DeArmond Pilot Pro Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hambone, Sep 27, 2001.

  1. I just couldn't stand it!!

    An ash body, active electronics, 35" scale for only $169!! I've wanted to get my hands on one of these for awhile and when Musicians Friend dropped them down from their already low $199 price, I had to jump on it. List price was $699

    Well the word is that it's a far better bass than anything you'll find anywhere for under $400. Certainly better than the Fender MIK's or MII's that I've played. It isn't without flaws but I expected there to be more than what I got and that's the surprising thing.

    From the top: The tuners are inexpensive Gotoh knockoff's in satin chrome. Not the best but adequate for the money. The string retainer is the least quality of all of the parts in the instrument being simply a metal bar with 2 screws acting as a "T" to pull the A, D, and G strings down. A retainer is mandatory since the fretboard is quite high in comparison to the face of the headstock. The neck has it's adjustment at the headstock under a plastic cover. The nut is plastic. The neck itself is unusual in that it is a 5 piece laminate with 3 large maple layers and 2 thin walnut or mahogany strips all the way down the length. The finish of these strips leaves a little to be desired as you can feel them down next to the body. A little more finish work could have been used here. However, the neck is nice and thin with a Jazz profile that makes it very playable. The neck is a 35" scale with a rosewood board and jumbo frets. The 22 frets have a decent polish and the ends have been finished fairly decently. The last fret hangs over the body ala the 22 fret Fender Precision Plus Deluxes or the Kramer Focus series. The body is a very nice pair of matched ash pieces. The front has a near perfect match with the back being a little less precise in pattern. The unusually swoopy body looks strange hanging from the wall but is very comfortable to play. You might describe it's shape as curvaceous Jazz style. It has more droop where the controls are and it sports a very narrow waist. It's also a bit longer than a Jazz. The finish is a flawless gloss poly. The pickups are no-name humbucking soapbars that are certainly long enough to be on a 5'er. All of the hardware is satin chrome. The bridge is a strict copy of a Schaller bridge with one notable exception. Instead of using threaded mounts for the circular saddles for string spacing adjustment, the saddles are one piece. Why they didn't complete the original Schaller combination is a mystery. The electronics are active with bass, mid, and treble cut and boost, a sweep control and volume. The center detent of the pots has a positive feel and the rotation is tight with a quality feel. The back has the standard plastic cavity cover and a seperate battery box. The battery cavity isn't padded so the battery sort of wobbles in it's place but that can be solved easily. Overall the bass is quite light and well balanced.

    The sound was surprising. This is the warmest bass I've got in my arsenal. The E string is very defined and the G isn't harsh at all. Very smooth. It was playable out of the box but needs a set-up for my personal tastes.

    I'll probably bring it to the Atlanta Get-together not cuz it's any great shakes but we need some sort of balance with all of the megabuck instruments that'll be there.:)
  2. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    I'm still enjoying mine, especially for the price. One thing that I found surprising was the low output - my other bass with passive Bart single coils has just as much output if not more. I was expecting more out of an active bass. Mine is teaching me I really like a blend knob over 2 volumes (or the switch on my G&L) and the 3-band onboard eq is nice. The other day in practice I was having trouble hearing myself so I boosted the midrange and bam - instant cut-through.

    Although I like the satin-chrome look the tuners aren't that great and adding in a Hipshot detuner would mean mismatched tuners (add regular chrome or black? hmmm, maybe the knob can be moved from the standard tuner onto a Hipshot). I still haven't gotten around to stringing it up BEAD - and now I don't know if I will or not.

    I haven't changed strings or messed with the setup yet (it's been OK for me) so I haven't really checked out the bridge and retainer.

    Nice review
  3. wannabeabassist

    wannabeabassist Guest

    Sep 27, 2001
    i've been thinking of buying the pilot from MS but i didnt see any color options. do you get to choose the color and how?
  4. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    When I got mine MF only had natural ash available. One of the drawbacks of buying during a blowout is limited selection. But the price makes it worthwhile.