Xylem Custom Basses and Guitars

Owner Reviews & Testimonials

Fanned fret bass with ebony body, Aguilar pickups

"So sorry it has been since the actual dawn of time since I responded more. Tiamat is incredible in all the ways we hoped.

I've never, ever been a "keep your hands off my instrument" person, even with my super special custom Tele. I've always been in the camp of "it is meant to be played, so if you love it, play it." But this thing is now off limits to anyone else's grubby paws. The range of sounds is surprising; I'm truly shocked at some of the sounds I can get and wasn't expecting the range to be SO wide. There is a very lo-fi, gritty, present selection of sounds that I can't honestly place in relation to any other bass I've played. Of course, there is something impossible to capture in words about the physical experience of playing a bespoke instrument, and it meets my #1 priority of being designed for longevity so I'm thrilled about that. And, of course, the artistry of it is so badass I imagine you've already had lots of reactions and conversations with people about it… I love it — the way we figured out to pick a different wood for the moon — that plan worked out! And even though Earth is a bit abstract, it completely works. I think it will be some time before I wrap my head around the whole thing. I'll need to go back and study the specs and put a lot more time into playing it. But I'd say that, overall, my biggest takeaway is this: please put me down for two more instruments on your to-do list if you're willing. One as a present for my partner, Steve (guitar/bass/production… so highly likely he'll have some fascinating collaboration in mind). And I would like something mini, maybe a piccolo bass."

Alena C.

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Custom bass with stabilized burl top, Mike Pope preamp

"Aesura Review: First things first, I want to preface the review with this, if you can be patient and explain what you envision a perfect instrument to be… Anthony will craft it for you.

Im at about 30hrs of playing with the bass currently. It’s by far the best bass I’ve put my hands on. That might have to do with the fact that the bass is custom spec’d out for me and has Anthony’s years of wisdom tied to it. Something really special was crafted here.

Sound: I’m a believer in tonewoods, and there is definitely a warm resonant sound to the bass, with a perfect amount of brightness. The Nordstrand P/J blade style pick-ups are out of this world paired with the Mike Pope Preamp. The combinations are pretty endless, and the ability to switch from active/passive is amazing. This bass can sound like an old Fender P-bass, a bright burpy J-bass, and everything in-between. It sounds fantastic playing finger style, and is an absolute stellar sounding bass for slap. The bass does a great job with the preamp set flat, allowing me to carve the perfect sound Im looking for depending on the room or situation I’m in. It goes to show that the bass’s natural sound is great as is…..now I just have more tones to play with.

Playability: It’s a beautifully hand crafted instrument, so you can bet it plays like butter. I wanted a smaller form factor and the bass keeps everything compact, but has enough room to move around. In sitting or standing position there is no neck dive and it balances out like nothing I’ve played before (besides other Xylems). Its extremely lightweight and my shoulder forgives me after practice. The fretboard has an awesome compound radius, the neck is thin, satin smooth, and plays lightning fast. The bass is really responsive and there is a bit of a re-learning curve, its learning you and you are learning it. Once dialed in to the perfect settings/set up it’s quite hard to go back to playing my other basses. I pick my other basses up and prepare myself for a less fun experience……. Aesura is just a different animal!

Looks: The bass is gorgeous…..words can’t be said about how great Anthony’s craftsmanship, attention to detail, and woodworking is. Its top level hands down. I played his Varuna bass quite sometime ago and really was drawn to the organic shape and the way it played, I knew he was the builder for me. I had this idea in my head about mixing some of Anthony’s past builds and trying some new things that I haven’t seen from him yet. We went with some black and white ebony for the fingerboard, flame maple for the neck, a resin stabilized burl top, and a swamp ash body. The woodworking and carving is otherworldly, very organic and free flowing. Each edge and corner is crisp and smooths out evenly, flowing into the next curve or edge. I wanted Anthony to craft up some organic looking pickup covers to compliment the basses lines and I think he did a great job, they look gnarly. The inlay work is crisp and level, if you are on the fence about getting some inlay work….I highly suggest it. The bass is a true work of art to say the least, and I’m proud to own one of these master crafted instruments.

Nitty Gritty: If you want to get a ‘name brand’ bass that looks the same as everyone else, has limited wood choices, finish colors, electronics and pickups…..then go somewhere else. There is plenty of that out there already. But if you want something that is literally yourself infused in an instrument, Anthony will guide you through and make sure it’s exactly that. No exceptions. His attention to detail, listening to the customer, awareness and wisdom of building instruments is honestly second to none. Im super satisfied and can only hope more people realize Anthony is a luthier wizard. Now I need to dream something up for the next build ;)!"

Joe M.

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Piccolo bass with Kahler tremolo and Q-Tuner Q2.0 pickups

"Gymir is absolutely perfect and beyond expectations. Every little nuance and tweak you put into the ergonomic side of it payed off ten-fold in the overall feel and comfort of the instrument. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t had a chance to play it much over the past month and a half, but I’m hoping that will change in the new-year."

Allan S.

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Custom bass with Kahler tremolo, Xylem hook scroll

"Bass made it safe and sound! I already expected it to play amazing, but this thing is fucking flawless, and what a FAT growl it has! I’ve been playing it literally the moment I get home from work until I go to bed. I haven’t even stopped to nerd out on pictures of it yet because I just want to keep playing!"

From a Twitter post on 1-23-18 - "Hai gaiz! Hatred for all things social media, but I work at a music store, and this is the finest bass I’ve ever played. I mean that unbiased and from a completely neutral viewpoint. #xylem #bass #kahler #woodworking #fartsarepeopletoo #mockeryofhumanity #clickbait" (@Goatheadpdx)

Ross J.

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Thunderbird custom bass with quad-coil Bartolini pickups

"Hey Anthony, I just thought I’d send an email confirming that I have the bass and it plays and looks like a dream! The ramp was definitely a good idea. Thanks for all your work!"


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Baritone guitar with Phat Cat and Custom 5 pickups

"Guitar has arrived safe and sound. Sounds massive! About to piss off the neighborhood. Thank you @xylembassguitar for doing what you do so well."

Matt S.

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Ebony and bloodwood custom bass guitar with EMG pickups

"Hello Anthony, I received the bass today and all I can say is, it is absolutely amazing in everyway. It plays as smooth as it looks. It was absolutely perfect when it was delivered. It feels great when i put her on. It sounds amazing through the Mark Bass`. I am stunned still by the craftsmanship. I have a Presonus interface on its way in about a week, it will give me some time to get used to her. I plan on covering a bunch of claypool once, I am used to her dimensions, sweetspot,etc. again thank you so much she is beautiful. you are an amazing luthier and I will recommend u to anyone I come across looking. Thank you so much…Cheers!"

Matthew S.

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8 string custom bass with Delano pickups

"Anthony Olinger of Xylem Basses & Guitars may be young in age and in the world of luthiery but the quality of his art speaks as if he's working with an old soul beside him.

I feel that Anthony is right there with the greats/legends of modern luthiery: Alembic, Fodera, Ken Smith, Spector, Pre-Gibson Tobias/MTD and Carl Thompson.

I'm the proud owner of an 8 string Xylem; it has a 32" scale and it plays flawlessly, has extremely super low action, balances great sitting or standing and it has no neck dive at all. The overall craftsmanship is second to none. Sound is subjective so for me the bass sounds great, and when it comes to tone it's super versatile. Anthony was super easy to work with and not high maintenance at all, while being very attentive every step of the way to what he felt would give me the instrument that I was aiming for overall.

Anthony, thanks for being such the talent that you are."

Jauqo III-X

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Custom bass with Nordic Rune inlays, Steve Harris signature pickup

"first impressions, the neck is amazing, just perfect, its so comfortable to play, light, obscenely pretty, 1st class build quality, ill give it a proper test tomorrow when i can turn it up :^) Thank you so much :^)"

The Full Review from the owner, received several days after delivery of the bass -
"my long awaited custom Xylem bass arrived a week ago and i thought it was about time to put my thoughts out there, as far as i am aware this is the 1st Xylem to arrive in the UK.

Xylem Custom basses are known for their carl thompson style designs and distinctive carving styles which was why i was drawn to them when looking for a totally custom instrument, the reviews and comments out there on the web are all very complimentary and its obvious that Anthony has passion for his instruments and workmanship…" Read the entire review here…

Pete H.

From a Facebook post by Pete H. several years after he first received the bass -
"…i can heartily recommend them [Xylem], it [the Yggdrasil bass] is the finest bass i have had the pleasure of playing :^) "

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6 string fretless bass with Delano pickups, Audere preamp

"Just catching up that I received the bass today and am genuinely impressed with how easy it is to play. Haven't had a chance to plug it in yet, but I'll be sure to leave a testimonial and some samples when I get a chance (hopefully tomorrow)."


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Sub-contra five-string bass guitar with EMG pickups

" Hi, Anthony!

I'm very sorry for such a huge delay in answer, so excuse me please! That might have really been rude of me.

Actually I got the bass about a month ago and wanted to send you a letter right away, but everytime I thought about it I remembered the bass, sat down to play it for a few minutes and well, pretty much everytime I played myself to pleasant exhaustion. Then I always decided that I could send you a note on another day and then the whole scheme repeated itself. I guess, the only thing that allowed me to type some words on the matter right now is the actual absence of the bass nearby.

Anthony, IT"S AMAZING!

I could never imagine the instrument would be !such! a pleasure to play! I just could not believe it. It's elegant, wonderfully crafted and is also extremely easy and pleasant to play! It was my first experience of laying hands on a 40" but it instantly felt like I was playing 40" instruments my whole life! The 57-182 balanced set you chose is just right and I think I'd stick to these gauges. The thing has !huge! low end and gives no slightest chance to feel any discomfort.

And it's just giant! Feels right for me. I've gladly given your business cards to all my friends with warmest recommendations and when my other acquaintances saw the instrument in the flesh (i mean in the wood) not a single bass or guitar player gave me a chance to avoid explanations on "What the hell is this beast and how can I get a similar one?"

Thank you very much, Anthony, for bringing so much joy into my life. I could never think that such a specific instrument would become my main bass guitar, but now I cannot imagine it the other way.

Best wishes,"

Igor S.

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Custom bass with P/J EMG pickups, Mike Pope preamp

"Just finished jamming on the new bass i was thinking the g string might be too low but it's absolutely perfect all the way around. i let everyone that wanted to take a turn and even the hardened Fender bass player cracked and admitted it was the best bass he has played. Thank you so much!"

Gene G.

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Single cutaway fretless bass guitar with Delano Xtender pickup

"Oh my God, the Austra bass still plays like the day I got it, even better. As a working musician always gigging in the studio, on the stage and on the road, this bass gives me the sound and tone I need in all situations. I love this bass and the bass loves me. It's like a good woman: it always has your back. Xylem Basses are for the bass players who love what they do."

Mark Smith

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5 string custom bass with Nordstrand pickups

"Anthony…you've outdone yourself on this one…Calypso is absolutely perfect in every aspect! Your woodworking and carving is immaculate. I can't even summon up the vocabulary necessary to describe an instrument of this caliber right now. I almost feel like, after playing only 1.5 years, I'm not worthy to be playing such a unique creation…but I'll tell you what…it'll be my guiding light, a source for inspiration, over the course of my lifetime of learning and experimenting. It's so fun, and it just plays So Perfectly.

I should start by saying that the time and effort that you've put into packaging and protecting Calypso has been much appreciated. Totally impressed by the care you put into it. It has arrived in flawless condition. You were thorough enough that it took me quite a while to unpack it. In-fact, I would probably go so far as to say that it could have been thrown around and kicked while in transit and it still would have shown up unharmed, Hah!

I haven't had much time yet to actually pick it up and play, but I've tried it out, and you were right…because of the extremely low action you are able to achieve with your instruments, I've already had to completely adjust the way I play…almost like starting from scratch. But I'm just so Happy! It feels so damn right!

Slapping is so effortless and clear, I can't even describe it…It's off the charts! Beautiful crisp sound…The Harmonics are crystal clear! I haven't had time to even fool around with all the different knobs and options, but I just love the tones you can get from those Nordstrands so far…and that high "C" string…fantastic!

I'll have to leave it at that for now. I'd be able to tell you more after I get some time to get better acquainted with it. I appreciate the effort and time you've put into this project, and quite frankly, I'm still not able to comprehend why this bass was made in 2013 and someone didn't buy it before I did. I really lucked out here in this situation ^_^

I will absolutely, 100%, recommend you to any person that's looking for a unique, personalized bass.

Keep up the fantastic work, Sir…

If you have any questions at any time, don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to dealing with you again in the future ^_^ "

Allan S.

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Short scale bass with ash body, bocote top

"Played the bass in a band last night. I absolutely love it."

Joe B.

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6 string custom bass with Villex pickups, string-thru body

The following is a phone message left by the bass' owner:

"Hello Anthony, how you doin'? This is Way, I was just checking in with you. I received everything and sent you an email as well. Everything is just totally off the charts man! I don't know, I'm speechless. Anyway, just giving you a tag just to talk to you there real briefly. I won't take up too much of your time but when you get the chance just give me a call and I hope all is going well there."

The following is an email from the bass' owner:

"The gem arrived safe and sound, after staring at it for under an hour, LOL I finally picked it up to inspect from shipping all is well thanx for packing very secure, all I can say right now is WOW!!!!! Thank you for what you've done!!!! Everything I knew it would be!! anyWAY gonna call u Monday got to get back to staring at my Vesovio...LOL have a blessed weekend... "

The Way

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Black walnut guitar with Bare Knuckle pickup

"Hey Anthony,

I have been recording with the Myraxis a lot lately and hope to have some very heavy sound samples for you soon. I tried out some standard Ernie Ball strings and switched right back to the Tomastics. That bare knuckle pickup is super hot and likes the mellow strings much better. Sounds monstrous. I am more and more impressed at how great the action of that guitar is. It is so easy to play and side by side comparisons with my old favorites really emphasizes the build quality. I'm glad I had the opportunity to have it made. A few people have already asked if I would be willing to sell it, ha!

Thanks, "

Matt S.

The following is a testimonial from Matt's brother, Jeff S., who plays drums with Matt.


My brother Matt S. bought a guitar from you and provided the metal sample. I wanted to give an outside perspective. I am a drummer and it is the only instrument I play. My brother and I have been playing music together for about 25 years all different kinds and all different styles and I have heard so many different guitars that he has used. He plays both base and guitar and here in our city he has won competitions and in my opinion is very knowledgeable about guitars in general, their sound and the construction/craftsmanship. As a drummer playing with him I personally am amazed at the sound I hear coming from that guitar. There is no other guitar that I have heard yet that can put out the sound quality, than the guitar you built. I have shown many people your website and most of them are not musicians. Some are very experienced craftsmen who know their woodwork and their tools, others just simple music listeners. They are all so impressed with what they hear. Great work!"

Jeff S.

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Fretless 5 string bass guitar with ebony top

"Hi Anthony,

The bass came in Saturday afternoon. It's far beyond my expectations. The side fret markers came out great. I have no problems navigating the fret board. All the little changes along the way really came out well on this bass. The hardware, pre-amp, pick ups, line-less fret board, all killer.

I am really at a loss of words. I'll just say its pure awesome for now.

I should be able to get some stuff recorded later.

Thanks for the build.

peace out,"

- Hayagawa K.

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Short scale custom bass with spalted maple top

"Greetings Anthony!

I recently became the proud owner of your Shishito [sic] bass and all I can say is WOW! My friend/bandmate Nick B. over at Avenue N Guitars in Chicago showed it off to me a few weeks ago and I instantly fell in love with it. The overall design is badass, its ultra light weight, it sounds amazing, and when it comes to its feel and playability...wow, just wow. Its so comfortable, it feels like an extension of my body and I'm discovering more about my playing each time I pick this amazing piece of work up. Your attention to detail is incredible and this bass is everything I could have wanted all wrapped up in one. Its perfect for me and I couldn't be happier to not only have crossed paths with it, but to have the privilege to play it everyday. Thank you for your work."

- Dina S.

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Long scale 6 string bass with bloodwood top

"Anthony, Just a quick note to let you know it got here, all safe and sound. Looks great, plays great, sounds great; can hardly bring myself to put it down. Hopefully will get a sound clip or two recorded this weekend."

- Jim K.

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Lefty custom bass with Nordstrand pickups & preamp

"Anthony, The bass arrived in perfect condition (excellent packing job). I will send you a full write-up once I sit with it a bit. At this point, all I can say is amazing job. You are a very talented man."

The Full Write-Up - received a couple weeks later…

"Design - I asked for your interpretation of a certain kind of bass, and this is exactly what I received. A friend of mine commented that it is hard to tell where I end and the bass begins. Very organic and fluid.

Fit and Finish - Everything is solid. All woodwork is clean. Neck is true. Fretwork is immaculate. Natural oil finish is perfectly applied. Control cavity is well shielded. Like any well-made custom item, I am continually discovering new design nuances.

Playability - Complete fret access. Neck dimensions are exactly as requested. Extremely lightweight; balances well; no neck dive. Low action allows for great response with a light touch (in other words: effortless playability).

Tone - The Nordstrand pickup/preamp, combined with the wood, creates a very true bass tone.

Value - Given the quality and attention to details, this is a great deal (especially for a lefty).

Overall - I am completely satisfied with my purchase. Not only did I receive an amazing instrument, but I had the pleasure of dealing with a true professional."

- Kevin F.

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5 string custom bass with Bartolini pickups

Anthony: "How's the bass treating you?"

Donald Brodsky: "It is going really well. I'm not sure if it's a pick up thing or just a better built instrument.. Or both, but it is a much better balanced instrument from it's highs to low's. Has a great tonal quality and alot of power. I'm loving it and really appreciate all the hard work that went into building it.. It will be played alot and enjoyed by many for years and years :)"

- Donald Brodsky, Bass Player of Woodland

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Short scale 5 string bass with rainbow top

" The bass is great, I've been playing it constantly. The humidity has been really high here the last few weeks, but I haven't noticed any issues with the bass."

- Chad Mowbray, Solo Bassist of Evil Has a Twin

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7 string guitar with Seymour Duncan Blackouts

"My initial impressions are Wow!........ It's actually smaller than I thought it was going to be, which is good... Because from the pics on the website I was a little worried it'd be too massive for me... but it's very comfortable and actually light weight for me as well. I could tell just from strumming it the first time acoustically that it resonates through the whole body...I like the tone of the coil split bridge pickup for clean... Especially mixed with the neck pickup. The neck is perfect though man... You nailed the Ibanez 7 string neck perfectly, nice and thin and easy to play. Getting used to playing with that style bridge again is gonna take some time, but it's comfortable.... Just gotta work on hand placement and pressure when palm muting. I've been so used to playing on guitars with tuno-matic style bridges for a long time. I wanted this style bridge though this time for more sustain."

- Chris G.

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Xylem Basses & Guitars

Have more questions? Feel free to contact Xylem Basses & Guitars, Anthony would love to hear from you!

You can also order a Xylem custom bass or guitar or browse the available Xylem basses and guitars.

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