Los Angeles, CA
Years Building: 13
Wait Time: Up to 6 months
(all basses built to spec)
Price Range: Starting at $2400
Contact: (909) 981-9019
Bass pictured: LG4 Classic
Jimmy Coppolo is a combination of vintage bass collector, luthier, artisan and businessman. He combines all these talents to make spectacular basses. Jimmy’s product line is a no-compromise, best-of-the-best product that is not hindered by production numbers or pricing guidelines. His high-end client list seems to agree.
Tell me about the vintage product line. What sets it apart?
My product line sets out to capture the feel, tone and vibe of the old-school Pre-CBS and some of the early to mid-seventies era Fender basses. The product line is based around the original old-school values, but because of the needs and demands of today’s player there are some modern conveniences, like a properly trued and fretted neck, tight neck pocket, preamp option, high-quality hardware, etc. The KBP series (vintage P-style) is available passive only. The LG series, our ‘60s J-style is an alder/ rosewood combo bass but includes our bypassable two-band preamp. The LM maple/ash combo and RA maple/alder combo are our ‘70s J-style bass—just like the ‘70s Jazz Basses, the bridge pickup location is slightly closer to the bridge, as opposed to the more industry-standard ‘60s bridge pickup location. Back in the day, Fender didn’t offer a “usable” five-string bass. My clients requested and pushed me to produce a vintage-influenced five string, so the entire bass line is offered in five strings too. The response to the fives has been positive, and they’re our biggest sellers. The feedback is that our fives sound, feel and play like an old fourstring… the way they would have been built during the ‘60s.
Does having the preamp detract from the vintage vibe you seek?
Well, most players request the preamp, especially with five-string basses. A player can’t predict when a little more boost or EQ could be helpful. The control set up is Vol/Vol/Tone, Treble Boost, Bass Boost, the second volume being a push-pull preamp bypass.
Are your components sourced or manufactured in-house?
Just about everything is done in-house. We cut our own bodies and necks on the shop’s old pin router. I recently purchased a CNC machine and will convert over soon. The CNC is more accurate, consistent, quicker and definitely safer. We use our laser cutter for block or custom inlay work and more often to cut the bobbins for our homemade pickups.
So you actually custom-build your own pickups?
Yes, we build and assemble our own pickups from the ground up. My wife, Sebnem, is our pickup tech. The pole pieces are loaded into the fibers we cut to make the bobbin, then sealed, wound, magnetized and potted. We currently have two auto-winders that I personally programmed. I still have my foot controlled wire feed winder that I use from time to time for either prototyping or vintage pickup rewinds.
I was looking at your website before the interview; your hardware looks custom. Is it?
As a standard for the five-string basses, we use the Hipshot style B Bridge. A vintage-style stainless steel five-string bridge is available on our higher end models. All the four strings have a vintage-style nickel-plated stainless bridge, just like in “the good ole days.” All the basses come with Hipshot tuners that… after a little NY-Italian-style persuasion have “custom” oval keyhead shapes (just kiddin’): one vintage sized for our four-string basses and one slightly undersized due to spacing for our five-strings.
Tell me about how you got your start.
When I was about 10 years old, my dad took me to West 48th Street, NYC… Music Row. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be in this business, but at that time I was too young to know in what capacity. Around eight years later, I landed a job there at a famous high-end shop.
Who is the Alleva in the Alleva-Coppolo partnership?
Alleva-Coppolo is not a partnership, just my biological makeup. My mom’s maiden name is Alleva and my dad’s last name is obviously Coppolo. My great, great grandmother Pina Alleva introduced Italian cheeses to America, and in 1891 she opened her shop—a national landmark that is still open today in NYC’s Little Italy. The Coppolos were an influential New York Italian family, too. As a child, I once noticed both names printed on my mom’s checks and promised myself that I would use the names together. Who could’ve guessed it would be on electric basses and guitars?
What is your objective for the product line?
First, as you know, I’m a huge vintage guitar nut. At one point or another, you name the guitar or bass… it’s either been on my repair bench, sales showroom or part of my personal collection. One of the biggest inspirations to build vintage-influenced instruments is the musicians who desire such classics but are on a limited budget, and can’t pay the inflated market rates. It’s not rocket science. You need the fundamentals, of course: good wood, a concept of building, a good ear, and it helps if you can play. My objective is to provide players with an instrument that has that “old” familiar sound with that comfortable “just right” wornin feel… with no issues and ready for any gig.
Who is your target audience?
The majority, if not all, of my clients are working musicians—anyone from the struggling musician working the local club scene to session musicians, Broadway musicians, all the way up to players who are on some of the biggest touring acts.
What’s on the horizon for Alleva-Coppolo?
We’re always listening to players… always tinkering, always coming up with something, so who knows?
Next up: Mike Lull Custom Basses...