|Peter Hook with Shergold Marathon 6|
Baritone guitars, originally popular in the mid-1960s as "tic-tac" basses for doubling country, surf and rockabilly guitar lines, made a comeback in the late 1990s-early 2000s with rock and metal players. With a lower B-B tuning, they're ideal to play crunchier chords in lower registers than regular 24 or 25"-scale guitars. Reissues from Danelectro were followed by baritone models from Fender, Paul Reed Smith, and others.
|EBMM Silhouette Bass|
The Silhouette Bass has been played by Smashing Pumpkins' D'Arcy Wretzky as well as Dream Theater's John Petrucci (who now has his own JP signature baritone guitar model).
|My OLP MM5 Baritone in Silver Sparkle|
|12-string bass, Converted from OLP MM3|
Montreal luthier Steven Balogh, who does sterling repair work in addition to custom original basses and guitars, took on the job. Here's the result:
|OLP MM5 baritone guitar converted to 4-string short-scale bass|
|Hipshot Ultralite 3+1 tuners|
The bridge is a Hipshot Style A with .750 string spacing in satin aluminum finish, with rear-routed strings-through-body ferrules from Allparts. The pickups are a set of ND3 MM4 neodymium-magnet Music Man-sized humbuckers from SGD Lutherie; a narrow-aperture bridge pickup and a wide-aperture neck pickup to provide a combination of depth and bite.
|Hipshot Style A bridge and SGD Lutherie MM4 ND3 pickups|
They're wired passively for the moment, using the original 500k pots and 3-way switch, but as they have 4-conductor wiring I could in theory go for 5-way switching to provide more tonal options, as well as add an onboard preamp.
Right now it feels amazing - fast and remarkably responsive. There's a bit of string buzz from the original, low-profile guitar frets, which I'll have redone in the near future with something more like vintage bass fretwire, but other than that, it's everything I imagined it would be. Nice and ringy for Peter Hook-style lines, and soft and deep for Motown-style finger lines. We used silver paint to cover the dowelling on the headstock; a fancier modification would be to use thin wood veneer steamed and glued into place.
It would be nice if Music Man would produce an official short-scale bass like this, but in the meantime, it's a relatively easy modification for Silhouette basses and OLP MM5s.
I'll post audio clips soon!
Speaking of which, I'm looking for a black OLP MM5 with rosewood fingerboard for a 2nd conversion project. If you've got one for sale, let me know.