Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: eBay (guitarology)
Features — 9
The uniquely-shaped double cutaway body is made from Royal Paulownia Wood, which makes it super light weight (less than 3kg), even lighter than my electric guitar. It has a beautiful burled maple top with the matching headstock (note that the "Black Burl" finish is actually brown). Also, the black back is somewhat transparent and you can see the Royal Paulownia Wood grain/pattern which is really cool and a lot better than a plain black finish. The body is very comfortable, it's thin and has curvy edges. The whole bass is very smooth because of the satin finish.
The neck is beautiful 5-piece maple and walnut, joint with a very comfortable bolt on construction (4 bolts). The 2 walnut stripes go all the way from the top of the headstock to the end of the fretboard, which joins beautifully and naturally with the body. Even though its a bolt on bass, the access to the last 24th fret is great and very comfortable, you don't feel the bolt on part at all, also because of the great deep cutaway. The neck profile is super comfortable and easy to play (kind of thin I guess), and along with the smooth satin finish, you can play this bass for several hours straight without any struggles. The fretboard is made out of rosewood with 24 frets and cool abalone inlays (and side-dots), also features a 34" scale length and a chrome plated brass nut. The massive Tribal Bridge looks amazing, and gives you the option to set the strings through the body or just through the bridge.
The pickups are Rockfileds, "MM" style humbucker at the bridge position, and a slanted single coil at the neck/middle position. Along with a Rockfiled Active Preamp which features 3 (smaller) knobs for treble/mid/bass boost or cut, with a notch a the middle, and 2 (normal size) knobs for Master Volume and Pickup Blend (with a notch too).
The knobs are located in a comfortable location, which is easy to reach but also doesn't get it the way when playing. They won't get turned by mistake and there is enough room between them to turn them comfortably. Nice and smooth Grover tuners. All the Hardware is covered smooth looking chrome plating. This bass is made in Korea, and includes 3 allen keys for the truss rod, the knobs, and the bridge (for strings' height).
Sound — 9
This bass sounds fantastic! I usually play with 3 main tones:
- Cliff Burton (Metallica) fuzz tones - fingers (like on the "Master of Puppets" album),
- John Campbell (Lamb of God) kind of driven tone - pick (like on the "Sacrament" album),
- and Duff McKagan (Guns n' Roses) Clean-Chorus tone - pick.
And this beast nails everything! Works fantastically on any amount and type of gain (clean, driven, fuzz, overdrive, distortion). The neck pickup sounds great and gives me that Cliff Burton finger pluck tone (also, not noisy at all). Blended together with the Bridge Humbucker, gives you that classic bass tone that can fit in any sound/style. The bridge humbucker alone has a very powerful tone, I use it for crazy distorted lead tones like Cliff Burton's solos on "Orion" or "For Whom the Bell Tolls." I also play some slap/pop just for fun, and the sound is great for this style too! Also, natural harmonics rings great and have nice volume, which is awesome.
Another thing that makes this bass versatile is the wide area of picking. You have around 20cm of picking area, from right next to the bridge, to the end of the fretboard. This gives you huge amount of different tones, just from moving your hand and your picking location/position. Even the raw sound of the bass (plugged in directly, no amps or plugins) is very good, and with the Active 3 Band EQ, you can easily use plug it in directly to a mixer/PA system/audio interface and get a great sound for live gig or recording without any amps/plugins/pedals (although you'll probably need a compressor).
The active 3 band EQ boosts/cuts just the "right" frequencies, it kinda nails the frequencies you'll want to get more of or get rid off. The Master Volume plus the Pickup Blend knob are great, you can easily set the tone you want and the output level you want, without having to mess up with something like 2 volumes setup. Overall the sound is great, super super clear, not muddy at all, and pretty noiseless. It's very versatile and you can always get the sound you want with the pickup blend and the active 3 band EQ.
I should mention that I plug my Traben Array Attack 4 directly into my USB Interface, and I use VST plugins to get my tones, and with this great bass I can get any tone I desire, both vintage and modern (of course this bass works just as great with a normal bass amp too). Even though the tribal bridge suggests it, this bass is definitely not only for heavy metal, it nails everything from the lightest rock to the heaviest metal, and everything in between. The only thing that I want it to have is a split for the bridge humbucker.
Even though I don't really need it, it would have been a nice feature. The bass came stock with D'Addario strings which sounded nice and had this rounded, organic, vintage tone, but it wasn't what i was looking for, so after couple of weeks I changed them to DR Fat Beams (Marcus Miller signature strings), which totally upgraded the sound, making it more modern and alive.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Although it doesn't really matters, the factory setup was very nice. The action was a bit low for my taste, and the pickups were a little bit too high (again, for my taste). So a quick fix (with the included allen key for the strings' action at the bridge) and it's perfectly matched for my taste.
The burled maple top (mine is in "Black Burl" which is actually brown), the tribal bridge, the uncovered pickups and the abalone inlays, are all tight and well made, making the bass looks amazing. As soon as you get on stage with this beast, everyone will stare at you with their jaws wide open. This is honestly the best looking bass I have ever seen. It seems well made and feels very high quality, and it didn't have any flaws or something.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't took it on the road or used it at gigs, but this bass seems rock solid and well made. It stays in tune very well. It's very easy to play standing up because it's super light weight. When playing standing up, I highly recommend using strap locks, because the strap buttons on the body of the bass is positioned in a weird kind of "dangerous" angle.
Like I said before, the finish is satin smooth, and since it's not a heavy deep gloss finish, it's hard to tell how thick is it or how durable is it, so I cant tell you anything about that, other than that it looks and feels very smooth and high quality. If you play finger style, you will probably get a small oily "stain" from your fingers around the point where your fingers hit the body of the bass when you pluck the string. It happens on every satin finish bass and you can easily clean it up if you want but it's really pointless because it's really nothing, you can barely see it, and it will always come back.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall this is a fantastic bass, with an amazing value for the money. Even better than some basses that cost a lot more. If something will ever happen to it, I'll buy it again right away. Highly recommended!
- Great value for an affordable price
- Looks amazing
- Sounds great, very versatile
- Smooth and comfortable, easy to play (especially the neck)
- Super light weight
- Great for anything from rock to metal
- Very steady, stays in tune, easy to set up and restring
- Simple and intuitive controls, can't get a bad tone
Do yourself a favor and go check it out.