Signature Bass

2005 - present

Signature Lite

2013 - present

Carbonlite Bass

2014 - present

Artist Bass

2012 - present

History of the Signature model

This bass came about by way of an accident! Baz, the guitarist / vocals with the stranglers was a bit annoyed when a pint of beer came sailing across the stage towards him and as any true guitarist should know, the only reaction is to smash up the guitar! a pretty difficult repair job to put the neck and headstock back together (initially I told him to bin it) but it worked out ok. He was amazed that it glued up. A while after that a friend of mine, Shaggy, was talking to JJ at the Hilton hotel in sheffield, JJ was sick of the lack of recognition he was recieiving from an ‘american’ company and the fact that he wasn’t getting on with the instruments as a whole. He wanted a better service and a more superior instrument, preferabley built in the UK. He’d been down this route with a couple of english companies before and nothing even acceptable had come of it. Shaggy told him that he should speak to me and thats how it came about. The following week myself and shaggy made the trip to the Stranglers recording studio near Frome in Somerset, JJ explained what he wanted from a bass, what he liked and disliked from the two he played at the time, we had a few drinks…. and a great lunch the following day… although Shaggy was not impressed that baked beans were not on the menu to go with the pie at the gastro pub and that salad cream was not available to go with the beans….

So I went about making a bass that had the best of both, but also updating the design and trying to make improvements to really bring out his individual style and sound.

His 70’s Precision sounded great, but weighed a ton. The 60’s P was a nice weight, had a great feeling neck but lacked a little in the sound. Both basses weren’t the easiest instruments to play, but JJ is a strong player, really digs in and gives the bass hell. So I knew it had to be quite robust !

I settled on a design that I thought was good, slightly changed the shape to make the curves more flowing, better access to the upper frets, my headstock shape,….heres the spec:

The ash is a heavy dense wood, great for a defined low end and crisp trebles, definitely the right wood for JJ’s sound, but very heavy, so its used as a core wood with lighter swamp ash wings. Slightly thinner body too to reduce the weight.

The pickups are of course extremely important, they are custom wound to sound like a vintage P but with a higher output, a bit more aggressive sound.

The Gotoh bridge is a huge improvement on the original, well made. Heavy gauge baseplate, channels for the outer saddles aids stability

The control cavity is lined with copper sheet, soldered at each joint for improved shielding.

The tone cut removes a little more of the treble than on the original, giving a wider variety of sounds.

The neck is a single slab of rock maple, central is a two way truss rod which adjusts the neck in both planes. Its adjustable at the body end, a small cover in the scratchplate lifts out. Either side of the rod theres two lengths of carbon fibre that increase the strength on the neck immensely, making it very stable but also the properties of carbon fibre improve harmonic content, sustain and attack.

The Gotoh tuners are improved versions of the elephant ear tuner. They are also adjustable for gear friction, so zero backlash.

The satin finish on the neck feels musch less sticky than gloss.

The headstock has the Shuker bass logo and JJ decal. On the rear each is numbered and signed.

Signature Model

Construction and Specifications

March 2006 – J J Burnel P bass original body

The body is made of two woods, dense white ash and lighter swamp ash, 3 pieces in total. The centre section is made from white ash where the neck, pickups and bridge are fixed, the reason is as the new body – the  dense ash in the centre section is where all the main components are bolted, the theory being that the denser ash gives a more defined sound, stronger bass response and brighter trebles, overall a more aggressive sound with stronger sustain and more harmonics.

The wings are made from swamp ash which is a lightweight ash, traditionally used for guitar and bass bodies in the past,  but it lacks a little in sound but helps with weight. The idea in the original body was to emulate the sound of the 70’s black P without the extreme weight of a soild white ash body (which is what it is made from and certainly helps the sound) but to get closer to the weight of the green bass, which I think was all swamp ash.

J J Burnel P bass Neck

The neck is made from rock maple, with a rock maple fingerboard. It has a truss rod that is adjustable at the body end, accessed behind a small cover in the scratchplate.  Two lengths of carbon graphite rods are installed either side of the truss rod, these dramatically increase the strength and stability of the neck, making it extremely strong and solid, also the carbon graphite increase sustain and harmonics, eliminate deadspots.

The headstock is slightly thicker than normal, this increases sustain and neck strength. The frets are made from stainless steel, this makes the bass brighter, but the main reason is to reduce the wear as normal nickel fretwire is just not up to the job…..! The nut is made from brass, this gives a brighter sound to the open strings, a more fretted note sound, also it is pretty much unbreakable and brass is self-lubricating, so doesn’t pinch the strings. The neck is finished is satin polyurethane lacquer

Hardware.

The basses are fitted with a gotoh 203 bridge, which is a traditional bridge but with huge improvements, the outer saddles run in grooves that stops any side to side movement, the baseplate is much thicker than normal, a heavy duty bridge!

The pickup is custom wound to suit JJ’s sound, its based around a ’62 pickup but slightly overwound to give it more output and a stronger midrange and a more aggressive attack. The pickup is complemented by the bass construction giving an increased dynamic range, fuller more defined low end and a crisp, strong treble response.

Just a volume and tone. The tone control is set to cut more treble than usual.

3 piece swamp ash and english white ash body
40mm thickness
polyester basecoat, black colour, wet look lacquer top coat.
black/white/black scratchplate
custom wound P pickups (slightly overwound)
Gotoh bridge, chrome
straplock buttons
copper can shielding
wide band tone cut
maple neck
maple f/board, black front and side dots
Or rosewood board, white front and side dots
jumbo stainless steel fretwire
two way adjustable truss rod, neck heel end adjustable
dual carbon fibre neck reinforcement
Gotoh tuners
brass nut
satin finish on neck
individually signed and numbered
£1950 inc embossed hardcase
left handed available at no extra

Signature Lite Model

Construction & Specifications

March 2013 – J J Burnel Pbass Lite body

The body is made from two woods, a dense white ash and lightweight alder, six separate pieces of wood in total. There is a solid centre section and two chambered ‘wings’. The centre section is a sandwich of the ash and alder, the ash is the upper piece where the neck, pickups and bridge are mounted, the rear the alder. The reason for using the ash on the top is that all the main components are bolted to this dense wood, the theory being that the denser ash gives a more defined sound, stronger bass response and brighter trebles, overall a more aggressive sound with stronger sustain and more harmonics, using the alder on the rear keeps down the weight but also the alder has a more full range sound and adds an amount of warmth to the sound.

The wings are lightweight alder, the upper bout is chambered to lighten the body further. The chamber starts just forward of the forearm contour and stops just before the top horn and is routed to two depths so that the rear contour can be carved. Then a top laminate of alder is glued over the upper wing, this is 6mm thick, which is a fair bit thicker than a top would be for a bass that’s chambered for acoustic reasons, this is because it tends to get thumped often…..

The  lower wing is also chambered but just forward of the waist and up to the lower horn, so that the cavity for the controls can be routed from the front without breaking into the chamber.

The wings are glued to the centre section and the bass routed and carved. The body is finished in a polyester basecoat then a gloss black polyurethane topcoat. So all in all quite a complicated build for a P bass, but when together this makes for a bass that weighs only 7 ½ lbs.

The other main change to the first model is the tuners, this bass has Schaller BML lite tuners, which are the lightest tuners available, made from lightweight alloy and cast resin.

We’re looking to develop the bass further, looking into the possibility of a carbon fibre cased neck with a maple board.

J J Burnel P Bass Lite Neck

The neck is made from rock maple, with a rock maple fingerboard. It has a truss rod that is adjustable at the body end, accessed behind a small cover in the scratchplate.  Two lengths of carbon graphite rods are installed either side of the truss rod, these dramatically increase the strength and stability of the neck, making it extremely strong and solid, also the carbon graphite increase sustain and harmonics, eliminate deadspots.

The headstock is slightly thicker than normal, this increases sustain and neck strength. The frets are made from stainless steel, this makes the bass brighter, but the main reason is to reduce the wear as normal nickel fretwire is just not up to the job…..! The nut is made from brass, this gives a brighter sound to the open strings, a more fretted note sound, also it is pretty much unbreakable and brass is self-lubricating, so doesn’t pinch the strings.

On the Mk1 bass the headstock was fitted with Gotoh GB2 tuners which are extremely well made and will last a lifetime, one of the best tuners on the market. On MkII we went for Schaller bml lite tuners which are the lightest tuners available and are made by one of the most respected manufacturers of guitar hardware, not cheap because they are made from lightweight alloy and cast carbon resin.

J J Burnel P Bass lite Spec

34” scale
20 frets
44mm nut width – neck measurements taken from green bass
rock maple neck
maple fingerboard
two way adjustable truss rod
carbon fibre neck reinforcement – 2 rods either side of truss rod
black face and side dots
jumbo stainless steel fretwire
brass nut
Schaller bml lite tuners
Black neck hardware
Satin neck lacquer

White ash and lightweight alder chambered body (as previously described)
Polyester basecoat
Wet look gloss black polyurethane topcoat
Black scratchplate
Custom wound P pickup
Volume and tone
Chrome body hardware
Gotoh 203 bridge

Carbonlite Model

Construction & Specifications

August 2014 – J J Burnel Carbonlite Bass body

The body is made from 3 different woods, a centre block is made from a top section of dense northern ash, 30mm thick (too heavy to use for a complete solid bodied electric) and a 10mm thick lower section of lightweight swamp ash. There is then two chambered wings made from lightweight alder, a 6mm top on top of a 34mm alder lower, the lower section is chambered in a ‘wedge’ shape to allow a rear ribcage contour and stops just forward of where the forearm contour starts. The lower bout is chambered forward of the control cavity. The construction is pretty complicated as the hollow wings have to be made complete before gluing to the centre section, so an accurate ‘map’ of the chambering has to be made to allow accurate carving of the rear contour. The main reasoning behind using different woods is to create a body that is extremely light but doesn’t lack serious definition and power in the lower registers, has a warm and acoustic quality to the mids, adds sustain and resonance. As well as being extremely strong to suffer the ‘style’ of playing by the bass worlds most flamboyant and aggressive player!

J J Burnel Carbonlite Neck

The neck for the bass is a completely new venture for both builder and player and has meant a fair amount of research in materials and methods to produce a bass first. A very complicated construction that no other manufacturer has been able to produce. The core of the neck is Honduras mahogany, a very lightweight and resonant wood. The neck is made 2mm smaller in all dimensions compared to the previous models. It is vacuum wrapped in a carbon fibre weave and cast in a thin polyester resin. The wood core is fitted with a two way adjustable truss rod and carbon graphite rods that extend into the headstock. Then a master grade birdseye fingerboard is fitted and master grade birdseye head veneer. The neck is lacquered in matt finish polyurethane lacquer. Stainless steel jumbo fretwire is fitted and a brass nut. The neck is incredibly strong and stable but the most resonant and ‘active’. The carbon rods as well as adding incredible strength also transmit every nuance and harmonic into the body, making the bass feel and sound very much ‘alive’

J J Burnel Carbonlite bass hardware

The hardware is made by ABM and Schaller of Germany, the bridge a lightweight ABM unit cnc machined from billet Aluminium, 20 mm string spacing. The tuners are Schaller BM lite tuners, the worlds lightest tuner but still sporting a full size gear and engineering far beyond the quality of other lightweight manufacturers. The nut is brass and handmade.

The new pickup in the Carbon-lite is made handwound and cast by the legendary Aaron Armstrong in England, made to J J’s exacting specifications to give him a string defined low ed with unsurpassed sub bass response, strong, focussed and aggressive mids when played hard and a bright controlled treble, an all round full range response that is slightly overwound to give a strong powerful tone. The controls are passive volume and tone, the tone control giving a lower cut off frequency than most passive tone controls.

J J Burnel Carbon-lite Specifications
34” scale
20 frets
44mm nut width – neck measurements taken from his original 62 green P bass
Honduras mahognay neck core
Carbon fibre matt pressure wrap
Master grade birdseye head veneer
Master grade birdseye maple fingerboard
two way adjustable truss rod
carbon fibre neck reinforcement – 2 rods either side of truss rod
black face and side dots
jumbo stainless steel fretwire
brass nut
Schaller bml lite tuners
Black neck hardware
Recessed neck bolts
Satin neck lacquer

Dense Northern ash, swamp ash and lightweight alder chambered body (as previously described)
Polyester basecoat
Wet look gloss black polyurethane topcoat
Black single ply scratchplate
Custom wound Aaron Armstrong P pickup
Volume and tone
ABM and Schaller Back body hardware
ABM bridge