I just joined the forum and introduced myself here...
I am one of the fortunate Doug Irwin instrument owners. It's a long and crazy story but I feel it was a matter of the times in the 70's where anything seemed possible and that meant even coming up with the money to have Doug build me a bass.
Both my brother and I contacted Doug in '77 but had spent a fair amount of time with him over the previous year discussing woods and sustain and weight. It was my brother's and my decision to have Doug craft both instruments with solid Ebony necks.
Similar to Travis Beans aluminum neck instruments we also thought that by having the necks terminate their length at the bridge would help save a little weight and isolate the pickups and bridge to the neck. Doug loved the idea (course that meant some long discussions sometimes forgotten by the weed that was being smoked during the design phase)!
I chose some beautiful flame maple for the front and back with a walnut core while my brother chose a gorgeous flamed Koa for his front and back with a mahogany core. One of my conversations with Doug was that I wanted my bass to sustain more than anything. Doug had a number of beautiful pieces of ebony to choose from and after holding that raw wood in my hands and smelling it... I knew I was going to have something special. I looked at Doug and said "This thing will sustain till tomorrow and knock done mountains!"
Three years later I took delivery of my bass even though Doug had completed 90% of it within the first year. Those two years were like the longest anticipated Christmas morning one could ever have to deal with. On many trips up to Doug's place in Santa Rosa and then to Geyserville, we spent a great deal of time sampling the finest weed available on the planet and then spent hours discussing life, wood, dreams and even politics. Doug was a very pleasant man who definitely also had his share of demons. The experience for my brother wasn't as memorable as mine as Doug seemed to have gotten lost by '81 to '82. His guitar ended up disappearing with Doug when he left Geyserville. It took my brother almost four years to recover his guitar and that was just a stroke of fate to have recognized Doug's wife on the streets of Santa Rosa one day. She promptly took him over to their house and retrieved my brother's guitar (which was already paid in full). The guitar was almost completed but still needed to be wired and setup. At that time my brother had switched to playing keys and then bass so he ended up sticking the guitar in its case and closet for almost 32 years! I've had possession of it now for a year and took it to John at Amazing Grace in San Anselmo to have it setup and the wiring done.
It sounds amazing and has incredible tone and sustain. The neck feels quick and the overall weight is very playable. It has a Humbucker and single coil Fender at the neck and a split coil Humbucker at the bridge. Two volumes, a threeway switch for neck and a threeway switch for the bridge.
Both instruments have Doug's very beautiful Mother of Pearl eagle logo and the bass has brass neck and headstock binding where as the guitar has Mother of Pearl neck and headstock binding. Both have Mother of Pearl side dots and I chose to have the same for fret markers.
I have never been disappointed with my bass except for deciding rather quickly that the Bartolinis weren't for me. I changed them out within a year to EMG's and recently upgraded the preamps to ACG filters.
If anyone knows Doug's whereabouts (or even if he is still alive) I'd love to know. I haven't talked to him for years but feel like wanting to share with him how much I truly love my instrument. The other thing that would be helpful to know is I'm so trying to get an appraisal done for both instruments but haven't found anyone locally that feels confident enough to out a $ price on them.