Seeing that it is the Halloween season, I thought I would favor you with my creation… The Franklinsteiner!!!
A few moons back, my dear compadre Peter Baron dialed me up with an intriguing proposition. He and the venerable John Regan had conspired to pay homage to the legendary Peter Frampton. John, having stood faithfully by Peter’s side as his bass maestro for over three and a half decades, had some grand plans. Unfortunately, fate had other designs, and John left us just weeks before the repertory ensemble’s inaugural tribute show. In the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, Peter was resolute about pressing forward, and he beckoned me to join in.
The setlist was a beautiful concoction of tunes from Peter Frampton’s iconic live double album “Frampton Comes Alive “(1976), with a sprinkle of Humble Pie classics. I, of course, couldn’t resist the siren call and gladly accepted the gig.
Now, here’s where the tale takes a twist.
You see, on that legendary live LP, the basslines were crafted on a fretless bass by the virtuoso Stanley Sheldon. To stay true to that recording, I embarked on a quest to find a four-string Fender fretless bass.
The lone warrior I found was the Tony Franklin fretless bass, and it became mine.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re always on the lookout for opportunities to make your instrument truly yours. So, my journey to customize this fine bass commenced from the headstock down.
I must tip my hat to Fender and Tony Franklin for birthing an instrument of pure sonic delight.
The ebony fretless neck is the heart and soul of this beauty. My first tweak was to replace the low E tuner with a Hipshot D tuner, but here’s the twist: on all my basses, be they six-string or four, I’m smitten with the “Double” edition, allowing for two unique tunings below the open note.
I then upgraded the strap pegs to Schaller strap locks, a tried and true choice that’s served me well over the years.
The pickups, though, I have a particular penchant for those crafted by the masterful Lindy Fralin. Thus, I switched to the PJ combo, featuring a P-Bass Neck and our Split Jazz +5% Bridge for Noiseless Operation. To add a touch of uniqueness, I opted for white pickups and swapped the black plastic pickup selector knob for chrome.
Venturing down the neck, I yearned for a different bridge, and the Babicz bridge, with their Full Contact Hardware (FCH) system, beckoned. FCH offers a larger contact surface between string and body, which translates to enhanced sustain and richer tonal resonance.
The input jack, a seemingly mundane detail, was not spared my scrutiny. After countless road miles, I’ve learned that it’s best to keep things secure. So, I’ve sworn by the “Pure Tone” multi-contact 1/4” jack, for safety’s sake.
And when I turned the bass over, I couldn’t resist one last flourish.
The signature neck plate, which once bore the name Tony Franklin, now proudly carries my own.
But my creative quest wasn’t quite complete. The “Lake Placid Blue” finish was just a tad too pristine for my rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities. And who better to unleash the weathered charm than Mark Jenny and the wizards at MJT Guitars? They are the artisans of choice, whether for fashioning new instruments or conjuring the art of relic-ing.
And there you have it, the saga of how a Tony Franklin Fretless bass became uniquely mine.
Don’t get me wrong; the original is a gem through and through. But, as any bass enthusiast knows, personalization is a rite of passage in our musical journeys. This, my friends, is my tale, and I’m sticking to it!
IT IS ALIVE!!!!!