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Ronnie Lane’s Customized Zemaitis Bass

Ronnie Lane’s Customized Zemaitis Bass

Although they by no means reached the business success of a few of their friends, the Faces have little doubt earned a spot as one of many seminal rock ’n’ roll bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Combining influences as various as instrumental funk à la the Meters, conventional folks music, and a heavy dose of rhythm and blues, the Faces model of rock ’n’ roll will be heard in a roundabout way or one other within the music of numerous bands that adopted. After the Faces folded in 1975, all 5 members went on to proceed making nice music, however their chemistry collectively was plain.


An enormous a part of their distinctive sound and stage presence got here from the bizarre devices typically employed by bassist Ronnie Lane and guitarist Ron Wooden. Anthony Zemaitis was a British born cabinet-maker-turned-luthier. His guitars’ distinctive steel tops, typically with elaborately engraved designs supplied by Danny O’Brien, will be seen with among the period’s most legendary guitar gamers, however it was his connection to the Faces that basically put Zemaitis’ devices on the map.

Engraver Danny O’Brien’s handiwork on the heel plate and management cavity covers are on show on this view of the bass’ again.

The bass pictured right here was one in every of his earliest customized designs for Ronnie Lane. Although all of Tony’s designs are one-of-a-kind, this stands out as a bass guitar actually not like every other we’ve ever seen. This instrument has a chambered physique with a neck-through design and includes a 6-screw heel plate purely for cosmetics. The hole chambers on both facet of the neck block have been full of cotton to get rid of suggestions under a laminate-wood carved prime. The distinctive “go well with of playing cards” inlays alongside the 32″-scale neck would change into a signature of Ronnie Lane, however that is maybe the earliest instance of that motif on one in every of his devices. Each the headstock and finish of the fretboard are delicately carved right into a crown-like sample, maybe drawing inspiration from mandolins and lutes of the earlier century. The controls are two tone dials with on-off switches for every, plus a grasp quantity—with a lacking knob—on the higher physique. Each piece of steel, from the pickup surrounds, knobs, tailpiece—even the heel plate and management cavity cowl—have been intricately engraved by O’Brien. That is as a lot a murals as it’s a distinctive instrument with an inspiring tone.

Ronnie Lane is hardly probably the most well-known title related to the Faces, however it could possibly be argued that the spirit of the band was largely resulting from his affect. His love of folks and nation music even left its mark upon early Rod Stewart solo data on which Lane and his Faces bandmates performed a big half. This bass was with him for early Faces performances and will simply have been used on a few of these traditional recordings, together with the albums First Step and Lengthy Participant.

This headstock has prospers match for a king—probably of golf equipment.

There are quite a few iconic pictures of the band onstage the place this bass will be seen, however its worth goes properly past pure memorabilia. Zemaitis devices maintain a particular place within the evolution of guitar design, and the masterful engravings of Danny O’Brien are unmistakable. The unhappy lack of Ronnie Lane to a number of sclerosis in 1997 makes this instrument much more particular. The damage and tear he placed on the bass and the music he made with it are a part of his lasting legacy.

Finally this bass discovered its method to a pawn store within the southern United States, the place its second proprietor bought it, unaware of its well-known historical past. The bass was performed domestically from the late Seventies till about three years in the past, when that proprietor handed away, leaving the bass to his cousin. His analysis over the previous few years led him to comprehend the provenance of the instrument in his possession, and he finally confirmed his findings with us at Rumble Seat Music in Nashville, the place this legendary instrument is now proudly supplied—an ideal instance of the form of rock ’n’ roll artifact we love!

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