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Fender Rascal - in retrospect what about it's tone range?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bass V, Nov 19, 2018.


  1. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    now that they're nearly forgotten I'm intrigued with the awesome sounds via a few videos, but of course that's often a deceptive analysis despite reviewer's correlating comments. we know all the niggles about this bass and opinions pro / con but I wanna dig it regardless cos if it really can deliver the great diverse ear candy as displayed in the vid below this would be a virtual must have, especially if found @ $400 or less. that it's not a P or J bass but has it's own unique aural thing going on to me is a plus, so what does the tb jury have to say about the many tonal options available?
     
    nomaj and Pbassmanca like this.
  2. I remember these. I thought they would be a huge hit. The "hotrodded" Strat pickup setup is great but I think the lipsticks are a bit thin sounding, at least in this video. J styles with a bit more oomph might have worked better and been less unusual to bass players.

    People ask Fender to do new cool stuff all the time and I think they really had a hit with this. Reality disagrees with me, again.
     
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  3. InternetAlias

    InternetAlias

    Dec 16, 2010
    Serbia
    Fender and Gibson really aren't companies that make breakthroughs in 2k18, who would have known.

    No, seriously, they can't sell enough of any new, specific run at any rate, because they won't make enough of them to hang them in every store (since they don't believe in their own products enough, remember what happened to the awesome Dimension), so all those "side projects" of Fender are simply doomed to fail. The only successful ones happened to be either overly pragmatic yet traditional, very similar to the base design, or a requested/needed hot rod (that's how PJ was born, after all).
     
  4. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    there's the deception factor, a video assessment can't always be fair, yet I chose this video cos of the quality sound and comprehensive review. thru my bass-friendly audio there was no evidence of ''thin'', it was anything but, just big, deep, and full, even at the bridge. I'm hoping that after this much time there are plenty of owners who can give a real world spin on their experience.
     
  5. Axstar

    Axstar

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I tried one a couple of years back, but I'm struggling to recall what I made of it. The neck pickup had shades of Rickenbacker to it, and there were some more Fender-ish tones in there too. Some of the settings combining pickups had a nice honk or grind to them as well, somewhat like a Danelectro Long Horn bass.

    I recall that the bass felt surprisingly big, sitting down. The bridge sits in the middle of the body, so by the time you factor in the body and neck length you have a P-bass sized bass. I guess the bridge location encourages the player to play up near the bridge, which might change the tone slightly? By contrast my Mustang bass is just a smidge longer than a Telecaster guitar, and the bridge is right at the back of the body. This gives you a longer string length to position your right hand over for different timbres.

    I think some pickups just don't work that well for bass. Lipsticks are quite sizzly, bright pickups with a fairly scooped EQ profile. They are also sensitive to changes in right hand attack, and I found the Rascal could be a bit 'spikey' with nasty transient peaks if you dug in too hard (on a bass where you have to totally re-learn what 'too hard' is). Couple this with a shortscale bass and you get a sort of dull rumble of bass frequencies, fragile glass-scratching treble response, and not a whole heap of sustain or a whole heap of mids to glue it all together. The bass wasn't short of low frequencies, but the whole sonic signature of the bass didn't seem like it would drive a band along.

    So:

    Yes you can make any bass versatile by adding three pickups and a wiring scheme with an easter egg that unlocks mythical extra tones. You could buy a Gibson EB-3 and route it for soapbars. However, three lipstick pickups will have an inherent spitty tone that can't be dialed out easily, and a short scale bass will have an inherent shortscale tone (usually less sustain, rumbly low mids). The Rascal also has the bridge in an unusual location that might encourage playing only in a certain style.

    The Rascal would, in my opinion, make a great 'Tic Tac' bass with flatwounds, a heavy pick and a good compressor. What it wouldn't do, for me, would be a good fingerstyle bass that could kill anything from Stingrays to Rickenbackers at the flick of a switch.
     
    nomaj, SirMjac28, CapnSev and 3 others like this.
  6. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    ''The neck pickup had shades of Rickenbacker to it'' - that's not promising... lol while I wouldn't know, there's a theory roaming around that the neck pickup of a Rickenbacker is the most useless thing ever. that aside, I'd expect a wooly sound from the neck PU of any bass and a Ric isn't famed for this AFAIK. the lipsticks could be modded / swapped to something better, so if they pan out to my liking fine but if not that can be fixed, and I see circuitry mods coming for the Rascal any how. plus, this bass isn't bound for big stage action, I just want a unique bass to piddle with and if it finds a place in local jams so much the better, if I can get what's heard re the video out of it in a low key setting then I'd be happy. I'm holding out that a Rascal can deliver the goods until there's no defense left cos the first Rascals were $$$ and highly regarded, how do they go from that to something sucky?
     
  7. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Great review, Axstar. Fully agree on your observations.
     
    SirMjac28, CapnSev and Axstar like this.
  8. Axstar

    Axstar

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    A neck pickup doesn't have to be wooly. By dint of being that far from the bridge it will have a more mellow, deeper response for sure. This doesn't always equate to mud; many neck-pickup basses are wooly due to the design of the pickup itself. Gibson and Fender (think 2nd generation Telecaster bass) stuck hot, dark humbuckers down the end of the neck. On a good day those pickups have a weak treble response, and spades of low-mid frequencies. Sticking them down at the end of the neck only makes this more extreme.

    The neck pickup in a modern Rickenbacker loses out, in my opinion, because it is just a darker version of the bridge pickup, tonally. I find the bridge pickup on a modern 4003 is perfectly good as is, and the neck pickup is just a darker, quieter version of the same. On a vintage 4001 bass (I played a cracking early '70s example one time) the neck pickup has a broader, brighter tone. The output is lower than a modern 'HiGain', but the bridge pickup also has a lower output as well (and a capacitor in place to block low frequencies). As such I think Rickenbackers, by accident or design, had a better tone in the past than they do now.

    The Lipsticks can indeed be replaced, but this left me thinking about a bass I hadn't even bought yet, but that I already planned to modify. Granted I do this to some extent with new basses anyway, but in the case of the Rascal I was looking for 3 lipstick pickups that work well on a bass. Plus, there is probably nothing wrong with the stock pickups. The issue is with the design themselves, rather than them being bad pickups. So, who winds pickups that fit a Lipstick mounting setup and overall dimensions, but is wound to sound like a good, sure-footed bass pickup? Probably nobody unless you pay lots of money to a custom winder.

    That demo video is really unhelpful. The guy doesn't really play the bass in a way that flatters the bass. You wouldn't slap on a violin bass, right? You have to sometimes match the playing style to the bass. If you can do this then you will be fine!
     
    M.R. Ogle and Bass V like this.
  9. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    while not having an EB-x with a muddy yet I like the thot of a wooly yet diverse neck PU and this video (worthy or not) had a delicious sound that I hope can be easily found on the Rascal, and mixed with the other 2 PUs has me dreaming of a versatile bass unlike much else out there. I could be miles off base in my assumptive quest here but if these aren't great tone machines right out of the box then I'd be open to making it great for the stuff I play or may discover on a Rascal, which is not gonna be slap-happy to say the least lol (he did qualify it with the disclaimer to his credit) plus, other videos showed the provided example to not be far off the mark in a wide range of quality sounds, this was just the best audio I found and he had it at a moderate volume level as I usually would at home so maybe these PU falter when in a higher stress setting. even so, I'd like to think the electronics pax can be sweetened to exceed the stock setup's already impressive footprint, if that can happen I won't mind the ha$$le of getting it perfected.
     
    Axstar likes this.
  10. SpazzTheBassist

    SpazzTheBassist

    Jun 20, 2006
    careful with that statement --- the TB Argument Police will be writing you tickets :D
     
    Axstar likes this.
  11. Jebberz

    Jebberz Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2012
    Quebec city
    Tried it in a music store a little while ago, since I prefer Short Scale, but the playing position of this bass was Ackward. The bridge sit to far towards the neck and my natural right hand position was behind the bridge. Cannot tell about the pickups, since I first try any potential buy unplugged to ensure the ergonomics suits me. it this case... not.
     
    Axstar likes this.
  12. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I'm betting I'd be placed twixt the mid and neck PUs since I always play at the neck, and that's ok.
     
  13. johnp352

    johnp352

    Aug 19, 2005
    Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Rick Turner, GK
    I had a Jerry Jones Shorthorn with 3 lipstick pu's, and I really loved that bass..flats..and I could actually play dub on it. I had a few others of his too, a baritone and a 6 string bass, all 30" scale. I think though that as i recall he made his own pickups. I could do tic tac on these, but they were way more than that, and i was hoping fender maybe picked up the ball..but I am not hearing that here. and didnt MF or somebody blow them out a few years back for like 1/2 price?
     
  14. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I hoped they would at least sound as good as Danelectro DC-59s, but...
     
  15. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I heard that but the few which show up now are back to $700+, I'm hoping for an Anmoon model lol
     
    johnp352 likes this.
  16. J-Mags

    J-Mags

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    Lipsticks sound great on Danelectros and Silvertones. I remember a fair number of people playing lipstick-pickup basses back in the 90s.
     
  17. CapnSev

    CapnSev

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I put this bass in the same camp as the Warwick Thumb. A beautiful-sounding bass that sounds like no other bass on the market. So unique and new.

    Also like the Thumb, it suffers from some of the worst ergonomics of any bass out there. As mentioned, the Rascal’s body is abnormally large feeling, and the bridge is right underneath where you would play on other basses. You have to move your plucking hand quite a ways toward the neck to get it out of the way. That issue is overcomeable with techniques, but the bass ends up weighing and feeling like a 34” scale bass because of the bridge position.
     
    Axstar and Bass V like this.
  18. I saw one of these at Saint John's music in Regina Saskatchewan back on June this year. Although it was brand new, the finish was already crazed. I didn't mind, it gave it kind of a used feel. The sound was interesting but wasn't interesting enough for me to shell out $700 CAD for a brand new guitar with a cracked finish.
     
    Bass V likes this.
  19. I remember it feeling like the longest short scale I’ve ever played. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t dig it. The tone was just eh to me.
     
    Bass V likes this.
  20. CapnSev

    CapnSev

    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I love this video of Scott Whitley throwing down on this bass:
     
    Axstar and Bass V like this.

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