Hades 12-String Bass Reviews

A "Marble-ous" 12ver - My Hades 12-String Bass Review
by Ken Ritchie

I consider myself fortunate to have acquired a "marble" finish Hades 12ver direct from Tony Leicht of October Guitars. There aren't very many of the Hades branded October MIK (Made In Korea) 12's, there were only 15 made. So it seems that a Hades 12ver dressed in marble could be a rare sight.

Mine is the very one shown in the pictures from Tony's shop. It looks even classier up close and personal. (Humor me... I've heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) It is very nicely finished, front and back, in a soft "marbled" pattern of shadows and highlights, made up of trans red and blue over frost, all blotted with black shadows and as glassy as a polished slab of obsidian (volcanic glass). "Marble" doesn't describe it well enough - it doesn't look at all like stone. Maybe "mottled" or "dappled" would be appropriate. It reminds me of the fading light in some dark, stormy clouds after a colorful sunset on a slate-colored backdrop of a winter sky.

The dark rosewood fingerboard looks right at home, and the gold hardware adds a nice warm glow.

Enough about the good looks. This axe was made for making music... lots of it! The frets are finished well, and the action is remarkably low - just the setup I had asked for. I was worried that I might get "tenderfoot" fingertips but they just don't get sore on this one! What a great way for a 12ver newbie like me to get started... and quickly spoiled! This is quality, at any price.

Musically, it is an excellent example of Tony's rock-solid, neck-thru design with amazing sustain and rich tone. Remarkably, Tony's balanced design has NO neck dive. Literally. Hang it from the horn button and it rests, hands-free, with neck inclined in an upward slope of about 30 to 40 degrees. The woods have everything to do with both tone and balance. These have a mahogany neck through, flanked by maple wings. That design has turned out to be a very nice combination indeed!

How does it sound? It really does sustain a looooooong time, especially as I usually tune the octaves dead-on (no detuning), and drop the E to D. With it I can produce tones that sound a lot like my Kawai piano (42" scale). Harmonics and are right there. I tune my own pianos, so my ears have learned to listen for the overtones. It rings nicely. Incidentally, the original strings are D'Addario bulk 34" scale, medium gauge. I can use Waterstone string sets for replacement (same gauges).

I must add that this is also an exceptionally stable 12ver. I have had it for over a year now. It has astonished me how well it holds its tuning. I have never had to touch the truss rods. Even with the low action, I can fret every note and find no buzz anywhere on the board. That's impressive!!! The only mod I've made is to move the outermost (top) 'E' octave string away from its twin (at the bridge end) so they won't clash when I play hard.

Minor bonus: With the active preamp and the way the output jack is wired, I can play into a set of dynamic stereo headphones. The pickups are passive soapbars, and the wiring cavity is lined and shielded. The 9-volt battery is in a separate, swing-out hatch (no tools required).

The Hades brand was a successful production sample run. I expect the October branded MIK instruments to continue the excellence!

Ken "Classmaker" Ritchie

Hades 12 Review
by Philip Snyder

Once again I have been given the pleasure of "test driving" a new brand of 12-string bass. Each time we do this there are new advances and designs to consider and compare to the established ways of building 12-string basses. After having played almost all of the production 12s (and a few custom ones) that have been available in the past few years I've come to recognize what makes a high-quality 12-string bass. One element that I've personally been waiting for is a 12 with a neck-through-body design. Enter October Guitars.

October Guitars is a custom builder from the Baltimore, MD area who decided to add an import production line to their USA custom operations. Originally dubbed "Hades" as a safeguard against the possibility of a less than acceptable outcome, the import line exceeded expectations and earned the right to bear the parent company's name. Only a small run of fifteen Hades 12's were made before the Hades line became the October production line.

Recently Tony Leicht at October Guitars sent me a Hades 12 in pearlescent white to run through it's paces and tell you all what I think about it. Let me start by telling you that this is not in the same class as some of the other import 12s we've been familiar with in recent years. The neck-through-body construction sets it apart immediately and establishes it as a very professional instrument. The neck is wide (something I'm growing to prefer more and more) but thin enough to maneuver around easily. The fret job was very nice and dressed, and I wasn't able to find any bad places anywhere on the neck. The October / Hades 12 boasts 26 frets which some people might find excessive, but they are all accessible and usable. 

The bass is VERY balanced for a 12-string. This is due to light-weight neck woods coupled with heavier body woods and a body design that shifts the upper horn further towards the center of the bass allowing it to hang from a strap properly. You won't have to fight the weight of the headstock to play this bass comfortably.

The October / Hades 12 is loaded with two passive soapbar humbuckers for plenty of punch and tone, but also offers active electronics to allow the player better control over that tone. The import line has a single volume with active treble and bass controls and a blend knob. The USA versions are reported to add an active mid control to this configuration.

All of the Hades 12s are equipped with gold hardware... something seldom seen on 12s. The bridge and tailpiece will be familiar to most of you as they are the same as what Tom Petersson is currently using. The bridge on the October / Hades 12s is recessed into the body for an ultra-low profile.

The body of the October / Hades 12-string is very contoured and quite comfortable. The neck-through design makes playing at the higher frets a real treat. The first thing I noticed was how wonderfully acoustic the bass is unplugged. It chimes like a chorus of tiny bells, which translates very nicely when amplified to an instrument that is articulate as well as powerful.

The bass arrived to me perfectly set up and ready to go. It was delivered late on a Thursday and by the next night was being played live by Doyle Moore. After only 5 minutes with it on Thursday Doyle told me to leave KLUNK at home for the gig! Sorry KLUNK!

So thanks to Tony and October Guitars we have yet another wonderful 12 to choose from in the ever-expanding world of 12-string basses. I think that once a few players get their hands on one of these basses they will quickly become a well-respected staple in the 12-string bass community.