The Chadwick Folding Bass

The Chadwick Folding BassBrance and I spent the past two days in the studio with Barry Bales, shooting an AcuTab bass DVD which will be released later this year. Adam Steffey, Kenny Smith and Jim Mills were also on hand for the shoot.

Barry had a lot of news to share, particularly about what will be his newest instrument, a Chadwick Folding Bass. The bass is the brainchild of Charlie Chadwick, a Nashville musician who has suffered the frustrations of traveling with an upright bass for many years.

He had tried using whatever instruments might be available at his performance destinations, and a number of the travel basses available on the market. He tired of the uncertainty of using unfamiliar basses and the unsatisfactory tone and responsiveness of scaled-down travel instruments, which led him to start experimenting with the concept of a folding bass.

Chadwick’s design involved a hinged neck that folds back and is stored inside the body of the bass – along with the fingerboard, tailpiece, bridge and end pin – and can be broken down and reassembled in a matter of minutes. He took his first prototype on the road with John Jorgenson Quintet in 2004 and while touring with Jorgensen this last few years, he has continued to refine his design.

Once he felt that he had everything working as it should, Charlie converted a Samuel Shen bass in 2007. He had the opportunity to show it to Shen in 2008, who immediately recognized the value of the concept. Soon Shen and Chadwick were discussing how these folding basses could be manufactured at the Shen factory in China for the international market.

They are now available for sale as the Chadwick Folding Bass, offered for $2999 with a hard shell case. This is a plywood bass with an ebony fingerboard and an oil varnish finish.

Check out this video of Charlie breaking the bass down for travel:
Availability at this point is limited to no more than 12 basses per month. Bales expects to get his in a few weeks, and once more players see and hear these instruments up close and personal, a wait of several months could be the norm.

Barry said he tried one out for several weeks and found the tone and responsiveness to be quite good, and that he plans totake his Chadwick whenever he has to fly for either Dan Tyminski or Alison Krauss shows.

You can find many more photos and details on the Chadwick site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.