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October 25, 2021 3 min read

Chris Seldon creates instruments for a discerning customer. Since 2018, he has already built a reputation for attention to detail, with customers like Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveller) and Brian Rashap (Mother Hips).

Tell us how this all started: In the spring of 2004 I was holed up in a large warehouse space in the west end of Toronto, hunched over 3 large racks of digital samplers. It was the rehearsals for the Rush R30 tour and I was working as Neil Peart’s sampler technician. The band had changed over from the AKAI S1100 to the more robust Roland SV5080 and there was a lot of work to do to get ready.

zen blade

My job was to transfer all of Neil’s samples to the new units and do any editing and re-mapping to prepare for the tour that would take them from Nashville to Amsterdam and all points between. To say that Neil was a perfectionist would be a gross understatement.

Many times he would stop everything mid song (while the rest of the band and crew waited and I sweat bullets) to ask me to edit one of the samples, often by amounts that were so small I wondered if it was really necessary at all.

Neil could hear the difference between milliseconds.
He could hear the difference between 1dB and 2dB. 
He could hear everything.

It was only later that summer when I saw the band at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto that I truly understood why Neil was so exacting about the smallest details. When those samples that I had worked on months before came blasting though the PA speakers at 110db and 15,000 and rabid fans went wild, I understood.

The smallest details matter in a big way.

I often remember this experience as I’m tooling around my shop alone, building my basses. The devil is in the details and I see him often. My goal is to make the highest quality, most inspirational instruments that I can. The sound needs to balanced, the playability effortless and the look as cool as can be.

No matter what I’m building I always approach each bass like it’s a custom.  A very special custom that someone is going to make killer music on for a very long time. I actually visualize the bass I’m working at the time being played on a giant stage with thousands of fans in the audience. Better make sure everything is dialled-in, just so.

I am able to hand select all of my woods from my suppliers, mill the timbers myself and then carefully and methodically mold them into tools for artists. I only use best in-class pickups, electronics and hardware for my builds.

I sweat all of the details and am sure that nothing leaves my shop until it is as perfect as I am able to make it. I understand that my customers are making an investment both artistically and financially when they are considering a purchase.  I take these things seriously.

Zen Blade

What inspired you to become a luthier? I had worked for many years in corporate marketing and had become somewhat disillusioned with hyping someone else’s cheap products. I was quite good at it and I felt it was a somewhat dishonest way to make a living. It didn’t feel ‘right’ to me. I’m obsessed with detail and high quality and wanted to do something I felt was worthy of my time. I also wanted to see the direct result of my own labour. And I love bass guitar…

For which kind of customer do you build? My customers are generally people who really know their stuff. They typically have owned many high end basses and are looking to work with a builder who can customize their instrument specifications to a large degree. To date, most of my customers have become friends throughout the build process. By far the best part of my job is getting to know my customers. 

Which are your favorite materials and finishes to work with? My Ranger basses are the classic Alder/Maple/Rosewood combination. For the Alchemist basses I use only the best exotic woods I can get my hands on.  My shop is Toronto, Canada and I am lucky to be surrounded by several great wood suppliers and mills. 

When did you discover Nordstrand and why you use Nordstrand in your builds? I discovered Nordstrand early on through word of mouth. It’s great product and great people so what’s not to love? (pictured: Zen Blade 5, Fat Stack 5, Big Single 5) My customers are familiar with the Nordstrand line and often ask for specific pickups and preamp configurations when I initially consult with them.
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