Ramping Up: About Bass Ramps

Ebony bass ramp

Bass ramps might be new to many people. I was first asked to make one a few years ago but it's becoming a bit more common since then. A lot of bassists swear by them but what is a bass ramp?

Essentially, it's nothing more than a block of wood that's shaped to fit under the strings somewhere on the body (where depends on a couple of things—mainly any physical limitations of the bass and the location where the bassist plays most often) .

The top of the ramp is radiussed to match the radius of the fingerboard and the ramp's height allows some clearance for the strings. Not too much—the idea is to reduce the 'space' under the string so your fingers don't dig in so much. This provides a more consistent playing style and many people find it allows a faster right-hand technique. 

So, does it work? 

I reckon you need to try it yourself to find out for sure. I'm very far from the world's best bassist but, personally, I find I can play a bit more quickly and, when I do, I'm more accurate with my right-hand. Of course, your mileage may differ. 

The ramp in the photos sits between the pickups. It's made of ebony which is a pretty common material for a ramp but other woods are possible if that's your thing.

Ebony to be made into bass ramp

Bass ramp

Birth of Burlesque

The Haze Burlesque has been revealed. This probably means the teasing images of the build process aren't really needed anymore.

However, I quite like them, so I'm keeping them around (I hope you like them too). Here you go, then: a photo-journal of the birth of Burlesque.

The Burlesque Revealed

Haze Burlesque

The teasing is over, ladies and gentlemen. Step right up and allow me to introduce the Haze Burlesque.

The Burlesque is a brand new model from Haze Guitars.

And it's pretty stunning. A figured-wood top and a curvy, mahogany body give an irresistible look, but the Burlesque's beauty is more than skin-deep. The two humbucker pickups are wound to vintage PAF specs for a sweet, classic sound. Their smooth tones coupled with a wraparound bridge mean the Burlesque can sustain all night.

A 630mm scale-length and twenty-two, gold EVO frets—along with a wonderful, bend-friendly setup—make the Burlesque something you won't want to keep your hands off.

A volume for each pickup, a master tone and a three-way toggle control things. Gotoh 510 tuners and a bone nut with straight string-pull keep the tuning solid.

Sweet tones, wrapped in a beautiful package. Be seduced by the Burlesque.

And remember, all this week you can tune in to Radio Nova to learn how to win your very own Haze Burlesque. There are some more images on Facebook and some more will be added over the next few days so pop over and Like Haze Guitars to keep abreast (ahem).

Burlesque Tease III

The teasing is coming to an end. I know you're ready, now. I can feel it—you're poised. Soon, soon. Hold on. Remember that you can win a Haze Burlesque with Radio Nova. Tune in for details.

In the meantime…

Haze burlesque custom instrumennt
Haze burlesque guitar

Burlesque Tease II

Remember that you can win a Haze Burlesque with Radio Nova. Tune in for details. And, incidentally, these are 'round-ups' of images posted on Facebook and Twitter. Check things out there for occasional extra stuff. In the meantime…

Haze burlesque luthier dublin
Haze burlesque hand-built guitar

Win a brand-new Haze Burlesque with Nova

Haze Burlesque

Well, Rocktober has rolled around and I'm delighted to be able to, once again, work with Radio Nova to bring you the chance to get your mitts on a Haze Guitar. And not just any guitar.

A brand, spanking, new model.

The Haze Burlesque.

Now, the nature of burlesque calls for a little teasing. So, to tantalise you, a little of the Burlesque will be bared to you each day of this week.

You're just going to have to wait for the reveal, but be patient—the anticipation will make it all the more satisfying.

So, for now, a little titillation…

Haze Burlesque

Alluring curves and a wasp-waist give the Burlesque a gorgeous profile. Stunning lacewood skirts pale maple in the three-piece, figured-wood top. The mahogany back has been tinted a deep, tobacco colour and a laminate of mahogony, maple and ebony forms the neck. The fretboard and headstock carry more dark ebony.

Bringing the bling, the hardware is gold; even the frets are gold. Tasty.

Vintage-voiced PAF-style pickups give the Burlesque a voice to sound as good as it looks. It's got plenty of power to rock all night without losing its focus or sweetness.

Great looks and rich tones make the Haze Burlesque a seriously tempting guitar.

And you can win one.

Literally, 'one'.

You can win Burlesque #001, the first of the line.

Tune in to Radio Nova over the next two weeks to get yourself in the running. You know you want to.

The Future of Ebony: None More Black

Ebony conservation

Ebony conservation

The times, they are a changing folks. 

I recently watched a short talk by Bob Taylor (of Taylor Guitars fame) about the sustainability of ebony harvesting and what it means for guitar makers. It's pretty interesting and it's embedded below. You should really take a look as it's important on a number of levels—not least for the impact this will have on future guitars. 

The upshot of things is this:

To get you and me that, perfectly black, ebony fingerboard the guys cutting the trees have to cut down nine unsuitable trees for every one that's the right colour. These nine trees don't have enough return to make it profitable to haul them out of the forest so they're just left there to rot. 

Bob Taylor's made the (right) decision that this is idiotic. From now on, the ebony that would have been scrapped, purely because it's not uniformly black, will be harvested, distributed and used in instrument manufacture. And not just with Taylor Guitars. This will become industry-wide. 

What it means for you, the guitar-buying geek on the street, is that, in the future, any ebony parts (mainly fingerboards for the most part) may not be completely black but may contain streaks of lighter browns and even cream. Now, I've worked with 'B-grade' ebony before. Personally, I quite like a little colour and pattern in the wood. It doesn't bother me in the least and it has no discernible impact on the tone. If it bothers you, I think you'll have to work on getting over it.

Guitarists are, at heart, a conservative bunch. We don't like change. That may make the future tough for some of us as things are changing. This issue isn't new. Guitar-making contains more than a few species of wood that have been, all but, harvested to extinction. As well as ebony, we've chased rosewood and mahogany around the globe as it became too rare/expensive/restricted in different countries. Koa is getting harder and harder to source, as is adirondack spruce. Even sitka has a question mark attached. That's just off the top of my head. More and more species of tonewood are becoming hard or impossible to get. 

Obviously, this isn't just down to guitar manufacture but we've certainly played an increasing role in these problems as demand for instruments has grown and grown. The truth is, though, it doesn't matter whose fault this is. The situation is what it is. 

Things are changing. Different woods and even other materials will have to be used in guitar manufacture. There's no choice in this. 

So, to the conservatives (which sometimes includes myself), I would say this: Keep an open mind. Actually listen to the sound of new woods, materials and build-methods before heading off to the nearest forum to decry them. And I mean properly listen—organise a blind test if you have to because our brains aren't good at overcoming ideas that have already wormed their way into our heads. 

Bob Taylor's right: We can't fight this. And it's not just ebony so we've got to roll with the punches.