Reviewed: Sterling by Music Man Ray24
Since its inception in 1976, Music Man’s StingRay bass has been a doe-eyed dream for young bassists. Its sleek cut outs and ovular pickguard frame a peppy tone, signature growl and pouncy low end. The fantasy for many of us deflated like a school fete balloon as we flipped over the multi-thousand dollar price tag. This year, Music Man have sought to repair hearts with their affordable 2018 range of Sterling by Music Man StingRays, matching the distinctive aesthetic cool with surprising tonal emulation. The Ray24, the mid-range offering wedged between the S.U.B Sterlings and the Ray 34, is a resounding success.
Reviewed: Warwick Streamer Stage I 5 Limited Edition Bass
In August of this year, wandering around the Melbourne Guitar Show at Caulfield Racecourse, I spotted a Streamer Stage hanging from the wall in the Warwick booth. The price tag was as eye-catching as the European ash burl top over the swamp ash body, and the gold hardware and bronze frets stood out against the wenge fingerboard and deep, rich burls. Warwick is the bass of choice for some of the biggest names in music, such as Metallica, Pantera, Alice in Chains and U2. The list really does go on. The Warwick Streamer Stage I 5 Ltd is a 34” electric five-string bass. It features dual active Aguilar pickups, a brass Warwick bridge and Warwick tuners.
Reviewed: Fender Player Series Basses
Modern bass playing was invented and continues to be re-invented by players with their eye on the essence of style. Slap techniques may have become gaudy in the hands of pale imitators, but came to life firmly in the hands of people who lit up rooms with it. The name ‘Lemmy’ may be synonymous with gruff power, but he played like he had a job to do and would let nothing get in the way of doing so. It takes a particular type of player with their eye on a particular prize to excel in a field where you are building foundations upon which other people drop houses. The more instrument makers are aware of this concept, the better. Bricks and mortar, bread and butter, meat and two veg, learning your ABCs – the low end of the frequency spectrum is the absolute bedrock upon which everything we listen to these days is formed and grown. Fender’s new Player Series basses are thoroughly and thoughtfully abreast of the duty they are designed to perform.
Reviewed: Warwick Rockbass Corvette $$4
Where would the world of storytelling be without the humble bridge troll? That stumpy, much maligned antagonist whose sole purpose is to provide the privileged hero a stumbling stone in their road to everlasting grace is at once a source of almost universal disdain and indispensable fictional device. In spite of all the ugliness and trickery there is really only one wicked name to look up if you want dramatic upturn done right. They’ll probably hate me for saying this but I mean it as nothing less than a compliment. Warwick basses to me have many of the same traits as Rumpelstiltskin and his ilk; far from beautiful, but irrepressibly and sincerely good at their job.
Reviewed: Warwick Pro Series Streamer CV 4 White
Every day people come into the music shop I work at armed with all of the research in the world. Whether it is their first instrument or their 17th, they charge in with a sense of purpose, cocksure in their affirmation that the image they have on their smartphone screen is the perfect choice for them. I’ve definitely been guilty of this more than once and it’s a natural reaction to the intimidating rabbit hole of choice that the stringed instrument world presents.
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….