D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby philsaam » Mon May 18, 2009 2:42 pm

Larry --------Austier-I cant think of another word that fits ---wish I could hear how sweet she sounds --thankyou for going to the trouble to post your bass---its personal and its private to you - like my basses are to me ---thankyou for being a great guy---a good friend -Tom said Jack was going to get in touch with me -I hope to direct him here -maybe we can start up a little story tellin of sorts ----thought I would pay my respects to all --its Abalone season -be careful out there---save us the shells -----phil
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby furguscustom » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:31 pm

Sorry to dig this thread back up but I was suprised it ended so ebruptly. I was searching the web for pics of Phil Lesh's Irwin bass on images and found the pic of Phil saam's irwin bass. Anyway I am just in the beginning stages of building a bass of this design and found this thread very interesting. Wish could find more pics to work with but I think I got a good idea for my design.
Thanks.
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby Mandoborg » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:54 pm

Phil has become a dear friend and is one of the nicest people you could ever have come into your life. We've talked for hours about what it was like back 'in the day' as he has first hand knowledge of that bay area lutherie scene. He has not only told me some great stories, he's also introduced me to some of my heros growing up like Frank Fuller and Larry Robinson. This bass should be credited to Larry Robinson as much as Irwin from the story that was relayed to me. Either way it is a fine speciman of the art at it's highest. It inspires one to reach higher.

Jim
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby Thomas Lieber » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:44 am

THIS is the 5 string bass Doug never finished for Phil. Michael Dolan finished off the construction and Larry did the inlays on this one!
Image

Image

Image


Image

Best,
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby zambiland » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:05 pm

Beauty! OK, who gets to play it? I'll certainly volunteer! :smile: :smile: :smile:
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:39 am

Me too! Looks amazing!

Q: What's hiding in the upper electronics cavity? Just batteries or anything else?
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby Larry Robinson » Sat Jul 09, 2016 5:39 pm

I have some modifications to post about the description of this instrument.

First of all, Phil Saam passed away last week at the age of 63, from complications of diabetes. He was a good friend and I'd known him since the mid 1970's when I started working at Alembic. Phil was a hell of a bass player and was in the Beach Blanket Babylon production in SF for several years as their bass player in the orchestra. I was pretty sad to hear of his death, but it had been a downward spiral for many years, and he was at the point where he couldn't even feel the strings under his fingers,so he had to give up playing. I hate to say it, but he is probably better off than having to go through more years of misery.

As far as the 5 string bass pictured here, Phil paid Doug Irwin several thousand dollars to make it, probably around 1970-71, and after ten years of no progress he finally took back what had been done with it and paid me to finish it. When I got it there was an uncarved neck blank with a fingerboard attached, but no peghead plate. The fingerboard was inlaid and fretted. It doesn't look like Doug's inlay work, but I'd hazard a guess that he may have paid Bruce BecVar to do it. It's quite nicely done. There were two body halves in the typical Alembic sandwich style, but they hadn't been rounded over or carved and there were no maple plates in them or control access plates in the back. I did all that stuff at my shop in Cotati, including finish and a set of Alembic Series 1 electronics and sliding pickups, finishing around 1981.

Somewhere around 2000 Phil had Michael Dolan work on it, and the electronics were changed out, and the peghead had been broken, so that was replaced along with different tuners and a cheesy inlay that I would rather not be associated with, so the bass is really a Frankenstein, although it plays great and sounds killer.
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby Larry Robinson » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:09 pm

Here is a place to see those basses.

https://www.robinsoninlays.com/irwin-basses.html
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby moonliner » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:10 pm

Very sorry to hear of Phil's passing. Thanks for sharing those pictures. Both those instruments are gorgeous. I really love that early era of fine hand made instruments. You (Larry), Bruce Becvar, Doug Irwin, Frank Fuller, Rick Turner, and of course Ron Wickersham really started a beautiful thing. It's great to see most of you guys are still making great works of art!
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Re: D. Irwin 4-string bass ref:Tom Lieber ,P. Saam

Postby strumminsix » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:17 am

Thanks for the information, Larry. Sad news on Phil's passing...
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