Dearmond Pilot Pro - first impressions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by craigb, Sep 13, 2001.

  1. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    As you have probably heard by now it looks like the Dearmond brand is on it's way out (maybe to be merged with Squier according to one rumor?) and most of the Dearmond bass and guitar models are being discontinued and blown out. I recently completed a failed experiment with a 5-string again and also tried stringing up one of my basses DGCF. I liked having the lower range but didn't like having my open notes change (I'm lazy and some of the songs I know with open strings are more difficult in a closed position). So I thought I'd eventually get a 35" scale 4-string and string it up BEAD. Then within days the Dearmond blowout started. I missed on the $199 Pilot Pro's at Sam Ash but got one of the $169 ones at MF.

    It's a cheap bass made in Korea. The body looks like 2-piece ash (it's a clear finish). The neck is 5-piece maple and walnut laminate, 35" scale. The nut is 1-5/8" wide with 21 or 22 frets (not 24) and a rosewood board. 2 Humbuckers and active electronics (vol, blend, bass, mid, treble controls). The hardware is "satinkrome" (much like the hardware on Cort Curbows if you've seen those). Truss rod adjust at the headstock under a cover.

    Feel: It feels good to me. I like 1-5/8" nut width necks and do not notice the 35" scale length at all - it's a non-factor. The back of the neck has a satin finish that feels silky smooth and is fast to play. Once I had tweaked the truss rod (which adjusted smoothly) to straighten out the neck the default setup was fairly low and played without significant buzzing (helped out by the 35" scale?). I like to minimize any string/fret noise and may raise the action some - but don't feel as "required" to as I have on my 34" scale basses. It balances well and is not particularly heavy or light that I notice.

    Sound: It sounds pretty good to me although I haven't given it the "with the band" checkout yet. Through my 1x12 combo at home and headphone amp it is OK. I like the sound much better than the basses I've had with EMG selects (other cheap humbuckers) like Steinberger Spirits, Dean Edges, etc. Right now I feel I could gig with it as-is although it needs to get the "with guitars" workout still.

    Misc: Came with 3 allen wrenches for adjustments. Almost too long for the on-special Go gigbag I got at the same time. It already has what looks like an ink smudge on the neck (can't tell if I did it or it happened before I got it, not that it matters). I think I like how the offset body looks but not the practical aspects (how it fits in a gig bag, how it stands up on the floor or a stand).

    Summary - for $169 I think it's a super deal. I'm tempted to grab another to keep as a EADG backup but will resist. I did that with the MTD Beasts and kind of regretted it (kept one, sold one). It's amazing how good a lot of inexpensive basses are. For a while I couldn't tell the difference between the cheaper models and the more expensive ones (due to my lack of experience/perception), now I notice the differences but I think the cheaper ones (at least the good cheaper ones) are getting a lot better. Comparing this, or an MTD Kingston, to a Squier P and a G&L/American Fender/MM Stingray - the good Korean basses are (at least in feel, fit & finish) getting closer to the American made basses and farther from the Squiers. The electronics may still lack a bit and the finest details aren't quite as good but they are remarkably good - only time will tell if they will age well, though.
  2. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    if they could be available here in italy i'd be very happy. at that price you couldn't go wrong! and reading your post i suggest you to take another. the electronics will not be the best but they are the easiest replaceable part!
  3. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Before Fender and Guild took over, Dearmond built their reputation on their electronics and pickups.
  4. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Barroso - if I bought another I'd have to sell my MTD Beast. I may do that if it passes the "with band" test and they are still available. I got the MF "platinum membership card" so I could do 90 days same as cash (short-term free financing) so this one still isn't paid for.

    Turock - I was pleasantly surprised by the electronics. It sounds pretty good to me and I was expecting a lot worse based on my previous experience with inexpensive humbuckers.

    I forgot to put in the "original" list. It lists for $699, MF was selling it for $420 before the blowout and now sells it for $169. Dang it's tempting to go for another one. Anyone want to buy an MTD Beast?
  5. Damn, $169? I got my Pilot Standard for $220, but that was about 2 years ago.

    I like the Pilot line. I think that they are greatly underrated basses. Good choice, and good luck with the band.

    Rock on
  6. Toneman


    Jun 6, 2001
    I own a Pilot 5 and use it as a back up for my Fender Deluxe J 5. Its a very good bass,totally underated. sorry to see them go.
  7. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    I've had the bass a little longer now and did a direct comparison with my MTD Beast (Czech-made MTD).

    I was surprised at the relatively low output of the active Pilot Pro. It seemed to be a little quieter, at full volume, then the passive Beast. I like the sound of the Beast a little better - the single coil Barts have more growl and the poplar body seems to bring out the lows a little better (vs. the humbuckers and ash body on the Pilot). I like the Pilot sound best with the bridge pickup higher in the blend, the Beast with the neck pickup favored.

    I still like the 35" scale and tighter string feel. But I'm no longer ready to dump the Beast to get another Pilot. I'm still very happy with the Pilot for the price and will convert it to BEAD after it gets an EADG workout with the band Thursday.

    It's a much better bass than the Samick Stingray copy I had a few years ago that cost more (love that closeout price).
  8. wannabeabassist

    wannabeabassist Guest

    Sep 27, 2001
    can you up grade the electronics or would it be worth it? do you think it would make a good beginner bass.i've allways heard to get a good one to learn on.
  9. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    I would guess you could upgrade the electronics if you wanted to. I don't know if the pickups are "standard size" but would guess they might be. You could definitely throw in a different preamp if desired.

    I have no great desire to upgrade the electronics - they sound pretty good to me. I was happily surprised with the sound of the inexpensive humbuckers and find the active eq to be usable and useful. The output is just lower than I'd expect but that just means I get to turn the amp up more. It successfully passed the "with the band" test. It sounded good and when I started having trouble hearing myself later in the practice I just boosted the midrange and growled/cut through without boosting volume (other than the midrange vol boost of course).

    I think it would be a very good bass for a beginner. I think it's noticeably better than anything else you could get new for the same price. The 35" scale is a little bit different than standard 34" but I don't really notice it (and I am sensitive to 1/8" difference in nut width). I do recommend this bass to others. MF even had pilot bass cases listed last time I looked (not that I'll get one anytime soon - I can squeeze it into the two gig bags I have).
  10. wannabeabassist

    wannabeabassist Guest

    Sep 27, 2001
    thanks,the pilot sounds like a good bass and being on a budget i'm starting to lean more to it. i'm now looking at a pilot , used jack cassidy,used warwick streamer for $350 and a used peavey 350watt amp $250
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    If you want the Pilot, you'd better get it quick. When the last of them are gone, that's it.
  12. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Here's another thumb's up for the Pilot Pro. It easily beats anything close in it's original price range. And at $'s a real steal! ;)
  13. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Another thumbs-up. I have the 5-string Pilot (Plus?). $159 at Sam Ash; I don't see them listed any more. Best deal out there, if you can still find one.
  14. wannabeabassist

    wannabeabassist Guest

    Sep 27, 2001
    well i just ordered the pilot pro over the net. i called MS and asked if they had any more and they didnt but was expecting 25 of them sometime in october. 22 were back ordered so that left three.i hope my order made it in time! they havnt e-mailed me to conferm my order yet