Four String C-Extension

Ross - Four String 3/4 C Extension Commission

Back is poplar from 100+ year old beams • Sides are elm from 100+ year old beams •Top is douglas fir from bleacher seats from 1940 Oregon High School •Ribs inlayed with walnut and lined with linen • C-Bouts remove allowing access for repair or sound post change • Neck is removable for travel and also adjustable

String length 41" (104 cm)

This bass finished in 2002 was a commission for Marc Neihof. Marc is a long time double bassist for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, as well as being an excellent jazz musician

Five String Dragon Head

Ross - Five String Dragon Head

Since  I built the bass for him in 2002 Marc and the bass have traveled to China and the Middle East.  Earlier this year 2007 Marc decided he'd like to try a fifth string, primarily for ease of fingering  when playing lower passages in orchestra.    Since the neck is removable and adjustable he asked me if I could make a five string neck, bridge and tailpiece  for his bass.   Here is the result.  Although it seems unlikely to happen very  often,  it takes somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour to switch from four string to five string neck.  Not sure how important it is to have a back up neck for your bass,  but either neck can fit on a hollow body electric upright that Marc has.

Electric Travel Bass

This instrument was a commission for Mike Fitzmaurice. He often travels with the band Colcannon and wanted a travel bass that would feel (if not look and sound) like his old German bass. The points of reference Mike uses on the shoulders and ribs of the bass, as well as their relation to the bridge height and string length match on both instruments (although we did decide to add a fifth string for the fun of it).

Five String Poplar Back

Five String 3/4 Bass

String length 41 1/2" (105 cm) Table length 43" (109 cm) Spruce Top Poplar ribs, one piece Poplar back Curly Maple neck and scroll Synthetic Ebony Fingerboard (* harder and more stable than Ebony) C/Bout Access Panel (*designed for easy access for repair and sound post adjustments)

This is a bass I built and sold in 1999. The head on the pegbox is a green man based on a couple of pictures I had of poet and enviromental activist Gary Snyder:



Four String Sycamore

Ross :: Warburton - Four String 7/8 Bass

Designed in collaboration with bassist Paul Warburton.
String length 41 3/8" (105 cm) • Table length 45 1/2" 115.5 cm) • Spruce Top
Sycamore back and sides • Curly Maple neck and scroll

A bass finished in Dec of 1997 this was I think the first time I used carbon fiber to stiffen the neck.


Repair Work

Robles bass with breastplate added. The bottom of the f holes were connected on the bass when it was originally built.

Instead of inside linings there were many small blocks of wood ~3/8" x3/8" spaced about an 1" center to center all around the ribs on both top and back! This was a new one for me, many were loose and I replaced them with more conventional linings.

Neck repair: Improvising clamping techniques are often necessary in repair work, and yes, doing a test run first without the glue is almost always a good idea.
Salvaging an Old Fingerboard

fingerboardI enjoy working with ebony, but am often reluctant to do so because it has been overharvested. To my knowledge there is no source of ebony that is certified by some organization such as the Forest Stewardship Council to have been harvested in a sustainable manner. (The issues around global warming, overharvesting , illegal logging and livelihood of indigenous people are complicated ones. Scientific American is a good starting point for more information:


I'm trying to figure out an appropriate way to deal with the other basses I sometimes sell which come with ebony fittings. Like most luthiers, I save old fingerboards and broken tailpieces to use as material for extensions, saddles, nuts, inlays, etc. For my own fingerboards I try to use quartersawn FSC certified Grenadillo or purpleheart. In this case the filler wood is from some salvaged decking material (Ipe).

In general, I feel the acoustic properties of a bass often benefit from a stiffer neck (a number of other luthiers I think have come independently to this conclusion) (Notice that I've also inlaid two carbon fiber strips in the neck, carbon fiber has a modulus of elasticity many times that of any wood. ) All of these woods are stiffer than ebony (at least in every sample I've tested) Purpleheart has the largest modulus of elasticity and the lowest specific gravity, but is perhaps not as hard as ebony. In addition you can make a fingerboard from quartersawn material (for a more stable board), while quartersawn ebony is expensive and difficult to come by.

C Extensions

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Here are some examples of C Extensions that I've done.