Carlo Robelli USB-12B 12-String

I first saw this a Carlo Robelli USB-12B 12-String bass in a Sam Ash catalog in late 2003. My first thought was “cool”. Over time I decided that at $400, this was one hell of a deal on a 12-string bass.

Over the next several months I talked myself into and then out of buying one dozens of times. But for the most part, I eventually put it on the back burner. There were just too many things that I needed so much more than a 12-string bass.

Then fate intervened. Well, actually, my first wife intervened. She needed a pitch pipe and wanted to go to Sam Ash in Charlotte, North Carolina to see if she could find one. My mother and I tagged along. I hoped to have a chance to check out some of the Carlo Robelli basses, and maybe to actually get to see something as freaky as a 12-string bass.

Sure enough, Sam Ash had one on display. So I sat down and played it. I was stunned. Playing the 12-string bass was about like playing a 4-string. Sure, you had to make some adjustments, but nothing like I expected. I was also surprised by the quality of the bass.

I tried out several other Robellis; fretless, 8-strings, 6-strings, and several 4-strings. Only those basses on the lowest end of the product line disappointed me, and even then only because the fret wire bit into your fingers. But the one that I kept staring at was the 12-string.

Afterward, my first wife, mother and I went out to eat. All throughout our dinner, I kept thinking about going back to Sam Ash and putting that 12-string on layaway. But we just didn’t have the money. So I was a good boy. I put it out of my mind and figured it ] would be just another lost opportunity. Besides, I had plenty of time to buy one.

So I thought, anyway. I checked the Sam Ash web site that night and found out that most of the Carlo Robelli line was in limited quantities. Especially the 12-string. But we still didn’t have the money. So I forgot about it. Or tried to.

I thought about the 12-string for the rest of the week. By the time payday had come, I was determined to get it. We laid it away by phone while we were still on the road, and I picked it up 2 weeks later.

I’ve heard different opinions concerning the Carlo Robelli line. Some people think they’re great. Some people think they’re shit. I think they’re amazing instruments for their price. I’ve played basses that cost more and didn’t play as good. So I consider this bass to be an amazing purchase at the price of $400. It plays great, sounds great, and generally kicks ass. I was so impressed with Carlo Robelli 12-string bass that I later picked up a fretless and a 6-string.

It’s hard to explain to non-musicians why you would need something like a 12-string bass. It’s certainly not something you’re going to use on every song. But it has a sound all its own, and makes for some unique arrangements. Guitar players seem to hate them. And why not? They’re used to hogging all the attention, and it’s hard to compete with a 12-string bass monster.

All I know is that this instrument plays great, sounds great, and has already given me several kick-ass songs that could only be played on something like this. All you have to do to keep it happy is feed it a few babies on occasion, and it’s perfectly happy to remain chained in the studio, helping to create diabolical grooves and bad intent.


Carlo Robelli 12-String Bass - Front Carlo Robelli 12-String Bass - Back Carlo Robelli 12-String Bass - Headstock Front Carlo Robelli 12-String Bass - Headstock Back


 Mar 29 2004
Body Wood: 
 Mahogany w/ Quilted Maple top
Neck Wood: 
Pickups:   Two Soapbar
 Passive / Active
 Sam Ash – Charlotte, NC

“… there’s only so many notes, you know …”

– John Lennon

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11 years ago

I have the same exact bass and LOVE IT!
Do you happen to have the manual? I was looking on the web for it and found your post. You still have the bass?

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