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Chris2112

NBD: SKC Bogart Blackstone (with history) owners welcome!

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Afternoon all,

I took delivery yesterday of a wonderful SKC Bogart Blackstone bass. This is, I have discovered, a wonderful instrument with a rather interesting history. 

First of all, some background. SKC Bogart basses were/are made in Germany by Stefan Heß. Mr Heß has an extensive background in building carbon fibre parts for instruments. He was the carbon fibre man to go to in Germany. He even made carbon fibre necks for Schack and Clover basses, and the complete monocoque shell for Clover's 'SKC Slapper' model. 

The Bogart basses were Stefan's creation, renowned for being incredible instruments. They went out of production for a while but are now being made again, now with a full wooden construction. 

My Bogart Blackstone is, I have discovered, either 1994 or 1995 model. I'm not sure how it came to be in the UK because, so far as I can tell, there was never a UK distributor for these instruments. It was purchased by Stuart Clayton at the London Bass Guitar show in 2012 and he kept it for a few years, doing a really cool cover of Alain Caron's 'D-Code' on YouTube with it. Stuart had it refinished from it's original black and blue paint scheme to a very cool metallic blue colour. The paint on it at the moment is absolutely incredible - it has depth and shimmer, and is even to a tee. I think the original paint scheme would have been black with blue flecks of paint splatter, one of the abstract finishes Stefan was fond of (I love those). 

The bass itself is just delightful. Light and well balanced, it plays well when seated or standing. The neck is wide and flat, with no radius, and it's very thin, an advantage of it's carbon fibre construction. The headstock holds small screw-in string clamps, while the bridge holds the ball end of the string for tuning. The neck has a smooth satin finish, like a Zon, rather than the gloss gel coat Status use (I have owned both Zon and Status basses in the past). The body is 'Blackstone', a epoxy foam injected into a synthetic shell to give the consistency of alder. It's very light and resonant.

The pickups are Bartolini, and the preamp is now a Noll. The bass originally came with a German preamp (the name was something like Karaundt, though it escapes me). This was the standard Bogart preamp at the time, but it was replaced with a Noll after it failed. The Noll was a good choice as it became the standard fit item for new Bogart basses some time after the turn of the millennium. Controls are standard three band with a push/pull for acting and passive switching. I missed this when I first bought the bass and it was only after reading about the Noll preamp online that I thought to try this out! The tone of the bass is thunderous. Very clean and hi-fi with that 'lossless' resonance of carbon graphite. The bridge pickup is very articulate, producing very distinct notes but without the harsh, treble hiss of string noise that some carbon fibre instruments make. With both pickups active, there is very little loss of tone through phasing. It sounds like a sledgehammer and it absolutely drives my Markbass CMD 151P Jeff Berlin signature combo. The sustain is incredible and the wide, flat neck makes for a very pleasant feel all over the neck. The slap and picked tones are equally exemplary, but I play fingerstyle with the bridge running solo 95% of the time, so I'm pleased to confirm the bass delivers in that respect. 

To have found this for sale at The Bass Gallery in London was a lucky strike as these basses are very few in number, particularly outside of Germany. Those that own them often have a couple in their collection. Are they a bit of an undiscovered secret? I think so. In doing my research on this bass, I discovered a lot of old 'for sale' threads on the internet where I had been posting trying to buy a Bogart, that obviously had never worked out. I'm glad to finally have added this bass to my collection and I would love to hear from other Bogart bass owners. 

Some pics and Stuart Clayton's video can be seen below. 

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Edited by Chris2112
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Yep . I ummed and ahhed on this one each time it's been up for sale , but going to go the headless 5 Bogart route .

Been in touch with Stefan  albeit last year - just got to sell some stuff first .

Never played one , so taking a leap, but almost can't wait to shift my stuff to get one made .

Glad you like it mate , as I don't know anyone who has one who doesn't love it to bits

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Bogart? Never heard of them :)

You have done your research, 1 comment. Stefan still makes the composite body style.  He also offers the full wood body option. Great guy, great basses.

I would peg your 5 to be late ‘90s, you can see mine as background pic on my homepage. Very similar, a 2001 model. 

BTW He has also introduced (you cannot see it on his website) a Jazz with a mainly wooden neck, a la Vigier.

Edited by HazBeen

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6 minutes ago, E sharp said:

You're just too greedy with all of the ones you've got - he he

Any pictures of them, by any chance?

I really should do a shoot as pics are so so, but here goes. 2001 5 string, 1993 Jazz pickup 4, 1994 Soapbar 4

 

619066F2-72B1-418B-8391-CE94241F57AF.jpeg

6758759D-22AB-4252-A719-AD97426C8C3E.jpeg

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It is Kurandt, apparently Kurandt is making onboard pres again.

Edited by HazBeen

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On 05/07/2018 at 00:13, HazBeen said:

 

I would peg your 5 to be late ‘90s, you can see mine as background pic on my homepage. Very similar, a 2001 model. 

 

I believe this is a 1994 or 1995 model. Stefan Heß had chimed in on the 'D-Code' video saying he had been contact by a lot of people asking about the bass, so he thought to comment on it there. I am glad to hear that his business is back up and running again. 

I've been working nights all week so I haven't really had the chance to properly run the bass out yet but I keep picking it up for the odd tune here and there. I blasted out a few bars of 'Joe Frazier Round 3' by Jeff Berlin as I'm slowly transcribing that. I'm hoping to try it out in a trio setting next week with a guitarist who loves Muse and a drummer who can take the 16th and hold it all night long. It should be great! 

 

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15 hours ago, Chris2112 said:

I believe this is a 1994 or 1995 model. Stefan Heß had chimed in on the 'D-Code' video saying he had been contact by a lot of people asking about the bass, so he thought to comment on it there. I am glad to hear that his business is back up and running again. 

I've been working nights all week so I haven't really had the chance to properly run the bass out yet but I keep picking it up for the odd tune here and there. I blasted out a few bars of 'Joe Frazier Round 3' by Jeff Berlin as I'm slowly transcribing that. I'm hoping to try it out in a trio setting next week with a guitarist who loves Muse and a drummer who can take the 16th and hold it all night long. It should be great! 

 

Stefan has a good grasp on dates so it must be a 94/95 then. I literally cannot imagine being without one, effortless neck, great tone. You will love it I’m sure.

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On 05/07/2018 at 07:32, E sharp said:

Really nice trio of Bogarts there .

I actually quite like those splattered paint finishes

Marmite, you like or loath it. I happened to love it. Stuart Clayton did not as if memory serves me well the Blue colour is a respray to get rid of you the splatter. Nothing wrong with a lovely blue :)

Edited by HazBeen

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I might give Stuart a shout to seen if he has any photographs of it before it was repainted. I actually really like those abstract 'scribble' and splatter type finishes. I think they are fun in a very German sort of way. But wherever Stuart went to get this Bogart refinished, they did an excellent job. It has a very smooth, deep paint on it that speaks of good prep work being done beforehand. 

I always like to find out the history of my basses, where I can. After a bit of digging last year, I found an old picture of my Pentabuzz on Google, as well as previous listing from when it was sold at Bass Direct (which I knew nothing about). The photo on Google was even more of a mystery. I haven't read the metadata, it just showed up when I was looking for peacock blue Pedullas. I was able to identify it as being my bass by matching the grain like a fingerprint. 

 

 

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imageproxy.php?img=&key=4b3806f48250f55aC7rpZIT.jpg

My Pentabuzz and Bogart, trying to decide which one is my second favourite bass! 

Edited by Chris2112

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36 minutes ago, Chris2112 said:

imageproxy.php?img=&key=4b3806f48250f55aC7rpZIT.jpg

My Pentabuzz and Bogart, trying to decide which one is my second favourite bass! 

The one with 5 strings ;)

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After a couple of weeks with the Bogart, I'm absolutely in love with it. 

Status Graphite had always been the benchmark for graphite basses for me. I'd had a Zoot and a Zon in the past, both of which were good basses (the Zon particularly so), but I always held Status in the highest regard. I know it's silly to typify these wildly different instruments but one common aspect of construction but they can be lumped together by virtue of being a bit niche. Bogart had always kept a low profile on my radar because they're fairly rare in the UK but I'm just astounded by getting my hands on this one. I now want more! And an SKC Slapper and a Schack and a...

I couldn't believe it, measuring from the bridge to the nut, that it's 34" scale. The string tension has fooled me, because I usually play .40 strings. These must be .45, and the feel is very different but they're a joy to play fast triplets on. I've got to grips with the preamp, and pretty much just leave the bridge pickup on solo with a hair's adjustment to the mid control, giving the very slightest boost at the amp, but the main aim is just to brink a little bit of honk to the forefront. The natural character of the bass is for a huge, even-tempered response. 'Piano-like' is an oft-used term in describing bass guitar tones, but the tone in this instance rides roughshod over any accusation of cliché. If you have ever played a Modulus Quantum with Bartolini pickups, you'll recognise the phenomenon I'm talking about.

Bloody hell, it's good. 

 

 

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You're really not doing my gas any good at all with a post like this .

I keep thinking that maybe the cost of a build is too much , and could buy two other good basses 2nd hand ; but the lure of these basses is becoming too great .

My main bass has always been a hybrid Stingray , with a Modulus Quantum neck ; so know exactly what you mean by even tempered response .

I've been waiting for your update on this mate - gonna have to get my finger out and sell some unused gear

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I ran into my first minefield with this bass today, restringing! I had expected this to be the most difficult part of the ownership experience as it usually is, but learning a new system with the Bogart saw it's first casualty in claiming my brand new D string. 

I had bought a packet of cheap Spector strings (cheap for what reason, I don't know, they're excellent strings) for the purposes of getting to grips with this and knowing that it might go wrong. I have previously owned two Kubicki Ex Factors, so I know about fiddly restringing tasks that become a doddle when you've figured them out (and the Kubicki was tougher than this, but never cost me a string).

I made the mistake of not locking the D string in tightly enough at the headstock. The result was, as I tried to tune it at the bridge, I unwound the string by putting tension on it as it slipped at the headstock. Stupidly, I had cut the string short by then and there wasn't enough left to get it securely locked at the headstock end. All the rest of the strings went on easy enough, though you must take care to lock them tight at the headstock. A short length and good lockdown at the start ensure you won't lock the tuning roller out at the bridge as you go. I can see with a couple of sets of practice this could nearly as quick as double ball end stringing. 

I now have super crisp, zingy Spector strings on and a dull D from the old set. I'll wear them out quickly and slap on another set and hopefully, avoid making the same mistakes twice. 

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I've had to rein the tone in a bit since putting these new strings on. I always use stainless steels but I'm startled by how crisp and aggressive it sounds. The last time I heard a set of Barts sounding this aggressive, it was on a Spector. I have had to dial the bass frequency back a bit on the preamp just to tame it. 

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Used to play these back in the day every time I went to the Gallery. Loved the necks, found the tone not really to my taste - as with most synthetic basses - and found the body contour very uncomfortable, but I find most body contours uncomfortable. 😉

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My favourite graphite necked bass they had in was a Frame 5 string with twin Js and a parametric eq. Kept meaning to buy it and never did. 

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Here is my Bogart story.

In 1995 I was looking in the bass guitar section of the 95-96 bass and guitar buyers guide. There was a picture of a 4 string splatter finish Bogart bass. (I would find out later that Salwender called it the reggae bass.)I said to my wife honey that bass is me and she said your right it is you.

 I inquired to Salwender about the bass in the mag and they said that they could make a similar looking one but not exact of course. I said what about the bass in the 95-96 bass and guitar buyers guide that was displayed at the Namm show in California? They said that it had already been shipped back to Germany And I said that I would be interested in purchasing it.

They got back to me with a reasonable price I made the purchase and it has been a dependable workhorse ever since. The neck is satin smooth it is well balanced and one of a kind.

Here are some pics.

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On 04/07/2018 at 21:12, Chris2112 said:

The neck has a smooth satin finish, like a Zon, rather than the gloss gel coat Status use (I have owned both Zon and Status basses in the past).

Congratulations on a neat bass. That Pentabuzz looks very good, too.

I have a Modulus Q5 Custom ('91), two Vigier Passions series II ('88 and '89) and two Status necked instruments. Status can be ordered with satin and tint finish. Modulus had a tint finish option and they still offer gloss as an option for the neck. I have tried two Zons and their necks were glossy at the time (early 90's).

It is probably up to the customer to get certain neck finish. Also no dots or LEDs or whatever are just (pricey) options in this category.

Carbon fiber neck is nice in a country like where I live, as the weather changes lot from freezy to relatively hot and the necks are stressed. I have had so called better quality wood necks that need a tweak at least twice a year. Carbon just stays in place round the year.

(I sometimes wonder, have we seen anything new since 1980's and 1990's bass development? Sky high prices of so called master built instruments and awkward looking single-cuts?)

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@Joe Krus

 

That is simply magnificent and the fact you've kept it so long is testament to your enjoyment of it. I absolutely adore that colour scheme. No matter how you finish a Bogart, they look great. I love these arty paint finishes though, they're really stylish and distinctive and I know that with those Barts, that bass will sound great!

@itu

I think regarding innovation, it feels like there is little left to be found or innovated with. Certainly the bass world is not in a good place with this at the moment. Even ten or fifteen years ago, when I first started reading Talkbass, the discussion was more interesting and people were excited about boutique basses and high tech instruments. Sadly, the pervasive interest in vintage tat has changed the tone of that forum and every other place where we can talk bass guitars. Now it's all 'which scratchplate to go with my muddy sounding P bass'. 

Frankly, we reached a peak of material development in the 80's and carbon fibre still hasn't been surpassed. Until race cars are made of something lighter and stronger, carbon fibre will continue to be the best neck material around (IMO). I like Bogart's Blackstone material though. 

 

 

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