THE BASS-ICS

Our “Bassics” information was written in the 1980’s to help people determine which Pedulla bass model might best suit their needs. It is no way a discourse on bass making in general, nor a manual for design or construction, and applies only to Pedulla bass guitars. Taken out of context, or used in determining sound or build qualities in any other builder’s bass, the information here might not necessarily apply. It takes much more than these generalities to build an instrument of this quality, including overall design, skill in execution, experience, and a dedication to perfection. 

For production pictures see link at bottom of this page or click here.

                               
Bass design is a subjective endeavor, like music itself, but to create a great instrument, or a great piece of music, there are guidelines and techniques one must master. Timeless instruments, like ageless music, can be created only by mastering and following these guidelines.”   - Michael V. Pedulla
 

When buying a bass your decision should be a sound one
The most important factor in choosing any instrument is the way it sounds. The better you sound, the better you play. As is the case with any instrument, there are many decisions to be made in the design and production of a bass - every one of which has a profound effect on its sound, performance and reliability. Our basses are all designed as acoustic instruments and, as you will see, electronics only embellish their acoustic qualities.

We're not afraid to stick our necks out
The difference in sound between our neck-through body basses (MVP/Buzz & Thunderbass) and our bolt-on basses (Thunderbolt, Rapture, Nuance) is a direct result of design, which has a profound influence on the character of the voice. A neck-through design, also called a capillary neck, means that all the sound producing parts (strings and pickups), the sound transfer parts (bridge, nut, and tuning machines), and the sound coloring parts (fingerboard and neck wood) are integrated on one continuous piece of wood or lamination. The result is a sound that is very open and bright, with the focus of a strong fundamental and maximum natural sustain.

The bolt-on neck is joined to the body and features a more traditional sound that is warmer, rounder and rich with overtones. NOTE: certain production techniques allow us to offer some of our bolt-on designs at a lower price than our neck-through basses. They are both made at our shop with the same quality of materials and with the same pride and attention to detail. The Nuance, also a bolt-on, is priced along the lines of our neck-thru basses. The burl tops are very expensive and difficult to find and are more difficult to work with.


The way a neck is constructed varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. After years of making basses, we’ve settled on a construction that is superior in three ways: The way it feels, the way it sounds, and the way it lasts.

All of our necks (with the exception of the
Rapture) are made of two, three, or five piece laminate of clear quarter sawn hard eastern maple for stability and rigidity. Laminating allows the forces in the wood to equalize somewhat, creating a more stable neck and defining the character of the sound. The number of laminations in the neck further defines the register of attack and the hard maple contributes to the punch, clarity, and sustain. The laminations in our 5 piece Thunderbass neck includes two thin strips of Bubinga to help define the lower midrange and depth. For the Rapture, we chose to use a one piece flat sawn maple neck for its vintage sound qualities. We use a unique 1/4” truss rod (larger than most) which moves between two oppositely threaded anchors. This allows neck adjustment in either direction, independent of string tension, and can accommodate wide swings in relative humidity (which is the primary cause of neck movement). Parallel to the truss rod, we inlay two small stiffening bars which help make the neck consistently strong and allow the forces of the truss rod to affect the neck from the first fret to the last.

Fingerboard material, an often overlooked component of the mix, also affects the sound and feel of the bass. For our neck-through-body models we chose ebony for its glassy feel, great sustain, medium attack, and the sweet and supple low mid grind it produces (not to mention its great looks!). The special grade of ebony was chosen for the Nuance for it’s sound qualities and appearance. Rosewood was selected for our more “classic” bolt-on neck designs, as it delivers the vintage sound we’re all familiar with: a softer attack, rich overtones, sweet high end, and a very round sound. An optional coated birdseye maple fingerboard is available on our
Rapture and Thunderbolt models. The hard birdseye maple offsets the bolt-on properties somewhat by delivering increased attack, brightness, and sustain.

Our fretless
Buzz has an ebony fingerboard, finished with a thin coating of polyester (80% as hard as glass). Too much coating would diminish the effect of the fingerboard on the sound. The thinner coat allows the ebony’s low-mid response to remain an acoustic factor. The coated surface is smoother and harder than the  wood, and sends more energy back into the string. The result is increased sustain, a more defined attack, a wider swell, and a mega-growl in the low-mids. The coating also protects the fingerboard from the wear and tear of round wound nickel strings. (Not all basses with coating produce a sound like that of our Buzz because there are many other factors of design and construction that give the Buzz its unique voice.)

Fingerboard radius (the arc of the fingerboard) affects the neck comfort, and is adjusted depending on fingerboard width and the shape of the neck. Our 4-string and 5 string models have a 12” radius, our 5-string 19mm and 6-string models have a 15” radius. The higher the number, the flatter the fingerboard. Correct fingerboard radius facilitates good technique. Most players are sensitive to the “action” (the height of the strings from the fingerboard), but they often ignore the “across the strings” setup . Both the right and left hand pivot in a slight arc, and the most comfortable radius is one that mimics that arc. Too much arc requires excess motion in both hands, while too little arc becomes awkward - both of which contribute to fatigue.

Pedulla bass neck shape is best described as sleek. It’s fast, with full two octave facility on our neck-thru-body basses and 22 fret facility on our bolt-on-neck models (RB/TB/NB). Every single one is blended and shaped using what is perhaps the most valuable equipment in our shop - hands (which makes sense because people play the instrument with their hands).

String spacing is another crucial consideration. With too wide a neck, you’re left with a fatigued left hand (or right hand for the lefties) and a neck that could serve double duty as a diving board. With too little space, right hand technique becomes awkward. Our string spacing and neck taper facilitates both hands. To accommodate the variety of hand sizes and personal comfort, we offer our 5- and 6-string basses in both 17.5mm string spacing and 19mm string spacing. All of our 4-string basses are 19mm       (.750”). This measurement is taken from string center to string center at the bridge saddles. The last step in constructing a Pedulla neck is to seat the frets: frets are pressed, glued, leveled, dressed, and polished. We know of no other manufacturer that frets so much over their frets.

Some people love us for our bodies
Many people think that the choice of body style or wood is purely a cosmetic one, but there is much more involved. Aside from the visual, an instrument must work ergonomically, that is to say, it must be light enough and comfortably balanced with all parts arranged in a fashion that facilitates technique. Wood choice is also influenced by its weight, visual appeal, and its sound coloring qualities.

The
MVP/Buzz and Thunderbass use a three piece maple neck with solid Eastern flame maple wings. Our grading system, AA, AAA, and 5A, is for the wings only and is based on the intensity, contrast, and consistency of figure. There are virtually no tonal differences between them. We also offer 5A Quilted or Flame Maple on the MVP/Buzz bass. The all maple design of the MVP/Buzz is partially responsible for the very smooth and “unaffected” response of the instrument. Crisp high-end with well balanced and even response from lows to highs. The MVP/Buzz has a well defined and focused low-end, responsive attack, focused fundamentals, incredible sustain, and a midrange that cuts. A very versatile instrument.

The
Thunderbass design was the first departure from our familiar MVP/Buzz models, with a more streamlined and modern look. As with the MVP/Buzz, the T is made with a three piece maple neck and solid maple wings.

Different pickups and electronics are used to produce a considerably different tone (see Electronics). The ET (Exotic Top) Thunderbass has laminated wings set to the five piece neck that includes two thin strips of Bubinga. The increased laminating redefines the attack while the Bubinga accentuates the low mids.

Choices of ET “tops” are Zebra, Bubinga, Cocobola, AAA Flame and Quilted Maple, Red Heart Quilted Maple, Arbutis Burl, Maple Burl, or Redwood Burl, all laminated on a soft maple back. They are also available with optional 5A Quilted or Flame Maple. This combination produces a considerably different tone: deeper, rounder, throatier, with a well defined “sweet” high-end. Zebra and Bubinga tops accentuate lower mids. Cocobola is slightly “richer” sounding and has a deeper voice. Quilted Maple is more open sounding. Granted, tonal differences between wood tops are slight, but they each have a voice of their own.

The
Thunderbolt combines a bolt on two piece quarter sawn maple neck with rosewood or birdseye maple fingerboard and a laminated body, producing a more traditional tone, deep and rich with overtones. The body consists of a two piece soft maple back with a book matched AA, AAA, and 5A flame or quilted maple tops. In addition, the transition from the neck to the body is tapered so that the feeling is more like a neck-through body instrument allowing unobstructed access to the higher frets.

 

The Rapture’s thinner, racier design combines a single flat sawn hard maple neck and a solid soft Eastern maple body. This combination sets the stage for a classic sound enhanced by a smooth midrange and bright high-end that cuts through even the most crowded mix. The Rapture RBT is the same design but uses a AA or AAA book matched Flame Maple top. It is also available with 5A Quilt or 5A Flame Maple with a 5A Birdseye Maple or Rosewood fingerboard.

 

The Nuance is our latest design and explores yet another dimension of bass. With a bolt-on neck, the Nuance uses a two piece quarter sawn neck with a special grade ebony fingerboard. The body is constructed with a soft maple back and choice of Arbutis Burl, Maple Burl, or Red Heart Quilt top. Combined with a special package of custom voiced pickups, electronics, and hardware, the Nuance boasts an articulate full sound that will cut through the densest mix, combining the articulation of a neck-thru-body model with the warmth of a bolt-on. The design includes an exterior access battery box and an ebony control cavity cover.

 

Before we chose our hardware, we did a lot of screwing around
After a good amount of trial and error, we’ve been able to come up with the optimum combination for all Pedulla models. The machine heads turn smoothly and have a high gear ratio for precision tuning.

All of our neck-through-body models and the
Nuance feature a machined brass bridge which offers high grade steel saddles, adjustable for both action and intonation, and quick change string slots. The bridges, machined from solid brass, outperform less expensive die cast bridges by adding extra sweetness to the high-end.

The
Rapture and Thunderbolt employ a "barrel" bridge, also machined brass, which imparts the more traditional sound we wanted from these models. Again, sound was our first consideration.

With the exception of the standard Rapture (which is available with chrome color hardware only), Pedulla basses are available with choice of hardware color: chrome, gold, or black.

It takes a lot of guts to make a bass this good
The guts of a Pedulla bass (pickups, electronics, controls) allow you to tailor the sound to your own personal taste. They were chosen to complement the natural acoustic design of each model. Bartolini pickups and electronics were chosen for their integrity and ability to bring out the natural sound of the instrument. In designing the electronics and control set-ups, the aim was to keep them as simple as possible while providing an optimum number of useful bass sounds.

The standard control layout on the
MVP/Buzz consists of master volume, pickup pan, individual active bass and treble boost/cut controls, and a low mid boost/cut switch. In addition to the active tone system, there is a separate preamp for each pickup. The MVP/Buzz is available with your choice of pickup configurations: PJ, JJ, or Soapbar (SB).


PJ combination: This set-up is extremely versatile and as a result, is the most commonly used pickup configuration on the MVP/Buzz series. The PJ, to our ears, is the best way to reproduce what the strings and wood of the instrument are doing acoustically. The precision has a tight midrange growl and combines very well with the upper mids of the J pickup. With a full-range, flat frequency response, the PJ setup allows you to tailor sound through careful selection of on board settings, amplifier, cabinet and EQ.

JJ combination: The JJ has the same bridge pickup as the PJ, but can provide more low-end with just the fingerboard pickup and more upper midrange with both. Finger sound is warmer, but slap is full of growl and bite.

Soap Bar (SB) humbucking pickup combination: This configuration packs a lot of low-end bite, a deep midrange, and a very bright high-end (this sucker has guts). The rear pickup has a similar round, tight sound as a single J pickup, but with a fuller low-end.

 Thunderbass and Thunderbolt controls include a master volume, pickup pan, individual active treble and bass boost/cut controls and our Thunderguts switch. In conjunction with Bill Bartolini, we have designed our own proprietary tone shaping circuits (exclusive to the Pedulla Thunderbass and Thunderbolt) to work with two  Bartolini soapbar pickups. The result is a quiet system delivering punch, definition, and a uniquely present sound that shines through any mix, whether it’s in the studio or on a gig. The tone is meaty and full bodied throughout the bass’ entire range (not just the low notes as on lesser instruments), deep low-end, throaty growling midrange, and a very wet high-end.

This unique system allows for a smooth and warm finger sound and a full bodied slap and pop sound without changing your controls. The Thunderguts switchable circuit adds another dimension to the already devastating tonal range, accessing a thicker character with a tight, articulate low-end and midrange.

The difference in sound between the ET and T Thunderbass models and the Thunderbolt is due entirely to different woods and construction techniques. The T is a bit brighter and not quite as deep as the ET, due to its all-maple construction and three piece laminate maple neck.

The Thunderbolt has all of the characteristic Thunderbass growl. Due to the bolt-on-neck design and different woods used, the Thunderbolt has a rounder, more "vintage" low-end and midrange, with a slightly "wetter" treble response and results in a more compressed sound. Using the same electronics as the neck-through-body Thunderbass, the Thunderbolt cuts through the toughest mix while amply filling the low-end in any room.

Specially tailored active electronics bring out the Rapture’s unique tonal range. Separate bass and treble boost/cut knobs and an active volume control provide complete flexibility in shaping the sound. A mid-cut switch accentuates the Rapture bass’ gut shaking sub-bottom while emphasizing high-end clarity and growl and delivering vintage punch with an extra wide attack.

The Rapture models are all active and include master volume, pick up pan, and individual active bass and treble boost/cut controls.

The Nuance uses two custom voiced pickups and controls include volume, pickup pan, treble and bass boost/cut and a midrange boost/cut mini toggle (The amount of boost/cut can be varied using the trim pots in the cavity, as well as the overall gain)

We’re in no hurry to finish an instrument
Each Pedulla instrument is finished the same way: carefully, and by hand. Finishing is one of the most demanding and skilled jobs in guitar making and can account for a large part of the budget and headaches for any guitar manufacturer. The process involves many steps: preparation, staining, sealing, tinting or sunbursting, and top coating. Our top coat is polyester, chosen for its durability, flexibility, and depth of gloss. It is sanded and buffed to a deep and lustrous gloss. For a different look and feel, the ET and bolt-on necks finished using oil and sealers with a satin polyester topcoat, giving the ET the “oil” finish feel and look, while offering the protection of a hard finish.

We offer a full array of striking colors. See Color Chart to view color options and samples.



A note about protecting your bass: The Pedulla case is made to hold the instrument without placing tension on the neck or allowing the instrument to move around during transport. While the case adds slightly to the overall price of the bass, refinishing, refretting, or replacing can be more costly.

We cannot warranty instruments that are not kept in a Pedulla case. We therefore strongly recommend one.

 

Before the test, read these crib notes
When testing a Pedulla bass at a dealer for the first time, there are a few important things to remember: First and most importantly, play it through a quality amp and cabinet. Why? Companies that make less expensive basses which produce only a part of the full tonal spectrum, also have been known to offer amps and cabinets manufactured around the same limited response parameters. Through such a rig, any Pedulla bass costing thousands of dollars can sound a lot like a bass that costs hundreds. Remember: Our bass guitars are of a quality that can be recorded directly from a studio board. They deserve to be played through a system that will enhance, not limit, your sound.

Another thing to look for is the way the neck has been adjusted. We take great care in adjusting the bass properly before it leaves our factory, but occasionally we’ll ship an instrument from here in the Northeast to a more humid or dryer climate. In transit, the change in humidity can cause the fingerboard to take on or give off moisture, therefore changing the action. While this is normal, it may it necessary for a truss rod adjustment after the bass settles in to a new environment and before the instrument is played. We supply a very detailed Owners Manual and special truss rod wrench with every instrument. ALL Pedulla basses will play comfortably if they are adjusted properly.

One other thing: Play a Pedulla bass both seated and with a Pedulla strap (which is wide, soft and padded). This will better help you understand the way the basses balance and feel when played in an actual studio or performance situation.

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