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A real Bongo surprise......

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by two fingers, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    So, I guess I had truly stereotyped the Music Man Bongo bass.

    Last night I saw a band that played the standard cover band set list. They did some funk, soul, R&B, oldies, classic rock, and the obligatory Brown Eyed Girl and Mustang Sally. The bass player was playing a Stealth 5 string Bongo. He was running DIRECT to the board (no stage rig at all). Total DI box with no preamp. The player was good. I didn't catch his name.

    The good: It sounded really warm. Like REALLY warm. I didn't get to talk to the guy much but I'm assuming he was running the neck pickup (possibly in single mode.... I'm not familiar with the controls). But it fit perfectly in that old school music. It got downright gooey (in a good way) in places. And the guy was plucking right over the bridge pickup the whole time. So the point here is that a Bongo is not so much the "modern only" bass I thought it was before last night.

    The "bad": I put bad in quotes because what comes next may not be the bass at all. That Bongo he was playing was a lined fretless. What???? Yep. This guy was tearing up old Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire on a fretless. However, it didn't sound like a fretless at all. Now, from my own experience I determined that the player might have more to do with this than anything. I used to own a Warwick Corvette fretless. When I played it, it sounded nothing like a fretless at all. ZERO mwah (like the guy last night on his Bongo). But I have heard other players on the same bass that were able to take it places I couldn't (or at least refused to learn how anyway).

    To keep this from being a long boring story, I'll get to the point. I'm assuming I'm not the only one who thought that the Bongo (based on looks) is a bright, modern only bass, made for metal, new age jazz, or whatever other modern genre you care to put here. But it's not. I'm not a huge fan of the looks. But if you are, and have been straying away from this bass thinking it was kind of a "one trick pony" then don't. The double buck version that guy was playing last night did it all....... and did it well. It was very much a chameleon bass. It went wherever it needed to from CCR to Tina Turner (Ike era) to pure funk and even Simon and Garfunkle(sp). That bass will go wherever you ask it to. I was really impressed by the thing lined right into the board.

    Sure, a Stealth Bongo didn't look right at home on that stage, but tone wise, it made me not care that its aesthetics were a bit out of place.

    That is all I have to say about that.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I think for the most part, any bass can work for most styles of music except, and this is my opinion, a Ken Smith w/2 band eq. They sound horrible with pop music!
  3. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    With that 4 band preamp and 3 different pickup combinations available (one humbucker, humbucker/single, and humbucker/humbucker), there's absolutely no reason to assume the Bongo would be a one-trick pony. One of the most versatile basses out there.
  4. MaGrass


    Apr 14, 2013
    London, UK
    I used to snob those bongos but the more I check clips around, the more I'm growing to like it....the cherry on cake would be trying one, I've Never seen one in person tho
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yeah, I'm surprised anyone would think that, too.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    OK I guess the way I typed it out you would think that I assumed they only had one tone. That's not what I thought. However, I did assume they they would not be as warm as this one was lined straight in. I guess that was my point and I expressed it poorly in the OP. I knew it could do more than one tone. I just didn't realize it would get that warm, fat, round tone that so many covet from vintage passive basses.... while still looking like a space ship.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
  9. IronLung1986


    May 19, 2010
    Exeter, NH
    this is totally true. I usually have my bongo set to favor the neck pickup by about 50% with boosts in the bass and high mids. it's a surprisingly old school tone that responds well to muting, especially when the strings get a little older. of course it retains some zing, but in the mix that just translates into some nice definition. it's a pretty awesome blend of classic thump and modern crispness, almost like a gibson SG bass crossed with an active jazz or something. bongos look really out there so you would think they've got a super modern sound, but they have no problem going classic if you want them to.
  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    I use a light overdrive pedal to do exactly what you described. I go from Flea to Motown with a single toe tap, so that's probably what he was doing!
  11. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    Everything I've heard indicates the Bongo may be the one, the fabled...

    The Best Bass for Metal™ :D

    John Myung certainly does well with it, and I think Greg Christian of Testament uses one sometimes.
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Actually, while cute, your post is the opposite of my point. I think the Bongo might be one of the best basses for someone trying to play everything. The looks aren't for me. Nor is the string spacing. But it sounded great in that setting, lined directly into the board.
  13. Hamlet7768

    Hamlet7768 Here to chew gum and rock. Still have gum.

    Jun 5, 2011
    Totally knew that. :ninja:
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Ah. I totally didn't know that you totally knew...... that. :cool:
  15. Korladis

    Korladis Supporting Member

    I don't think it's wise to assume any bass is a "one-trick-pony."
  16. brocco


    Feb 27, 2010
    I have many great basses from playing many years and I love and play them all.The one that goes to all my gigs is the mighty Bongo5 it does it all ;)
  17. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    A lot of people are turned off by the non-traditional shape and never give this bass a chance. Once you try it, you will be sold based on what it can do. EBMM are geniuses for coming up with this instrument.

    BTW, Myung has all his Bongos controls taped up with the same setting that never changes. Everything is done on the pedal board or behind the scenes.
  18. Spec wise and sound wise they're brilliant. I just can't get past the aesthetic. I just couldn't spend that kind of money on something that I hated the look of! There are so many great instruments out there these days that I don't feel the need to compromise on any aspect of a new bass.
  19. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
    A properly setup Bongo is a cover band bassist's best friend, IMHO. Pretty affordable, and a ridiculous array of tones. And I love the look, especially in the bright colors. I think they should offer it with white pickups like the single H Stingrays, but that's just me. Awesome basses :)
  20. The Bongo is an enigma. It only looks odd when it's upright on a stand, but it transforms into a modern work of art in the playing position. Many people feel that it's the truest definition of "Swiss Army bass" since the T-40 went out of production, and attribute that to the preamp coupled with pickup placement.

    But it's flexibility and warmth is actually caused by the basswood body.:bag: