4-String Basses 2000-2009

Collage of 4-string bass guitars

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This Les Claypool style bass was built by Carl, Pete Hilton, Kelvin Daly and Joe Kruse in the Brooklyn shop and features a walnut body with maple stripes. 32″ scale, 29 fret maple neck with an ebony fingerboard. Ebony headstock veneers, control cover, “football”, truss rod cover and nut. 1 passive Kent Armstrong soapbar pickup with Carl’s special passive wiring. Hipshot ultra-light tuners and a Kahler tremolo.

Serial number 11-16-09.

Tony’s Halloween bass, serial number 10-31-09.

10-2-09 36″ scale semi-frills. this bass was originally fretless but later was fretted.

Andy’s bass, serial number 9-11-09.

Construction: A 3-piece quartersawn mahogany body bolted to a 1-piece quartersawn mahogany neck. The fingerboard is bloodwood, the truss rod cover is a 2-piece stack of ebony and bocote, the nut is ebony with a thin strip of bocote, the 1/4″ jack is set on a 2-piece cat’s eye of mahogany and bocote, the electronics cavity cover is mahogany, and the nameplate on the headstock is a 2-piece stack of ebony and maple with Carl’s brand burned into it.

Hardware: All black appointments, including Hipshot Ultra-Lite tuners, Hipshot A-style bridge.

Fretboard contains 29 nickel medium-jumbo frets.

Electronics: A single passive Kent Armstrong Humbucker with a volume pot, tone pot, and a 3-way switch for single coil, humbucker, and kill switch.

Construction: 3-piece quartersawn mahogany body bolted to a 1-piece quartersawn mahogany neck. The fingerboard is bloodwood, the fretlines are ebony. The truss rod cover is a 2-piece stack of ebony and bocote, the nut is ebony with a thin strip of bocote, the 1/4″ jack is mounted in a 2-piece cat’s eye made of mahogany and bocote, the bridge is a 3-piece stack of ebony and bocote, the tailpiece is a piece of bocote capped with a piece of molded brass, the nameplate is a 2-piece stack of ebony and maple, and the electronics cavity cover is mahogany.

Hardware: All black appointments, consisting of Hipshot Ultra-Lite tuners and ribbed plastic knobs.

Electronics: A single passive Kent Armstrong humbucker with one volume pot, one tone pot, and one 3-way switch wired for single coil, humbucker, and kill switch.

This bass, serial number 4-29-09, had it’s Kent Armstrong pickup replaced with EMGs and a Kahler tremelo added by a third party. Curly maple center section with mahogany wings.

This bloodwood bass was Carl’s personal bass for some time. It is serial number 4-16-09 and was once owned by PJ and now by Dave Scott. PJ added a bridge pickup with an ebony case and changed the neck pickup for a Kent Armstrong with ebony case.

The 36″ scale bass has a body with a mahogany core, bloodwood and cocobolo top and back with bloodwood cat’s eyes. The neck is mahogany with bloodwood stripes and bocote fret markers. The electronics are a CT Special Passive Control System Kent Armstrong Musicman style pickup. Add to that a headstock of mahogany, bocote, cocobolo and bloodwood; a black walnut and bloodwood nameplate; bloodwood truss rod cover; ebony and bloodwood football; ebony, bocote and cocobolo bridge; and a bloodwood, ebony and brass tail piece

2009 No Serial
Carl’s personal 38″ fretless bass. This bass was refurbished in 2023 and sent to Brian Barrett of the Low End. Carl stamped serial number 2-5-39 23 onto the bass to commemorate his 84th birthday.

2009 Unknown Serial Number 1
Here is a picture of Rich Cutts of the NC-based band MotorFinger playing his 4-string. Rich also owns a 6-string and another 4-string.


Matt Thomas’ Christmas Eve full frills.

Serial number 8-18-08, before and after the pickups were updated. Photos by Evan Meyers. This bass is now owned by Michael Jessen.

Serial number 8-15-08.

Possibly the first ‘semi-frills’ bass, this is a No-Frills, serial number 7-10-08 that Carl made for Aaron. Carl made it a bit fancier and thus the semi-frills was born. It has 1.625” nut, 29 frets and a single passive Kent Armstrong H4BE-3B ‘bridge’ pickup with volume and tone controls and an on/100nF tone/off switch. 32″ scale, bolt-on neck. The bass is very light (3061g / 6.74lbs.) and plays like a dream.

Jeff Frohman’s no-frill’s 7-4-08.

6-11-08, 32″ No Frills 4 string, Poplar body, Mahogany neck, Bloodwood fingerboard, Hipshot Ultralight tuners and A-style Aluminum bridge.

Kenneth’s serial number 5-27-08.

Serial number 4-9-08.

2008 Unknown Serial Number 1
Circa 2008 No-Frills.


Serial number 12-25-07, photos courtesy of The Low End, www.thelowend.net

Fretted 4-string No-Frills, serial number 12-12-07, owned by Matt Lucock.

Matt also owns the 10 Million Dollar bass and 4-23-96.

Fretted 4-string No-Frills, serial number 12-4-07, owned by Ben Trujillo. It has a poplar body, hipshot tuners and bridge, Kent Armstrong soapbar pickup with three-position switch and volume/tone knobs, a mahogany neck, mahogany nameplate, rosewood fretboard, black walnut truss rod cover/nut and cocobolo football.

Serial number 11-26-07.


Serial number 11-11-07 is owned by Andrew Marvin and features a 32″ scale, 30 frets, hipshot tuners, bocote top, mahogany core, cocobolo back and bloodwood accents in the fingerboard, headstock, and cat’s eye’s.

Originally the bass had a Kent Armstrong Music Man pickup, which Andrew later asked Carl to swap out for an EMG 35DC. Carl was kind enough to make a new pickup cover. The original cover was bocote while the new one is bloodwood. Electronics are bass boost, treble and volume.

36” scale serial number 6-16-07. Two Kent Armstrong pickups with custom covers, Kent Armstrong 2 band preamp.

David Bole shared photos of his bass, serial number 7-5-07.

36″ scale
Walnut neck (bolt-on)
Mahogany body
Lined fretless fingerboard with dot markers
Wood nut and bridge
1 Kent Armstrong single coil pickup
Tone, Volume, and Selector switches
Hipshot tuners and bridge
Padded gig bag
Weighs 7lbs
Serial number 62607

Serial number 4-23-07. Photos by Evan Meyers.

Weight: 6.8 lbs
Scale Length: 36″
Neck Shape: oval.
Width at Nut: 1 21/32 (1.65625) inches.
String Width at Bridge: 2 1/4 (2.25) inches.
String-to-string spacing at the bridge: 3/4 (.75) inch | 19.05 mm
Overall Length: 46 1/8 (46.125) inches.
Widest: 13 1/4 (13.25) inches.

Neck: 1-piece mahogany, 4 bolts-on. ebony nut.
Fingerboard: pau ferro, 24 frets.
Body: 3-piece mahogany.
Finish: hand rubbed oil(just natural oil. Danish oil, Watco. Mostly Watco oils).

Bridge: Hipshot style A bridge, black (mounted on mahogany shim).
Tuners: Hipshot Ultralights (was Sperzel), black.
Strap buttons: black.
Outputs: one 1/4″ mono on body.

Pickups: 1 kent armstrong passive soapbar pickup.
Controls: volume, passive tone shaping, 3 way switch w/ mute, normal, treble defeat.
Preamp: None – Passive
Control cavity: mahogany on body top

4-16-07 is owned by a client in Brazil and is signed by PJ.

Serial number 1-8-07, owned by Jeff Hays.

2007 Unknown Serial Number 1


Serial number 11-28-06.

Benjamin Ensor of the band Mungus commissioned this bass which is a semi-frills 4-string which was then converted into a “Jules Verne inspired clockwork Lovecraftian beast” by artist Molly Friedrich. Unfortunately this bass was lost in a house fire in 2010.

Serial number 9-25-06. Also pictured are 13-13-78, 6-5-07 and 3-21-23.

Serial number 6-8-06. Photos courtesy of The Low End, www.thelowend.net

Serial number 2-5-06 36″ scale bass owned by Greg M. the body has cocobolo, mahogany, canary wood and padauk, and the neck is Spanish cedar.

Also pictured is 5-17-12.

Serial number 1-30-06. This is the second ‘no-frills’ bass made. 32″ scale, 29 frets.

2006 Les Claypool

2006 Unknown Serial Number 1
Here are some beautiful pictures submitted by Derek Carden of his 4 string fretless.

2006 Unknown Serial Number 2

2006 Unknown Serial Number 3

2006 Unknown Serial Number 4


This is Richie’s “Vegas Bass,” a stunning 4-string 38″ scale fretless. This bass, serial #122505, features a mahogany core with koa top, pink ivory, snakewood, canary and ebony details and mammoth tusk nut, truss cover and football.

32″ scale bolt-on, serial number 11-4-05, owned by Dave Muntner.

Serial number 9-12-05 made for Richard and now owned by a different Richard. At some point a second pickup was added and a snail inlay was added to the back of the headstock.

Cooper’s fretless serial number 8-8-05, which he received as a gift from his father.

Serial number 7-30-05.

This gorgeous 4-string, serial 7-13-05, belongs to Jason Andrade. It is a 32″ scale with a passive Kent Armstrong pickup. Dave Catching is pictured.



Gary Joseph, after waiting 38 months, finally had a chance to play his very own CT! The serial number on this beauty is 4-18-05. Gary also commented that it was worth ever day of waiting. We know for sure that one of the woods is Morado (a dark wood).

Reynold sent in these beautiful pictures of a 4-string ball scroll, serial number 2-5-05. The bass belongs to Reynold’s friend Chaz.



Steve’s 36″ scale 12-8-04.

Halloween bass 10-31-04.

Ben Bernales sent in these pics of his 3 CTs, #6-24-94 (8-string), 3-3-96 and 7-13-04 (4-strings).

Matt, a repairer/tech in Sydney, Australia restored and re-fretted a 2004 4-string originally made for Richard Rose and shared the following:

“Now and then, I get the chance to work on a unique instrument from a well respected luthier. Carl Thompson’s bass designs always interested me, and this year I had an opportunity to restore a 4-string made in 2004.

The bass had spent years in humid Queensland, resulting in shrinking and slippage of the glue seams and joints. The customer also suspected truss rod issues, as they were having trouble with relief stability (thankfully, this wasn’t the case!).

This bass required a re-fret (as the original frets had been removed and replaced with hardwood veneer), restoration of shifting glue seams and laminates, and a full setup, including nut filing.”

This bass was also owned by Alan Ende at once point.

Jakob Prumers gorgeous ball scroll 4-string bass, serial number 5-1-04.

This bass was made for Mike Maron, but is now owned by Steve Blair. This bass is essentially the mirror of Andrew Vannoy’s bass.

Pictured are Kelvin, Akilah and Steve Blair.

Anthony Fury’s 38″ scale fretless bloodwood bass.


Andrew Vannoy and his 4-string, serial number 11-20-03. Jorge Anzaldua now owns this bass.

Also featured are John Montalbano, Kelvin, Susan, and Les Claypool playing and signing the bass.

This is Henry Madsen’s gorgeous 32″ scale, 29 fret Poplar and Mahogany bass complete with Kahler tremolo. This bass has the first and only water based lacquer finish on it. Serial number 7-24-03.

Allen Duncan is an aspiring young bassist that has always admired Carl’s work. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Carl was introduced to Allen whose biggest wish was to own a Carl Thompson bass (with a tremolo, just like his hero Les Claypool). Carl has previously worked with the Foundation and was excited at the chance to make Allen’s wish come true. Allen’s dream bass is a 32″ scale 4-string with 29 frets and a Kahler trem, which was generously donated by Darrin Huff. This bass is its own exotic forest! The body has a Honduran Mahogany core, the top is bookmatched “diet” Cocobolo over curly Maple, the center block is Canary wood on the front with a Padauk stripe in the center and a “canine free” Cocobolo back, the center block side stripes are curly Maple and Padauk, the body back is bookmatched Padauk, the cat’s eyes are Bocote with a Padauk stripe and the eye itself is Yellow Heart and Purple Heart, the neck is Maple with Bocote side stripes and a Morado fingerboard, the headstock has Cocobolo “classic” veneers front and back and Padauk side stripes and the nameplate is leather. Whew, that was a mouthful! In addition to building the bass for Allen, Carl and friends threw a party in his honor on May 18 at the Grappa Cafe. Carl played the bass with a host of guest musicians and the entire evening was captured on video to be sent to Allen along with the completed bass. The following are pictures of the bass at various stages of completion, as well as a few from the party on Allen’s behalf.

Pictured: Allen Duncan, Carl Thompson, Bruno, John Montalbano, Mike Satzinger, Mike Browne, susan, Pam, Jeff.

Jeff Frohman’s bass, 4-30-03. Pictured is Andrew Marvin playing this bass at Carl’s birthday party in 2006.

2003 Unknown Serial Number 1
Steve Voight and his 4-string.

2003 Unknown Serial Number 2
Here we have Mike Benoit’s absolutely beautiful 2003 4-string with the new ball scroll. Since these pictures were taken the bass returned to the shop to go fretless.

Here is a letter from Mike:
Well this is it! After roughly two years and nine months I finally got down to Carl’s shop in Brooklyn to pick up my brandy-new bass. And let me tell you, it was worth every penny and every day spent. Owning a real work of art, one with months of time and years of experience put into it’s creation, is something that can’t be measured by time or money. I’m going to enjoy this instrument until the day I die or it breaks (hopefully the former will come first).

For my part, I would call Carl every few months to see how he (and my bass) was doing. Right from the start I understood that it would take a few years, what with all the other basses to be made before mine. And there were other setbacks like basses to be made for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, family illness or humidity. But through all that came my bass which I personally think is one of his best (of course!). So for all of you waiting out there all I can say is be patient with Carl. The man’s not an assembly line but the quality of his work is as good as it gets. The less time he spends fielding phone calls the faster he can work.

Anyways just wanted to say to everyone out there waiting hang in there because it’s so absolutely worth it!

Mike Benoit

2003 Unknown Serial Number 3
Chip Cook recently sent us this note: “I received the bass in July after waiting 23 months. The only requirement that I had for Carl was Mahogany and fretless. Carl phoned me about a year and a half after the initial phone call and told me about Morado and thought I would like it. I checked out some pictures on the site and told him to go forward with the Morado. At this time I also decided on frets and a four string. Carl settled on Morado and Padauk on the top and bottom with Mahogany in the middle. The bass has a 36″ scale which worried my because I’ve only played 34″. This fear of size lasted about 30 seconds after I began playing the CT. This is just a short history of me and my bass.”

2003 Unknown Serial Number 4
Larry Brooke is a good friend (and neighbor) of Les Claypool’s and already owns a 5-string fretted. Before it was even finished he had ordered a 4-string from Carl.


Serial number 11-22-02.

Alex called Carl over 3 years ago about getting a bass and waited an astounding 2 years and 9 months for his new 4-string, serial #101702. From the looks of it, I’d say it was well worth every minute of the wait, it is absolutely gorgeous. This is the very first Carl Thompson with a quartersawn Morado Top, the few he’s made have been flatsawn. The neck is hardrock quartersawn Maple with 24 frets and a Morado fingerboard. The veneers on the headstock are Canary wood, the nameplate is birdseye Maple and the nut is Gaboon Ebony. The heel blocks are Canary wood. The top of the bass is quartersawn Morado with a thick Padauk center stripe and the body core is Honduran Mahogany. The back is the opposite with Padauk on the top/bottom halves and a thick Morado center stripe. The control plate on the back is also Padauk. The football has 3 layers, mostly Zebrawood with a thin strip of Padauk in the center. There are 4 cats eyes on the bass made with Zebrawood & Padauk. The bass has 2 Kent Armstrong soap bar pickups.

Ted Stanton of Hawaii recently received his 4-string fretted, #10-7-02. Carl has been referring to this as the “Hawaiian bass” for some time, saying it was absolutely gorgeous. It has a Mahogany center core and neck, Bocote wings top and back with a Padauk center stripe and cat’s eyes. The headstock is also Padauk with Bocote truss cover and cat’s eye details. The bass is 36″ scale length with Kent Armstrong passive pickups and Sperzel tuners. The body also features veneers of Ebony and Poplar and the fingerboard has a Padauk veneer beneath it. Top it off with a Padauk control plate and Bocote neck heel and you’ve got perfection.

Ted also owns 4-10-80.

Carl sent us these early pictures of a bass he refers to as the “$10,000,000.00 Bass.” This one-of-a-kind fretless Ebony 4-string has some of the finest wood Carl has ever worked with and Carl himself has said that it is the most beautiful bass he has ever made. In addition to the Ebony, this bass also features amazing Bocote details along the neck, Cat’s Eyes, Headstock and a very unique Bocote inlay on the back of the instrument. Carl was inspired to do the body inlay when a 1977 guitar he made came back to his shop for adjustments, featuring a Zebrawood body inlay he had forgotten doing! The bass also sports Mahogany and incredible bookmatched Cocobolo center stripes front and back. Even the neck shim on this one is a multi laminate work of art!

Our good friend Jay Lajoie also took some absolutely incredible pictures of the completed bass. This thing is absolutely unreal and Jay did a great job of documenting all the detail.

When the bass was put up for sale here is what was listed:

Every Carl Thompson ever made is truly a one-of-a-kind creation. However, from time to time a bass will leave the shop that truly exemplifies that fact and goes on to become a part of music history. Les Claypool’s Rainbow Bass is just such an example, a bass by which Les himself has been defined and identified. The $10 Million Bass is another example, a bass that is truly unique and special.

The name started as a joke, as Carl initially referred to the bass as the $10,000 bass. In between the other projects and over a long period of time, Carl and the crew at his shop were building a very special instrument. This bass would incorporate the finest wood, the best craftsmanship, details never seen before and personal Carl details that hadn’t been since since the late 70’s. Everything about this bass was to be the best, a true work of art. As the bass progressed, the name slowly changed from $10,000 to $1 Million to $5 Million and ultimately to $10 Million. In Carl’s own words: “this is one of the most beautiful basses I have ever made.”

But the construction itself isn’t the only special thing about this instrument. This bass displays the serial # 7-31-02, the last day that Carl’s Boerum Pl. shop in Brooklyn was open. A few months earlier the building had been sold and Carl knew that he’d have to be out of the shop by this date. The guys worked extra hard to make sure this was the last bass completed in that shop and it thus bears this truly significant serial #. While Carl will continue to build his amazing instruments elsewhere, this is the last bass to leave his historic Brooklyn shop where countless musicians and friends have visited, playing the basses, guitars and worn piano in the corner.

Serial # 7-31-02
4-String Fretless, 37-inch scale
This one-of-a-kind fretless Ebony 4-string has some of the finest wood Carl has ever worked with and Carl himself has said that it is the most beautiful bass he has ever made. In addition to the unique and rare woods used, this is the first ever 37-inch scale Carl Thompson bass. The top is rare quilted Macassar Ebony with amazing Bocote details along the neck, Cat’s Eyes, Headstock and a very unique Bocote inlay on the back of the instrument. Carl was inspired to do the body inlay when a 1977 guitar he made came back to his shop for adjustments, featuring a Zebrawood body inlay he had forgotten doing! The bass also sports a Mahogany core and incredible bookmatched Cocobolo center stripes front and back. Even the neck shim on this one is a multi laminate work of art! The Bocote Cat’s Eyes are very unique, running along both sides of the body, the length of the neck and both sides of the headstock. Beautiful inlays straddle the Bocote accents and the extremely rare quartersawn Gaboon Ebony fingerboard from Africa, perfectly jet-black in color. Redheart accents are included in the nut, pickup cover, body and bridge. Beneath the gorgeous pickup cover is a single Kent Armstrong pickup with a volume and tone knob.

Matt Lucock now owns this bass, along with two other 4-string Carl Thompsons, 4-23-94 and 12-12-07.

Dimas Martinez fretless striped bass, finished in May 2002.

2002 Les Claypool

2002 Unknown Serial Number 1
Carl recently completed this absolutely gorgeous 4-string for Kevin Barton and calls it one of the most colorful basses he has ever created. Kevin asked that Carl introduce as much color as possible to the bass and did he ever. The top of this bass features Canary with Cocobolo center stripe and darker Cocobolo oulining it. Turned on it’s side you can see the stripes of Canary and Padauk that make up the thickness of the body, 3 of Padauk and 2 Canary. The cat’s eyes feature more Canary, Cocobolo and Padauk. The neck is composed of Mahogany with Canary accents and the back of the bass is graced with various shades of Padauk.

Photos feature Kevin, Josh Werner, Sal and Bunnie. Marsha and Carl are also modeling the bass.


Carl’s new poplar/mahogany 4-string fretless bass. He made this bass for himself and to exhibit at a guitar show. It has a 38″ scale length and a Lightwave Systems Pickup. Les Claypool and Jerry Jemmott are also pictured playing.

Danny Reese’s lefty, 3-31-01.

2001 Unknown Serial Number 1
4-string Poplar CT w/ new style Lightwave pickups. This bass was sent to the 2001 NAMM show for Lightwave Systems.


Kindred Priest’s poplar bass. It has a single Kent Armstrong passive pickup. Also pictured is Les Godfrey, who did most of the carving on this instrument.

Aaron’s bass, serial number 5-17-00.

Neck: Maple with a rosewood fingerboard and cocobolo side bindings. 24 frets, 36″ scale, 1-11/16” nut, with a rosewood-bloodwood nut. Not sure what woods are used in the truss rod cover. The headstock is zebrawood with mahogany and cocobolo veneers.
Body: Burled maple front and back with a mahogany core. Bloodwood “Cat’s eyes.” The heel block is a multitude of different woods. I am not ever sure what they all are. The control plate cover is mahogany.
Electronics: EMG-40J (neck) and 40CS (bridge) pickups, volume, volume, and tone nobs, with a three-position switch. From left to right – normal, treble filter (100nF cap), and standby. Mexican Rosewood(?) pickup covers. Carl had been saving the pickup cover wood for his own personal bass and then decided to use it on this one.
Hardware: Black Sperzel tuners, custom rosewood and padauk bridge. The bass originally had a metal bridge but Aaron brought the bass back to Carl in 2001 and asked that Carl install a wood bridge that he had found in a drawer in the shop.
Weight is 3768g / 8.30lbs.

Set-neck bass made for Eric Boud of Florida, serial number 4-12-00.

A set of 4 string walnut basses with quilted maple tops for MASA Kondo of Japan. Serial numbers are 3-20-00. Kelvin is playing the instrument in some photos.

Lefty 4-string that was made for Chad Groller of Coplay Pennsylvania. It was hand delivered by Carl on his birthday. The serial number is 2-1-00.

2000s uncategorized

2000s Unknown Serial Number 1

2000s Unknown Serial Number 2
Korina Body with Mahogany neck, Ebony board and Ebony heal block and headstock. Photos courtesy of The Low End, www.thelowend.net

2000s Unknown Serial Number 3