Originally Posted by sharp8874
I just got this bass yesterday and have to say that it is awesome! Its sounds really good plugged in too! The only thing I don't like is that the check battery light is really dim. Other than that it is easy to play and projects its sound really well.
Got mine today. I will say I love it, but it's far from awesome. Here's my quick review.
1. Finish. The finish is a kind of natural wood with stain and an oil finish rubbed on it. The grain is VERY nice. You could leave it that way, but looks pretty cheap and primitive. The surface is a bit rough as well. This is especially noticeable on the back of the neck which you'd like to have glass smooth even if satin. This neck is certainly NOT "glass smooth"! My idea is to tweak in the gloss on this thing by rubbing it down with a few coats of some Minwax tung oil hand rub varnish. Should make it look a LOT better with very little hassle. Some special attention should be paid to the neck. probably enough sanding would take the stain off so it will need restained before refinishing. As it is the neck feels very similar to some of my (as yet unmodded) Wishbasses.
2. truss rod. Yes it has one. You adjust it with a screw at the base of the neck through the sound hole. Of course you'd like to adjust it with the strings in place and tuned but where the screw is makes that rather difficult. Mine came with action just a tad high, but I haven't done the truss rod to pull it down yet.
3. Tuning machines. Rather stiff but seem to work OK. Tuning is a bit sticky but I'm thinking a Graphtech nut would go a long way to improve this instrument with regard to tuning and maybe even tone.
4. Fingerboard is very black and seems to be some kind of ebony though perhaps dyed. The factory strings are rounds and with some playing rubbed the neck a bit but the wood seems quite hard and it would take a while to really chew it. Yes that seems quite nice. Fingerboard is bound with white ivory-looking plastic. Not bad looking. Negative is there are NO side markers! That drives you nuts in no time. But the plus to that is you can choose what strings you like best on this bass and THEN drill your own markers at the exact true pitch places for THOSE strings! Some Fret Doctor oil should really make that black fingerboard look like a million. It looks pretty nice as is!
5. Strings. Factory strings are rounds and are .102" to .032". Obviously they are using an E string for a B string and that causes problems. (Oddly BOTH B and E strings are .102! Is this just a factory mistake? Can you say "floppy'? I KNEW you could. I'll have to experiment with my usual D'addario half rounds (.130 -.030) and see what that does. I'm guessing the saddle will need be drilled out to take a normal B string. If there are problems one answer might be to string this bass EADGCF and take advantage of the upper register tone on it. Would be an interesting experiment both instrumentally and musically!
6. Pickup and electronics. Don't get me wrong. Most of the tone on this bass seems quite nice. But the B string is EXTREMELY weak and DOES NOT match E string in tone or level. And the reason is a problem with the pickup! If you tap on the saddle right where the string goes over it you find that all the strings EXCEPT the B string produce the same nice thump. At the B string position, however, the volume is quite a bit lower and different. Clearly the undersaddle pickup is losing output at that position (probably where the wire comes off it...this is a common fault!) A new USP may be in order or in my case since I'm interested in adding a sound hole magnetic pickup as well it may not matter. And the little electronics module leaves a LOT to be desired. Happily I've got a box full of better ones I picked up at a guitar show for a song. That plus a new Undersaddle pickup might make this a decent 6er bass without the mag pickup. By the way, my "check battery" light seems just fine.
Misc. The output jack for this is the tailstock button. And that means you can't add straplocks. Feh. And over all (especially in upper ranges) I really like the nice woody acoustic tone of this bass. There is LOTS of potential here. And since the price was right, I figure the experiments will be fun and if a noob disaster happens it's not the end of the world. I'll just call it the price of AGB modding lessons.
Not the buy of the century, but certainly a new fun toy.