Jericho is a unique, one stringed, bass instrument. Using a classic, upright fret board and a foot-powered sliding bridge, Jericho utilizes a musicians full range of motion to make interesting sounds and open up new avenues in music creation.
New Style, Same Soul
Music production using instruments can often feel restricted to the tools at hand. While, computers and electronic sound generators have opened near-infinite fascinating musical directions, reliance on established playing styles of instruments can make one feel creatively trapped. I sought to create a single, physical product that would utilizes multiple schools of musical skill to create a variety of interesting sounds, while still instilling the same thrill that one gets from playing music.
Old Time Rock and Roll
Bob Seger said it best when he sang "Today's music ain't got the same soul, I like that old time Rock and Roll." While this callback to a more analog time in music history serves as a nostalgic call to arms for many a young musician, it can also create a resistance to even the best newer music.
This concept bleeds into instrument design as well, putting value on established brands such as Fender (Est. 1954) and C.F. Martin (Est. 1834) over newer ideas due to the ubiquitous understanding of their playing styles and design. It became clear that if a new product was going to alter the way that a musician played it, the instrument would need to be accessible, both physically and mentally.
This is why, when designing this product, I called upon inspiration from handmade, bluegrass instruments. Playing instruments such as the washboard and the gut bass did not come from a place of classic musical training. They came from a basic understanding of where a sound came from and how to manipulate that sound. The sounds coming from these instruments were rough but joyous and passionate. It was this feeling and this relationship with music that I wanted to replicate with this design.
When approaching this concept, it was always going to be a very physical product. Beginning with sketch models and ideation sketches, I began to understand how a player would interact with an instrument. I explored scale and function and how an instrument could integrate classical musical understanding with while still maintaining the stripped-down openness of hand made instruments.
Full Scale Models
Ideating eventually led me to creating two full scale mock ups that utilized tension on a single bass string to change pitch in addition to classical fretting for more specific note adjustments. With a stationary base, the player pulls the body like a lever, adjusting the pitch through tension. This method of playing was later replaced in favor of a sliding bridge. A sliding bridge put less strain on the string, allowed for a more comfortable fretting hand, and also removed the instruments reliance on a large base.
I also traded in the heavy metal black and red paint job for a more elegant natural wood.
Building a Bass
The final Jericho Bass is constructed from full pieces of African Padauk and Curly Maple with a Brazilian Rosewood fret board. These are all tonewoods and therefore give the bass terrific resonant quality. The sliding bridge mechanism is housed inside the body of the bass and can be accessed through the end pin in case of malfunction. Pevey Bass pickups are inset into the fret board allowing for a seamless wooden look, while the rest of the electronics are housed and accessed through the back of the body. The whole product is hand crafted without the use of Computer Aided Prototyping machines, thereby keeping to its spiritual roots in handmade bluegrass instruments.
Jericho is a unique way of approaching instrumentation. By requiring both hand and foot coordination to play, the bass utilizes the musicians whole body to play. The combination of pitch adjustment using the sliding bridge and the full, standard 27 inch fret board allows for unique sounds and transitions.
With a slender edgy profile and rustic natural materials, Jericho was designed to be accessible and playable for anybody wishes to learn it. Drawing from the basic methods of creating and manipulating sound, it is not a stretch to understand how it works, and therefore not a stretch to believe it can be mastered.
Playing Jericho can feel like a dance, allowing players to truly feel the groove of their compositions. The rich bass notes that come from can be felt in ones chest, creating an emotional connection to the product. This modern instrument may look new, but it has the same passion and soul that has captivated musicians for generations