Overwater Original – A beast of a bass!

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I recently bought a rather unusual bass.  It’s a 1979 Overwater OS957 that’s generally referred to these days as an Overwater Original.  This particular model is quite interesting as it has a bunch of original features such as the carved top and the graduated fret system.  The frets, according to Overwater, have three gauges starting with wide and chunky at the bottom for maximum sustain graduating to a thinner band style of wire at the second octave.  Ease of fretting, chording and unbelievable bending action without choking is the claim.  I think Overwater stopped this process at some point probably because it was a PITA to build and possibly didn’t actually make that much of a difference.  I’ll try and contact Chris May the luthier who made this, to validate the claims. Speaking of Chris May, I heard a rumour that John Entwistle was involved in the design of this bass which makes sense as it does resemble some of his later designs of Buzzard basses for both Status and Warwick.  I can’t seem to find anything to back that up other than it was known that Entwistle had some Overwaters.  Overwater are still around today making fine basses and have recently teamed up with Tanglewood to offer a budget range too.

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From behind you can see how the through neck is sculpted to allow for easy access up “the dusty end”.

On this video I play the bass firstly with a blend of both pickups then the rear, front then a blend again.

I bought this bass about a month ago but then immediately took it to my guitar tech, the fabulous Gareth Lewis, based in Cardiff to get a few bits and bobs done on it.  I have known Gareth for many years and have played in the Tanya Walker band with him.  I always take my basses to him for setups and tweaks and he always manages to make them beautiful instruments to play.  Gareth is such a good musician too and has a huge passion for guitars.  I strongly recommend him for all guitar repair and setups.  You can contact him through his Facebook page here.

Gareth Lewis

Gareth Lewis

I had the wiring returned to its original format as the previous owner had modded it to his preferred pickup 1 vol, tone, pickup 2 vol, tone.  It is now master volume, master tone, pickup 1 vol, pickup 2 volume.  I think I prefer it this way.  Once I collected this bass last week, I used it at a Rumble-O’s gig, the surf band I play in.  The bass was completely the wrong one for this band!  It was way too forceful sounding so the next gig I returned to using my regular surf bass, my Reverend Rumblefish!

Here I am playing the Overwater with The Rumble-O’s in a little Vine my wife took.

I didn’t get this bass for The Rumble-O’s though, I got it for my new top secret project!  I may let some details slip on here though…

I got this bass from an Overwater enthusiast called Steve “Tayste” Taylor up near Macclesfield, England.  Steve is a superb innovative bassist and we spent a great afternoon jamming and talking all things bass.  His fine blog is here.  Steve has owned 5 Overwaters over the years and luckily I caught him at a time where he was trying to cut back a bit and was selling off two Overwaters including a lovely fretless that I was sorely tempted to get. He did however, give me one hell of a tricky choice with the bass, either I could take it with its original brown leather covered hard case or a proper touring flightcase with a laser cut insert specially made for this bass.  Arrgh!!  Do I go for the original case knowing that finding another would be next to impossible or go for the excellent professional touring option.  In the end I plumped for the original reasoning that I could get a custom case at a later date.  Problem is though, the Overwater is a least 4 inches longer than a precision bass and thus a tricky bass to house.  Steve, who is a very generous soul however, offered me both cases for a little extra dough – total no brainer!  I have now wrapped, sealed and stored the original case and am happy to be using it with the hard core flight case.

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