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|RC Williams’ signature product took the pain out of transporting the double bass.
RC WILLIAMS CO.
How the dbl Bass Buggie maker put the orchestra’s heaviest instrument on wheels.
AIR TRAVEL CHANGED FOREVER when an inventive pilot first added wheels to a suitcase in 1987, but it was another 20-plus years before anyone did the same for the double bass. Weighing up to 30 lbs. on its own, and considerably more in its case, the double bass is the instrument orchestral musicians love to play and hate to carry—which is why RC Williams Company founder Rick Williams decided they shouldn’t have to. A longtime stringed instrument designer with a background in advanced CNC machining, Rick started RC Williams in 2010 to focus on a line of specialized orchestral accessories. The company’s inaugural product, the dbl Bass Buggie, is still its most celebrated. Weighing just 3.5 lbs. and adjustable to any size bass, from 1/10 to 4/4, the dbl Bass Buggie comprises a two-wheeled platform and an adjustable strap to affix it securely to the instrument, whether in its case or not. Once attached, it rolls and steers easily over indoor and outdoor terrain with the bass riding safely in its harness. One promotional video shows a skateboarder breezing by, holding his bass by the neck as it wheels along smoothly beside him.
Described as a “cottage industry,” RC Williams has been run since its inception by Rick Williams, its lead designer, and his wife Nancy McGuire, chief operations officer, who manages day-to-day operations with the support of a small production team. “It’s very much a team effort,” McGuire says, “a real mom and pop experience.” Besides the dbl Bass Buggie, they’ve since rolled out a range of stands for orchestral instruments, among them the Amazing Bass Stand and the Amazing Cello Stand. Engineered with a sturdy interlocking frame for maximum stability, with rubber-coated edges to protect the instrument, each stand also doubles as an ergonomic seat for the player. Alternate versions are available in “Concert Black” for a professional look onstage. The line also includes the Studio G stand for guitar and banjo and the Amazing X Stand, a versatile hinged stand suitable for most stringed instruments. All are manufactured in RC Williams’ Kansas-based shop, entirely from U.S.-made components, and sell under the tagline “Conserving players and their instruments for years to come.” Or as McGuire puts it, “We have a ‘customer first’ policy and stand behind our products without question.”
Offered worldwide, RC Williams products are sold through a varied network of music stores and wholesale distributors along with outlets including Amazon and Reverb. Shipping costs are minimized to appeal to wholesale customers. Can any other company offer quite what RC Williams does? Not exactly, says McGuire, though there are many competing for the same customers—both legitimate manufacturers and counterfeiters the company has learned to be on alert for. As McGuire says, though, “We hold our own in our niche. The market is very competitive and there’s an abundance of products—some good, some not so good. Our sales have grown steadily over the last four years, and we’ll do our best to ensure that continues.
“We have a couple of new products in development and hope to launch them within the next year,” she adds. “Rick’s wheels are always turning.”