Ashbory Bass article in Folk Roots Magazine (UK), April 1986 issue

Ian A. Anderson gives an early view of this unique instrument

Reproduction permission graciously provided by Ian A. Anderson from fRoots magazine. Scans and comments contributed by Mike Tavener. Added June 21, 2003

I found the attached piece when sorting through some old magazines I'm getting rid of. IAA is Ian A. Anderson, founding and still editor of Folk Roots, a British roots/world music magazine.

Ian is a long time acquaintance of Nigel Thornbory, and I recall him playing one of his small bodied acoustic guitars when I booked him for a folk club gig in the early 80s. If you want to use the piece, the magazine's website address is . Interesting to see the suggested use -- exactly how I use it!

The article has been HTML-ized below for easy viewing. A scan of the original is also available:

...and now to the HTML rendering...

Ashbory Bass alongside Fender Precision gives and idea of size! (Photo: Ian A. Anderson)

An extraordinary new instrument has been unleashed on the market, currently in custom-made form only, but soon likely to be taken up by a major international guitar maker because of the stir it has caused. It's a revolutionary new form of bass, developed jointly by the makers of Thornbory guitars and Ashworth transducers, known as the Ashbory.

At first sight, the instrument looks like a toy. The photograph shows its relative size to a regular Fender bass; what it doesn't illustrate is that the strings are made of rubber! However, plug it into even a small bass amplifier, and one is astounded, with a few quick adjustments of the controls (it's available with active EQ if required), to hear a sound as good as a top quality string bass produces when well amplified!

This instrument really is totally addictive, especially to those who play guitar but not bass already. Existing bass guitarists take a few minutes longer to come to grips with the much shorter scale length and the fact that you really don't need to belt the strings -- also that you don't achieve any sharpening of notes by bending them; you have to slur up and down the fretless fingerboard to achieve that effect. But it's only a few minutes -- while we had our review sample in, it nearly got kidnapped by the Oyster Band's Ian Kearey, for example!

Just about the only complaints people voiced weren't with the basic invention at all, but with the body shape. It's difficult to brace your thumb above the bottom string, and it falls over when you stand it up!

At the moment, you can get an Ashbory hand-made for just under £300 from Thornbory Guitars, 153 Vale Rd, Ash Vale, Hants, Tel (0252) 313352. However, there is a strong likelihood of mass production by an American firm later this year, Very soon, we'll find virtuoso players on this totally new instrument. Meanwhile, it's absolutely the answer for bass players in crowded pub sessions or with small cars to get about in.         I.A.A.