What strings do you recommend?
Birdsongs and SD Curlees are equipped with regular strings - not short or medium scale strings. You end up with a wind of main string around the E tuner post, but we've never had a problem with it. I like a good "working player's" string - nothing fancy, something you can find.
- ROUNDWOUNDS: Curt Mangan .045-.105 Nickel wound or equivalent.
- FLATWOUNDS: D'Addario ECB-82 Chromes .050-.105
- TAPEWOUNDS: Fender 9120
- GUITARS: Curt Mangan 10-46 Nickel wound (Steels: D'Addario EXL115 .011-.049)
- JAZZY GUITAR: D'Addario ECG24 Chromes flatwounds 11-50
For the 5 string basses, Hy5s:
With the double string-through B, use above 4 string sets for EADG and order in some 35" scale .130 Nickel wound or .132 D'Addario "SL" super long flatwounds for the B as you need them.
(Super early Birdsong 5s have ALL strings "double through" ~ you need a D'Addario "Super Long" 5 set with a .130 or so low B.)
What is the tonal & weight difference between the body woods?
Electric instruments get most of their tone from the structure, pickup selection & placement, and then we get into the woods from the neck and fingerboard down into body combinations - these "Season the sonic soup." All have plenty of lows, mids and highs. Most wood is "Tone wood." That said...
- Mahogany (reddish-orange) has a bit of extra special midrange bloom. A Birdsong bass will weigh in the mid to high 7s.
- Walnut (brown) has a flatter EQ, very nice, very woody. A Walnut Birdsong can be mid 7s to low 8s.
- Spanish Cedar (orangey) sounds a lot like Mahogany but weighs up to a pound less.
(There are exceptions to all of this as we're dealing with a natural material.)
Does the wood affect the tone?
Short answer - yes, with you & your environment contributing in equal part to what degree, and your ears and tonal sense interpreting what may seem different to others. (Long answer is here.)
Where do I find one? How do I try one?
We have a couple of dealers - www.hdcustomguitars.com (online) and www.newjerseyguitarandbasscenter.com (you guessed it - New Jersey). Check with them and see what they have. Our instruments are not generally sold in stores; you deal with the makers before, during, and after the sale. You might find an owner on a message board, there is talk out there and owners are VERY happy. For example, everyone world wide now enjoying their Birdsong took the same chance you're considering, to order from us. It's a pretty safe bet you'll like it! You take the chance based on what we build, our reputation, and the fact that if you don't like it we don't make you keep it. After 13 years, the reputation of our instruments for being "the one" when they show up and our customer service is all out there for the research. We're a known company with a renowned product and this is our life. I cannot put you in touch with an owner in your area, but you can find hundreds of them online at Talkbass (there are threads about us) and you can ask them for informed first-hand opinions (the only kind that matter) and about getting together.
How can a short scale bass sound this good?
Truth to me is what comes out of the speaker, and I was going for a full, round low end - woody, vocal midrange - and a sweet high end that had clarity but wasn't overly brittle. I designed the Birdsong Cortobass until that's what I got. How? I voiced everything that way; I didn't start with a full scale and try to make it smaller and lose a bunch of tone, I started with my early short prototypes and worked to enhance where I thought they needed enhancing. Pickups, where they are, the values of the components, the materials and construction, other components... it's like being a chef. Forget what the pickups are (they don't know), tiny details of numbers and millimeters (it's a whole), brand this (it has no idea)... a Birdsong is a complete system that works. All those little percentages added up over years of refinement.
How do I order one?
Look at the different brands and models we offer, make a list of the options you'd like, and then give me a call at 512-395-5126.
What does the serial number mean?
On a Birdsong, the number is the year, letter(s) the model, 3-digit number that instrument's production number. So 6C-090 would be a 2006 Cortobass, the 90th Cortobass ever. X=custom options on a stock model, P=prototype. BX is a custom order so convoluted I can't figure out which model to call it - usually I go with body shape. Letters are the model.
Current generation SD Curlees are stamped consecutively regardless of model, starting with 001 in 2011.
Shortbasses - 1st two numbers are the year completed; next four are an order date and are not consecutive.
Texas Lap Steels - 1st two numbers are the year completed; followed by a build number. 16 002 would be completed in 2016 and the 2nd steel made that year.
I lust after a model I don't see in your current offerings. Is it too late?
As my old Tennessee friend Joe used to say "Maybe so, maybe no." I have to prioritize the limited display space I have on a models page and keep the workshop focused on the core offerings of what we do and what we do best. That said, get in touch and tell us what you saw that lights you up and we can talk about it.
Are natural oil finishes all you offer?
Do you offer full scale basses?
No. Birdsongs and Shortbasses are 31" scale (short), SD Curlees are 32" scale (medium). We offer full size sound in smaller, more comfortable instruments.
Are passive electronics all you offer?
Yes; it's what we know well & love and is plenty to keep us busy doing what we do best.
Will you sell me a short scale neck?
Not unless there's the rest of a Birdsong attached to it; our necks are proprietary.
Can you build me an (insert other company) copy?
We could but we won't. We're known best for our original designs and how well they work, so we concentrate on them and their variations rather than being an anything goes "Custom Shop"... and don't think you can just shrink a J bass and it'll be the same... it won't. You've screwed with fundamental spacings & properties. A Birdsong is a proven, worked-through, optimized little bass designed to be exactly what it is.
How are your short scales different than others?
Design & execution. And devotion - this is 90% of all we do.
What model pickups are in...
Brand and model of a pickup tell you absolutely nothing about what they sound like in very different instruments (ours) and environments (yours). We choose the pickups we use (and their positioning) based on tone in our instruments and often they're being used or installed differently than in a more standard off-the-rack instrument. Don't worry about what the internet says they might sound like in other applications - this is not that, and we've used them for years.
Why are there dots on both fingerboard edges?
We try to keep a stock of Birdsong bass necks ready to build with - lefty or righty as needed. If yours has dots on both sides it began with one of these necks.
Can I endorse your product?
Sure, buy it and tell the world you love it and play it by choice! That's an endorsement. If you're looking for a free bass, no. Anyone you see - with very rare exception - has bought their Birdsong and is playing it by choice, and that says something about our basses that, quite frankly, in a world of hype and chintzy crap, I like to have said. The few who have gotten the gift package more than likely A) did not ask for anything and B) were players or people I felt I owed something to.
Is there an owners manual online?
I'm working on that. Specs change over the years and the best thing to do is call or email us and we'll always do our best to help you with any questions or needs. I don't text and Facebook's not the place - call or email please.
As a matter of fact, yes!
Lefties. Fretless. Piccolo versions. Visiting the shop. Inspiration & a pep talk (no charge) - A little professional advice (my honor to help) - Consultation & design services (I've wound up with a pretty good overview of this stuff from the designing to the shop setup, building, business, marketing and retail store level). Licensing or purchase of our designs & patents: email@example.com. Special woods. Moving things around a bit sometimes.
Paint. Colored stains. Active electronics (Check out the Muckelroy Charger www.bradybass.com ). Fender J pickups. Client shapes. Other companies' shapes. Other headstocks. Tremolo systems. Apprenticeships. Free basses. Necks by themselves. Seconds. Scales other than our proprietary 31" on Birdsongs. (For 32" try SD Curlee; 34" and up, Brady Muckelroy is your guy). Glossy thick plastic finishes. Fancy custom pearl inlays to order. LEDs.
Why aren't some options available...
We designed the instruments as complete systems. And though we do customize some aspects of our basses, we don't veer from what we know works really well and at this point have pleased hundreds of players of all styles. We're not a "Custom Shop" redesigning the bass every time. We know - down to the way it's all put together and down to the millimeter of where things are - why these basses work and another that may be a hodgepodge of ideas may not work as well.
As for model to model, there are considerations such as a companies' inability to gold plate aluminum or potentiometer case height that may affect what options are available on different models. Stuff you might not even think about, but we have to.
And overall as a policy we make what we enjoy making. It might not make a our instruments a fit for everyone's dream, but it helps us give our absolute best to the world. We love what we do, and love doing it... this is an important part of why our basses and guitars feel so good!
What's the return policy & warranty?
Warranty is 5 years to the person who gets it new & keeps it (but we're always here to help, call us with your needs). Return policy is 7 days from when you get it, or thereabouts. Now, be real with me... clear it with the spouse first, because "My wife says I can't keep it..." or your car breaking down are not grounds for a refund. Sorry. That has nothing to do with us. If it's really not a match for you, get it back to us in the same condition you got it in (see "How to pack" below) and we'll resell it and refund you everything but your & our shipping costs (shipping costs are not refundable). If while in your care the instrument was used to where it needs more than a restring, we deduct the cost of repairs to bring the instrument back to new condition. So just trust us when we tell you they're strong enough to clear off stage-divers with and don't actually do it until you're sure it's a keeper. Ok? And you Mike Dirnts go easy with the pick.
How to pack an instrument for shipment
VIDEO! HERE YOU GO.
First off, do not leave it to mail center employees. They know how to pack cell phones; this is different. Whether you're returning it for sale on consignment or for repairs, the goal is to get it here in the condition it leaves your house in. It got there from here OK, so if you do what we do, it should be fine. Some try to protect it from scratches - I've opened up cases to see one piece of sheet foam, loose. Like it was a dryer sheet. And it didn't even smell like fresh linens! Don't worry about that. It won't get scratched... its threats are more like getting run over, gored like a rodeo clown or thrown off a truck.
So number one,
- INSURE IT FOR FULL VALUE. ALWAYS.
- LEAVE IT TUNED TO PITCH.
- Slip a sheet of foam under the strings to protect the frets in case of a frontal hit.
MOVEMENT is the enemy - all the way here it will try to beat its way out of the case if it can move, and the case out of the box if IT can move. So stuff in & around the bass soft foam, t shirts, whatever. Make certain it can't move side to side, headstock to tail, or front to back in the case.
NOW DO THE SAME with the case inside the box with packing peanuts ("Ghost turds", we call 'em...) or wraps of big bubble wrap. It should look like you're shipping a mummy and slip into the box snugly.
Then TAPE THE HECK OUT OF THE BOX. That means more than one piece of duct tape... it means packing tape across the flaps, front to back, and then over the seams.
Clear tape any labels so they stay on the box.
Ship only via FedEx or UPS, in that preferred order. Please send me a tracking number. If you send on a Monday it'll get here by Friday - no weekends on trucks or in warehouses. That's how we ship usually.
SEND TO: (Contact for return address). Put my cell on it - 512-395-5126. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ship (again) FULLY insured and require a signature.
It seems like a lot but it's not - it's just not cutting corners. It's being extra careful every step. It's a $2000 instrument... YOUR $2000 instrument until it's all good when I open the box! Uninsured? Insufficient packing? Wrong address? No phone number on it? That's between you and your carrier of choice. If something happens, I can only help if all that was in place. Thanks in advance for your care, it will be reciprocated - I promise. ~S.
Anything not answered here (or for any clarifications) please call the mobile anytime (512) 395-5126.