At the 2017 NAMM Show, there was a buzz in the bass building world coming from the Genzler Amplification booth. A known player with a new game emerged and his bass was on display. Maurilio “Mo” Mina, from Los Angeles, California, (via Switzerland) was debuting his first bass built under his own name and it is the culmination of 25 years in the industry. Introducing Mina Bass Design.
How long have you been building? As far as actual wood working/carving, 10 years. I have been repairing, assembling and customizing instruments for 20-25 years
How did you get started building? It’s always been easy for me to work with my hands and tools. I have always wanted to build my “dream” bass. In 2007 I got the opportunity to start working with Nordstrand Guitars, through the years I became more and more interested in building my own instruments.
Why do you build instruments? Honestly, it was the necessity of finding the “right” instrument that would work for me. I have never been very satisfied with the way a mainstream/traditional instrument felt or sounded, plus, I had the great opportunity to be mentored by one of the best in the biz. It has pushed me to realize and create the instrument I had in mind. Another thing is I’m VERY particular with what I consider to be a high quality well built instrument. I wanted to do it my way!
When did you start using Nordstrand Pickups? At one point I was building/assembling part basses and I found myself in need of the “right” electronics. Somehow I got the word on this builder located just outside LA area (talkbass.com) who just got started making his own pickups, so I went to visit him (around 2003?) and I loved what I found there. I think I’ve been through every single pickup Carey Nordstrand has made since then.
The opportunity of being able to customize/adapt each pickup to my needs has made me a Nordstrand fan for life!.. oh and the Nordstrand preamps are one of the best on the market (I’ve literally went through almost everything commercially available)
Do you play bass or guitar? I’m a bass player all the way, to the core. I did start out on guitar and drums at an early age , but I switched to bass very fast!
Do you have a favorite Nordstrand Pickup? For a traditional alnico V, the BigSplit for sure. For “jazzy” pickup with more of everything: relatively thick, punchy, clear, articulate and, a must for me, humcancelling “Modern”, the BigMan is incredible. My definition of the BigMan is: What a music man pup always wants to be when it grows up!
Also the prototype I’m using right now on my basses, a humcancelling BigBlade, is my favorite of all, as of now. Very clean, articulate, but still warm and punchy
What do you believe are the most important factors in tone? This is tricky… the touch of the player IS a big determining factor for the sound of an instrument, especially on a electric bass. Placement and type of pickup is a very important factor and the neck is a huge part of an instrument’s sound as well, definitely more than the body, in my experience. In the end, it is the sum of all parts. There’s absolutely no exact formula, each of us all can sound different on the same instrument.
What are your favorite materials to work with? Lately I love “new to me” Okoume (african mahogany.) It’s very light, maybe a little brighter than the traditional Mahogany. It has a relatively fat sound but still very articulate, without a big bottom and it’s well defined in the mids. I like working with the composite material my necks are made of a lot. It’s almost like ebony, but of course being carbon based, very stable. It doesn’t need a finish and doesn’t sound “synthetic” (for the lack of better words) like the typical graphite neck material.
How many instrument do you build per year? I just released my own line of basses this year. Time is limited since I’m also working as repair/custom shop, plus playing with few bands. The ideal would be to build 6-8 basses a year to start with.
Find our more about Mo at www.MinaBassDesign.com
editors note: Mina will soon be relocating to the Inland Empire.