Hotwire Custom 5
Made In: Germany
Specs: Ash body, maple neck, maple fretboard
Electronics: 2 x Q-Tuner BL-5 pickups, ACG/East EQ-02 preamp
Controls: Volume and blend stack, bass filter stack, treble filter stack
My first and, thus far, only custom build has had a few changes made since it initally arrived at my door. I like the Jazz design a lot and wanted a five string with a setup which just wasn’t available anywhere else at the time. It still isn’t, come to think of it. I bought a pair of Q-Tuner pickups and a Noll TCM3 preamp, so electronically, it was a fairly advanced setup within the traditional J shell. To be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment when it arrived.
There were a few build and finish problems and the Q-Tuners weren’t really working with the Noll either. Doing some fret work helped, as did installing a string tree on the headstock. The low B was still a bit weak and replacing the Badass bridge with a heavy ABM unit improved that somewhat. I decided to replace the Noll and installed an ACG/John East filter system which really opened up the tone nicely. I was still having intonation and tuning problems and eventually figured out the nut was a couple of mm closer to the first fret than it should have been. It was a very disappointing discovery, given the money it cost.
Fundamentally, I believed there was a really good bass in there, so eventually I had the ebony fretboard replaced with a maple board with a smaller radius and fretted with small, vintage sized frets. It made a huge difference, both in terms of intonation and the fundamental tone of the bass. The Q-Tuners are really powerful pickups, combining balls and clarity and the filters offer almost limitless tonal shaping. Despit the traditional appearance, it’s a long way away from V-V-T.
I think there’s still some room for improvement, but it’s a lot closer now to the bass I hoped it would be ten years ago when I placed the order.