And now for something completely different. In most things, popularity breeds imitation, and the results become indelibly part of our collective consciousness, sometimes stifling innovation in the process. The complacency behind accepting a dominant paradigm creates the conditions for unquestioning dogma, yet pushing against this trend inspires us to pursue creativity. And, as artists, we strive to challenge the status quo. That ambition is what fueled Dudacus Basses founder Steven Baxter to start his company four years ago. Growing up in Brazil in the ’60s and ’70s meant missing out on the instruments commonly available in the U.S. Instead, brands like Teisco, Vox, and Rickenbacker—which originated in Japan and Europe—offered sharp contrasts from the American-made electric basses and guitars of the time. With their odd shapes and electronics, European and Japanese instruments set themselves apart in a saturated market and thus enjoyed quite a bit of success in their heyday. These outside-the-box designs were the impetus for Baxter to create a line of instruments with features as distinctive and innovative as the instruments that inspired him growing up.
The creativity and imagination behind the Tiberius Attack bass is palpable at first sight. The overall look is a kind of hodgepodge of the classic and obscure. The body and neck read like a confluence of ’70s-era Rickenbacker instruments, a ’69 Teisco Spectrum guitar, and a Höfner violin bass. His custom-designed ƒ-hole complements the Höfner aspect and is reminiscent of a Rickenbacker 330 JG guitar. The two-piece chambered alder body has a starburst flame-maple top. The herringbone-patterned wood binding jumps out with a look that’s usually seen only on acoustic guitars. The 34"-scale bolt-on maple neck has an adjustable trussrod and an ebony fingerboard with mother-of-pearl block inlays. The 2+2 headstock is also a nod to the classic Rickenbacker 4001 with its own take on the asymmetrical shape. The back of the body and neck are painted with a unique glitter finish that Steven calls “Galactic Starlight.” The Schaller adjustable bridge, chambered body, and light-duty tuning machines contribute to the Tiberius Attack’s light weight and good balance. The pickups on our tester were two MM-style Seymour Duncan Humbuckers, but they can be substituted optionally with Bartolinis or Aguilars. You can also switch seamlessly between active and passive modes with the neck volume knob’s push/pull switch. There’s an easy-access cavity on the back for quickly changing your battery.
The Dudacus utilizes an Aguilar OBP-3 with an active/passive tone circuit and 3-position pickup switch. The EQ knobs have center detents to indicate a flat setting. The Attack Bass has a wide range of tones, yet even at its darkest it retains a great deal of punch and treble response, partially due to the bridge pickup being much closer to the bridge than Baxter’s previous designs (hence its name). The Aguilar preamp also contributes significant gain, with the bridge-pickup control having a pull-out boost to change the filter’s center frequency. The bass’s midrange flexibility is great for fingerstyle 16th-note funk-fusion lines, as well as for rockers who like to use a pick. With all of the tone options, this bass lends it self to a diversity of styles. The Dudacus’ wide string-spacing and neck made it great for slapping or picking, and the low action was ideal for fusion and jazz soloing.
Each bass is handmade from start to finish entirely by Steven Baxter in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his craftsmanship and attention to detail come across. More often than not, conformity is the easy path, but the road less taken can lead to rarer things; with big risks come big rewards. If we never move beyond our comfort zone, stick our necks out, and try new things, then we will never grow. For this reason I truly appreciate the spirit of individuality and innovation that Baxter’s vision for Dudacus represents. No one ever said you have to reinvent the wheel, but it would be a pretty boring world if no one tried.
Tiberius Attack Bass
Pros Lightweight; evenly balanced; lots of tone options; stylish
Cons High price point
Bottom Line A great bass for funk/fusion or rock that’s equal parts quality and style.
Frets 22, medium
Bridge Schaller adjustable
Neck width at nut 41.3 mm
Tuners Custom lightweight
Pickups Two MM-style Seymour Duncan humbuckers running through an Aguilar OBP3 preamp
Scale length 34"
Weight 9 lbs
Made in U.S.A.