Bruce Thomas - world recognised for his sinuous, inventive, and melodic bass lines and his contribution to one of the greatest British groups of the post-punk era, Elvis Costello and The Attractions - has been both a mate and Bass Centre Elites user for 20 years and counting, so it was natural that CEO Barry Moorhouse would jump at the opportunity to get involved in a Bruce Thomas signature bass project.
As Bruce explains - "The well-known pink 1964 Fender Precision bass I used for twenty years, on and off, with the Attractions was stolen from my car while I was in Los Angeles doing some session work after I “left” the band. Though I tried, in vain, to find a suitable replacement, it wasn’t simply a matter of replacing an early 1960's P-Bass, as I’d made many modifications to it. I’d reshaped the body and the neck, rewired it and re-sprayed it. I came to the conclusion that I’d have to start again and try to reproduce it from scratch.
"I’d been a customer and friend of Barry Moorhouse at the Bass Centre in London for many years. When I told him what I was doing, he reckoned that other people would be interested in having a similar bass, so he offered to make a BT signature model bass as part of their new British Bass Masters Series."
"Barry started looking for the best manufacturer he could find, while I set about recreating the right body shape and doing test paint mixes in various shades of ‘faded red’. But the most important thing was getting the neck profile right to give maximum ‘playability’."
"After a bit of experimenting on my part and many meetings with Barry, we had samples built in factories across Europe and the Far East - we worked on everything from entry-level basses to the elite bespoke instruments. One day we were sent a bass that stood out a mile from anything else we’d seen or played. Although getting the right bass was our only consideration, it turned out that this one was also one of the most affordable."
"Anyone who’s watched the development of the Profile Bass over the past couple of years will know that it’s not a stock bass I’ve simply added my name to, but a genuine personally developed signature guitar. Our intention was not to produce a replica or a phoney vintage guitar, but to create a new instrument true to the spirit of the original, a bass that’s a joy to play - I’m happy to say that’s now been achieved."
With no access to his cherished (and heavily modified) P-Bass, Bruce used Barry's own 1964 model as reference, paying particular attention to obtaining the perfect "Salmon Pink" finish, abandoning distressed early prototypes in favour of a pristine authentic look.
As Bruce himself says - "the best way to make a guitar look used, is simply to use it. And this is a bass you’ll certainly want to use".
After taking delivery of several basses from Barry, Bruce experimented with creating a new body design, sanding them down to create the perfect shape. Ostensibly recognisable as "Precision-esque", the final instrument has a markedly different profile - hence the name.
Choosing the optimum neck was another primary concern, with the production instrument having a width at the nut that falls exactly between the classic P-Bass and J-Bass widths with a depth that provides for both an ideal action and string tension.
Bruce specified that the Profile be fitted with a classic, slotted-screw bridge, allowing for adjustment to the string spacing - "I personally prefer the strings set at 20mm apart, rather than the standard 19mm" Bruce says. "In the past I used to ‘heavy string’ my bass with thicker gauge strings, but no longer feel the need to do that as the Profile offers as-near-perfect a playing feel as I’ve ever found."
The choice of a lighter weight body wood and the superb quality of neck and body build (courtesy of the same Korean factory that produces the Bass Collection range) gives the Profile a rich, warm sustain, without the notorious "dead spots" often associated with Precision-style instruments.
The pure, acoustic sound quality can be heard clearly on the the video clips in the adjoining tab, with the Profile's natural warm punchy mid-range perfectly reproduced by pickups that have been custom wound according to the modifications Bruce had made to his original bass.
In summing up the Profile Bass, it is clear that Bruce is happy with the results of the joint endeavour.
"I’m more than happy and confident that all of the essential ingredients of a truly great bass guitar are firmly in place. The best thing I can say is that I no longer miss my old bass when I pick up the Profile Bass to play!"