Sound — 9
I play anything and everything that could be described as "rock", and this really doesn't fit that very well. It does, however, fit right during acoustic sets. I sometimes use it with a Hartke A25 for monitoring purposes or unplugged acoustic jams, but for gigs I usually just use a DI straight into the PA. Unplugged, it has a very warm, woody tone that is atypical of inexpensive acoustic basses, though like most ABG's it isn't very loud. I have to dig in quite a bit to keep up with a sit-in-a-circle acoustic jam. (This is where the A25 comes in.) Plugged in, it has a fairly bright sound that can be a bit clanky with bad technique, but it's still much warmer than most ABG's I've played. It's very hot, so more than 1/2 volume at the preamp is never really needed. The 2-band preamp isn't exactly the most elaborate thing I've ever seen, but the frequency ranges of it's EQ are placed well and can be quite effective. Like any ABG, it's fairly susceptible to feedback, which is why I don't ever use a large amp. As long as you're behing the PA, it's fine. Overall, it's better sounding than most any ABG in it's price range, and better than nearly all of them unplugged. It could be a bit mellower plugged in, but I'm sure a set of tapewound strings would fix that.
Overall Impression — 9
As I said before, I play most anything that could be describes as "rock", and quite a bit that could be called metal. This is what I usually practice on, do to the ease-of-use that comes with not being tied to a cord. I have two other inexpensive basses, a Carvin SBR410 amp, the aforementioned Hartke A25, and some other random stuff that's in my profile. I didn't technically buy this, but if I had I would like to have asked what the easiest way to change the battery is. If this were lost or stolen, I would be quite upset and work towards getting another one. An ABG is a great thing to have. It makes practicing (or just noodling around) much easier, since there's no being tied to an amp, and it makes me feel and sound much less out-of-place at acoustic gigs. A second strap button at the heel would be nice, though... it feels awkward having the strap extend to the neck instead of down to the nonexistent upper horn. Since acquiring it, I have compared it to some other mainly ABG's on sale at Guitar Center, and were I buying another one I'm sure I'd still pick this model. It's just more fun to play. A better preamp would be a nice thing to have, maybe a 3-band with a tuner, but the one it has gets the job done and sounds fine, and I guess that's what matters. It's a bit unconventional, but overall it's a great instrument to have around and I'm really quite fond of it. I'd feel funny giving it a 10, because it's not perfect, but it needs more than a 9... let's pretend that's a 9.5 there?
Reliability & Durability — 10
It seems to be a well-built instrument. It has withstood Live playing for quite a while now, and I expect it to continue to do so for quite a while to come. The single strap button/output jack, which is the most vulnerable spot on an acoustic, seems to be quite solid and has not failed me yet. I believe that I can depend on this bass, and I would definitely gig this without a backup. (I usually do.) The finish has held up through many bumps and bangs, and there's not a noticeable mark on it yet... only the typical micro-scratches. I don't expect it to fail me anytime soon. This is what I usually practice on, and I expect to be able to do so for several years to come.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
For such an inexpensive bass, the attention to detail on this thing is great. To my knowledge, it still has the factory setup, and I have no intention of changing it. The action is quite low for an acoustic, and the intonation is spot-on. The neck is very fast. The build quality is excellent... I have yet to find a flaw anywhere on it that I didn't put there myself. The finish is all nice and smooth, especially on the neck. The binding, 3-ring abalone rosette, and tort pickguard are all very well made and look great. I would expect this level of quality from a much more expensive instrument.
Features — 8
Mid 2000's, made in Indonesia. It's a 34", 20 fret bass with a very slim and narrow Ibanez-like neck. It's got a spruce top, nato body, and mahogany neck, all with a natural finish. I assume it is polyurethane. The fingerboard is rosewood. The body binding is cream, while the neck binding is black. The body is a single-cut acoustic with an average-sized sound hole. It has a rosewood-covered steel bridge with a piezo pickup. The active preamp, battery and all, is mounted on the top side of the bass, so that the player can see it while playing. The tuners are the typical sealed mini-tuners that popular with Ibanez and other import brands. It has bass, treble, and volume controls, all very effective. I didn't buy it new, but I assume it didn't come with anything. Overall, it has very good aesthetic qualities for a bass in this price range, and the electronics are above-average.