Price paid: $ 499.95
Purchased from: Jerry's Music Emporium
Sound — 10
Sound-wise, this bass would suit any musical style thanks to the active preamp and 3 band e.q. Of course, I like to flat my e.q. and let the amp do the tone chasing for me. The biggest part of selecting a bass after the first impression of the looks is how well it sounds and feels unplugged. If it's crap there, then it'll usually be crap no matter what kind of fancy setup and effects you're running it through. Just for added info, though, cranking the treble and mid didn't give me any additional hiss. Acoustically and amped, this bass has the clear, full sound of a grand piano with just a little fret grind (not to be confused with pesky, problematic, poor action-related fret buzz).
Overall Impression — 9
Metal is my poison of choice (all types), but I've played all types of music from country to radio rock to death metal. I can get any tone I want out of this bass so it's a good match for just about anything. Even with the uber-metal looks of the tribal flame bridge and downward tilted horns, the gorgeous wood and finish could offset those features, so yeah...hella good match. I've been playing various instruments for about 22 years, and damn, this bass is what I've been waiting for the whole time. I tested out basses that I only wish I had the money for costing 2 to 3 times as much (Warwick, Spector, Music Man etc.) even after purchasing this Traben, and they did not compare sound and feel-wise acoustically or plugged in. If my Traben were ever stolen, it would be hunted and the thief MERCILESSLY dealt with. If it were lost I would do anything I possibly could to replace it. I'm a poor bastard, and I would sell, like...ALL of my plasma to get the funds. I absolutely LOVE this bass more than any I have owned and any bass I have tried. The ONLY thing I would change is the battery cover.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Will the guitar withstand live playing? Good question. I'm between bands right now so I've only played live with it once. This being said, however, the only times I've read bad reviews about withstanding live playing were from people that really gave the impression that they did NOT take care of their instruments and were rather rough with them. I thrash like a madman when I play, sometimes I even get into it that much when I'm just practicing, and that's never caused a single problem for any instrument I've ever owned. This bass doesn't give the impression of fragility in the least so I have to say this: it's most likely just like any other product you could possibly own. Take care of it and it will take care of you.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This is where things really get into matters of personal preference.The factory setup was completely perfect, at least for me...not too low and not too high. Also, the pickups were adjusted just right for me, too. I like to ride the pickups like a Willis ramp, and they're adjusted just right to do so without being too close to the strings and impeding string vibration. The ONLY flaw I could note upon first inspection/impression and playing the hell out of it in the store where I bought it was that the e.q. knobs weren't aligned. When you flat the e.q., you can see the screws that hold the knobs on at different positions....MINOR detail, especially if you don't flat the e.q...but hell, that's probably just the Jarhead in me.
Features — 9
First impression (looks) - It looks just like they yanked the best piece of wood right out of a beautiful, majestic tree, carved it, shot a clear coat on it, and added the hardware. On top of that, add the custom bridge that Traben basses use, and you easily have the most eye catching guitar or bass I have ever seen (and I've been hitting up musical instrument stores, Guitar centers and pawn shops for the last 17 years). I won't bother with all the features at this point as they're all listed on the company's website and have always been secondary to playability, tone and looks when it comes to selecting an instrument purchase for me. I will add that Traben's custom bridges, purported to give the bass a fuller tone due to more points of contact with the body, actually do what the website says they do. It will honestly shock you how rich the tone and sustain are despite the light weight of the bass. The only complaint I can log feature-wise is the single 9V battery compartment....two screws vs. the easier access lids that most newer-model basses feature. MINOR inconvenience as I'm pretty careful about unplugging whenever I'm not playing and I like to change batteries before gigs just to make sure that's one less thing to worry about.