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New Zoot ZB-1000 Custom

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I suspect there’s many of you who will relate to this but, following my first Zoot build about 4 years ago I’ve became something of an addict (multi-ACG/Maruszczyk owners – you know I’m talking about!).  My first Zoot was a passive 4 string, so obviously that needed a fretless 4 to keep it company.  Equally obviously I then needed an active 4 to ‘complete’ the set (well, active/passive actually as it had an East Uni-pre fitted; also went for Mike’s funkmeister body shape on this one so it was, you know, a bit different).  As others will have found though 3 is an odd number, so that won’t do.  So, there I was, wanting to pull the trigger on a new order, without having a sufficiently differentiated specification to justify another commission.

Those of you of a similar age (I’m 57) may feel the same but, for me, there were two basses that stood out during my Thursday evenings glued to ‘Top of the Pops’: a Wal and an Aria SB-1000.  Never had the funds for a Wal (have tried quite a few over the years though) but I did own a fretless SB-900 for many years and loved it.  As a youngster the fact that it weighed the same as a small cow and had a slab body that made no concessions to forearm comfort – the same as the 1000 – didn’t really bother me, but as a now 57 year-old player, these things matter.  So an idea started gestating for my new Zoot – a bass with the SB-1000 sound signature and tonal shaping, but in a lighter weight, more user-friendly body.   Some initial googling and thread searching on here led me to discover the Rautia MB-1E pickup that is a direct replacement for the original, as well as Prostheta’s BB Noisekiller preamp.  We hit a bit of a hurdle when it became apparent that he was no longer able to produce replacement 6-way varitone circuits at a commercially viable price but, once I located a circuit diagram of the original which showed the capacitor values, Mike has volunteered to make a duplicate for this build.  And lo and behold the Zoot ZB-1000 is born!

The bass is going to be a medium scale (32”) bolt-on build (yes, I know, I know, SB’s were neck-through and long-scale but the build incorporates my ergonomic preferences). 

Other specs are:

Body: 7/8th sized Zoot bass shape with carved top. English spalted beech on American light weight Swamp ash divided by Ebony veneer pin stripe.  Headstock veneer to match.

Neck: Roasted Canadian flame maple with Purple heart stringers and ebony veneers.

Rosewood f/board, darkened with small amount of clear satin lacquer.

Black Hipshot hardware with gold bridge saddles and tuner bushings.

Tone Controls: As above but with additional series/parallel switching and passive tone.

Some photos of the early stages for your delight and delectation.  More to follow as the build progresses.

The body:

 

MNZB1000 - Body Top

The neck:

 

MNZB1000 - neck woods

The fingerboard:

 

MNZB1000 - fingerboard

The contouring that original didn't have: 

 

MNZB1000 - forearm carve

I'm hoping it be ready in time for Christmas - what a present that will be!

 

Edited by Bass Culture
Changing picture references from licks to images
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1 minute ago, SpondonBassed said:

Although I can't see the images, the story's a good 'un.

I hope they're there now! :)

 

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22 hours ago, Cosmicrain said:

I think it's going to be a great bass, and a very interesting build.

Something a little different to get your teeth into, Mike. :)

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Ooooh, very very nice. Can't wait to see this one come to life! Mike does such awesome work.

Eude

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11 hours ago, eude said:

Ooooh, very very nice. Can't wait to see this one come to life! Mike does such awesome work.

Eude

Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

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53 minutes ago, Cosmicrain said:

Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated.

Credit where credit's due my friend :) 

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This is the pickup we're going to be using: https://www.rautiaguitars.net/aria-pro-ii.html

There's few alternatives (including Kent Armstrong) but the consensus among the Aria users groups and on the forums is that the Rautia is the most authentic.  I think the control array we've settled on, along with Mike's planned duplicate, 6-way, 'varitone' control is going to offer a huge amount of flexibility.  That said, it's probably wasted on me as I tend to spend time finding my chosen 'sweet spot', then leave it there forever after. 😊

 

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Oooh can’t believe I missed this - it’s going to be stunning! And you’re right @Bass Culture, one isn’t enough so more start getting planned haha! I haven’t yet started thinking in finer details about the next one but it’s bound to happen 😂

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Hi @Bass Culture! I was just brought into the loop on this build, but better late than never eh? I'm sorting out the required parts for this build with Mike as I write this.

The fundamental circuit topology behind the SB-1000 is a real winner, and I used it to silence a single coil pickup in my 5-string '51 P-Bass build a few years back; that one is straight volume/varitone and a real player. Once you can get past the caveats of two batteries and a switched jack socket, they really put a lot of horsepower behind a bass with the option of completely pulling the filter out of circuit and running as a dead transparent, dead quiet pre. You're right about the varitones. I produced a few based on a piggy-backed SMD board which was compact and sounded great, however the switch itself left a lot to be desired, and producing them is such a pig. I don't believe that the original Alps switch used by Aria Pro II is in production any more or even available as NOS. The closest equivalent that I have found is by NSF and costs just shy of fifty quid. It is however, a really nice switch and very easy to work around. I can't quite describe how nice it is without ending up on a register of some sort, because that's the world we're living in now. 😄 It's perhaps difficult to justify the cost of that one part once one factors in the components and labour! Mike sounds like he has some great ideas, and judging by his past work, you're in good hands. This should be an instrument that'll want to be just played.

I'm definitely behind the notion that Veijo (Rautia) produces the closest retrofit pickup to the originals. There's perhaps a touch more top end, however that isn't an easy comparison when A/Bing it with a pickup that has 40yrs on the clock. In a blind test, I'd think most would struggle and I would likely get it wrong also. Pull that tone back a notch and I'm certain 50% would.

I'm following this build for certain. Cheers!

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@Prostheta - good to hear from you and thanks for commenting.  Glad to you had a chance to catch up with Mike and I'm very glad we're using your preamp.  I think this build is going to be fantastic.  I appreciate anyone who's ever had a bass made for them - and I've had a few - becomes a bit like a kid waiting for Christmas Day.  The concept is an interesting starting point in itself but knowing the quality of parts we're using and the level of Mike's work it's very difficult not to feel especially excited about this one.

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Certainly! The SB-1000 and other SBs of the era had a very singular tonality which made them very recognisable. Being able to alter the format of the instrument and see what type of uniqueness comes out of the other side is a real joy. For my own part, I'm not sure how me taking the format over to five strings will work out including the necessary alteration to the pickup. Having a slightly shorter scale on yours will be super fun to play, especially when you pare back that boat anchor aspect of the SB's physical form!

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Mike's been a very busy bunny recently, it seems.  He kindly sent me another batch of progress photos, so here we go:

MN1 MN5

 

MN6 MN8

 

MN10 MN12

 

MN16

Starting to feel like real progress now.  Still at the mercy of deliveries from the States (Hipshot hardware) and Finland (Rautia pickup) though, so here's hoping they won't be too delayed.  Exciting times!

Edited by Bass Culture
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On 12/08/2020 at 13:12, Bass Culture said:

This is the pickup we're going to be using: https://www.rautiaguitars.net/aria-pro-ii.html

There's few alternatives (including Kent Armstrong) but the consensus among the Aria users groups and on the forums is that the Rautia is the most authentic. 

 

Funnily enough,  i used the Armstrong  SB  replicas  -   though its Aaron who's in the UK, not daddy Kent who's U.S.  based.

Being an SB user, i can tell you they sound awesome.   I had a pair because i have the 900 twin pup.

I did try Rautia but he wouldnt deal with TransferWise for payment,  so  would have had to use Paypal at around 10 times the fees. Also,  he quoted me about 3 months wait time.   I got mine from Aaron in a little over a week

Edited by fleabag

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55 minutes ago, fleabag said:

Funnily enough,  i used the Armstrong  SB  replicas  -   though its Aaron who's in the UK, not daddy Kent who's U.S.  based.

Being an SB user, i can tell you they sound awesome.   I had a pair because i have the 900 twin pup.

I did try Rautia but he wouldnt deal with TransferWise for payment,  so  would have had to use Paypal at around 10 times the fees. Also,  he quoted me about 3 months wait time.   I got mine from Aaron in a little over a week

Interesting - thanks.  We'll have to bear that in mind should the wait prove too long from Rautia then.

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Also bear in mind that he added on PP fees.  At least they were added on for me.  This is why i offered to pay via TransferWise. 

I cant say if he still does that though

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10 hours ago, fleabag said:

Also bear in mind that he added on PP fees.  At least they were added on for me.  This is why i offered to pay via TransferWise. 

I cant say if he still does that though

Unfortunately he is still saying Paypal only, and he has a banner on his website home page also saying no new orders until October.  Oh well, we will wait and see what happens..

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1 hour ago, Cosmicrain said:

Unfortunately he is still saying Paypal only, and he has a banner on his website home page also saying no new orders until October.  Oh well, we will wait and see what happens..

At least there's the option to send the money as a gift and avoid the fees, I guess.

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Don't think sending money as a gift is a good way to pay for a commercial item - you lose any buyer protection, and - unlikely as it may be - if there is an issue with items not being delivered, then you could end up stuffed.

Shame they won't use TransferWise, as it's a great facility.

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22 minutes ago, stewblack said:

I also replaced the pick up in my SB with an Armstrong and it is every bit as good as the original. 

Thanks stewblack, always good to have options.  

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Delivery today from Carl (Prostheta) of 2 X BB noise killer pre's 2 X harnesses and 2 X jacks.   Many thanks Carl for your quick service from Finland.  I'm looking forward to making the Varitone switch/s to marry up with these.  One set is for Marks bass (as being discussed here) and the other set is a spare set for me to play with in the workshop (possibly to make another Zoot Bass ZB1000.

MN201.jpg

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