Kurtov Stringed Instruments ‘Thompson’ 4 String Bass… There’s a particular brand of delight that comes with discovering a wonderfully talented Luthier in your own backyard. West Asheville Luthiery’s Jared Kurtov honed his skills repairing guitars and basses in this lovely mountain town, while carving out a niche for himself (no pun intended), quietly developing his own handcrafted instruments using regionally sourced woods whenever possible, and high end components. Over the last few years I’ve seen his intriguing instruments pop up in local shops under the name “Woody Basses”, which are always quickly snatched up by local pros. These days his instruments bear his own name, and seem to deliver on his increasingly refined vision as a builder. They boast skillful woodworking and excellent materials, to compliment their excellent playability and tone. Clearly a nod to Carl Thompson (who Kurtov cites as his main inspiration, along with Vinnie Fodera, and Michael Pedulla), the ‘Thompson bass’ embodies the current state of Kurtov’s forward thinking approach to building.
The Thompson sports a high gloss nitro finish, over a deep and lovely sunburst. It has a figured maple top and back, walnut core, and through-neck construction made of maple and walnut stringers. An ebony fingerboard adorned with pearl block inlays and elegant edge purfling adds a classy touch and some visual flair. Kurtov chose Nordstrand NJ4 and MM pickups along with an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp for this model, which suit the instrument well. A Hipshot bridge and ultralight tuners round out the high-class componentry. The neck profile on this particular bass is a soft V shape, a less common profile on modern basses than vintage guitars, but a cool and unique aesthetic nonetheless, which fits the bass’s vibe. I’m personally more of a slim neck profile guy myself, but the Kurtov plays and feels great, courtesy of a wonderful setup, great fretwork and low action. The heavily sculpted body feels chunky and substantial, but is quite comfortable and easy on the hands. The bass balances well, whether seated or worn on a strap.
Plugging the bass in, the Thompson immediately speaks with an authoritative and muscular voice, especially through the midrange. This bass has a very solid and thick tone, with plenty of backbone. I dig the J/MM setup with the OBP-3, as it allows for a wonderful range of traditional and modern tones. I was able to dial in a handful of lovely sounds with the different pickup settings, and the Aguilar preamp ensures powerful sculpting with plenty of booty and slice on hand. The midrange selector allows you to boost and cut at either 400 or 800hz, which works fabulously with this basses inherently ample midrange quality, and adds a lot of versatility to it’s tone shaping capacity.
Overall, I’m quite impressed with the Thompson. With its stout feel and solid tone, this bass seems equally at home being a gigging workhorse as it would being wall decoration (a distinction not all lovely looking boutique basses possess). The Thompson would kill in a variety of settings, thanks to its strong and round tonal character, and understated yet striking appearance. The 4 string Thompson (also available as a 5 or 6 string) lists for $3095.00
For more info, visit Jared on the web at westashevillelutherie.com/kurtov
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