PHOTOS: Unique technical features contribute to Orchid's superior performance. Extraordinary finger speed is achievable via an adjustable reference touch surface. TOONE & TOWNSEND bridges capture full spectrum string vibration.
Evan Brewer called me with a problem last week. He's deep in the recording process of his second solo album.
The problem was Orchid.
I had loaned him the bass for the past six months, asking him to take it on the road and give me some real world professional feedback. The instrument was with him during his Faceless tours, passed hand-to-hand at clinics he has taught (including Camping with Animals As Leaders), and played in his home studio in Nashville. By now, the bass has seen a lot of use, and covered a lot of miles.
Because of Orchid's compact size and ergonomic comfort it was also a great writing tool for him on the road as he composed material for the second album. The bass rides comfortably even on a crowded tour bus, and allowed him to run direct through an Apogee converter into his iPad.
So he used Orchid to record demo tracks for the album.
And that is the problem.
Once he started laying final tracks in the studio, they couldn't get bass sounds as good as what he had already recorded using Orchid. When I asked Evan to describe what he was hearing, he said the natural sound of Orchid has an open clarity, transparent, with richness and harmonics. Sustain. No amount of EQ on the other instruments could achieve the same tones. And the early demo performances were not clean enough to use on the final album — his playing of the material had improved significantly since the composing phase.
Another, and potentially bigger problem, was he no longer had Orchid. The bass was in my shop. It had been sold to someone else.
PHOTOS: Vintage jazz finish. Thin layers of hand rubbed finish applied to emulate wear patterns consistent with an instrument which has seen a half century in smoky jazz clubs.
A conversation with Orchid's owner confirmed he would be willing to lend the bass to Evan for use during his album recording. This is a gorgeous and generous gesture, true patronage of the musical arts. I would love to begin to see more of this — please contact me if you are interested in helping out a developing artist who can't yet afford my instruments but would benefit from recording (or touring) with one of these exceptional tools.
Evan is tracking during the next two weeks.
I set aside other work in progress for the moment and completed a rapid series of modifications to the bass, including: converting the EMG-JAX active pickups to 18 volts (additional headroom), softening the Trapezoid Neck Profile planes, revising the finish, and devising an extended finger reference touch surface to adjustably accommodate fingerstyle play.
Orchid shipped yesterday. Go.