Down Beat Magazine Review - August 2014
Singleton Guitarworks Sensei5 BassTraditional Platform, Exotic Touch
As an accomplished guitarist, Touch Singleton knows a thing or two about playability and tone. And for the past 23 years, he has utilized this knowledge to design and build a line of handcrafted boutique electric guitars. Eight years ago, at the request of a fellow musician in search of something truly unique, Singleton began to explore the world of electric bass and created the Sensei5. Featuring fine tone- woods, active electronics and an extremely comfort- able profile, this five-string axe is a definite testament to Singleton’s skill as a fine luthier. As a player, Singleton came up during the fusion era of the 1970s, when artists were pushing the boundaries of musical genres by combining elements of jazz, funk and rock. Versatile music requires a versatile instrument, and crossover ability has been one of the guiding principles of Singleton’s designs. His Singleton Guitarworks is a true one-man operation, with every guitar built from the ground up by Singleton himself (he produces about 25 instruments per year). Using the classic Jazz Bass as his platform, Singleton had some specific goals in mind in designing the Sensei5. He wanted to build an instrument that allowed the individuality of the player’s touch and the tone of the woods to come out through the amp with- out being masked by the electronics. The Sensei5 accomplishes this by being a highly versatile, extremely playable and incredibly responsive instrument. The bass features an asymmetrical double cutaway design that is light- weight and well balanced for comfortable playing while standing. The tone woods are striking on the Sensei5, which uses Louisiana swamp ash for the body, capped with highly figured burled maple and finished in a tobacco burst. The neck is carved from solid maple with a flamed maple fingerboard.
I found the Sensei5 to be smooth, versatile and responsive. As a player with smaller hands, I was surprised at how easily I adapted to the five-string neck, which has a great profile. The Sensei5 utilizes a dual pickup configuration with custom-designed Nordstrand pickups, and it features active circuitry with an onboard Audere three-band EQ preamp. The range of possible tones can be fine-tuned via the three EQ pots, a pickup blend pot and a master volume. In addition, a three-position toggle invokes a bass cut, treble cut or neutral setting. There is also a battery indicator light that will alert you if the preamp battery requires changing. The Sensei5 has a Hipshot “A” style bridge made from aluminum in order to maximize the transfer of string vibrations to the wood, and the B and E strings are run through the body to allow for a tighter response on the lower strings and provide a better overall balance across the fretboard. This is a well-designed, hand-built instrument that, in Singleton’s own words, “adds an exotic touch to a traditional plat- form.” At a list price of $3,250, the Sensei5 would make a proud addition to any bass player’s arsenal.
~ Keith Baumann ~ Ordering info: singletonguitars.com page 96
Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman - February 17, 2014
Growing up immersed in the popular music of the ’60s and ’70s, Touch Singleton was destined to make his way in the music world, one way or another. After playing in several bands and doing a bit of touring, Touch, a self-proclaimed “tinkerer,” found himself graviating toward the technical side of the guitar world, eventually starting his own business, Singelton Guitars.
Once becoming established as a maker of fine guitars, Singleton expanded his business to include basses, which quickly became popular among discerning players. FBPO’s Jon Liebman went one-on-one with Touch in this exclusive interview.
ER Bass Review - February 2014
Bass design and craftsmanship comes in many different styles from the conservative to the extreme. I believe there is room for all kinds of designs, personal vision and concepts for the bass guitar.
Touch Singleton is a person that has remained true to the roots of the instruments, yet at the same time embraced use of quality tone woods and electronics that have allow the bass player to soar within familiar styling and feel that we all have come to expect.