Hi I’m Brad

Tone Merchants was started from my own personal tone quest in finding my own sound. A search for a tone that expresses my love for music and inspires me to play and create more.
So best you settle in with a cup of coffee, as the story on how I got to here isn’t a short one, but it is a good one if I do say so myself.

My fascination in tinkering with gear was born in the Summer of ’98 out of necessity. Myself and a few friends were purchasing air time on our local community radio station to promote local bands.
Once a week we had a two hour show that hosted bands to come in for an interview and to play a live set.
We were all around 17, what we lacked in experience we more than made up for in passion. The equipment we did have was mostly old, generally second or third hand. We were recording onto DAT tapes, that’s how old!

We continued to build from there and it was not long before we were putting on shows with 5 bands for 5 bucks at local venues. With no money outside of our day jobs to fund it, we were learning as we went along.

Twenty years later and my love for tinkering with instruments and equipment is still with me. The desire to start Tone Merchants came from my most recent project. I wanted a vintage p-bass tone,
but not too dark and mellow. I still wanted some brightness in its tone. My mind was fixated on a p-funk sound.

So, I started my hunt for the right instrument. I wanted an ash body with a maple fretboard to help give me the tone that I was imagining. I’m not a big guy, so I also didn’t want an old-school p-neck either. I have a G&L L2000 Tribute and sometimes struggle with the neck, if you have played them, you’ll know what I mean about the tribute necks. It’s like a bat for Gulliver. So, a vintage p-bass with a jazz neck, surely that’s not hard to find…

5 Months later, I finally found what I was looking for. A 1976 Fernandes Power Bass. With a Sen body (Japanese Ash), maple neck, 38mm width at the nut and one of the nicest, slimmest neck profiles I have ever come across. The original 70’s pickup had great low end and bright highs (little too bright to be honest) however, the mids were really lacking. I also felt that the strings were too thin for my liking.

My next mission was to change the pickups but living in New Zealand, the options are incredibly limiting. I couldn’t get the flatwound strings I wanted locally or even from Australia! So, I did my research and took a punt on purchasing both strings and pickups from further afield and putting my trust in my gut.

The results blew me away. Although I had imagined that these were the changes I needed in order to achieve the tone I’d pictured in my head, just how much these changes transformed my bass really took me by surprise. I can roll the tone off to get that classic Motown “Jamerson” vibe. But I go 70% on the tone and I’m in p-funk tonal heaven. Exactly what I wanted. I love it because it’s my tone, my  sound for the vibe I wanted.I’m by no means a musician, or guitar tech. I’m just a guy that loves music and creating my own sound, and that’s what I want to help you to find.

It’s why I started Tone Merchants. To bring you the options and vessel for you to create your own sound, that tone that you picture, the tone that is yours.

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