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Bass Specialties - Bensalem, Pennsylvania

Bass Specialties
With its roots tracing back to the 17th century, Philadelphia is one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the United States. For decades, Philly has been acknowledged for its long-standing bass tradition and for being the birthplace of world-renowned bassists such as Stanley Clarke, Christian McBride, and Gerald Veasley. Surprisingly, "The City of Brotherly Love" did not become the home of a retail store designed to cater exclusively to bassists until just recently. Bass Specialties, the first and only bass-centric retail resource in the Philadelphia region, was opened by bassist Glenn Marrazzo in September, 2006. In addition to providing an alternative to the large instrument chains and access to an extensive stock of bass-related products including basses and sound reinforcement, Marrazzo's goal is to firmly establish a supportive and conveniently located storefront where the local bass community can converge to hang out, play, and receive instruction from some of the world's best bassists.

Can you tell us what led you to opening Bass Specialties?

My background as a bassist began as a teenager with that all too familiar story of having one too many guitarists in the band. I played in various garage bands throughout high school and decided to enroll as a music major at a local community college. I excelled in my studies at college, but after the 1978 semester, I lacked the drive to continue my education. I settled back into the family business of specialty food retail, which I had been working in since age 10, and continued playing in various bands. In the years that followed, many of my bandmates started to drift away from music to start families as I did, too.

From 1985 to 1996, I chose the "safety" and "comfort" of the family business in order to support my growing family. During that time, my bass playing was all but dormant until I received an invitation from a friend from my college days to get involved with a jazz/fusion project that eventually led to recording a CD and doing monthly gigs. This really awakened the sleeping giant inside me, and from that point on, my passion for the bass and hunger to improve my playing and knowledge intensified.

In 1998, I became a member of an alternative rock band known as Medea which became very popular in the Philadelphia club scene and received radio airplay on the University of Pennsylvania's public radio station, WXPN. It was amazing to me that, now in my 40's, many of my earlier dreams were finally being realized. This, of course, further energized my desire to connect more with the bass.

In May 2003, I found myself at Victor Wooten's Bass/Nature Camp which had dramatic and positive effects on my bass playing as well as my perspective on life. I followed up Victor's camp with some private lessons with Anthony Wellington, and I also attended Gerald Veasley's Bass Bootcamp in 2004 and 2005.

Call it a "mid-life crisis" but as my passion for all things bass was surging, I was becoming increasingly bitter and miserable with my life as a specialty food retailer. It seemed that for every meaningful musical experience that was now occurring, it would be countered by an equally unbearable day at work. I hated that my life was being defined and consumed by a business that I really never liked.

Following the busy holiday season at the end of 2005, I hit the wall and decided that I had reached the point where I no longer could make the personal sacrifices that a proud and successful business owner needs to make.

On January 1, 2006, my wife and I were driving up I-95 with two friends after spending the day in Philadelphia. The conversation led to how much I disliked my job and what I could do in order to take control of my life. As the discussion went on, I started to riff on the idea that there were bass-only shops located throughout the country but none in Philly. Philly is a great music town, and more importantly, it's a great bass town. I thought it was amazing that Philly didn't have a bass-only shop. Well, that's when the lightening struck! I could marry my passion of the bass with my vast retail experience and create the "first of its kind" bass-exclusive store in the Philadelphia region. The next day, I sat down at the computer and created an entity with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and Bass Specialties was born!

How has the reception been from the local bass-playing community given Philly's storied bass tradition?

Bass players have been coming into the shop and expressing their gratitude or in some cases disbelief! Most customers are returning to the shop with others that they have told about Bass Specialties.

Which brands of basses and amps are available at Bass Specialties?

In terms of basses, we feature Roscoe, M Basses, MTD, Benavente, Lakland, NS Design, Spector, Fodera, G&L, Sadowsky Metro, Elrick, F Bass, Modulus, KSD, Pedulla, Zon, and Michael Kelly.

For amplification, we carry Aguilar, AccuGroove, Eden, Euphonic Audio, Epifani, Bag End, Schroeder, and Thunderfunk with more to come!

Besides basses and amps, do you stock accessories?

Yes. We are stocking or will be stocking all the necessary gadgets and accessories. Bass-related apparel such as Groove DNA and Lathon Bass Wear as well as instructional books and videos will be added to the mix in the future.

Is bass gear across all price points available at your shop or only high-end equipment?

Bass Specialties is not exclusively high-end. Although the concept of a bass-only shop is "boutique" in nature, I do not wish to dismiss the younger or beginning players seeking entry-level instruments and gear.

Can orders for custom-built basses be placed through Bass Specialties?

Yes. Bass builders such as Roscoe and Elrick offer the ability for the consumer to place custom orders through their dealers. I am also the exclusive east coast retailer for M Basses. Jon at M Basses offers a wide range of options for a custom-built bass of extraordinary quality at a very reasonable price.

Do you provide instrument repairs?

Personally, I am capable of doing set-ups and some minor repairs such as exchanging pickups and minor soldering jobs. I also have two excellent bass techs in the area that I am able to refer to for more advanced repair work.

Are private lessons available through Bass Specialties?

We will be providing private lessons soon, perhaps by late October. My mission is to attract quality teachers who will provide a level of instruction a few notches above the average music store experience.

How is Bass Specialties unique compared to other bass-only shops?

It's no secret that Bass Specialties is modeled after many of the other bass-only shops in the United States. At this point, it is only unique in that we are located in a metropolitan region that has been long overdue for such a shop. I am sure that over time Bass Specialties will morph into its own unique flavor with regards to merchandising, product mix, services offered, instruction, and much more.

Do you plan on hosting clinics at Bass Specialties?

Absolutely. I would like to host as many clinics and special events as possible. We had Gerald Veasley and Anthony Wellington in for the grand opening in September. The following week, Victor Wooten made an appearance. Anthony and I have discussed promoting special instructor days where students can sign up for one-on-one private instruction with Anthony as well as other bass teachers that may be able to make an occasional appearance in the shop.

Contact Information

Bass Specialties
2846 Street Rd.
Bensalem, PA 19020
Hours: Monday - Friday 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
After Hours Appointments Available
Toll-Free Phone: 877.244.4079
Web Site:

© 2006 The IIB