Polly O’Keary is the newest representative of the Washington bass boutique, LedBelli Basses
Photo: Bassist Polly O’Keary plays her custom LedBelli Blackbird 6-string in Crimson Red Ceruse Nitro-Lacquer finish.
Eastern Washington state is home to rattlesnakes, rusting cars, and long dusty roads. When you are from Eastern Washington, you just have to work harder than everyone else to make your mark.
That’s why Seattle bassist Polly O’Keary, raised in those dry hills, and LedBelli Bass guitars, a boutique bass maker in Pasco, Washington, are proud to announce their new relationship, with Polly as the latest representative of the exclusive line.
Last week Cleve Johnson, the luthier behind LedBelli guitars, delivered a custom-made crimson red 6-string LedBelli Blackbird to Polly, who will play it on her upcoming national tour in support of her new album Black Crow Callin’, with five singles appearing on the Roots Music Report blues rock chart in the first month since its release.
“The reason I’m so excited about this partnership is that I have a ton of respect for the work that goes into these basses,” Polly said. “There’s no other line like it, that delivers this level of quality without breaking the bank.”
LedBelli basses are a bespoke line, only made to order, and made in close partnership with the customer, who has input on everything from finish to scale length to the woods from which it is made.
Founder Cleve Johnson started the line in 2008 because he couldn’t afford the bass he wanted, so he built one, never intending to build another.
“It turned out better than anyone expected it to,” he said.
Then Mick Vaughn of the Dave Matthews Band tried the bass out and ordered one.
“After that everything got out of hand,” Cleve said with a laugh.
Since then he has made many more, including hollow body and fretless models, all with his unique body shapes and unparalleled attention to detail. Today, his client list is international, with many owners returning for second basses.
That a bass boutique in sparsely populated Eastern Washington has been able to carve out a niche in the crowded custom bass world is a testimonial to the work ethic and creativity of the maker, Polly says.
“I remember starting out in my career on the dry side of the state,” said the multi-award winning bassist. “It’s not like people knock down your door to come find you out there. You have to make your way. Now LedBelli and I will make our way together, and I am proud to represent this line.”
LedBelli Blackbird 6-string in Crimson Red Ceruse Nitro-Lacquer finish
- 9.2 pounds
- Ash body
- 35” scale
- Curly maple five-piece laminated bolt-on slim profile neck with satin finish
- Ebony Fingerboard
- Nordstrand single coil pickups
- Hipshot Bridge with 17.5 mm span, and Hipshot tuning Machines
- Custom Control Knobs by Devin Cline – D-cline Designs
- Mother of Pearl offset dot inlays
- Volume with active/passive selector, three tone controls, and pickup selector