it finished in a hurry, perhaps?)

This would probably make a better sculpture than a working bass guitar. A lot of hard work has obviously gone into it, so it's only a pity that it resembles a child's drawing of an electric guitar.

Currently listed on eBay with a starting price of £100.

G L Wilson

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