Retro-Rama 1985 Pedulla Buzz Bass

M.V. PEDULLA GUITARS WAS FOUNDED in 1975 by Michael Pedulla in Boston, and the company has been building top-quality instruments ever since.

M.V. PEDULLA GUITARS WAS FOUNDED in 1975 by Michael Pedulla in Boston, and the company has been building top-quality instruments ever since. Pedulla started out building guitars, but soon discovered that bassists were more open-minded about trying new concepts and instruments by relatively unknown luthiers, while guitarists tended to be all about the name brands. He took his first basses to Wurlitzer’s music store in Boston, where they quickly sold. His designs continued to evolve, and when the fretless Pedulla Buzz Bass made its debut in 1980, it created a unique niche in the bass market. Bass players everywhere were contemplating whether or not to risk yanking the frets out of their bass in hopes of somehow emulating Jaco Pastorius’ signature sound, and the Buzz Bass offered a perfect solution. At a time when major guitar and bass manufacturers were barely tiptoeing into the fretless market, the Buzz was perhaps the first instrument actually designed as a fretless and specifically built to achieve the much-desired “mwah” that a great fretless bass must have.

In developing the Buzz, Pedulla analyzed all of the acoustic and electric factors in generating great fretless tone, and worked closely in conjunction with bassists Mark Egan and Tim Landers on the details. He decided to coat the fingerboard with a thin coat of polyester to allow the ebony board to have a more positive effect on the tone, which would not be as pronounced with more finish. The two small, uniquely shaped horn cutaways allow total access to the slim and fast two-octave neck. The laminated three-piece neck-through design adds to the evenness and sustain of the Buzz in all registers. The Bartolini P/J pickups sound punchy and full; combined with the solid construction and design, they give the Buzz just the right amount of midrange punch and growl to cut through a track. Dual volumes, active and/or passive electronics, and a passive tone control enhance the versatility of tone and inherent punchiness of the Buzz.

This curly-maple beauty, courtesy of Nashville’s Gruhn Guitars, was formerly owned by string virtuoso Mark O’Connor, who played it on a number of his solo albums, including Elysian Fields and Stone From Which the Arch Was Made. It is in great shape, and the natural finish highlights the excellent quality of the wood and the meticulous craftsmanship. Particularly nice are the bookmatched maple electronics cover on the back, and the trussrod cover. Despite the more than 25 years since its construction, the glossy neck finish remains smooth, and virtually every note on this bass rings.

The Buzz is also available as an 8-string, whose 4x2 octave strings make for one of the most unusual sounds a bass player can get without effects. Well-known Pedulla players include Doug Johns, Neil Stubenhaus, Landers, and Egan, whose arsenal includes a 4-string and 8-string doubleneck. Michael Pedulla continues to design and build innovative yet classic basses while keeping quality at the forefront of his “hands on” approach. Catch a Buzz, anyone?


Retro-Rama : 1973 Hagstrom Swede

HAGSTROM WAS FOUNDED IN ALVDALEN, SWEDEN IN THE 1920S by 19-year-old Albin Hagstrom. The company initially specialized in making accordions, and business grew steadily through the ’30s and ’40s, despite the economic turmoil of World War II. In addition to building musical instruments, the company also operated a large chain of music stores throughout Scandinavia. By the late 1950s, Hagstrom jumped into the burgeoning guitar market in a big way and successfully marketed their instruments world wide through various distributors, including Selmer in the U.S. 

Retro-Rama 1989 Washburn AB-45 Prototype

THIS MONTH’S FLASHBACK COMES STRAIGHT out of the late-’90s “MTV Unplugged” era, when acoustic bass guitars were all the rage. While this style of bass has its roots back hundreds of years ago in Spain, later emerging as the Mexican guitarron and being reinvented in the Ernie Ball Earthwood bass, Washburn was the company that really put the ABG on the map in the 1980s. Since then there have been many variations on this theme, but the AB-45 was definitely state of the art for the time.

Retro-Rama: 1984 Steinberger XL25 5-string

HARD AS IT MAY BE FOR SOME OF US to believe, it’s been almost 30 years since the Steinberger bass turned the electric bass world upside down with its unique look and hi-tech tone. Coming to the bass world from a design background, Ned Steinberger arrived armed with a vision to reinvent the basic concepts of creating an electric bass. The first Steinberger bass hit the scene in 1980, and was an immediate sensation—and subject of debate— among bass players worldwide. Appearing at the dawn of the MTV era, the first wave of Steinbergers seemed to be everywhere throughout the ’80s. The Dixie Dregs’ Andy West and reggae bassist/producer Robbie Shakespeare were two early players of this innovative instrument, giving some indication of its global reach.