Skip to main content

Great Scott! Meet the Time Machine, a breathtakingly detailed Back to the Future-themed bass

(Image credit: Donor Designs)

We all remember the sweet Gibson ES-345 electric guitar that Marty McFly rocked at the 1955 Enchantment Under the Sea high school dance in Back to the Future. But what about the Time Machine bass guitar?

Doesn’t ring a bell? That’s because it comes from the future – or as it were, our present day.

The Time Machine, built by Chicago-based Donor Designs, pays tribute to the Michael J. Fox movie franchise, and in particular Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean, with flashing lights, a selectable destination year display and, of course, a device resembling a flux capacitor.

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Donor Designs)
Image 2 of 2

(Image credit: Donor Designs)

Now that Time Machine bass has been sold – and for a good cause.

The proud new owner is Arend Raby, a bass player and collector who works for Sweetwater. What’s more, 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale were donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The donation was made in honor and memory of Robert K. Blackburn, father of Bill Blackburn, the runner-up in the sale process.

As for the bass itself, the Time Machine also features a Warmoth body and neck, Nordstrand pickup, Audere preamp, Babicz bridge, Hipshot tuning machines, Axetreme Creations pickguard and a ReRanch nitrocellulose lacquer finish.

According to Donor, construction of the components, as well as building them into the bass body, required roughly 300 work hours over the course of three years.

Upon completion, a number of professional bassists took the Time Machine for a test drive – among them Billy Sheehan, who no doubt ran his fingers over the fretboard at upwards of 88 miles per hour.

For more information on the Time Machine, head over to Doner Designs (opens in new tab).

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.