A bassist will define himself/herself by many different quirks, be it the style they play or their favorite bands to cover. One of the principle distinctions of a bassist, much like any musician, is the instrument that they choose to play. The instrument they choose not only affects the music they play but tells a story about who they are. This uniqueness can be seen and heard the second you see or listen to a band.
This entry of Guitar Showdown is all about that distinction between the people behind the backbone of rock and the tools that they choose!
The Stuff of Legends
Fender Jazz Bass
Notable Players: Flea, Timothy B. Schmit, Christopher Wolstenholme, Geddy Lee, John Paul Jones
The Fender Jazz bass has been a staple for as long as trees, I think. People are absolutely in love with them! These basses employ 2 single coils on a typical ash or alder body. The neck is a pretty typical setup as well with a bolt-on maple neck that sports a rosewood fingerboard. The sound this bass creates became integral to bands like The Eagles and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Good: The Jazz Bass excels at sounding exactly how it's suppose to. It isn't too harsh or overbearing, but light and smooth. It has a very classic feel and sound to it, mostly because it's a classic! The single coils produce a very light tone as far as bass tones are concerned. Through any type of distortion, this bass excels due to sheer simplicity. But if you get to carried away, as with most effects pedals, it'll ruin the feeling this bass can impart.
The Not So Good: Though the Jazz Bass is a versatile instrument, it's lacking in some areas. On its own, it'll never have a dominant "conquer the world" feel. The other thing that I'm not super fond of is the lack of punch when you slap it. Granted, you can play a wicked slap bass on one, but, when I slap the strings, I want the bass to seek vengeance on me for hitting it and rearrange my insides. This bass doesn't give me that feeling. I'm not a huge fan of the overall look of it either. It has a classic design, but one seems overplayed.
Warwick Thumb Bass
Notable Players: Jack Bruce, Emma Anzai, Prince
First, I must disclaim the above sentence because all of those musicians merely play a Warwick, not necessarily a Thumb Bass. The Thumb Bass, however, has been Warwick's flagship for years and for good reason. The last time I had the privilege to play one of these was in a small music shop in Midland, Michigan, and it was one of the best bass memories I have!
The Good: The Thumb Bass is constructed out of some seriously cool woods. The bubinga and ovangkol provide great sustain without weighing you down, and the active pickups - combined with the properties of the wood - add to the attack and "pop" of this bass. The neck is fantastic! It's so smooth, every time you pick one up you'll may start weeping from sheer awesomeness.
The Not So Good: I really don't have much to whine about with this instrument. I do have a kind of love/hate thing going on with the body and the headstock...it looks like it's made from dough or something but still, so cool! There's also that $4,500 price tag...whatever.
Schecter Riot 4 Deluxe
This bass is, obviously, very different than the previously mentioned instruments. It's as the title eludes: a great bass to learn on. But by no means is this bass in the same league as the Fender or the Warwick.
The Good: The greatest thing about this bass is the price point! You'll fork over less than $500 at Guitar Center to walk away with one of these. The scale size is a typical 34", but it feels very wieldy and dominant in your hands. The pickups are okay. I wouldn't call them muddy, but EMG has definitely produced better. The body is mahogany, and the fingerboard is rosewood, which is a pretty standard but effective setup. As cheap as this bass is, you still don't get that toy feeling when you play it, a huge plus! This bass has a super cool shape too!
The Not So Good: There are a few glaring mishaps with this bass. Most of said these are because it falls victim to being a cheap guitar. The neck is made of a franken-laminent and bolted to the body, creating much less natural sustain than a neck-thru or set neck would. While we are on the subject of bad things about Schecter basses, if you ever find a bass model that reads "extreme" or "SGR" you need to find the nearest barrel of burning stuff and dispose of this said instrument. DO IT!