Price paid: £ 320
Purchased from: Dolphin Music, Gateshead
Sound — 9
I play most things except metal, but I mainly use this for pop/rock'n'roll and jazz. I mainly use this with an old 300W Peavey solid state combo, although I sometimes use other amps for gigs when it's more practical. I have a Boss ODB-3 and a fuzz, but for the band I'm in at the moment (old Jazz and Rn'B standards) I don't use any pedals. That said, the bridge pickup does sound wonderful through a fuzz, you can get a lot of growl, while still having clear definition. I rarely get noise issues when playing, and then it's only when standing quite close to an amp turned up very loud, which is something I like to avoid anyway! This is a brilliantly clear instrument: it always sounds rich and round, but there's plenty of high end and clarity, harmonic overtones Shine through in a great way, and the bass has the nicest sustain on any instrument I've ever played. It is fantastically versatile tonewise; the two pickups have very different characters, and different blends can produce vastly different sounds. More importantly, all of the options sound good for something, rather than having a hundred options of which five are usable. It's always possible to get a good sound for any situation.
Overall Impression — 9
I play everything that isn't very heavy, especially jazz and rock'n'roll, and this is, in my opinion, the perfect bass for those and many other genres. I have been playing bass for about 4 years, and I also have a Stagg starter bass, a practice amp, the aforementioned pedals and lots of guitar stuff. The bass is exactly as advertised, and I have no problems with any part of it at all. I chose carefully, and I love it as much as I did when I got it about 8 months ago. If it were stolen or lost, I would look at other basses, because you never know what you'll find, but I would probably focus on similar basses, and I wouldn't be surprised if I finished in buying another of these. Or maybe a fretless, but even then I'd probably get the fretless version of this. My favourite thing has to be the neck, which feels great to play, but I also love the tone, and how beautiful it is. Definitely one of the nicest looking instruments I've seen. It's hard to beat such simplicity in design and function, and the only problem is the slipping bridge saddles. In time I'll either get new saddles or a new bridge, but it's a very small problem, and I'll only replace the bridge with one in exactly the same style. Before buying this, I shopped around for about a month, trying out all manner of basses, including spectors, p-basses, warwicks; absolutely every bass I could find in my price range. I had tried other Jazz basses, but this one in particular jumped out at me; it outplayed every other bass by a large margin, and looked and sounded great. So I would advise potential buyers to try more than one of the bass you intend to buy, as this particular bass was much, much nicer to play than the 2 other Jazz basses I tried, even though they were all the same model. I suppose that suggests weak quality control, but even the other Jazz basses I tried were fine, just not as good as this one. Part of that will be the set-up in the shop, and part manufacture, I suppose. That has really discouraged me from ever buying a guitar online, as it's nice to be able to play the exact guitar you end up buying, just to know that it's good. The only things I want about the bass are the bridge/saddles (only to correct the problem on this particular bass) and the pickguard colour: I'd like a tortoiseshell one. I'll probably get a black one and a tortoiseshell, and then swap between the 3 colours when I feel like it, just for the variety. I wouldn't change anything more fundamental about the bass, it's versatile, great to play, sounds good and looks fantastic.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I use this Live pretty much every week, and I've not had a single problem yet. All the hardware feels very solid, and I think it would take some abuse to break anything (abuse it won't get!). The bass holds in tune really well, I generally only have to adjust it by tiny amounts at the start of gigs. The strap buttons are very solid, despite the weight of the bass; it's the strap itself I'm more worried about. I don't often gig without a backup because another guy in the band normally brings a bass along, but nothing bad has ever happened to it on or offstage, and I wouldn't think twice about doing so. The finish doesn't seem likely to wear off. So far there is only one crack, and that's from when somebody else hit the bass against a stone wall. Needless to say, he hasn't touched it since! Basically, it would take an awful lot to break this bass, it seems built to last.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I went in to the shop to try this bass and bought it there and then, so the action was great from the start: I have never played a more comfortable guitar or bass, the thin neck feels brilliant, and the finish on the back of the neck is very fast. Everything on the bass is in good condition. I've only had one problem, which is that occasionally when I play very hard some of the bridge saddles slip down, so I have to raise them again, because it lowers the action and there is a lot of fret buzz. Apart from this (minor and fixable) problem, everything has been perfect.
Features — 7
This bass was made in 2007 in Mexico. It has 20 medium frets, a rosewood fingerboard and the usual thin Jazz neck. It has a maple neck and an alder body. Mine is 'Artic White', which is a beautiful creamy colour, and it has a white pickguard. It has a standard Vintage style top-load bridge with 4 individually adjustable saddles, and all chrome hardware. 2 standard passive single coil pickups, each with its own volume control, and a shared tone control. I got mine with a free Fender soft-case and an allen key for the bridge saddles.