wow... i got to check one of these out at the local mom and pops music shop...it had a zebrano top, mahogany body, maple neck, ebony board. this thing was either one of the most playable basses or either one of the best setup bass i've seen come off of a production line...and it's passive? you can't tell that it's passive in the upper register at all. you can tell when you start getting low on it, but man, it's really got a great tone. i think a lot of it has to do with the way the neck pickup is right on the neck. i played it through a hartke kickback 12 combo, and i got a really fat, warm, kind of compressed sound out of it. i didn't give it the slap test...i just couldn't get over the fingerstyle tone i was getting. the board is about as flat as a warwick and the strings were almost sitting on it...with no buzz. this is one of the most utilitarian basses i've seen; absolutley no frills, save the cool zebra top... this is a bass that would be great for a beginner and really last a long time. heck, jeff plays one and that guy kicks. if ever i decide to buy another 4 stringer, i would probably go with one of these...and only 700 bucks! it looks good, it's well made with good parts and it plays in tune all the way up the board.