Interview with Jerzy Drozd by Koray Ergunay
How did your quest of building instruments start and how did it evolve to become “Jerzy Drozd Basses” as a profession and a company?
Well, this is funny but loooong story. When I was very young I was good with my hands. I loved to make airplane flying models, so when I was 16 that was the age when I started discovering music and wanted to play instrument. My brother told me to play bass guitar because it has just 4 strings so was easier to learn and play (laughing) Well, I asked my father for bass guitar but he rejected that idea telling me that this will not last long and I will drop soon the instrument in the corner.
So I decided on building my bass guitar. I had no experience and no idea whatsoever how to do it, I just find one book which explained how to correctly position frets on the fingerboard and then I had pictures of instruments and some bass guitar catalogs. I designed and built my first bass from the scratch and it was entirely designed by me.
I played that bass for some time but suddenly somebody wanted to buy it.
I sold it :) and started the next project. Needless to say that there was huge leap in quality when I finished the second one, but I sold it too, then I made few more basses just for fun playing bass guitar at the same time.
When I was 26 years I decided to make my own company, I called it "Jezy Drozd Basses" and it remains operative until today.
12 String Legend made for Yves Carbonne
How can you sum up the attitude and style of the Jerzy Drozd basses?
Style: Unique, different I do not follow established path even if that seems like I do. Personality in Design and constant searching for the perfect sound. My personal development as luthier never stops and doubt will ever stop.
Attitude: Very open to opinions and critics of bass players, I keep my ego way down so any critic does not affect myself but help me to make better instruments. Have no fear to change things, to experiment. I´am on my own way to discover how the sound creates and what it is all about and how each part of the instrument help you to create that unique voicing.
5 String Excellency
9 String Soul
How can you describe the construction and sound of the Obsession Legend semi-hollow bass?
Basically I created Legend bass as an concept instrument for musicians who want to expand boundaries beyond of standard bass guitar.
The next idea was to make it hollow body with piezo pickups and then even with MIDI.
It´s not easy to describe sound with words, this is kind of an instrument with warm but crisp acoustic touch, you can blend that acoustic sound with standard magnetic pickup for some out of reality voicing. When you blend both piezo and magnetic pickup it sounds like 3D, spacious and rich sound.
The development of this unique instrument do not stop, I work closely with Yves Carbonne (www.yvescarbonne.com) who uses my 10 and 12 string Legend basses to discover new possibilities and to prove some of my theories about how sound is created.
I will expose these theories in my upcoming book " The Alchemy of Sound" it will be available later this year thru www.electricbasssecrets.com website.
5 String Sequel
On your basses, you regularly use the propietary JeDXS single coil and JeDXD double coil pickups that bear neodymium magnets which are known to produce different harmonics compared to regular ceramic or alnico magnets. How did you decide to use neodymium magnets?
Any kind of magnets has it´s own limitations, I decided to use neodymium because it allow me to explore new sound possibilities much better than ceramic or alnico magnets.
You can not make pickups with neodymium magnets the same way as will alnico, you have to think different way, it cost me mostly two years of development to get the right sound, I still test new ideas and now I´m working on my 3rd generation of pickups.
Neodymium are more expensive too this is the reason they are less popular.
4 String Oracle Model
In the last decade, custom basses have gained considerable attention and the usage of composite materials such as graphite necks have been increasing. What are your comments on these? Can you describe your preferences and tastes for building a great bass?
Composite materials actually were used for more than two decades now, but from my point of view they simply can not match wood in terms of sound.
I personaly used carbon fiber inside of my necks but now I do not use it anymore since I didn´t see any improvement for stability and overall performance.
6 String Oracle Model
Thank you for your time. What would you like to say to the readers as your closing comments?
First of all thank you very much Koray for this opportunity to explain my vision of bass building to Sound magazine readers, I feel gratefull for this!
If you are instrument maker always search for excellence in what you do. Your Art can not exist without people who buy and play your instruments, treat them as gold and as the best asset you will ever have.
Published on April 2011 issue of Sound Magazine
About the interviewer www.korayergunay.com