The pop music world is no stranger to hyperbole. Everything is a smash, every artist a star… or a megastar. Those terms get thrown around so easily that they can lose their meaning. But what if you found yourself on what is, quite literally, the biggest tour in history? Well, you could ask Amos Heller that question, because he has the bass gig on Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, a massive extravaganza with millions of tickets sold and billions of dollars generated. And despite being onstage with a megamegastar like Ms. Swift, Heller gets plenty of time in the spotlight with his custom Yamaha BB bass.
The Heller/Yamaha connection began about a decade ago when he was invited to check out the line of BB instruments. That led to him bringing the basses on tour with Florida Georgia Line, James Otto, Thomas Rhett, and Taylor Swift. “These basses are iconic in sound and silhouette, and there’s something unique about the way they respond to dynamics that highlights even subtle shifts in playing. They’re bright and present in the best way.”
Heller worked closely with the Custom Shop’s Rafael Barajas to realize his vision, from the individual cuts of wood used to the colors of the screws for the strap locks. “I can’t say enough about how rewarding it was to work with him,” says Heller. “He completely got what I was going for and contributed a lot of his own ideas to the piece.”
Part of what Heller was going for had to do with the active electronics his custom instrument sports. “I wanted a platform to combine the brilliance and presence of the BB line with the custom Nordstrand preamps that were designed for Justin Chancellor of Tool,” he says. “It adds up to a very modern-sounding bass designed to cut through.”
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” he adds. “Completely unlike anything I’ve played before, and it sits beautifully in the hands. The sound is punchy and precise, and there is something about it that makes me think of a classical instrument. It’s a showstopper, and I get questions about it every time it comes out of the case. I definitely wanted something remarkable, and Yamaha delivered.”
If you weren’t able to get your hands on Taylor tix—and who was?—you can see Heller’s Yamaha collection on his cool instrumental “Occasion” on his YouTube channel.