Below you will find all the basses that Mark King used since 1980. Some basses are still missing! If you want to help, contact me.
Mark’s Guitars N Stuff! (2006) – Photo courtesy of Lars Mullen.
The first Alembics that Mark ordered were two long scale 34″ Series II basses:
1. Cocobolo top and back, mahogany semi-hollow body, maple accents, with front laser LEDs (in Mother of Pearl oval inlays) and red side LEDs in the seven piece maple/purpleheart through neck with ebony fingerboard. Gold hardware. Polyester clear gloss finish. DS5 external power supply.
2. AAAAA quilted maple top and back, mahogany semi-hollow body, purpleheart accents, with front lasers (in Mother of Pearl oval inlays) and red side LEDs in the seven piece maple/purpleheart neck, with ebony fingerboard. Gold hardware. Polyester clear gloss finish. DS5 external power supply.
Prior to the completion of those basses, mark purchased a second-hand birds-eye maple Series I bass and a walnut Distillate bass, because allegedly, he couldn’t wait to play those Alembics.
Shortly after receiving the two long scale basses, he ordered two more Series II basses (one cocobolo and one AAAAA quilted maple), with the exact same specs as the long scales, only this time in 32″ medium scale. The latter are actually the two basses he used on the “Isle of Wight 2000″ live DVD.
By the way, the standard string spacing of the Alembics, are identical to those of Mark’s custom Status Kingbass. Mark appearently was so comfortable with the Alembic narrow string spacing, that he copied them to the Status.
He had two Pangborns built in 1982 and played them extensively in this period. These two basses, according to Steve Thatcher were the finest Ashley produced with outstanding woods and inlay work.
Steve Thatcher who worked with Ashley from 1982/1984 recalls when Mark turned up at the workshop looking for a new bass…
“Mark King came to our workshop to try out some new basses. He played for around an hour and dazzled us both with his technique. Initially he wanted two basses (for free) but we eventually negotiated that he pay for one and get the other one for nothing. These basses were probably the best instruments ever produced with meticulous attention to detail”.
Fender made a Mark King model Jazz – 42 of them, for sale in 99. These were built and set up exactly to Mark’s spec. They had the flat board, Sims LEDs and a beautiful custom neck plate with Mark’s signature on it.
These basses were shown to Mark only just before the 1999 tour began. On this occasion he has taken two basses so one can be waiting whilst strings are changed and of course for back-up in emergencies. One is in a light-blue finish and the other a quieter sunset finish. They both have rosewood fingerboards.
The GB Standard range is based on a popular and now almost traditional bass style which they term an ‘enhanced jazz bass’ style. The basic shape being present but with their specific sculpting and contouring where it counts. They have Hipshot light weight machine-heads and Schaller 2000 adjustable width bridges. The bodies are made from light weight swamp-ash and the necks from maple. Each string has a usable two octave range.
The controls are from the top : Pickup mix (pan) : Main volume : Treble : Mid and Bass on a dual knob : Pickup coil configuration switch. Mark had the Blue customised with blue led lights and the Red with green led lights so there is an extra switch to turn these on. They are powered by two 9Volt batteries.
In November 2000, Rob Green went to visit Mark and, after a couple of bottles of fine red, they decided that it was time to create the bass he had always wanted.
Mark came to the conclusion that most basses were just too big and not as manageable as they could be and he really needed a smaller bodied instrument with more voluptuous lines. The headless concept used on Status basses since the beginning was great but not being able to add vibrato and bend the string was a drawback. Rob solved this with the invention of the “BendWell”… a recess behind the top-nut which allows the player to bend the string up two semitones.
The combination of the small, arch-top, double-cutaway body, the headless neck and the BendWell fell into place to produce a bass which prompts Mark to comment “……this bass makes old ‘ vintage’ bass designs look like dinosaurs”.