Vox Lupatri Medius. A middle voice like a wolf. This instrument is a 32" 4-string bass that I've strung with lighter strings and tuned to ADGC. It can easily be outfitted with the player's choice of standard strings and tuning, however. I've chosen to emphasize the middle ground. Kind of a mid-point between standard low-E tuning and Stanley Clarke's piccolo bass.
The C-string is the same note played on the 5th string, 3rd fret of a 6-string guitar in standard tuning. The A-string bottom is a full octave below that of the 5th open string on a guitar. This is where this instrument morphs into another animal, howling and growling. There's a distinctively guitar sound there, but something deeper resides that isn't accessible on a guitar.
Tonally speaking, this thing literally drips with tone. It's so incredibly sweet and clear... I can barely force myself to put it down. With this tuning, I can also play it through a standard guitar amp and get the lows as well as the sweetness of the guitar range.
The fretboard is a local hardwood we call "hedge", but the rest of the world calls it osage orange. Some of the leading luthiers have stated that osage orange is a drop in replacement for Brazillian rosewood. Of course, not for color, that's for sure. Tonally, I'd have to agree.
The color will slowly change to more of a nice orange hue over time. I've seen hedge boards laying in the sun, though, that change fairly quickly due to UV radiation. This board will only look better as time marches on.
The fretwire is gold EVO wire from LMI. It's a bit harder than nickel wire, but not as hard as stainless steel. I'm very fond of the EVO gold wire. It's not plated... it's gold throughout and adds just a little extra to the look of my instruments. Some gold hardware looks a bit cheap, but the gold fretwire looks very elegant, particularly against the osage orange fretboard.
The basic lines, curves, and proportions of this design are the basis for several of my upcoming bass-borne instruments. I'll be using this one quite often. Curiously, this design was also the jumping-off point for my Daemon design. You may recognize the basic structure if you compare them, much in the same way you can see a parent in a child's face.
The back of the Hyperion VLM is sassafras, first used by me on The Daemon Sassefrax 6-string electric. Sassafras is a very resonant and stable wood, although the open grain can be an issue - much like the open grain of ash - depending on the application. Some choose to fill the pores. Nine times out of ten, I choose to let the wood be what it is without a heavy filler and film coating.
The walnut, sassafras, and osage orange for the fretboard are all from trees growing within a few miles of my home and shop.
The string ferrules are inset for a smooth back. You can just see the C-string end in the ferrule. I'm using a standard set of bass strings without the big low E string and added a standard .032" guitar string for the C. Believe it or not, it's the perfect length for this application on a 32" bass scale.
The walnut headstock features a carved, integral logo badge. I've opted to forego the use of a trussrod cover for the simple reason that the trussrod access is just so clean. A cover can be constructed, however, if the client/player would like to have one. This shot also illustrates the zero fret I often use which allows the open strings to have the same tone as the fretted strings. Some players hear the difference between fretted strings and open strings with a bone or plastic nut. The zero fret solves that issue.
Notice where I've put the scarf joint for the headstock. This makes for a very strong and stable headstock transition to the neck. I also like the pattern the contrasting woods make on the shaft of the neck.
Here are a couple shots of the carved bridge and bocote saddle blank before stringing up the instrument. You can also see that I've ramped the string-thorughs so that the strings don't get caught on a corner or have a hard time making the bend on their way to the bridge, which can also have an effect on tone if the break angle over the bridge is too shallow.
The bridge is a floater, so it's easy to adjust the intonation of the strings, regardless of what gauge or tuning.
The title "Hyperion" is derived this time - not from mythology per se - but from the moon of Saturn by the same name. The moon Hyperion is an asymmetrical satellite with no discernable axis and a chaotic rotation in an eliptical orbit around the planet Saturn. For more info and data on the moon, see Hyperion Chaotic Moon from the Planetary Society.
Of course, Hyperion as a mythological figure was one of the twelve Titan gods of ancient Greece that were later supplanted by the Olympians. He was the son of the earth (Gaia) and the sky (Uranus). In the Odyssey, the Sun is called the "son of Hyperion."
Hyperion VLM Specifications
sassafras back, walnut front solidbody
Neck: maple w/walnut angled headstock, dual-action trussrod
Fretboard: osage orange ("hedge"), gold EVO fretwire, 12" radius, black sidemarkers
Scale length: 32", 24 frets plus zero-fret
ebony, 1 1/2" width
volume (tone options available)
carved ebony w/bocote saddle
Finish: Danish Oil
Weight: 7 lb 2 oz
PRICE: $4,600 currently available
Please contact me via email to discuss the purchase of this instrument.