After much research and some helpful input from double bassist Mark Stefaniw, the unofficial artistic advisor for my "Meditations on Bach" project, I've chosen to buy a Stradi bass made by Marek Dąbek of Juliszew, Poland. Not only does Marek make absolutely gorgeous instruments, but he was excited to work with me on a design that met all my criteria: a four-string fretless bass with tapewound strings tuned in fifths, a very long fingerboard with a deep cutaway so that I can play intricate passages high up on the neck, a combination of piezo and magnetic pickups (the latter is important to enable experimentation with an eBow on certain pieces), and a chocolately tone that balances the best of electric and upright bass sounds. A long email thread with Marek led to a bass that is all oak, a wood we both love: roasted European oak for the body (chambered to enhance its acoustic properties), a hybrid through-body neck also in roasted oak, and both the fingerboard and top in 2000-year-old bog oak. Since Marek likes to name his basses, we're calling this one the "Mocha 4". The only bad part is that Marek is a true artisan who makes only 20 instruments a year and has a large backlog of orders, so I won't get my hands on the Mocha until early next year. But it's going to be worth the wait!
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