Price paid: £ 295
Purchased from: Park Music, Dunfermline
Features: Unlike many "metal" orientated guitars, all Traben Basses are manufactured in Florida, USA. Unlike most USA made guitars they don't come with the high price tag, at no compromise. For anybody swaying between this standard model and the more expensive custom model, the only difference (other than an extra 200) is a different body finish and an Aguilar active pre-amp; this standard model uses a Rockfield active pre-amp which I find to give exceptional tone.
This bass features 24 jumbo frets. Albeit most bassists wall never go anywhere near the 24th fret, this design does allow for great playability all the way up the neck. The neck is made of maple with a rosewood fretboard and plays extremely smoothly. My bass has a gloss black finish but it is also available with a matt gunmetal finish. The custom model has a beautiful "Black Vapour" finish but it depends whether your willing to part with the extra cash for this, as I think the gloss black finish looks very sleek. The body is made of Paulonia wood and is very resonant. The bridge is a custom 2 piece Traben technology bridge. The electronics consist of two Rockfield humbuckers with an active Rockfield pre-amp, a 3 way toggle switch, a 3 band equalizer and a volume control. At the other end of the guitar there are 5 patented Grover tuning heads. The nut is black and made of bone. Finally the strap pins are extra large saving you an extra few notes on strap locks. // 9
Sound: To start with, this guitar is not just for Disturbed fanatics. I play bass in an Alternative Rock band and this fits my style better than any other 5 string I tried. The active Rockfield pre-amp, with the 3 band equalizer, allows for enormous versatility of tone. You can get any sound out of it you and is not limited to sounding like a bulldozer coming through the wall. Although the idea of having a 3 band equalizer actually on the bass can seem a bit daunting to use it becomes second nature very quickly and all the knobs are placed perfectly so that they don't seem to clutter the guitar. The unique selling point of this guitar is the 2 piece Traben bridge. Whereas most Traben basses feature an enormous, shiny, extravagant bridge which creeps its way right across the whole guitar to make maximum contact with the body, this guitar does all of this inside the body. There is an internal part to the bridge making contact with the body which means every note rings out endlessly. There is also an option to have each string either strung through the body or slotted into the front of the bridge, allowing you how resonant you want each string to be.
The placement of the pickups on this bass was changed by John Moyer from the original Chaos bass. They are placed very close together on the centre of the body which gives a very unique tone. I find that since the "bridge" pickup is not right up at the bridge it gives a very full, rounded sound; not as gainy as some bridge pickups can sound. Since the neck pickup isn't right up at the neck it sounds very clear and not as muddy as some, however there is still a good distinction in sound between both pickups which I find sound amazing when used together. Generally I use an Ashdown MAG600 bass head, however it's not always possible to use my own bass head at certain grotty gig venues. Because of the great active pre-amp this bass can transform any amp you throw at it to get a great sound for live performances. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The only thing that has ever needed adjusted on my bass was the action which I noticed when it came to recording (which by the way the bass handled perfectly and you can hear at this location). The action was very slightly too low which caused a slight buzzing on some notes. I should however point out that this was only noticeable when I was playing back the bass tracks on their own on a pair of headphones and I had played live with this bass for about a year before deciding to adjust this.
I played quite a few 5 string basses before settling on this, most of them a good few hundred pounds more expensive and decided against buying them because the neck just felt too big and "clattery". The neck on this bass just feels really comfortable and the B string doesn't rattle about so I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for their first 5 string. The tuning heads speak for themselves. They're Grovers so they keep in tune like nothing else. // 9
Reliability & Durability: It's built absolutely solidly. Every piece of hardware is fitted snugly in place, the tone pots are silent, nothing rattles and the paint job hasn't worn at all. I have owned this for over a year now and have never quite got round to buying a hard case for it (not that I would recommend this) but having gigged regularly with it and transported it all over the place it has no signs of ware what'soever. Anyone looking to make a good investment rather than just an addition to the collection can rely on this with no fear. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall I think this is exactly what anyone would want from a signature model: It has been tinkered with enough to make it special but it doesn't have the branding on it to label you as a Disturbed wannabe. In fact until recently my band mate didn't even realise mine was a signature model which, not wanting to Drive away all un-Disturbed fans from our band, I see as a pro. The only thing I would change would be to make the fret markers brighter as they can be a bit hard to see on a dark stage. In fairness though this is only because I do main vocals and can't be looking directly at the neck a lot, which for most people isn't an issue. I think this is a great guitar for anyone looking for something a bit different especially if you need one guitar to rely on.
In all I decided to write this review as I realised this guitar has gone out of production with John Moyer moving to B.C. Rich for his custom model. I can't see why this decision was made as the B.C. Rich model looks exactly the same, still has a Traben patented bridge, has all the same spec's except it has B.C. Rich written on it. I have only met a few people who have heard of Trabens and when they realise I own one the reaction is the same: "Traben? You don't see many of them around. Great sound though!" This is very different to the stereotype of B.C. Rich owners where it's pretty much assumed you're just in to cool spiky things. Although this means you can essentially still buy the same guitar for years to come, there are lots of the Traben model being sold cheap to make way for the new model so I'd advise people to grab one whilst you can. // 9