It’s time for another Scotty’s Guitar of the Week!!
I thought it was time to finally bring you my go-to bass.
This is my B.A. Ferguson SMT-B4-SR, otherwise known as “Betty White” the Shirley bass.
We finished building this bass in July of 2014, just in time for Ms. White to make it into the B.A. Ferguson/Unitas booth at the 2014 Summer NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants Expo) in Nashville TN.
Here’s the story:
I first met Boot back in 2007 when I needed a saddle for my Yamaha FG-75 acoustic guitar. This is when Frets & Necks was still above the old Hartsville pawn shop, three moves ago. I remember walking in and asking the owner of Hartsville Pawn if he had any of the long white pieces of plastic that go in the bridges of acoustic guitars. He proceeded to call to a guy in the back of the store. Boot came up and said he could help. He would only need an hour and that would include a restring.
About an hour later, he handed me back the guitar. I remember being amazed at the fact that he had to make the saddle by hand, and that it wasn’t just some simple piece of plastic like I had originally thought. It was something that had to be finely tuned to the guitar. A few months later, I brought my 5 string G&L L-2500 bass guitar in for some setup work from Boot. During this trip, he told me that he started building guitars and that he had finished a few, including a few basses. I was really excited about the possibility of one day owning a bass that was built in my hometown.
Over the following years I became fascinated with lutherie, and did a lot of research into bass making. After a series of unfortunate events that turned out for the better in the end, I began my journey into lutherie and started training under Boot as an apprentice. I was itching to get started on my bass, but it would be at least a year after I started my apprenticeship that the plans were made and set into motion. During that time, I even sold my G&L, so I could afford the parts. It was a long process since other projects had to be tended to first, but piece by piece, Betty White was born.
Now for the specs: She has a one piece body that is made out of Honduran mahogany, with a 300 year old Redwood cap. The neck is a single piece of quartersawn maple taken from a piano beam, and the fretboard is made out of teak. The neck has an offset V shape which gives it a rock solid feel combined with the 7.25″ radius on the fretboard. It has a 35″ scale which lends more tension to the bass, giving her a nice, crisp, clear tone. The neck pickup is a Kent Armstong Hot Twins P-bass pickup, and the bridge pickup is a prototype jazz bass pickup that my buddy Patrick gave to me made by Heavy Air Pickups in the UK.
Interesting fact: The Honduran mahogany was supposedly originally slated for the Gibson factory, held by a wood-curing company in Kingstree, SC. Through a few chance events, the remnants of that mahogany has ended up in our wood supply.
This is by far my favorite bass. She’s comfortable to play and sounds incredible. There is no gig this bass cannot handle, much like her namesake…
Without further talking…