4805 N. Borthwick Ave Portland, OR 97217 USA
Phone (503)-282-0327 (9AM-9PM PST)

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   I started playing bass in 1983 at the suggestion of my best friend, Nick Sowles, a drummer. My first bass was a 1973 Fender "P" bass on which I learned to play a few Police songs through a Scholtz "Bassman" headphone amp. I practiced quietly in my room for three years before deciding to go to a music school through an exchange program in Denmark. While traveling through Europe with this 11 pound bass, I theorized about the possibility of making a small, lightweight, travel bass. I had seen and even tried a Steinberger XB-1 but was unimpressed by the instrument's 9 pound weight and it's awkward shape. I wanted an instrument that preserved the feel and the playability of my Fender as well as it's natural sound while eliminating as much of the bulk and weight as possible. The result of much brainstorming was a full size mock up of my A design which I took to Denmark's preeminent bass builder, Johnny Mørch. He made the prototype which is still my personal bass. The result surpassed our expectations for playability and sound and upon my return to the US I decided to devote myself to designing and building compact, aesthetically pleasing basses. My parents were willing to support this activity for which I am eternally grateful to them.

  Bass players were immediately receptive to my ideas. I sold my next prototype basses to Aston "Familyman" Barret and Jr. Marvin of the Wailers, who passed through town in 1988, proving the commercial viability of a compact electric bass. I spent the next 4 years refining my designs and struggling with an economic downturn. I learned some marketing tricks along with a few hard lessons in dealing with musicians. In late 92 I made contact with Avery Sharp who lived in my home town, Amherst, MA. He took the first D bass on a tour through California and showed it to another homey, Jim Roberts, then editor of Bass Player Magazine. The editorial staff were so taken with the instrument after featuring it on the 'what's new' page (April '93), they then gave it a strong push in the magazine's '25 Amazing Bargains' issue, (July./Aug. '93). I had just moved to the west coast when the first of these issues came out and was flooded with requests for literature followed by new orders within the week. I had to fully equip my new shop within the month to fill the demand. Orders kept coming and I worked my butt off all summer to pay off my machinery. Since then, all of my publicity has been through word of mouth, or through the yearly Buyer's Guide. Demand has been fairly stable as I've raised prices to bring my income above minimum wage. I have low overhead and no advertising budget to keep my costs to a minimum. By making direct sales, I cut 20 to 50% off comparable manufacturer's in-store prices.

  I sometimes complain that building custom instruments is a thankless job. There never seems to be enough money in the pop music world to pay for really beautiful, hand made instruments. Perhaps thanks to the populist roots of Rock & Roll where anyone can buy into the dream and start a garage band with a modest sum of money, (and talent). When a sound is amplified a few thousand-fold through the typical bass amp accompanied by electric guitars, vocals and drums, can anyone hear the finer nuances of a particular bass? For many, the differences between instruments costing $200 and $2000 seem to get lost. Few people are able to justify buying an instrument that takes a month to build.

  I currently build 10-12 basses a year, spending 1/4 of my time in the shop sawing wood, the rest is dedicated to R & D, paperwork and talking to players. I've come to enjoy all aspects of running a small business, I mostly do what I want and keep learning new stuff. I've tried to continue my music as playing in a band is the best proving ground for new ideas and refining old ones.

  I've become obsessed with the idea of building a totally "deadspot" free bass guitar that might be massed produced thus freeing up my time for making violins, cellos and double basses. I've bought wood for this new endeavor and would love an excuse to get started on an upright for someone. With hand made uprights starting at $20,000 I'm not sure if it will come to pass anytime soon.

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© 2004 David King Bass Guitar Systems | 503-282-0327 |
Updated October 18 2006