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Shuker, ACG or Sei Basses for a custom build?


PatrickJ

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As per a previous thread of mine I'm considering a custom build bass this year.

I've had some initial conversations with Jon from Shuker and Martin from Sei.  I was wondering if anyone has experience of owning both and your thoughts on the build experience and end product?

I got to play a few Sei Basses at the Bass Gallery last week and I was seriously impressed.  I'm hoping Jon also has a few I can try as well.

If you know of any other custom builders please let me know.

I looked at ACG but unless I go for J Bass I wasn't super keen on the body shapes.

I've seen a thread about a Zoot  build recently too  I've not looked into them much yet but I will.

Edited by PJ-Bassist
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I've had a Sei (albeit a rather odd one) and several Shukers, and the good news is there won't be anything to choose from them in build quality, they're both superb luthiers. The main issue will be how much you really know about what you want, because I'm sure you'll get what you ask for. Whether that's what you want/need/can live with is another matter. For the record, I've had an ACG, too (actually two), and they were superbly built instruments but, like you, visually they don't do it for me.

Jon has some basses at his place, and I can recommend a visit, the drive through the High Peak is great, and he's on the least industrial industrial estate on the planet... 🙂

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I am lucky enough to own both a 5 string Shuker longhorn and an ACG Recurve. The Shuker is a truly superb instrument; the fit, finish and overall craftsmanship are truly excellent in every way ... but in my opinion the ACG is better. 

Don't be too quick to dismiss the ACG without at least getting hands on one. The woodworking/finish/filter pre is staggering with Alan's  instruments (and he under charges imho).

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I owned a fretless Shuker - a very nice instrument - difficult to fault.

I still have an ACG - can't fault it at all. Remember Alan can build you whatever you want, he just chooses to make stuff that isn't the norm. I'd certainly have a chat with him before placing an order with anybody else.

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I hadn't heard of GB before, just checked them out ; nice body shapes, especially the Jazz-esque Spitfire.  He doesn't seem to offer a lot of flexibility in specification though?

I've been having an email conversation with Jon @ Shuker.  He's being super helpful, really engaging even at this early stage.  Will hopefully go and see him later this week and try a few instruments.

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51 minutes ago, PJ-Bassist said:

I hadn't heard of GB before, just checked them out ; nice body shapes, especially the Jazz-esque Spitfire.  He doesn't seem to offer a lot of flexibility in specification though?

I've been having an email conversation with Jon @ Shuker.  He's being super helpful, really engaging even at this early stage.  Will hopefully go and see him later this week and try a few instruments.

Jon is excellent, built two basses for me. Sublime!

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28 minutes ago, walshy said:

Jon is excellent, built two basses for me. Sublime!

Since getting the shuker off Walshy last year, I’ve not gigged any other bass. I’ve never owned a Sei, but I can say my Shuker is truly awesome. 🤟🏻

Edited by bassfan
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I first met Martin around '94 when he was working out of his terrace house - and got one of the first Flamboyants he ever made (5 headless). He's a complete star bloke and as said above you will get absolute excellence. But also, I totally agree with Muzz above - you do need to know what you want as some key decisions are all down to you and the mad thing about customs is you can't try before you buy - ironic really!
I would give serious thought to wood choice and get Martin's (or any maker's) experienced input. It's a bit easier to make pick-up/amp choices as they are known quantities.
I suspect there's a reason the P and J platform designs are so widely used - they work on a lot of levels. My Sei headless 5 - truly fabulous (2 x Bartonlinis) but I would never go with headless again - the B was an issue for me.

Anyway, big shout for Martin Petersen from me.

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Massive shout out for ACG here. I've owned and played several Shukers and I've also played several Sei's and the ACGs just have something more to them. The Shuker and Sei basses were lovely instruments, don't get me wrong, but having played ACG basses, there's just something missing, if that makes sense?

If you're dead against ACG and it's head to head between Shuker and Sei for something a bit more traditional, I'd go with Jon Shuker however, he does make lovely versions of the more Fenderish stuff.

Cheers,
Eude

Edited by eude
speeling
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12 hours ago, PJ-Bassist said:

I hadn't heard of GB before, just checked them out ; nice body shapes, especially the Jazz-esque Spitfire.  He doesn't seem to offer a lot of flexibility in specification though?

He can be very accommodating - but experience has taught him that if you go too wild with ideas, then that's when instruments don't turn out as expected.

He's done everything that I've ever requested on my basses - and some of those features are no part of his add-ons - e.g. laser cut back plates (so the grain on the back perfectly matches up) and engraving was a first, on one of my basses.... along with phantom power, LED light up logo headstock on a Spitfire, chrome decals, nickel nut, solid facings on a through neck...

Just talk to him. It's when you start going down weird body shapes he's likely to raise an eyebrow - as he shapes have been worked on to balance perfectly.

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Thinking about this a little more, a good luthier will be able to tweak the bass even if, after a period of time, there's things which niggle; I'd owned and played several Shukers before I got my custom made - I knew exactly what I wanted, and that was what I got. Even then, there were a couple of things which I had done afterwards (at least a year afterwards) -  I had a more decorative drop top added*, and then later I had the neck slimmed even more (and some Luminlays added). All my fault, obviously, but the point I'm getting to (eventually) is unless you've picked something really, really unsuitable (like the wrong shape), your luthier will be able to improve on it...

 

* Long story short, because of the complete failure with buying a Rickenbacker for my 50th (it was a very poor bass and went back the next day), I was on a tight schedule to get the bass for my actual birthday (part of the money came from all my friends, so SWMBO was very keen it was ready to be presented at the party), so to shorten the lead time I took a stock body from Jon which, while lovely, wasn't as decorative as I would have picked from scratch...

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On 08/02/2019 at 20:36, PJ-Bassist said:

As per a previous thread of mine I'm considering a custom build bass this year.

I've had some initial conversations with Jon from Shuker and Martin from Sei.  I was wondering if anyone has experience of owning both and your thoughts on the build experience and end product?

I got to play a few Sei Basses at the Bass Gallery last week and I was seriously impressed.  I'm hoping Jon also has a few I can try as well.

If you know of any other custom builders please let me know.

I looked at ACG but unless I go for J Bass I wasn't super keen on the body shapes.

I've seen a thread about a Zoot  build recently too  I've not looked into them much yet but I will.

What's your budget?

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4 hours ago, Soledad said:

I first met Martin around '94 when he was working out of his terrace house - and got one of the first Flamboyants he ever made (5 headless). He's a complete star bloke and as said above you will get absolute excellence. But also, I totally agree with Muzz above - you do need to know what you want as some key decisions are all down to you and the mad thing about customs is you can't try before you buy - ironic really!
I would give serious thought to wood choice and get Martin's (or any maker's) experienced input. It's a bit easier to make pick-up/amp choices as they are known quantities.
I suspect there's a reason the P and J platform designs are so widely used - they work on a lot of levels. My Sei headless 5 - truly fabulous (2 x Bartonlinis) but I would never go with headless again - the B was an issue for me.

Anyway, big shout for Martin Petersen from me.

Surprised about your issue with the B; my 6 string Sei headless had the best-sounding B string I've ever played.

As to the OP, Martin for me too, but it's really up to you. I've yet to play a Shuker I've liked, although I'm sure Jon could make one. Whereas I've had 5 Seis, including 2 customs. The problem is, as Soledad says, you really need a good idea what you want, which I didn't at the time. Martin is my favourite luthier though, and is a fantastic bloke; I've known him since '96.

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Really great input guys, thanks!

The 3k budget to me is huge and for my ability level and amatuer status as a musician is very extravogant.  If the wife hadn't offered it as a 40th present (and that I have no other hobbies other than bass playing) I would never have considered it.

Therefore a custom build seems the way to go for me rather than off the shelf as the design process and journey is what makes it special and exciting.

I met Martin when I was at the Bass Gallery and he seemed really nice,  knowledgable and I have no complaints over communication other than it's a bit slow.

Jon however is being amazing, much more engaged with the design process already; asking loads of questions sending me images of wood samples for ideas. 

I hear all the warnings on know what you want, and I'm definitely going to take a lead from whoever the luthier ends up being.

I'm not a flamboyant guy, I like understated and I want some thing that is going to age well with me over the next 10-20 years.  I'll be looking for a more conservative body shape (I really like the GB spitfire or a jazz-esque type body) with a head, finished in a natural Flamed maple or similar and good quality components.

Edited by PJ-Bassist
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19 minutes ago, PJ-Bassist said:

Really great input guys, thanks!

The 3k budget to me is huge and for my ability level and amatuer status as a musician is very extravogant.  If the wife hadn't offered it as a 40th present (and that I have no other hobbies other than bass playing) I would never have considered it.

Therefore a custom build seems the way to go for me rather than off the shelf as the design process and journey is what makes it special and exciting.

I met Martin when I was at the Bass Gallery and he seemed really nice, defiantly knowledgable and I have no complaints over communication.

Jon however is being amazing, much more engaged with the design process already; asking loads of questions sending me images of wood samples for ideas. 

I hear all the warnings on know what you want, and I'm definitely going to take a lead from whoever the Luther ends up being.

I'm not a flamboyant guy, I like understated and I want some thing that is going to age well with me over the next 10-20 years.  I'll be looking for a more conservative body shape (I really like the GB spitfire or a jazz-esque type body) with a head, finished in a natural Flamed maple or similar and good quality components.

It really is a tricky one with custom builds. I've commissioned three of them so far and while I'm getting closer, the latest one was finished in September 2018 and there are two "mistakes" that I made. I'm now speaking with the builder about a fourth (and hopefully the final) new build.

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2 minutes ago, thebassist said:

It really is a tricky one with custom builds. I've commissioned three of them so far and while I'm getting closer, the latest one was finished in September 2018 and there are two "mistakes" that I made. I'm now speaking with the builder about a fourth (and hopefully the final) new build.

Were the 'mistakes' so fundamental that they needed a whole new bass to get round? Crikey, that's unlucky...

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7 minutes ago, Muzz said:

Were the 'mistakes' so fundamental that they needed a whole new bass to get round? Crikey, that's unlucky...

One mistake was having the bass chambered and the other mistake was the pickup positioning.

I placed too much importance on the weight of the instrument and didn't give enough consideration to the impact it'd have on the sound.

The pickup positioning is more an annoyance I suppose.

I live and learn and it was completely my fault.

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