William Fellows’ Custom 12-String Basses

William Fellows completed work on this custom 12-string bass in 2013. Here are the details about this bass in his own words.

Bill writes, "I originally had a Hamer chaparral 12-string bass and that was when I discovered your website. I enjoyed it and even played a few gigs with it. I ended up selling it but I missed it greatly. I decided since I had intimate knowledge of this kind of instrument I would attempt to build one from scratch since no one seemed to offer a double octave neck."

"You may have noticed that it has different color tuning pegs. This is for two reasons. First, we have all broken strings by cranking on the wrong tuner. This way you go for the corresponding color and you always get it right. The other reason is it actually looks less insane than matching color pickups. I don't know why."

"I also prefer Bartolini pickups and I liked the look of the heavy Schaller Bridge from your article on the Music Man 5-string bass conversion."

"This is my first attempt at something like this. The construction is mahogany sides, maple and purple heart neck with a purple heart fingerboard. There is volume and tone for both pickups and a selector switch between the pickups like a Rickenbacker. The mini's operate a series / single coil / parallel switch on each pickup. You can get 14 different sounds out of it. I hate changing batteries and they leak so this bass has no pre-amp. It doesn't need one. It's plenty hot enough."

"It took a few months until I got to the finishing. I don't have a booth so I had to do it by hand. Since I am a perfectionist I did it over a bunch of times. So basically off and on for two years. I went for poly because I also do slap and pluck style and I wanted it to hold up. But it's the prototype and there are two other basses I was building at the same time, a 7-string bass and a 4-string bass."

"I made all the parts from scratch. Warmoth doesn't make these kinds of parts. It is a neck through construction."

Double-Neck 12-String Bass

Bill built this double-neck 4/12 in 2015. Bill writes, “I built this bass so that I could alternate between playing a fretless bass and then switching to 12-string bass, giving the illusion that another guitar player kicked in. The original plan was a 7-string / 12-string bass double-neck but it probably would have been too heavy to ever carry so I opted for a Jaco Pastorius / Tom Petersson combo.”

“The fretless is set up like a Telecaster and the 12-string is set up like a Rickenbacker with one switch to switch between the necks.”

“Yes, it’s heavy, it weighs 16 lbs. The upper ear with the fretless was hollowed out from the inside before I attached it to the bass. I made the control cavities over-sized to take off more weight, and Jazz Dimarzio pickups are lighter than soap-bars. It is actually quite comfortable.”

“It has four basic sounds. A Jaco whiny sound, an acoustic bass sound, a trebley 12-string sound that I can actually finger pick on, and that Led Zeppelin sound we all know so well.”