I have owned a modulus Flea bass for slightly over three years now, and I feel I have spent enough time with the bass to write a review of it.
I have medium sized hands, and the D shaped neck feels quite comfortable. The glossy neck can be slightly sticky if you have sweaty hands. My modulus weighs about 9.5 pounds and DOES have a slight neck dive. The cutaway below the neck is nice, but it’s still slightly awkward to reach the highest fret. The shape of the body makes playing with the bass high on the chest uncomfortable. The Basslines pickup doesn’t have much room to support the thumb- I find it rather uncomfortable. The Lane Poor is superior in comfort.
The fretwork is incredible. This bass permits extremely low action with minimal fret buzz, and still has no dead spots. Don’t get me wrong- this bass is a breeze to play.
The truss rod is easy to adjust and the neck is impervious to warping from temperature changes. The nut is clean. The BAII bridge is easy to adjust and has a low profile. The Aguilar preamp gives this bass a hot signal along with plenty of bass and treble boost. The SD Basslines pickups are high quality (I ended up changing mine to lane poor but more on that later.) The wiring under the back plate is clean and well organized. Unfortunately, the batteries are beneath the back plate- swapping them takes some time. The Gotoh tuners are great- they are smooth and hold tuning very well.
I received my Funk Unlimited with moderately high action. I was unable to lower the strings as low as I wanted- the BAII bridge could not go low enough. It was an easy fix by putting a shim under the neck pocket. After installing the shim there was a gap in the side of the neck pocket, about the width of a credit card. I have not noticed any change in tone or sustain, and the gap is probably my fault. After installing the shim I found that while the string spacing was still even, the strings were not centered on the neck.
Imagine the sound of a Tyrannosaurus Rex vomiting thunder- in the best way possible. If you can mimic Flea’s technique, you CAN get Flea’s tone with this bass. The Basslines pickup sounds quite transparent and is very responsive to hand and finger technique. I have never heard a bass with a larger dynamic range. You can make a crunchy-punchy-explosive sound when digging in that is out of this world.
I wanted an even more transparent tone and bought a Lane Poor pickup. The Basslines pickup was designed to mimic the Lane Poor pickup and is very accurate.
I would NOT say this bass is versatile. It is difficult to get a traditional bass tone.
I am still inspired by the sound of this bass. I would highly recommend buying this bass used.
Pros - Fast neck, Cutting tone, Simple tone controls
Cons - Graphite may be too "hi fi" or modern for some
Mine is an early Modulus flea bass with the coveted Lane Poor pickup. Serial # begins with 96. Modulus informed me it was assembled in Jan.97. This bass cuts really well, even with old strings. Ive owned a few stingrays and the flea cuts through better to me, although the low end isnt quite as much as the musicman. However, it worked extremely well in all the bands ive played with. It sounds amazing for funk playing- fingerstyle or slapping, very "marcus miller" sounding. The finish on this bass is extremely tough and it will hold up very well to about anything- its oblivious to humidity, temperature, etc. and stays in tune for months. The only real drawback i can find with this bass is that it suffers from the "stingray syndrome" in that you basically get one sound out of it. That isnt always a bad thing,though. The sound you get out of it is killer! If you're a rocker who likes to funk it up, this is the bass for you!
Pros - Incredible neck, extremely well built,...its a Modulus!
I absolutely loved my Flea bass. I loved how simple it was, but always sounded great no matter the settings. Some people can't get into this bass because of the graphite neck's less "warm" sound compared to other basses, but I've recorded it side by side with multiple musicman's and it sounds just as warm to me and my co-writers. Overall, it's like the first true high end bass for rock musicians. Very youthful and yet very classic at the same time. You get a high end level of construction and sound without the overkill of finishes and electronics that make it impossible to look "hip" playing anything but jazz or funk.