A couple of weeks ago, I posted in another thread that I was given the privilege of doing a one week three gig test drive with the new Backlund Designs JDB 800B bass - number 0001. This was the bass featured at summer NAMM this year, and is the white bass shown here: http://www.jbacklund.com/jbd-800b.html I got to pick the bass up from our own Tom Richards last Monday. He was thoughtful enough to equip it with Dunlop dual design straploks for me, as that is what I have in all my straps, and I wanted to protect the bass from any mishaps which may have occurred at my gigs. First impressions. This bass just looks retro cool. The body was finished in a metallic white finish with a black pearl pickguard. The bass itself was mahogany, with a mahogany neck with purpleheart stringers and a rosewood fretboard with pearl dot inlays. Very classy. The body shape itself is reminiscent of the Big Al design, but in a somewhat softer manner. Call it the offspring of a tele shape married to a Jazz bass. It is contoured in a way that is very comfortable to wear, with easy access all the way to the 22nd fret. While this bass is heavier than I would normally like, you really don't feel it at all. Bruce Bennett has designed this bass to balance perfectly - better than any other bass I have ever played in 35 years plus, so that is saying something. ZERO neck dive. In fact, it balances like a fulcrum when you are sitting down with it. A very neat trick! The neck itself is thinner than a Jazz neck. Like the new Will Lee model from Sadowsky, this neck measures 1.45" at the nut, but it is much less chunky than the Will Lee neck. Again, super comfortable to play. The other thing I would like to point out about the neck was that the headstock is angled at 7 degrees. Usually, headstocks are straight, or angled at 13 degrees. This is the first time I've come across this, and all I can say is that on this bass it works. This bass was equipped with Hipshot ultralite tuning gears (my personal favorite) and a Hipshot A style bridge. The bass was strung with DR Dragon Skins, .45-.105. Here is where the bass gets interesting. This bass is equipped with three pickups scientifically placed in harmonic positions along a 60 fret scale, a single volume and very usable tone control, and a five position blade pickup selector. Think Strat for bass. The pickups were three single coil Seymour Duncan Precision style pickups, with the front two being Hot for Single Coil, and the rear a Quarter Pounder. The bass is 100% passive, and very hot. With the blade selector, there is not a selection that turns all three pickups on simultaneously. The first position turns on the neck pickup alone. I was able to get a very woody tone, and by plucking close to the fretboard, got a very authentic Ampeg "baby bass" tone when we did old Santana stuff. The second position turns on the neck and center pickups. This is where Marcus lives! The tone in this position was perfect for slap. The center position, as you might guess, turns on the center pickup only. Pure, very pure Precision tones. The fourth position turned on the center and rear pickup, and this is where I spent most of my time. The tone here was articulate and round, and cut through the mix without being harsh or obnoxious. The Fifth and final position turned on the rear (bridge) pickup only. Tom called this the music man position. To my ears, it was a very fat Jaco burp tone - call it Jaco with a sledgehammer. My main band is a seven piece "rock and soul" band. I had three very different gigs this week. The first was an outdoor gig in an ampitheater that seats 500, made of all concrete. Typically, it is difficult to get good tone here as everything tends to bounce around a bit. As an FYI, my rig is a Markbass SD800 with a 4 ohm Dr. Bass 2460 (I know, I know...), a McKinley modded BOSS LMB3, a BOSS OC2, and a BOSS NS2. This was on Tuesday night, and was my "getting to know you" gig with the bass. After adjusting to the obvious differences between this bass and my Jazz (strung with Chromes) in the first few tunes, I was set. I was able to coax a lot of very satisfying tones, and got lots of compliments. Thursday was another outdoor show in a much softer environment, lakeside. This was very cool, as I was completely adjusted to the bass, and I was able to really adjust my right hand touch with the bass in different positions to get even more tonal variety from the bass. The third gig was on Saturday night - casino gig. Normally, I have to deal with a really crappy, beat up SWR workingman amp that has been abused for years here as the backline. I had a surprise waiting for me - a Hartke 4 x 10 (aluminum cones) and a GK 400RB (new). The ultimate 80's rig!! I was able to dial it right in, and the tone from the bass was articulate and magnificent. I was really able to hear each of the tones produced in every position clearly in a controlled environment. All the tones are very usable without a lot of tweaking, and as I stated earlier, the tone control works well on this axe. Overall, I really liked the bass. I am a fingerstyle player, and if I had one complaint, and it's minor, it is that the Seymour Duncan pickups, while they sound magnificent, are not comfortable to anchor your thumb on. That's it. If you play with a pick, this isn't an issue. Also, this bass would kill with flats. Bruce Bennett has put a lot of thought and effort into this instrument, and it shows. It is my understanding that he is going into production here in the US and also in Korea with these. They really are worth a look, and is probably the most tonally versatile passive bass I've ever laid my hands on. I want to give a big thank you to Tom Richards for his trust and generosity this week. I reluctantly returned the bass to him this morning!