Review: Fender Kingman Bass

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Review: Fender Kingman Bass

Fender Kingman Bass
Words by Christopher Hockey

Fender Kingman Bass | Fender Australia | RRP $999.00

The acoustic bass occupies a very unique space in the contemporary landscape. While the electric bass remains far more common across guitar driven music, there’s a growing appreciation for the warm, organic tones of its acoustic sibling. Now Fender, a name synonymous with the most legendary electric bass models in history, has once again stepped into the acoustic arena with their new and improved Fender Kingman. This impressive instrument is a testament to Fender’s commitment to innovation and quality at an affordable price point, and is as exciting to the eye as it is to the ear. 

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Right out of its complimentary gig-bag, the Kingman exudes class and craftsmanship. There is a smoothness to the overall design that is quite unique. The bass’s brand new rounded shape contrasts beautifully with its simple yet opulent adornments. The simple yet elegant Shaded Edge Burst finish allows the walnut and mahogany elements to pop, as well as its tasty aged-white binding.

The traditional Fender headstock with vintage-style open-back tuners gives it a timeless aesthetic and the iconic Fender “F” logo on the headstock is a reassuring mark of quality. The voluptuous ‘Newporter’ shaped body of this bass is built using a solid spruce top, which delivers clarity and resonance to the overall sound. The laminated Sapele back and sides provide durability and a rich, warm tone that retains a pleasant airiness even in a low register. 

One of the standout features is the ‘Kingman’ pickguard, adorned with intricate detailing that adds a touch of sophistication. The three-ply black coloring of the pickguard really does catch the eye without being over the top, and elevates the aesthetic of the instrument greatly. The Kingman’s preamp system is discreetly tucked away, not disturbing the bass’s vintage aesthetic. 

The Fender Kingman Bass offers a comfortable playing experience, whether you’re sitting down or standing up. The Jazz Bass style “C”-shaped neck profile, the neck being made of Nato, feels familiar to any seasoned bassist. The 34-inch scale length contributes to excellent string tension, enabling precise intonation and a great feel. The neck features a satin finish that feels effortlessly slinky in your hands, allowing for a resistance free playing experience. 

The fretwork on the Kingman is impeccable, ensuring smooth transitions and minimal fret buzz even with aggressive playing styles. The walnut fingerboard is an inviting hue and feels great, with a 20-fret design that never feels limited. Block inlays add an element of class to the neck, rounding off its sophisticated look very nicely. The Kingman’s cutaway design makes upper fret access a breeze, perfect for those who like to explore the higher registers. Overall, Fender’s craftsmanship shines through in every detail of this instrument.

Where the Fender Kingman Bass truly excels is in its electronics and sound reproduction. Equipped with a Fishman pickup system, this bass offers an impressive range of tonal possibilities. The onboard preamp provides volume, bass, mid, treble, notch, brilliance and phase controls, as well as a built-in tuner, putting you in total control of your sound. The three-band EQ circuit being self-explanatory, the tonal possibilities of the Kingman are extended by its Notch, Brilliance and Phase controls. The former affects the overall treble response of the instrument, whilst the latter two functions work fantastically well in tandem to eliminate unwanted frequencies or pesky feedback. 

Fishman pickup

Plugged in, the Kingman Bass delivers a clear, articulate tone with plenty of warmth and resonance. The bass frequencies are deep and powerful, while the mids and highs are well-defined, making it an excellent choice for both solo and ensemble playing. With a surprising amount of low end for an acoustic instrument, The Kingman holds its own when featured alongside an electrified band. Whether you’re laying down a groovy foundation for a folk band or adding an acoustic touch to a rock or pop arrangement, this bass excels in versatility. 

Acoustic-Electric instruments can often sound stiff and lifeless in live situations but not so with the Kingman. The Fishman system works beautifully both in the studio and on stage, providing a natural sound that can also be pushed into unique sonic spheres with the use of effects. Essentially, the Kingman shines in its acoustic form but can also more than pass for an electric bass in most situations, making it an incredibly usable tool for a variety of purposes. 

Unplugged, the Kingman Bass impresses with its natural, acoustic projection. The solid spruce top resonates beautifully, filling the room with a warm and woody tone. It’s a joy to practice and write with this instrument, as it encourages creativity and exploration. 

The Fender Kingman Bass offers a diverse tonal palette that suits various musical styles. The rich, full-bodied sound makes it perfect for folk, Americana, blues and country. The acoustic bass can also effortlessly slide into jazz ensembles, providing an upright bass-like character when required. Its versatility extends to rock, pop and anywhere your creativity leads you, its deep, airy yet resonant tones potentially adding a unique texture to a mix. 

In the Kingman Bass, Fender has delivered a true gem that seamlessly marries the world of acoustic and electric basses. With impeccable craftsmanship, versatile tonal capabilities, and exceptional playability, it stands as a testament to Fender’s dedication to pushing boundaries and exploring new sonic territories, all at an affordable price. 

The unique Newporter body shape of this bass is one of Fender’s best efforts in recent memory, invoking the past and the future simultaneously like only Fender can. The white binding, dark woods and fancy appointments all contribute to making this a seriously good looking instrument. Combine that with an incredibly versatile sound and a smooth, slinky feel, and you’ve got one fantastic piece of equipment. 

Whether you’re a seasoned bassist looking to expand your sonic arsenal or a budding musician seeking an instrument that inspires creativity, the Fender Kingman Bass is a compelling choice. Its rich, resonant tones, combined with the convenience of onboard electronics, make it a versatile companion for any musical journey. Fender has once again proven that innovation and tradition can coexist harmoniously, bringing forth an acoustic bass that rules joyously over the acoustic low-end realm. 

For local enquiries, visit Fender Australia.