5 I have to admit, I thought my conversation with Bill Nash was going to be product-centric, but we spoke at length about vintage basses, the fine points of patina, and the general good karma that breeds success. Tell me about the vintage product line. The entire product line is based around vintage Leo Fender-inspired guitars and basses. In a typical month, we build about 100 instruments. About 25 percent of them are basses, from the
‘ 52 Blackguard bass to the ‘70s Jazz Basses,
and most models in between. We will also do
some custom one-offs from time to time.
Tell me about some of the builds
that you’ve done.
We make everything from a traditional ’62-style
stack-knob Jazz Bass to a Blonde Goldguard
’58-style Precision Bass. We make any Fender-style bass you could imagine to your specs.
We’ve done many custom pickup combinations and hot-rodded basses, the most popular
being a P-Bass with the added J-Bass bridge
pickup, or a ’ 52 P-Bass with two Jazz pickups
and stacked knobs. We use ash and alder bodies, rosewood or maple fingerboards. The possibilities are endless. We offer three standard
levels of aging: light, moderate or heavy. Extra
heavy aging is available as an upgrade.
We touched on pickup combinations,
whose pickups do you use?
For 80 percent of the builds, we use DiMarzio
pickups. There is nothing that captures the
essence of a vintage bass better than a set of
DiMarzios through an old SVT. We also use, and
have great success with, Fralin and Lollar pickups.
Who manufactures your hardware of choice?
My primary hardware is old-school style
Japanese Gotoh tuners and bridges. We also
use CTS pots, Switchcraft jacks, Tusq nuts. Necks
are 10" radius, and we use a medium large fret.
Do you feel the hardware has a lot to do
with capturing the old-school Fender tone?
Modern, heavy hardware will make a bass
sound different. I feel if you want the old
tone, you must use the old style of hardware. Lightweight bridges and tuners make
a big difference to the resonance and tone
of the bass. Let me tell you, Leo Fender was
a genius. Nothing plays or sounds as great
as an old Fender bass.
Does the Washington state weather affect
Is your wood cut in-house?
The last thing I want to do is be in the wood
manufacturing business. Though all of our
components are out-sourced, we only buy the
best components available. All finish work, all
prep work, and all assembly is done on premises. To me, this is where the magic happens.
Actually, we never have issues with this. Even
though we have a lot of rain, we do not have a
lot of humidity. When needed, we can change
the mix of our lacquer to speed or slow the
drying or viscosity to adjust to the weather.
Humidity is what makes finishing rough going.
What factors have led to the success
of your brand?
Your basses are finished correctly: they always
have the correct primer, base coat, top and
clear coats. The wear seems to be in correct
patterns. How was all this accomplished?
We take great care to make sure our finishes
are accurate. As a kid, I used to build models.
I’d paint the car bumpers to look rusty. I made
WWII-era planes to look like they were hit by
flak. I pay the same attention to my instruments. Guitars wear differently than basses do.
I look at old record albums, books, video, etc.
and I study the wear patterns of instruments.
I use the correct series of base coat, primers
and color coats. I only use real-deal, old-school nitrocellulose lacquer, the good stuff…
the flammable stuff. It’s all hand sprayed using
old-school techniques. All finish work, along
with assembly and setup, is done in-house.
Why don’t you like to use the modern
Hard work! We work hard to make a great
product; we work hard to make an accurate
product. We are diligent in maintaining great
relationships with our dealers, and our dealers
are excited about the product line. Our price
point is within reach of most players. The players themselves are excited about the product
too. It’s a great bass at a great price.
What is your player base?
Most of our end users are folks that either do
not want to bring their dream bass to a gig
and want something replaceable, or the price
of the real example is so far out of reach they
will opt for my piece. We also have a large
stable of very well known players.
What is the inspiration around
Bill Nash Guitars?
The modern stuff does not capture the old-school essence. It looks perfect for too long.
It does not age right, and when it ages it
does not look like an old guitar should. It’s
great for the car business, but really impacts
tone in a very negative way, as it kills the
natural sound of the wood.
Nash Guitars was born out of a midlife crisis.
I was always involved with building, repairing,
refinishing and reselling guitars and basses. I
was an executive in a video distribution corporation. I was making about 85 calls a day.
Multiply that by my time in the business, it was
a million calls! Through the support of my wife
and kids, I’m able to live the dream.