A signature model bass by any other name wouldn’t sound as sweet.
Jeff Ament arguably penned the grunge movement’s original bass line. Born in Missoula, the young musician moved to Seattle in 1983, where he found work at a Belltown coffee shop. A year later, he joined Green River, who are considered the grunge era’s first group by many rock historians. After that band broke up, Ament played in two more outfits — Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog, respectively — prior to 1990.
That year, he formed a quintet with two other local musicians, a guitarist from L.A. and a singer from Evanston, Ill. The band called themselves Mookie Blaylock — as a tribute to their favorite NBA player — but copyright laws forced them to change the name. They settled on Pearl Jam, and the rest is rock ‘n’ roll history.
Just as Ament and his bandmates brought Seattle’s music scene to the mainstream 20 years ago, the bassist has set another precedent as the Pearl Jam member to release his own signature instrument. For this project, Ament teamed up with fellow Northwesterner Mike Lull, a legendary guitar and bass builder.
Later this month, the JAXT4 will debut at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim, California. This is not the first time Ament and Lull collaborated. For more than 25 years, the bassist has amassed an impressive collection of guitars. Many of them have been customized by Lull in his Bellevue shop, Mike Lull Guitar Works, where he has built and repaired bass models since the 70’s.
“I’ve worked with Jeff for years,” Lull said. “His instinct when it comes to quality and craftsmanship match my own sensibilities and made it a joy to create the JAXT4 to add to our lineup.”
The JAXT4 bass features a body that is over-sized by 20 percent and modified by a reverse headstock. Its sleek frame is thinner than standard Mike Lull T4 models. Ament chose the colors, finish and wood configurations, and designed the logo that appears on the guitar’s pickguard. His signature also appears on the model’s reverse headstock, next to a Mike Lull logo that is unique to the JAXT4.
The guitar comes in a hardshell case with a hand-stenciled logo on the exterior, as well as a bag of assorted custom picks designed by Ament. The JAXT4 is available in four custom colors and wood configuration choices:
- Satin black polyester finish with a chromed aluminum JA pickguard (mahogany body/mahogany neck/rosewood fingerboard)
- Satin kerry-green polyester finish with a solid white plastic JA pickguard (mahogany body/maple neck/maple fingerboard)
- Gloss clear polyester finish with a chromed aluminum JA pickguard (swamp ash body/maple neck/maple fingerboard)
- Satin cardinal-red polyester finish with a solid black plastic JA pickguard (mahogany body/mahogany neck/rosewood fingerboard)
“[This is] the only bass that plays like a modern handmade machine and sounds like the best vintage Fender or Gibson in the shop,” says Ament. “I’m honored to put my name next to Mike’s on this beast.”
Lull and Ament will donate two hand-painted (by Ament) basses to an online auction. The pair chose 826 Seattle — a non-profit dedicated to helping young people improve their written communication skills through free tutoring — as their beneficiary. You can bid on either (or both) of these two items by visiting Charity Buzz online.
Following the NAAM show on Jan. 19-22, the JAXT4 will be available for purchase to the general public.