I'd originally gone out to buy a Sanberg California TT+, which is a wonderful bass but I spotted this Panther close by and had to give it a try. The first thing you notice, with the Panther, is the gorgeous walnut top. It is in fact a walnut/maple/walnut veneered top, impeccably placed a top a mahogany body. Which itself, has a lovely grain and reflective sheen.
I remember asking Chris May, on a visit to the Overwater workshop, what was it, other than the player, that had the most indfluence on a bass's tone. He said "the wood". I was thinking he was going to say pickups but he didn't. And the Panther prooves his point. Apart from some old Gibson and Epiphone basses, I played years ago, all my recent basses have had swamp ash, alder and in one case maple, bodies. Mahogany has a warmer sound. Giving things a fuller, friendlier to the ears, kind of tone.
Other things that stand out, with the Panther, are the ebony fretboard and zero fret. Why more, higher-end basses don't use ebony is beyond me. I love the feel of an ebony board. Plus it looks really cool. The zero fret is supposed to make open strings sound closer to fretted strings. I get the theory but I'm not so sure about it, in practice. It does all seem to work well, so I guess Sandberg know what theyre talking about.
The way the body is sculpted is also another stand out feature. It retains a solid mass look and feel, yet has some beautiful sculpting around where the neck bolts on and also on the upper shoulder, where your right forearm rests. It is here, where you can also see the 3-wood nature of the walnut/maple/walnut top.
The headstock has a matching veneer of walnut. The neck is a well shaped peice of Canadian hardrock maple. It is bolted on to the body, with 5 bolts. The neck/board are more or less Jazz bass in style. The nut being about a mm wider than a modern Jazz bass. And the neck is a joy to play. It has such a postive feel and is very expressive too. The ebony board has much to do with that.
I understand the 2 pickups are Delano, in Sandberg clothing. The neck being a split-coil, the bridge, a power humbucker. They both however, have the same, angled soapbar style covering. This does look rather cool. The Sandberg EQ set up is the conventional volume, pan, bass, middle, treble, with the volume also being a push/pull knob, for active/passive. As I said before, the mahogany body has quite an effect on the bass's tone. I tend to prefer using both pickups, somewhere between 50/50 and 60/40. With the Panther, this results in a lovely full bodied tone, that responds very nicely to your technique, including strength and positioning of your plucking/picking hand. The neck pickup, being single/split coil, has a a certain vibrancy to it but with the mahogany body, it doesn't really get a P sound. It's a little rounder and warmer. The neck pickup adds some great bite, that ranges from giving the sound a little more edge, to a really balls out tone. In practice it covers some great tones from rock to jazz. It has a musicality and subtlety beyond many other basses.
Down sides? 2 that I've noticed. Through my more "hi-fi", rig (GK & Markbass), the Panther is probably my best sounding bass. Through my band rehearsal "lo-fi", rig (old Ampeg combo), the Panther still sounds great but doesn't have the penetration of my other, 2x single-coil, ash basses. Also, with it's more sculpted, slightly shallower body, the Panther doesn't fit well in my hard case. The Panther comes with a substantial, semi-rigid gigbag.
So in conclusion, the Sandberg Panther is very classy in build, design and tone quality. It has the feel of a hand made bass and plays beautifully. It is very much a modern bass. It's stylish looks are not traditional and nor is it's tone. It really is the sum of it's parts. High quality and a little different.