Purchased from: Pawn X-Change
Features — 8
Segovia guitar/bass company was actually a label brand manufactured by Saehan in Korea back in the 1980's and 1990's. They also built guitars for Hondo, Memphis, and a few other lesser known brands in the late 1980's. They are of the category that I call "Pawn Shop Fodder" - you know, those guitars and basses that turn up missing strings, covered in stickers, and broken and that feel a bit cheesy... well, this bass is exactly that.
YEAR/ORIGIN: Saehan Factory in Korea, circa 1986 or so
NECK: 21 Jumbo Frets, neck made of unknown wood, probably maple, as it's painted to match the body, Pao Ferro or similar "like rosewood" fingerboard, plastic pearl inlays, and sealed gear machine heads
BODY: Plywood Kramer Forum/Focus 7000 shaped bass body, basically like a Fender Precision Bass but with the bass side waist cut a little wider like a Kramer bass or guitar. I think they may have also made basses for the Kramer Aerostar/KX series using this body.
PICKUPS: 2 Jazzmaster-shaped J-Bass styled humbucker pickups reining in around 8.4K each with Ceramic magnets, very powerful
CONTROLS: A Flying Vee/Explorer style setup of 2 volumes (1 for each pickup), a tone control, and a 3-way selector switch.
BRIDGE: Originally it had a cast pot-metal copy of a Leo Quan-style bass bridge, but I had to swap it out with a Squier Precision Bass Bridge because the bridge saddles had seized.
FINISH: Candy apple red with matching neck and headstock, no pickguard, black plastic, and chrome hardware.
I bought this bass in the summer of 2006 for $80 out the door, with some pretty colorful stickers all over it - in language, not necessarily artwork - and a warped neck. Oh boy the fun reviewing the fit and finish is going to be. It was the first bass I ever bought since my Ironbird NJ in 1997.
For features, I'll give it an 8, I'm a guitarist, so understanding a Gibson Vee/Explorer/Moderne style wiring scheme is very easy for me, and I can still do pickup blend things with it using the volume knobs like a J-bass. Granted, everything was of dodgy quality, but it has it's upsides. I'll give it an 8.
Sound — 9
I play bass on home demos mostly, so I can orchestrate on the fly. I play a mixture of metal, pop, grunge, punk, blues, new wave, post-punk, hard rock, classic rock, video game music - a whole bunch of stuff.
For gear, I mostly run the bass direct to board without a DI box, or through my guitar amp modeler using the Fender Bassman 4X10 simulation on that particular device. I have a very distinct bass sound I go for - sort of like a heavier version of Bucky Ballard from Billy Squier's band circa 1980 - go listen to "Rich Kid" from Tale of the Tape and you'll get the idea what my ideal bass sound is for most things. Very fat, but punchy, with a bit of growl to it.
Sound-wise, the bass really hits that tonal sweet spot the best without either becoming very tinny, but it can get a little TOO thick and overdrive the mix too much if you're not careful, especially with my kind of sound.
The bridge pickup conjures up a Rinus Gerritzen vibe (Golden Earring) circa 1982 "Cut era" - think the bass-line from "Twilight Zone (When the Bullet Hits the Bone)". But without the 60-cycle of a Danelectro Lipstick tube and some extra bass.
Both pickups on gives more of a balanced sound, somewhere between a J-bass and a Peavey T-40 with both pickups on. It's tighter than the Peavey due to pickup placement, but it's way too hot for a J-bass tone, I find running through my typical sound, this is the second most overdriven tone this thing pushes.
The middle pickup by itself gives a very thick, warm, tubby, rich in lows and low-mids, with a nice upper-mid scratchiness that sounds a lot like Bucky's bass sound from "Rich Kid".
You can blend pickups using the volume knobs (by turning them down) and get some in-between sounds. Overall, pretty versitile and the tone is good. I'll give it a 9.
Action, Fit & Finish — 2
I can't really comment on the factory setup as I bought this thing used and abused!
Now this is where this Bass begins to falter. I bought it for $80 for a reason - the neck was warped ridiculously, some moron tuned it up a 5th and I figured one of two things - I could undo all the strings, remove the neck, let it sit for some time, with the truss rod disengaged (assuming the truss rod even still worked), and then it would work, or alternatley I could just replace the neck with a cheap 21 fret Kramer or Squier bass neck.
The string path was pretty straight, but not perfect, which probably gave it some of the major intonation problems I had with it when I first started using it. Recording bass parts was a bloody CHORE with this bass before replacing the bridge and leveling the frets because once you got up around the 10th fret, everything started getting sharp.
The fact that the original bridge itself was rusted and seized did not help matters much either. I stripped and messed up most of the screws adjusting those saddles to some kind of usable position. I needed a bloody screw extractor to set the intonation at one point. I'm not sure how much of this was abuse and how much of this was just crappy untreated hardware.
One flaw I did find was that the neck pickup had one of the magnets broken off at the end, which somehow was not affecting the sound much - if at all - in any way.
I'll give it a 5, about average from what was left of the factory work, but the last owner was a total jerk.
Everything I had to do to make this bass playable included
- removing the neck and letting it sit 48-72 hours with the truss-rod fully disengaged, letting the wood return to it's natural position
- replacing the seized bridge, I bought a used Squier Precision Bass bridge for $5 at the local guitar shop from their parts bin to fix this problem
- One potentiometer had it's shaft broken off, had to replace one of the 500K Pots
- Wiring damaged, fixed wiring
- Replaced the mixed mess of knobs, it had 2 different knobs from 2 different guitars, I took all of those off and installed 3 Gibson style Speed Knobs once the bridge volume pot was replaced.
- Had to replace the original selector switch, used a Gibson 3-way selector switch for Les Pauls that "just fit" into the cavity.
- Sheilded the back plate, surprisingly they used Sheilding paint in it. Also surprising is the routing work is pretty clean for an 80's Korean made bass.
- Removed all the stickers from the body referencing various lewd activities, criminal orgs, and other crap.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Since my upgrades, it has gone out live more than a few times, and has been played a lot. The bridge was the biggest concern hardware-wise, I think the tuners may need to go eventually, they feel cheap, but they do work great surprisingly, I may just put a brand new neck on it at that point though because the original neck's truss rod is a little wonky, it needs adjusted more than anything else in my collection does, and that's probably because of spending god only knows how long tuned up a 5th with regular bass strings at Pawn X-Change.
I took the original strap buttons off and replaced them with Fender Strap-Lock buttons - because I use Schaller/Fender strap locks on my guitars. I've been able to depend on it, surprisingly the finish has taken a lot of abuse in stride, only some visible scratches and even being visibly banged around a lot, it's really not very dinged up or missing much paint - surprisingly the worst spot is on the neck around the 3rd fret area in back - HUGE divot into what looks like gray primer and maple.
I'll give it a 6, it's major flaw is the intonation drifting from Truss rod and string tension abuse.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, I'd give it a 7. I've been playing bass since 1997, so that's 20 years now. Overall a pretty good match but the abuse and wear from mistreatment has taken it's toll on this poor bass. But I love the pickups and wiring scheme so I keep using it as/is. I only own one other bass these days, a Squier VM Bass VI, which is my main bass, this is one of the original 4 I owned that I did not get rid of (the other three were sold off). It's my only 4-stringer.
If it were stolen or lost, I'd probably just go buy/build another Bass VI and slap a set of blade humbuckers in the middle/bridge positions. I've been a tad tempted recently to pull the frets and go "Jaco" on this bass and make it my fretless, but I also kind of want to try that with a Bass VI.
What I love about it is the sound, what I hate is pretty much the fact the string path is a temperamental PITA! If it sits too long unplayed, the neck starts to move back to it's high upbow problem, and I have to tighten the truss rod again, although it's been doing this less and less over the years as I've made adjustments, I think some wood got squeezed at one point.
The only comparable basses are the Kramer Focus 7000 and Kramer Forum basses that share the body style and some of the electronics. This is like a dirt cheap copy of those with some great sounding and unique pickups.
Overall, Segovia can play nice, and be a reliable workhorse, but it's not even comparable to my Squier Bass VI in quality, and the VI has more tonal variety hence using it more. Plus it does not overdrive the mix as much as this one does.