Author Topic: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?  (Read 9663 times)

Dave W

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Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« on: March 19, 2013, 04:43:20 PM »
Some of you know the story of Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox Model 736, the first known fretted electric bass guitar. If not, here's the story from his son Bud, who passed away several years ago.

One unanswered question is the scale length. Tutmarc's catalog says the overall length is 42" but not what the scale length is. I found that a Talkbass member actually got to see one and take it apart (see here) and his notes say the scale length was approximately 30" but he doesn't offer anything exact.

Now look at his full length photo.



This is pretty much a straight on front view. But I printed it and measured the nut to 12th fret distance and the overall distance, then multiplied that ratio by 42 inches, and I come up with 17" which would make it a 34" scale bass. Also seems logical since the bridge is almost at the very end of the body and the headstock isn't that big.

Anyone else care to print, measure and offer an opinion?

dadagoboi

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 04:44:05 AM »
I looked at the other pix...judging by the size of that pot, thumb and cable it looks like SS to me.  Plus there's only room for 16 frets on that neck.




Denis

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 04:48:15 AM »
The pot looks roughly quarter sized but if you could determine the diameter of the router bits used for the wiring channel you could measure out everything else.
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Basvarken

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 05:51:06 AM »
Looks maybe even shorter than 30 inch to me. Look at the distances between the frets.
I'll make a comparison in photoshop to check


Basvarken

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2013, 06:04:41 AM »
It think it is 30 inch if I compare it to the BaCH Telecaster, which is 30 inch



dadagoboi

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 07:27:34 AM »
It think it is 30 inch if I compare it to the BaCH Telecaster, which is 30 inch




Proportionally, it's the same as ANY instrument, twice as long from the nut to the 12th fret.  Overlay a 34 inch scale bass, matching up bridge to 12th fret and results will be the same.  Plus the big tuner ears will be about equal in size.  Dave may be correct.

Dave W

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 08:16:52 AM »
Printed as a pdf on virtual printer, spread lengthwise on my monitor, I measure the bass as 16 3/4" from end to end, and 6 13/16" from the inside of the nut to the 12th fret. 6.8125/16.75=17.08"

The headstock has a slight angle, but I don't think it's enough of an angle to throw off the overall measurements by enough to make this a short scale -- unless I'm measuring wrong.

It's very compact, that may make it look like it's short scale. Based on the pics and my measurements, I don't think so. As always, I could be wrong.

The Audivox catalog has exact measurements of several of the other items, so I doubt the 42" was just a guess. Bud says it was 42". And Bud made a bass in the late 1940s that was almost identical.

Both Paul and Bud's basses were sold out of Seattle. If they were 34" scale, and Leo Fender saw one of Bud's basses on the west coast in the late 40s, it might explain how Leo came up with the Precision scale length. I know the official story is that they tried out several scale lengths, but sometimes official stories are myths.

dadagoboi

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 09:21:16 AM »
I missed that 42" dimension, I think I was blinded by the stunning craftsmanship ;D

Yeah, long scale. 

ilan

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 09:22:53 AM »
Dave's math is correct.

And WOW. New pics of the world's first bass guitar. Thanks for sharing.

I now see where Rickenbacker got the idea to use a forstner bit for the channel route ;-)
A bad day of playing bass is still better than a good day of playing cello.

Dave W

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 09:55:21 PM »
Look what I found: an early Audiovox lap steel with lots of pics.

Now that's a real piece of history!

Highlander

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2013, 04:52:47 PM »
[heathan] still just a slab of wood [/heathan]  :o

I mostly use my SG that way... ;)
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ilan

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 05:18:17 AM »
Some features of the walnut Audiovox are different from the white one in the EMP museum. Like the pickup location.

The EMP bass has the pickup about halfway between the last fret and the bridge. The walnut bass has it much closer to the bridge.

This is probably why the TB guy who had access to the walnut bass says it sounded "thin", while the recording of the EMP bass sounds bassy and full.

« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 05:24:01 AM by ilan »
A bad day of playing bass is still better than a good day of playing cello.

ilan

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2013, 05:23:18 AM »
BTW, under the hood it looks like Tutmarc started to route it for a middle-position pickup, then changed his mind and did a bridge-position route.

A bad day of playing bass is still better than a good day of playing cello.

Dave W

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2013, 12:58:49 PM »
It's certainly possible that he started to put the pickup further from the bridge and changed his mind. I read somewhere that the earlier ones had the pickup closer to the bridge, but with no build dates I don't know how that was verified.

From Bud, about his own instruments:

During this time, in about the year 1948, I was making a guitar for a very excellent Hawaiian Steel Guitarist, Ray Morales. Ray had a very extensive ability on the Steel and upon occasion, played a lot of rhythm on the bass strings. He wanted a guitar that would give him more depth of sound on the bass strings. In an attempt to find a way to have the steel guitar give more depth on the bass strings, I took a pickup, outside of a guitar, and placed it in various places over the strings. I found that putting the pickup about six inches IN FRONT of the bridge gave much more depth of sound from the strings. Upon discovering this result, I changed all my pickups on my electric basses to some six inches from the bridge. This is still prevelant in basses today.

Also, while "fooling around" with this pickup, I found that slanting the pickup so that the polepiece would be farther from the bridge under the bass strings and closer to the bridge under the treble strings gave much more depth to the bass strings while not hurting the treble sound of the higher strings. I have a picture of Sol Hoopii holding one of my guitars in 1953. The guitar was my "slanted" pickup. With Sol passing away in 1953, I certainly have proof of being the first to "slant" the guitar pickup. You will note that most every guitar now has a slanted pickup (near the bridge).


Dave W

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Re: Paul Tutmarc's Audiovox 736 Bass -- what scale?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2013, 01:06:25 PM »
Some interesting Paul Tutmarc pics in this YT clip. Bonnie was his second wife; she's still living.