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Fleabass Junior Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 3NotesAbar, Nov 18, 2010.


  1. 3NotesAbar

    3NotesAbar

    Jul 3, 2005
    Singapore
    I am doing this review because I've not seen anyone report detailed findings of the bass on a gig. All I read were detractors saying Flea is coporate scum, the bass is overpriced for its build etc etc. I hope to say my piece thats all. I bought one on a whim while on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand just under a year ago. I must say this little monster surprised me, and not just on first impression but in the months to come after carrying it back to Singapore. This will be described in the 'Sound' section of the review in particular. I have no experience in doing gear reviews, so I'm gonna copy a common format, please bear with me.

    FEATURES:

    The bass features a downsized body, relatively small neck and most importantly a 30" scale length. Alder for body, maple for neck and rosewood for fingerboard. Pretty much run-of-the-mill for a punchy, warm tone as opposed to a bigger and brighter formula of Ash + Maple board. It comes with a single generic humbucker in the rough 'Stingray position', though its size is smaller and close to an EMG 35DC, which is a popular replacement for this bass. The bridge is one large chunk of metal and is pretty heavy. Truss rod access is by the headstock, no need to remove neck for adjustments. And oh yeah, 20 frets.


    ACTION, FIT & FINISH:

    I'm by no means an expert in analyzing bass construction, but I can say that it is indeed not so well made. I've owned close to about 80 basses in my lifetime, and some felt better than others, which I think ultimately pointed at superior construction and wood choice being a factor. The neck doesn't seem to play very well despite my setup attempts. And by 'very well' I mean F bass and Fodera well :) It's really decent and getting it quite low without buzz isn't a problem, but don't expect it to feel like something more expensive. Note: I had trouble getting 30" scale strings so I just slapped on some old Yamaha 45's that fit into tuner shaft (still bright at that time).

    The acrylic pickguard is taped on, and I had that removed (pics below). Neck joint seems OK, tuners work fine, nut slots were cut OK though improvements can be made.

    The poly finish seems to chip easily. But I only managed some small dings here and there after gigging it intensively for months. All in all it looked good (and orangey), and wished that my previous Squier looked this orangey.


    SOUND:



    I'd like to say the guy did an excellent job portraying the bass (though its the 34" scale one) and how the 35DC mod affects it. The stock pickup demos are very accurate to my ears. There is a lack of treble definition in the higher register for the stock pickup. Strangely, this is something great for live playing. I work in a rock band doing covers, and putting this bass out straight via D.I, sounds like I was using a tube amp/Sansamp BDDI if you will. The lows are warm, low mids punchy, mids have enough body, high mids are there for pick/note definition. Just not enough treble like the 35DC for slap. Thank God I work in a rock band?

    Here's the shocker: Out of all the basses I've used with my dear old band, this one got the best review by my drummer. Firstly, he needs to hear me over his drumkit and blaring guitars, not to mention an obnoxiously loud vocalist. Boosting 400HZ to fight those guys aren't always a solution for me, and with this bass I managed the proverbial 'cut through' and he liked its sound too. For me as a bass player, I can honestly say I'm 90% comfortable with its tone in the band, and the number drops to 30% when I play it alone anywhere else. Its one of those basses that belong IN A BAND. FYI, I've had all manners of Musicman basses, P basses, Ken Smith, Yamaha, Kubicki, F bass, Fodera, Fenders you name it. I've played this bass in 3 regular indoor venues and a few outdoor gigs.


    Reliability/Durability:

    I've had this under a year. The neck still seems fine, electronics are quiet etc. I've had a problem with the 17th fret since early on (severe buzz/ note stop by upper fret). Didn't do anything cos I don't play up there with the band. This probably has more to do with construction than reliability. Anyway this bass is passive, and so simple, and hasn't given me problems.


    PLAYABILITY NOTES:

    its 6+lbs and balances like a Fender. My sore back didn't ask for more and the spine problem went into hiding! Like I mentioned earlier, the neck dosen't feel like a thousand bucks, but the strings can go low and all that if you catch my drift. It's a great gig bass if one isn't put off by its kiddy looks. The 30" scale really helped to rehabilitate my bad left wrist.


    OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

    The only reason I'd keep this bass (surprisingly), isn't its weight and scale length, but its unique tone. IMO, it doesn't sound like a Stingray before or after changing pickups, and I don't think it will, but this thing tonally beat all other basses I've had at its price range. It might be a bit more expensive than other competing products, but its pretty unique too (pup placement, scale length etc). Though it may not work for everybody sonically, I recommend this bass to folks who had problems I faced (bad wrist, back, can't cut through/sit in mix proper). Good luck!

    CIMG0321.
     
  2. Thanks for the review and I understand what you mean about a bass that doesn't sound too good solo but really shines in a certain band situation.

    Sounds like the FBJ does was it's meant to do.

    BTW - I really like what you've done to yours.
     
  3. Great review.

    The removal of the pickguard and the decals make a massive improvement (imo)
     

  4. I agree there. The pickguard put on with tape is pretty cheezy build wise, but the fact that you can then remove it without having holes in the bass and it looks much better that way makes up for it.
     
  5. jasper383

    jasper383

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Nice review.

    Thank you for not hating the bass because you don't personally like Flea. :)
     
  6. 3NotesAbar

    3NotesAbar

    Jul 3, 2005
    Singapore
    Thanks guys. Yeah the taped-on pickguard was a blessing in disguise indeed! I'm glad the review wasn't an utter waste of time :bassist:

    Thanks Jasper383, but um...I actually like Flea quite a bit and he's a huge influence on my playing :D

    Groove...On!
     
  7. If they were a little cheaper I might check one out, but frankly I just don't have a use for one in my arsenal. I dig teh short scale idea though.
     
  8. skruch

    skruch

    Jul 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Nice review. Where did you get the decals? Very cool. I replaced the original strings with D'Addario .045 to .100 round wounds. To set the intonation the E string is at the back of the bridge with no spring. What are you using? Thanks.
     

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