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Body Style
Body Wood
Neck Wood
Fbd. Wood
Neck Joint

Butternut (I think?)
(one piece)


Gotoh Sealed Featherlight


Volume, Tone,
6-way Rotary Sellector

9 lb

with case

Pickup Selection:   1- neck humbucker;   2- neck inside coil;   3- both inside coils;   4- both humbucking;   5- bridge inside coil;   6- bridge humbucking;


I liked the Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo body shape but I noticed right away that it was designed by non-musicians and non-instrument makers. This is usually standard practice in the guitar industry. As long as they throw enough money at advertising and harness as many morons as possible as endorsers, they know they can sell you anything. What really jumped out and bothered me about the Bongo is the very small neck join area, which to me looks totally hideous and I would be embarrassed by anything like that. That shamefully small neck joint results in a lack of adequate neck/body coupling, this gives you compromised structural integrity and diminished tonal transfer. Of course, as expected, no one in management, ownership and none of their army of endorsers would ever notice this, nor would the average bass consumer. That would be too much to expect of course from a world filled with mediocrity, talent deficiency and lack of vision.

I moved the neck much further into the body, giving it a much larger and solid neck joint area. I also made the Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo into a true organic instrument, the real deal, instead of the artificial sterile thing that it is, made of crap (whatever) wood with a generous coating of plastic on top. The usual recipe for an instrument these days. The EBMM Bongo is a cheap plastic thing but its unfortunate because it has a lot of potential. So this is my reworking of the Bongo design, in order to give it the dignity it deserves.

Of course, the ZOG string set, makes the instrument actually function as it should. It makes it actually play. The ZOG Progressive Tension strings are perfectly balanced in terms of Tension Optimization between strings and also provide the adequate tension (not the under-tensioned, rubber-band feel of conventional bass string sets.

Wake up you stupid moron pro and amateur bass players, your instruments are not working. Are you too stupid to even notice? I guess so. Its about time you actually learned something about your instrument. Shame on you!             Alex


Hi Alex:          I am delighted. Where do I start.....

The bass arrived at my office around 9:45 this morning. I was working at another office today, so I didn't get to see the bass until about 4:30. And I've had about a half hour to play it thru my office amp. It arrived promptly, and there were no shipping issues.

As I say, where do I begin?

The first thing I noticed about the bass is how wonderfully compact and beautifully balanced it is. It is lighter than my other two 4 string basses, and the balance is fantastic when it is strapped playing standing, and as a nice surprise, it sits at a beautiful, comfortable angle for seated playing without having to hold the neck up or any struggle to keep it from sliding off your leg.

It is light as a feather. I can't believe how light and ergonomically pleasing it is. When I tried out 5 string basses at a store about 2 months ago, at least half of the basses I put down after about 30 seconds because I knew right away I couldn't be comfortable playing them.

I have to confess that the one element of this project that legitimately scared me (until today) was the issue of the neck. Again, when I tried out other basses in the store, the contour and feel of the neck was a major weeding out factor. Most of the basses had a neck that was either too thick or too thin. I am so relieved that I like the Zachary Bongo neck. It is gorgeous. The thickness of the carve is perfect. I will have to adjust to the wider fingerboard of a 5 string bass, but of course I knew that, and it's just what you have to do if you want the versatility of the 5th string. But the neck on this bass is as nice or nicer than any 5 string neck I've played. Of course the feel of the wood, your type of finish, is exactly what I like, so it is a fast, comfy neck. I know in no time I'm going to be very at home on this neck.

The full two octave fretting and the upper cutaway gives me better, easier access to upper frets across all strings than my other bassea. It's almost ridiculous how comfortable it is to play on all 5 strings between the 12th and 18th frets. Just by their nature, bass guitars have quite varied tonal pallettes. It's one of the joys of bass playing that you can choose to play the note in different locations and get totally different tone. So it's nice to be able to play comfortably anywhere on the neck. On all of my other basses, playing above the 12th fret is unaccessible, but on this bass the degree of ease and comfort above the 12th fret is much greater.

My favorite thing about your guitars - at least up to this point, where I've only been able to look at pictures - is your design sense. The Padauk neck is elegant, and also the use of Padauk plugs in the neck screws is a beautiful design element, both artistically and from a woodworking standpoint. When I was young I made some pieces of furniture, and details like that do not go unnoticed. Similarly, the use of the body wood as fret markers on the fingerbaord is also elegant, as is your fret marker design. The fretwork is as good as on any guitar I've ever had. Is the body an exotic wood, or is it swamp ash? It feels too light to be maple, and feels too hard to be pine.

Finally, the tone.

I have to defer full commentary on this for now, because in my experience it takes months of playing an instrument before you really understand the tone.

But I did notice a few things. Compared to my other basses, the pickups on this bass seem to have a more balanced volume and tone output string to string. I was doing some recording with a guy last night and it was interesting to see how any licks I played on the D and G strings on my Fender bass were much louder than those on the E and A. Volume and tone are much more level.

The low B has plenty of clarity and is usable to play low C, D, Eb notes.

With new strings, the bass has a bright piano-like sound, which I like. As I say, I need more time to digest the tone and learn what this girl really can do, but my sense is it will be a brighter-biased overall tone, closer to the voice of a Jazz than a P.

I am very, very happy, and you did a beautiful job on this girl. I would like to name her, but I know you usually choose the names. If I get to name her, please call her Melissa.

Finally....buying an instrument from a builder miles away is at least in part an act of faith. I've seen pictures of your work....I've watched and heard recordings of your instruments, albeit on crappy computer speakers, but until you actually take the instrument in your hands, you really don't know what you are going to get and how you are going to feel.

All I can say is you are an honest man. You deliver. There is absolutely nothing in this instrument, or anything in the process that lead up to me receiving it, that contradicts any of the things you state on your website, about yourself, about guitars, about quality, about how to build instruments, etc. You are someone of integrity and talent, and I am very happy that you built this bass for me. If anyone ever wants a reference on your work, feel free to give them my email address.

And this makes me want to buy your ZT-T Telecaster even more.....but that's for another day. I will have my hands full, literally, with this guitar for a long time.

Best wishes--       JP


Man, I am running through band tunes.....This bass is a dream. It plays itself. Please share pictures with the world.

Melissa: My wife's name.

Anyway, thanks again. I want to get back to playing.    JP


Wanted you to know I noticed some other details I hadn't mentioned yet.... you seem to have antiqued the black hardware. It's a nice touch, almost like antique brass cabinet hardware....and a perfectly flat black or glossy black would probably have looked wrong on this otherwise earthy looking bass.

The knobs are carefully placed, and the symmetry of the circles, given the overall circle theme of the bongo shape, is important. A toggle switch would have looked stupid.

The angle of the string retainer bar seems to match, more or less, the angle of the lower horn.

It is going to take me a while to get used to having the extra string, the alternate fingering positions it offers me. I am playing my band repertoire, and in some places now I have decisions to make about where to play that I didn't have before. It's a great "problem" to have. Exactly what I wanted, too.

Again, this base is so comfortable....I cannot get over this. When I ordered from you, I exptected the bass would be high quality, I expected the fretwork would be good, I expected the pickups would be nice. I expected it to be pretty, and tasteful. I did NOT expect it to be so incredibly pleasing ergonomically. It is the best guitar I own, period, in this regard. It's a bass, and it's more comfortable than any of my 6 string guitars.

One thing I've noticed about comfortable guitars is that they not only balance from headstock to tail, but - and this is key - they balance front to back, meaning a properly balanced guitar won't flop away from your belly. The feeling of this kind of balance is that the guitar seems to "snuggle up" to your body and hug your middle.

Basses tend to feel long in the neck, especially full scale, 34" ones. I have long arms but still, when I play a regular bass, sometimes it feels like I'm reaching to play in first position, and this can lead to inaccurate fretting and so forth. This bass feels almost like a 6 string guitar....it's 34" scale, but it feels much smaller. It is no problem at all to play anywhere on the neck, from fret 1 to 24. I will be a better bass player because of this.

Again, this is so important. Short scale basses were designed, I think, because they are ergonomically easier to play than 34" scale. But the problem with shorter scale basses is that it becomes tougher to get clarity in the lowest frequencies. You've made the notable achievement of making a bass feel like a short scale, but sound like a long scale.

At my office today, I thought they were lower output pickups, but on my home rig it's clear they are equal or slightly higher output. Not that the amount of output in and of itself is good or bad, but they aren't "low" output pickups.

There is alot of tonal versatility with the 6 positions. They all sound very organic, meaning there is an almost acoustic quality to each of the tones, particularly the more middle position tones. The Z has a broad, pleasing tonal range, but with a more acoustic, open, breathy characteristic.

....and the case is high quality, and you modified it with special padding blocks specifically for this bass.

I think I'm going to have an orgasm. It is going to be a blast learning what this bass can do. It's going to take me months or years to get to the bottom of her.        JP


Thanks for the switching explanation. I will begin experimenting. Thanks also for the ZOG string explanation. You are very dogmatic in what you believe about ZOG, and while I don't dispute you, some people (too many people, perhaps) get used to or otherwise become wedded to ideas about guitar strings, and you aren't going to change their minds. But I am pretty sure that I can get almost any bass player to switch to your strings. I have, indeed, noticed that ZOG strings on a bass are more important than on a guitar.    JP




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Ernie Ball Music Man Bongo Bass 5 string 4 string 6 string