Reviewed: Fender American Original '70s Jazz Bass
Adolescence is, for everyone, a difficult and tumultuous period in our lives. All that upheaval and hormonal fluidity wreaks havoc on the simplicity and peaceful exploration of childhood and upturns almost everything we know about ourselves. Some find solace zeroing in on a vocation or at the very least a set of hobbies, like learning an instrument for instance, while others lean into the tempest and discover things about themselves and the world at a rate of knots. The same could be said, albeit extraordinarily metaphorically, about the progression of modern music from its infancy in jazz and blues to whatever the hell it is today. In the product outline for the American Original ‘70s Jazz Bass on the Fender website, they describe the ‘70s as the music history equivalent of teenage-hood; an intense period of personal exploration and reimagining, and this instrument goes a long way to encapsulating that ferocious tenacity.
Reviewed: Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay
The Ernie Ball Music Man StingRay bass has come a long way since it was developed by the original Music Man team, which included one Mr. Leo Fender. It’s a classic instrument which has helped to propel the sounds of punk, rock, alternative, funk, R&B and country for decades now and it doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon, with regular limited-edition variations on the theme. This particular StingRay is one of eight models in the lineup, which includes the Classic (with the original two-band EQ and various other original appointments), the StingRay Neck Through, and Old Smoothie, a recreation of StingRay prototype #26, designed for Sterling Ball during his time spent testing and developing the original prototypes back in the ‘70s. The model we’re reviewing today, however, is the standard model - the state of the StingRay art.
Reviewed: Fender American Original '60s Jazz Bass
1960 saw the introduction of the iconic Jazz Bass design. With its slim neck and pair of single coils it created a whole new Fender bass sound that has held up ever since. Through a myriad of versions, reissues, signature models and variants over the years Fender have just released the American Original series of instruments harking back to these highly regarded time periods. Let’s see if the Original 60s will keep the vintage aficionados happy….
REVIEWED: ERNIE BALL MUSIC MAN CAPRICE BASS GUITAR
Perhaps best known for their Stingray line of basses, Music Man aren’t a company to jump around with 46 different models that all seem like variations on each other. Instead they’ve built a respected line of instruments that professionals and amateurs alike have entrusted for their low end duties for many years. Recently Music Man took the plunge of adding some interesting new models to their range with the Caprice being one of them. Featuring new looks, it also introduces a Music Man first, being completely passive.
Reviewed: Sterling by Music Man Ray 34 Bass
When I’m not assailing you, dear reader, with seemingly endless dross in these hallowed pages, I spend my days gainfully employed at your friendly, local guitar store. More often than not when people venture into Bass Corner, down towards the back of the shop, they pick up the P-Bass or Thunderbird that we have safely nestled back there and do their best Flea impersonation. Now, while Leo Fender’s Precision may be one of the most recorded basses in music history, these people are cruelly overlooking a machine that is much more suited to that particular style of playing: the Ernie Ball StingRay, whose honking high mid-range vivacity and balance sits perfectly in the pocket of the more percussive elements of modern music. While they may not sit well with the snobby, classic-rock crowd, there is more than enough colour in the StingRay to render it a welcome addition to any collection. Sterling pays tribute to the mainstay of the So-Cal revolution with their Ray 34.
REVIEWED: FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL PRECISION BASS
The mood in the Fender factory in the year 1951 must’ve been absolutely electric. With the popularity of Leo and co.’s builds skyrocketing and one of the most profound shifts in popular culture blossoming all around them, I can only imagine what it was like for the people on the tools that gave rise to such mythic instruments as those that we now know to be the gold standard in four and six string design. If ever the question, ‘What does a bass guitar sound like?’ is asked, more likely than not the beast that springs to mind is that year’s deadliest weapon, the Precision Bass. 60 years and countless technological advancements later and still nothing quite compares to that tough, solid monolith of low-end.
Reviewed: Yamaha Broad Bass BB 234, 434 and 734
If my tinfoil hat and I didn’t know better we’d think that maybe the Yamaha Corporation, not the Rothschilds, were secretly in control of the world. They have their fingers in so many pies, from motorbikes to electronics to grand pianos; that they are the commercial equivalent of that one friend who is too good at Monopoly to play against. Far from being as dystopian as I could suspect though, it seems the whole company is run on the steam of thousands of good ideas. As instrument manufacturers their reputation precedes them; they are one of the handful of builders responsible for the infamous ‘lawsuit’ era of competitive guitar making that kept the big guys on their toes in the 70s. Since then they’ve marched through the decades with a wry grin and a quintessential industriousness as their banner. Add to that foundation a generous dollop of playability and low-end freedom and you have pretty much described their new Broad Bass series of four and five string behemoths.
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL JAZZ BASS
Tried and trusted, Fender’s Jazz Bass is a living classic. From the outset its brighter tone, richer midrange and more prominent treble made it a much-loved point of difference to the Precision Bass, and an embraced constant in the ever-changing Fender range. It’s a bass guitar with style, with pizzazz, with oomph and versatility thanks to a couple of well-refined single coil pickups, added controls and a sleek offset body. Like any proven formula, it’s something that you don’t want to mess with too drastically, otherwise risk muddying the sonic personality and the aesthetic appeal of the instrument. With every new iteration of the bass model, it always begs the question: what can Fender do that hasn’t been done before? And after that, what is the impact of these changes and/or additions? With the release of the new American Professional Jazz Bass accompanied by a bunch of new features, it’s time to once again answer these pertinent questions.