MAGMA 601 by Michael Spalt
By Michael Spalt
Hmmm … is this beautiful? Beauty does sometimes verge on the vulgar. Whichever way, like most of Michael Spalt’s creations this bass is visually stunning. Sometimes stunning does not necessarily mean beautiful and if you visit Michael Spalt’s website to see what I mean. I had to choose one of his creations for this list though, and the Magma does deserve it’s place in my top 10.
Michael Spalt makes both radical custom guitars and basses and more conventional instruments. This bass is one of his modular ‘hybrid’ designs in a range he calls ‘Magma’:
“Magma basses employ the ‘LightWave’ optical pickup system. LightWave pickups exhibit an extraordinarily even frequency response throughout the whole tonal spectrum. An infrared-emitting diode on one side of the string illuminates the string as it moves. The shadow of the moving string passes over an optical sensor on the other side of the saddle. The signal generated by this sensor is converted into an audio signal and then routed through the preamp to your amp. The non-magnetic nature of the pickup results in truer harmonics, lower distortion, greater overtones and enhanced sustain. Lightwave pickups can sense down to 4HZ, so an amp capable of reproducing very low frequencies is recommended to make use of these capabilities”.
“This Magma V601 combines a LightWave system with a 13-pin hexaphonic output. It was built as a demo bass for Roland Corp. for use with their V-Bass. The LightWave pickups excel as tracking source and are about the best pickups I’ve found for approximating an upright sound on a fretless electric bass. The neck is Wenge with a Maple centerstripe, the body parts a sandwich of figured Bubinga, Wenge and spalted Maple”.