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Becvar Series I Triple Omega Bass
John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, June 08, 1977, Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
General Specs
Body: Rosewood core, Purpleheart and Maple inlays, Triple-O cutouts
Finish: Clear
Neck: Maple & Purpleheart
Fingerboard: Ebony, custom Mother-Of-Pearl inlays
Frets: 24
Bridge: Solid gold-plated brass, bird tailpiece
Headstock: Mahogany, knobby peghead
Tuners: Gold Alembic-Gotoh
Hardware: Gold-plated
Pickguard: None
Pickups: SC-1 w/hx
Controls: Bass Pickup Volume, Treble Pickup volume, Pickup Selector, 3-Position Q Switch Bass Pickup, 3-Position Q Switch Treble Pickup, Q-Boost Control Bass Pickup, Q-Boost Control Treble Pickup
Years in use: 1975-1980
Most Led Zeppelin fans are familiar with John Paul Jones' eight-string bass guitar that was used beginning on the 1977 US tour. Nobody's Fault But Mine and Achilles Last Stand were two songs that Jones played on this bass. With a casual glance, one might say that this is an Alembic-built bass guitar, however, it is not.

John Paul Jones purchased the eight-string bass guitar from the legendary Don Weir's Music City in San Francisco, California in 1975 after only a short time playing it. What was odd was that the person who built the bass was a one-time employee of Alembic named Bruce Becvar. He used the basic Alembic bass template and added the violin-style omega-shaped cutouts on the side. Alembic later adopted the design for their own bass guitars. It has the Becvar Guitars logo on the peghead. After the purchase, Jones brought the bass to Rick Turner, at Alembic's Cotati, California facility to have Alembic's standard electronics installed.

What was the first track he used it on in the studio? "I'd gone to Alembic and there was someone working for them who had an offshoot company called Becvar. He had this eight-string bass in Californian Gothic with palm trees, a mandala and other stuff. It sounded fantastic, like a big harpsichord/piano thing. And so when Page came out with the first riff of Achilles he said, 'What are we going to do with the rest of it?'' I said '8 string bass!' It fit perfectly," John Paul Jones said to Rikki Rooksby in a September 1999 Bassist Magazine interview.

Jones eventually settled on "a sort of sub-Alembic 8-string, which was actually a Becvar. It was built by a guy who was at Alembic and then left the company to start on his own. It's just an amazing creature--sort of Gothic Revival in style. Actually, it's more California Gothic, with a mandala on the back, with little mermaids, sea shells and palm trees inlaid. A very fine instrument. Very loud. The Riff King it was called. When Page first heard it, he said, 'Oh, no. I'm not playing to that!'" John Paul Jones said in a Guitar World interview.

Does he use a pick? "Yes, when the situation demand it; on the eight-string it's awful messy with your fingers. On 'The Song Remains The Same', I use a pick to get that snap out of the instrument," John Paul Jones said in a July 1977 Steven Rosen interview.

The Becvar Series I Triple Omega eight-string bass guitar was eventually retired with a warped neck and currently resides on display in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.


BecVar Series I Triple Omega Bass
John Paul Jones, May 18, 1977, Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Arena, Birmingham, Alabama
BecVar Series I Triple Omega Bass
John Paul Jones, John Bonham & Jimmy Page, June 21, 1980, Ahoy Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
BecVar Series I Triple Omega Bass
The Riff King
BecVar Series I Triple Omega Bass
The Riff King at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Photo by Ronnie Fritz

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