This is truly space age stuff. Based on the “stick” bass, this new upright is about as cool as it gets. Made out of modern composite materials and using a revolutionary harmonic generator system, the instrument comes in three separate sections: the body, the end pin and the quarter “shadow” profile. Setting up the bass couldn’t be easier and can be done in a matter of seconds by feeding the endpin through the hole in the profile and then attaching it by means of a sturdy screw and rolled nylon nut to the back of the body, before finally attaching the profile section, once again to the back of the body, by means of a second screw and nut system. And in the playing position, it’s surprising how natural it all feels with the preformed ‘horn’ placed perfectly for the octave.

Being made entirely from composite materials means that there is no movement or physical variation when climatic conditions change – a real bonus where temperature and humidity are an issue. The harmonic generator is set in a small acoustic chamber behind the fingerboard with volume, bass and treble settings, so that the player can adjust the levels to their own sonic preference. The adjustable bridge sits above two piezo pickups, with a jack socket set just below at the bottom of the fingerboard.

Fitted with Presto nylon wound strings, it was surprising how close our sample instrument got to sounding like a traditional string bass with the volume set on full and the treble setting slightly higher than the bass. I was also amazed by the amount of sustain that could be achieved.

It would seem like the perfect instrument for the bass guitar player who’s looking for a completely different sound and the challenge of an upright. That said, I can see seasoned string bassists looking at the lightweight and compact nature of the instrument, the surprisingly “true” sound and thinking – that will do nicely!

For more go to www.bassix.net

A graduate of the London School of Furniture Making, Martin Petersen first started designing basses in the early-1990s. The first of these were exotic looking headless 5-string basses, using a seven-piece neck through design, with stunning burl top wood facings such as thuya, buckeye and lace woods, which were finished in high-gloss, or brushed gloss to create some truly extraordinary instruments. He’s since broadened the range of designs available to include the Flamboyant, ‘Millennium’, ‘Single Cuttaway’, (pictured) as well as the standard Jazz style, which all come with an array of custom shop options, including a suitable mix of pickups and electronics to suit the individual player’s sonic desires. Be it piezo bridge pickups or the eye catching LED fretboard lights, there are numerous possibilities for creating your very own dream instrument.But for all these ‘cosmetic’ features, Sei basses remain extremely playable, with a full, consistent warm tone, where each note you play has both depth and clarity. Petersen has recently pushed the boundaries of his considerable luthiering skills to produce such extreme basses as an eight string fretless and a guitar bass hybrid for acclaimed session man Pino Palladino. Other names among the jazz fraternity who’ve commissioned Petersen to make them a bass include ‘Level’ Neville Malcolm, Anthony Tidd, Dave Marks and Rufus Philpot. Each of these basses is unique. They may not be cheap, but they’re built to last a lifetime.  For more go to www.seibass.com

Let me first say that the Stagg EDB 3/4 electric Double Bass, should perhaps be renamed the EDB ‘Stick’ Bass. Like the electric bass guitar, it is essentially a completely different instrument, with sonic qualities in the bass register that are very different from the upright Acoustic Bass. The EDB provides a whole new dimension to the colour and timbre of sound, and like most ‘Stick’ basses has incredible sustain.

New from the Squier stable, this fretless jazz bass is effectively a copy of the Jaco model and while it’s a budget model from the Fender stable, it plays like a dream. I was initially put off by the Ebonol composite fingerboard with its ivoroid “cast-in” fret markers, but after playing it for a while the smoothness of the surface can be appreciated and the comfortable fingertip feel. The neck is a jazz-designed standard – slim, nicely shaped and very well set up, while both the bridge and the machine heads are standard Fender style and are typically well engineered.

Non-active, it comes with two Duncan-designed single pole pick ups, two volume knobs and a tone control that is a treble cut rather than a base boost. The pick ups are well balanced, but the clean sound is a little on the boxy side. The best setting I achieved without any EQ-ing was to have both pick ups on full, with no filtering. Bring the EQ into play, and cut the treble to produce less “box” and more bass. If you are looking for a back-up bass, then this fretless might be just right. Go to www.squierguitars.com

This is the system that every string bass player has been waiting for – a true voiced pick up that allows for an increase in volume without feedback. Swiss-made, this lightweight moving coil mini contact transducer microphone, looking much like a micro-stethoscope, is attached to the top of the instrument underneath the bridge by means of a green adhesive putty. A short fine connecting cable then relays the signal to the jack socket, which fits easily between the A and D strings, incorporating a knurled ring phase reversion switch. Moving the knurled ring allows the player to shift the sonic wavelength from a high pressure zone, with its tendency to interference and feedback, to a low pressure zone while staying in the same position. On test, dialling into the low pressure zone failed to show up any problems standing right in front of the bass amp and speaker cab. The pick up additionally with the PRE A-111 pre-amp/mixer plugged into the return socket of the send and return loop of the amplifier. Adjusting the tone controls on the pre-amp offers a thinner as well as a rich bassy sound, while adjusting the resonance gives a dry, clear sound, all the way through to a rich boomy warm sound. Clearly this is the answer for small stages and where space is limited as well as for larger venues where higher volumes are required and there is a greater tendency towards feedback. But it’s also fine for studio work, as there is a "dry" out on the back of the pre-amp for going straight into the desk, which could also double as an output for a monitor. For more info go to www.thesoundpost.co.uk

Where slurring and “wide” chords can open up the sound palette to a degree that is next to impossible to achieve with the Acoustic Bass. Picking up the EDB for the first time makes you a little suspicious of the sounds that it might produce – it’s very glossy and “plasticy”. Tuning up however turns out to be a piece of cake, especially when compared to tuning an Acoustic Bass.

Although the lightweight machine heads weren’t necessarily to our taste. The neck of the EDB is deeper than a conventional acoustic bass and the nut is substantially wider, which at first might seem awkward but believe me, playing it in does help.

There is a headphone socket so as not to upset the neighbours, and an MP3 “in” connection, um? Down below, the pick up is built into an adjustable bridge to translate the sound waves through the volume and sub-bass controls. The balance however was poor, with the higher pitched strings – particularly the G – sounding thin, while the low E was full and round but with a tendency to boom especially with added sub-bass.

“Live” also takes on a totally different meaning. The whole instrument comes alive when it is plugged in – providing all sorts of sound combinations. Which further reinforces the difference between this instrument and its acoustic cousin. They may be strung with a set of similar strings and tuned to the same pitch, but that’s where the similarities end. Make no mistake, the EDB is its own instrument, with its own peculiarities and sonic palette and with a very individual take on the bass register. For more info go to www.emdmusic.com

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