Chuck Israels' Busetto
In the first week of January 2016, after several years of good acquaintance, Chuck Israels contacted Seth with a proposal to build a custom, new model bass to his specifications. He wanted it to be inspired by the Deerfield School Prescott Busetto corner bass that his friend Scott LaFaro played during his tragically short, but brilliant career. Chuck also desired a few adjustments for playability and set-up, as well as wanting Seth to put his own spin on the form.
After many emails and calls and meetings, here is the final result .
The Busetto has a smaller upper bout, but the bottom bout is just about as wide as it gets, thereby delivering ease of playability with a "rich and loud and deep enough" sound.
41 1/8" string length
43 1/4 " back body length
5 13/16" rib at neck
8 1/4" rib at end pin
19 5/8" width at upper bout
13 1/4" width at c-bout
27 3/8" width at lower bout.
The top is made of Engelmann Spruce and the back, sides, and exterior linings are of walnut from an old street tree in Eugene.
It also boasts a removable neck and a special scroll carving as requested by Chuck. The neck is of Western Maple with a dark stain to blend with the Walnut back.
A good old-fashioned e-mail testimonial: July 6, 2016
...collaborating with you on this project was a risky business, not because I had doubts about either your skill or commitment, but because it represents a substantial dent in our family finances, so it was not without some trepidation that we decided to go ahead. Everything went beautifully - all our communication and collaboration on design, choice of materials - everything, was not just easy and pleasurable but fun and exciting. It surely helped that we were able to find a bunch of basses you had built, and generously helpful owners within geographical proximity, so I could try out different wood and shape choices. That was fun too. Then the instrument was delivered immediately sounding terrific and impressing my band mates - even in its almost raw, hardly played state. How can this have gone any better?
...now the bass is a joy to play, surprisingly so with the bow. It’s rich and loud and deep enough so that the difference in the sound of the fundamental on the open E and the E an octave above it is immediately apparent. That’s a critical element in the sound and not all that common in a normal 3/4 size instrument. This one got designed for my body, and though I’ve owned other wonderful instruments, they have all been 7/8 size and not nearly as comfortable to play. So I play this every day and, as I’ve said earlier, that’s the first time that’s happened in at least 40 years! And our recording engineer is a fan of it too.
...I didn’t even begin to talk about the instrument as a work of art. It’s a beauty too.
Ironically, Chuck doesn't own #47 which started this whole process--it lives in Texas now--but he does own #50 which is almost exactly the same, but with a flat back with a bend instead of a totally flat back.