On the plus side I can now keep this instrument, and what a bass it is. Big thank you (again) to Blaine for helping me with the soldering, and of course David and Rob in the workshop for a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand. Here are a couple of pics, and then some specs:
These pics don't do the bass any justice. The walnut looks a lot nuttier than it appears, and there is some sparkle in the quilted maple top. The fretboard, too, has a lot more definition in real life (hence "Sauron" - the evil eye just keeps looking at you in stealth mode). OK, here's the specs:
It's a little heavy at somewhere between 3.9 and 4 kg.
Neck-through with 3 maple and 2 wenge strips; just under 20 mm at the first fret, about 23 at fret 12;
walnut body, a single layer of light veneer, wenge layer, and quilted maple top;
Osmo finish (three coats, the first two with light 0000 steel wool once they had cured, the last coat just as is);
35", 24 frets, spacing at bridge just about 18 mm, zero fret;
Hipshot ultralites short Y key, Hipshot Solo bridges (see discussion in Lutherie topic), Dunlop flush mount strap locks, standard dome knobs;
2 Delano SBCs (dual coil, EMG size) in the typical Ken Smith positions with a Nordstrand 3b-3 pre. Each pickup is run through a three way mini switch with series/parallel/single coil (north) options, and the two pickups can be switched (using a 4-way rotary) in neck/both series/both parallel/bridge so there's endless variations.
Sound. Well, I don't have a bass that sounds anything like this. In passive it's "wow", and I'd be quite happy to use this bass passive but of course you get that little bit extra once you go active that makes it worth it. Always clear, massive push in all series settings, then gradually less as you go parallel and single coil (those last two settings are noticeably but subtly different). Super-clear in the treble range, and plenty of growl down low. That's playing through the PJ Bighead - I have yet to plug it into my Genzler rig. Yes, sound bites, sound bites. I really should get my act together and record something but my playing is too atrocious I think. This baby will obviously feature at the Melbourne Guitar Show this coming weekend and will also travel to Sydney late August.
Looking ahead: the next example of this is already in the works - identical construction, only with an amboyna burl top and a less busy fretboard. What would I like to do differently? Well, first of all I really don't want to have the replaceable ramp so more care when routing. I would prefer slimmer soap bar pickups (the EMG size is just a little too imposing), and I really want to use different individual bridges - not impressed with the Hipshot Solos any more.
Anyway, drop in on the weekend if you're at the show (I'll have all the others there as well), and I'll give you an update when I've played this in a band setting.