By Adam Perlmutter
Much like an Aston Martin One-77, a Gurkha His Majesty’s Reserve cigar, or a pair of Barker Black loafers, Warwick’s Jack Bruce Signature bass sports a distinctive appearance—and a wildly astronomical price tag. Listing at $55,000, it is among the most expensive new electric solidbody basses to be produced. This fact is due to both its premium construction materials, which includes much Brazilian rosewood, and its scarcity: only three are in existence.
The JB Signature is a reincarnation of a previous one-off collaboration between the legendary Cream bassist and Warwick in the early Nineties. It was built by company founder and president Hans-Peter Wilfer from the same block of Brazilian rosewood used for the original bass. Now more than 40 years old, the wood is 100-percent CITES-certified. “The wood was cut in 1967 and previously exported to Ireland,” Wilfer says. “I bought it in 1984 and still have a bit left. I take care of it like a diamond.”
Construction on the new model began in the summer of 2009 and was completed in March of this year. One finished instrument went to Bruce; another is currently on display at the Framus museum, in Markneukirchen, Germany. The third, pictured here, is in the proud possession of an anonymous collector in Columbus, Ohio, who, after seeing Bruce and the JB in action on a Cream reunion concert DVD, immediately rang Warwick to procure one for himself.
Like its two counterparts, this JB Signature features a Brazilian rosewood body and fingerboard, with a laminated neck made from seven wedges, four of wenge and three of bubinga. (Several other specs mirror those found on the considerably less expensive but cosmetically similar bubinga production model, which lists for $4,499.90.) The four-string, neck-through design boasts a 34-inch fretless fingerboard with a range of two octaves plus a whole tone. Electronics consist of two active MEC J/J-style pickups with a three-way switch. The instrument’s classy black, high-performance hardware includes Warwick machine heads and a two-piece bridge.
But for all its top-notch materials, the JB Signature, like all great instruments, possesses a certain ineffable quality. “It’s kind of like a 1959 Les Paul Standard,” Wilfer says. “It doesn’t look particularly special, but it is, in fact, magical.”
Photo: Ryan Phillips