Recently I was invited by Musical Youth Organisation to create a custom instrument for a charity auction in May this year. I’ve never painted an musical instrument before, so it was a great opportunity to create something special.
I choose the bass guitar, because I love bass guitars! (I own three) When I’m not making stencils, I’m playing bass with my band, FELCH or practising at home. My favourite bass guitarists are quite diverse, ranging from Metal to Disco, such as Lemmy of Motorhead, Bernard Edward of Chic, Pino Palladino bassist with Gary Numan, Chris Wolstenholme of Muse.
One of my all time favourites is Andy Rouke of The Smiths. Rourke’s bass lines not only created the ‘groove’ of The Smiths, but considering the musical talents of Morrissey and Marr, I think his bass lines where critical to the success of the ‘sound’ of The Smiths.
With this in mind, I decided to make a ‘meat’ bass for two reasons. Firstly, if drums are the bones of music, bass is the meat, lead guitar is the skin and vocal are the clothes. Secondly, The Smiths 1985 album, Meat Is Murder is one of my all time favourite records. Not necessarily the title track, but songs like, Headmaster Ritual, What She Said and Barbarism Begins At Home have some of the best bass lines ever.
The Making of Meat Bass
I used the first bass guitar I’d ever bought, an Encore bass (an inexpensive range of entry-level guitars). I’ve played it to death so it’s been bashed about a bit.
I started by stripping the whole guitar down and cleaning the grime off (except the frets)
I sprayed on a base red colour, then added a darker red edge. After that I used a sponge with a brighter red to build up texture.
Once the paint had dried, I used paint pens to create veins of fat running through the meat based on pictures I had taken at a local butcher shop
Next, I sanded down the head stock and gouged into the wood to make ‘cracks’ – I mixed OXO cubes and a little water and painted it into the cracks (because I wanted to used ‘real’ meat’ on the bass.
I pulled out the tuning pegs and replaced them with the tops of stainless steel forks.
Finally I varnished the whole body with a gloss and reassembled the electronics and scratch plate. I restrung it and wrapped ‘barbered wire’ around the strings at the skull of the headstock with galvanised wire.
And to my relief the bass is still in tune and working order.