I realized that I've been spending much time lately speaking about programming languages and stuff like that, I want to take a small break with these things and talk a little more about things that might interest the average Joe. As I spent some days in London last week, I guess I will do it in English. Most of my posts are in French because it is the language I'm the most familiar with, but I'll make an effort this time to try to target a larger audience.
I have been playing the bass guitar for 10 years by now. Of course there were times when I used to be able to play more than nowadays, but it is still something big for me. This post gives me the opportunity to start a new category of articles oriented toward music, the kind of music I listen to, the kind of music I play, et cætera. Today I am going to talk about the basses I own, and particularly the two that I actually do play.
2004 4-string MusicMan SUB
I got this this one in January 2004. The SUB series are now discontinued, but at the time it was among the first models to be shipped in France I think. The SUBs came in different flavors : active or passive, 4 and 5 strings. This one is active. They were modeled after the Stingray, sharing the same electronics. The cost of the instrument was mainly cut down from a much less draconian selection of woods. This is probably the reason why every part of the instrument was painted, not showing the wood under it and why no maple fingerboard option was available. The wood might be ugly under the paint, but anyway, it sounds good.
The body is in poplar. Poplar is often used as a low-cost replacement for alder. The aluminum pickguard gives the instrument a industrial look. I would have preferred a simple white plastic one, but I find it OK. Like the Stingray, there is only one humbucking pickup. The controls are simple: volume, bass boost/cut and treble boost/cut. One might find it too limited, but I don't like spending too much time setting up my sound. I prefer instruments that have a strong personality, with a sound easily recognizable, like this bass. You just just have to grab it and plug it in your amp, and you have the Musicman sound.
Here is a pic of the neck and the fretboard. As often, the neck is in maple and the fretboard is in rosewood. I never owned a bass having a different kind of wood for fretboard, so sometimes I feel like I might be missing something. The neck is kind of thick, as it is on a Fender Precision or a MusicMan Stingray. I started playing on a cheap copy of Precision and I am used to thick necks. The gap between strings makes slap easy. The neck is 21 frets long.
Here is a pic of the back of the body. The black box holds the 9V battery and is just perfect. It opens by clips, so changing the battery is really easy: you don't have to use a screwdriver or any tool. The neck/body junction is performed with 6 screws.
Here is a pic of the back of the head, showing the keys, the serial number and the country in it was manufactured (USA). The bass came naked, without any accessory : no jack, no bag, no case, nothing !
2007 6-string Ibanez SR-1006
I ordered this one at Thomann in December 2007 (and received it in Feb 2008). I wanted a complement to my Musicman, so this bass is everything the Musicman is not. The SR (SoundgeaR) is one of the most successful series from Ibanez since it was introduced in the late 80s. The SR-1000 was the high-end line at the time. The purpose of the SR is to offer a thin 24-fret neck and a versatile, modern-sounding instrument. I can confirm the versatility of this bass. You can play any style with it from gospel to death metal, as long as you like modern sound. For those of you who might not know about 6-string basses, their empty string notes differ from guitar. From the low to the high, the notes are B-E-A-D-G-C, while they are E-A-D-G-B-E on a 6-string guitar.
Here is the body. The two pickup are from Bartolini. The 6 ( ! ) controls are volume, balance, bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, medium freq selection and medium boost/cut. The saddles are independent. When turning the controls, you will feel a stop when you are at mid-range, which is just brilliant for knowing that balance is equal on the two pickups, for example. As I said, I am not the kind of guy who will spend hours setting his sound, so what I usually do is writing down sound settings when I find something I like to switch back to it easily later.
Here is a pic of the neck and the fretboard. The neck is body-through. It means there is no separation between the neck and the body. They are only one piece of wood. Crafting is much better on this bass than on the Musicman. The consequence is a much longer sustain. Hit a note and it will sound as it'll last forever ! Sustain is the main problem of the Musicman, so I'm very happy this bass doesn't share the same problem.
Here is the back of the body. It is a pity the 9V battery is accessible by removing 2 screws. For the price range of the instrument (€1300 - €1600), one could reasonably expect the same kind of box as on the Musicman. You can also see the body-neck junction. It makes hitting high notes very easy (for what it's worth on a bass). The neck is reinforced using two carbon rods that are hidden under the brown lines.
Here is a pic of the back of the head, showing the keys, the serial number and the country in it was manufactured (Korea). The bass came in it's Ibanez prestige case, with a (bad) jack, a whole set of Allen keys, some picks, a strap and 6-language instruction manual ! Musicman should learn from Ibanez !