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Giannini GB-4 Violin Beatles Bass First Impressions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tacticalcity, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    The Giannini GB-4 Beatle Bass I ordered a few days ago showed up this morning. I of course ended up an hour late for work because I had to crack open the box and play it. I didn't have much time with it. Just enough to get some first impressions.

    First, let me qualify this by saying I am at best an intermediate player. So my experience is limited. This is in fact the first violin bass I have ever seen or held in person. So many of the "quirks" I am noticing might be normal for this style of bass.

    Overall, I like it. Especially for the money I paid. Retail is $436 or so, which really means $256 that they really sell it for. I paid $102 shipped in an penny auction. So this is not a $1500 Music Man. I am comparing it to the $150 SX Ursa P-Bass I owned, the two $199 Squiers I've owned, and my favorite a Sterling SUB 4.

    This things doesn't even close to the $299 Sterling by Musicman SUB 4 bass I own with regards to playability. However, it does play MUCH easier and has a much lower action than the SX and Squiers I've owned. So when picturing how it plays, put it right in the middle between a Squier Jaguar and a Sterling SUB 4. And way above an SX Ursa P-Bass and a Squire Bronco. If I had experience with other basses I would list them as comparison. But I don't. Fortunately the ones I do have experience with are pretty common place.


    My biggest like is the way it looks. This bass is EXTREMELY sexy. It's the last thing that should matter. But I can't help it. It is just so darn pretty, and so darn flashy in this Gloss Red color. Absolutely perfect for the 12 year old girl it was bought for. She loves bright and shinny things.

    Size. This thing is small. Not only does it have a short scale neck, but it has a small body. Which again, is great for a 12 year old girl. It will fit her perfectly. Nothing she won't be able to reach. My original plan before finding this auction was to give her my SX Bass, which frankly is a beast. Way too big and heavy for her. So this is a welcome relief.

    Weight. This thing is light as a feather. Almost too light. Could be a con if the bass were for me. But since it is for a little girl, it is a major plus.

    Very low action. I might need to raise it a hair to eliminate the tiniest bit of fret buzz. But it is so low now that there is plenty of room to do that and still have an extremely playable bass. Even after I make that adjustment the action will be way lower than the SX and Squire Basses I've owned.

    Narrow neck width. The pictures are deceiving. Looking at them you would think it had a very wide neck. That's an illusion. The neck is actually very narrow. Which again, is great for a young player. My Sterling SUB4 also has a very narrow neck (at least at the nut) so I am used to that as well. I like it alot. Much easier to play than my SX P-Bass.

    Little touches that make it looks higher end than it is. From the pearloid tuner knobs, to the painted head and logo to the pearloid pickguard, this think looks high end. It isn't. But it looks it. There are just a lot of really nice touches I didn't realize would be there.

    The height/shape of the platform for the rear pickup sits in. The black thing in the pictures that the rear pickup is mounted to. This makes for an ideal thumb rest when playing figure style. Flat surface, just enough height to it that your thumb fits on it perfectly. Extremely comfortable, and natural feeling. This is a nice bonus feature I didn't expect.


    Let me qualify this by saying these are first impressions, and might be totally normal with a violin bass. Since this is my first one...I only have modern design basses to compare it to.

    Non-adjustable neck. If there is truss rod adjustment on it, I didn't see it. The neck looks and plays as if it is pretty straight. But as far as I can tell the only adjustment you have on this is the bridge (string) height.

    [strike]No way to adjust individual string height. Have to adjust the entire bridge. Again, I could be wrong. But it looks like you have to adjust the entire bridge. There is a dial on the top and a dial on the bottom of the bridge that you turn to adjust it up or down.[/strike] I was reminded to look under the cap on the head stock for the truss adjustment. Fancy. Thanks guys.

    Weak pickups. Now, this might not actually be true. This is a passive bass, and I was playing through my laptop which is adjusted for and has the settings for a much louder active bass. Once I change those settings the pickups might have punch to them. Not sure yet. I'll get back to you.

    Loud acoustically. I think this is a result of it being semi-hollow. And this could be a plus under the right circumstances. But for somebody who is not used it, it's a bit distracting. If your volume is low on your amp/headphones/speakers the sound coming from the bass itself can be easily heard. And since the is no tone setting to them, it can throw somebody who is not used to it off. But again, with a little time on it...you'll get used to it and over come it. It's minor. Upside is, if you wanna just pick it up and show off. People will hear what you're playing.

    Size and weight. I have both of these as pluses. And they can be. But it also feels really weird. Almost fragile. Almost like it is plastic and not wood. It's wood. It just feels like plastic because of the glossy finish and super light weight. Which has a lot to do with it being a semi-hollow body. All standard I presume. But an adjustment for those of us who never held a violin bass before.

    So any case...those are my 30 minute first impressions. I'll post a follow up when I know more.

    Please feel free to tell me if the quirks I commented are normal and standard for a violin bass or not. Would be helpful.


    The one I received has different style tuners than pictured here. Mine have pearloid knobs. Not sure if those are an upgraded feature or the new normal. But they are super sexy. When I get a chance I will snap a picture of them. The rest of the headstock is the same.




    Again...the one I received has different style tuners than pictured here. Mine have pearloid knobs. Not sure if those are an upgraded feature or the new normal. But they are super sexy. When I get a chance I will snap a picture of them. The rest of the headstock is the same.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
  2. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Truss rod adjustment should be under the cover on the headstock. That should fit the bill nicely, I bet she will be very pleased with it. I bought my son Douglas when he was 10 still loves it even though now he has Fender AVRI 62 Jazz Bass and a more than expensive upright!
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    ColdEye likes this.
  3. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    Well don't I feel silly. I should have known that. I knew lots of basses had the truss rod adjustment under the cover on the head stock. But didn't look closely enough at it realize that applied to this bass as well. I am used to the MusicMan style adjustment wheel. Like I said I had 30 minutes with it before I had to begrudgingly put it down and go to work - to earn the money I already spent on it. The fact that the neck is not bolted on threw me for a loop. I got fixated on that apparently.

    Thank you for pointing that out to me.
  4. Congrats on bass. I think she will love it. When I first bought a violin bass, I had the same reaction you did. It felt light and almost fragile. That's because I was comparing it to a solid body. It will feel REALLY different comparatively. That's normal. As I began to play it more, I realized it wasn't as fragile as I thought it was. Personally, I like the light weight. Who wants to strap a heavy log around their shoulder? The bridge is very unscientific. The idea is to get the E and G strings correct and then the other two will fall in place. I know this is the case for Hofner, I'm not sure if its the same for yours but you may want to use low tension strings. Because the neck is only glued to the body, having higher tension strings may eventually pull the neck away from the body. I use .50-.100 gauge flatwound strings. Pyramid or LaBella. Brand is just a preference. I'm sure other people will offer more suggestions.
  5. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    Thank you for the string recommendations. I will pass those along to her father, and keep them in mind should I buy one for myself. I'm going to have a little over a month to play with this and decide how I like it. I can't afford to make any changes to hers. Between the bass, the stand, the copy of Rocksmith 2014, and the Real Tone Cable I bought her I am spending a very pretty penny on her. And we're not even all that close. Every year I pick one relative to spoil, and everyone else except for Mom and Dad get stocking stuffers. This year was her year. The family is always really curious to see who I pick to get the royal treatment. And being the youngest, she's felt left out in the past when I didn't pick her. Really hoping she finds it exciting rather than intimidating and gets into it. It would be fun to not be the only one totally obsessed with the bass in the family. It would also be nice to have something in common with her for a change. She's 12. I'm 43. We don't exactly relate. And she's my first cousin. In Italian families. You're supposed to be like brother and sister with your cousins. And I am with all the others.

    Her dad is getting her a laptop this year. So the two gifts go hand in hand. Little girl is making out like a bandit.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    hofner1980 likes this.
  6. EVerderame


    Feb 17, 2016
    Giannini is probably the most traditional Brazillian musical instrument producer. i have a guitar from them from the decade of 1920. they have had theirs ups and downs, throughout the times. they have some very cool instruments from the 60's and 70's.
    I am not sure how are their instruments are now as they have changed their production to China and have never seen a violin model like this from Giannini. beautiful one!
  7. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    The looks are truly stunning. It should be the last thing I care about. But given that it is for a 12 year old girl. That bright glossy red and all the little pretty details are a major plus. I think they will help make it a bigger hit than something that was more plain. I'm hoping to win Christmas. But a 12 year old is a tough audience. And her father goes overboard on her every year. So I have competition. Fingers crossed.

    If she doesn't absolutely love it, she's getting coal next year. ;)
    EVerderame likes this.
  8. EVerderame


    Feb 17, 2016
    i would like one, and i am not a little girl.
    FretlessFatty likes this.
  9. EVerderame


    Feb 17, 2016
    ps. apparently there is a truss rod there, as there is a cover for that, isn't?
    have you bothered to remove the strings and check it out?
  10. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    I like it too. I'm tempted to keep it...and am going to be bummed to part with it when it comes time to go home on Christmas eve. Even if she doesn't get what an amazing gift this gift is right away. Once she picks it up, and gives it a shot, I think it might just be life changing. I know that's how I feel about the bass.

    Somebody was kind enough to remind me that's where they hide the truss rod adjustment on most basses. My particular flavor of bass and few of the others I have owned didn't hide the truss rod adjustment. So it didn't jump out at me. But I knew better. I just had a senior moment.
  11. EVerderame


    Feb 17, 2016
    GB-4V - Giannini Instrumentos Musicais - GB-4V


    Type of Model: Vintage Classic Cutaway Bass
    Top: Maple
    Neck: Canadian hard maple
    Fingerboard/Fretboard: Rosewood
    Back and sides: Maple
    Bridge: Tune-O-Matic Archtop Bass Bridge (Wood) with Trapeze Tail Piece
    Frets: 22 of Nickel-silver
    Machine heads: Open Gear, 2+2
    Finish: Glossy varnish
    Pick up: 2 Chrome-Covered Humbuckers
    Truss Rod: Double-Action
    Scale: 760 mm
    Nut: 40 mm
    Color(s): Red (RD), Vintage Sunburst (VSB) and Natural (N)
    Available: Left-Handed Model (VSB Color)
  12. tacticalcity


    Mar 22, 2013
    The picture is closer to what I received. It has the marble/pearl tuner knobs shown in the picture. However, the edges look more white in that picture. While they are definitely a cream color on the bass I received like the photos that were used in the listing. Might just be the lighting.

    Their GB3 Telebass is pretty sexy too. You don't see a lot of Telebasses.

    GB-3 - Giannini Instrumentos Musicais - GB-3
  13. twinjet

    twinjet GE90-equipped Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Great write-up. Awesome pics, too. Enjoy that bass.
  14. EVerderame


    Feb 17, 2016
    that violinbass and this tele are totally new to me!
    apparently a good step from Giannini.
    it's been some time since i read something new from them.

    they used to have a charming guitar in the 70's, called "supersonic"
    and a very classy bass we called "Formig√£o"(big ant)
    today are vintage guitars here in Brasil.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Pretty cool. Looks better than most modern violin basses.
    BlueAliceOasis and BassGreaser like this.
  16. Chicory Blue

    Chicory Blue

    Oct 9, 2016
    Striking little thing, practically sizzling with character.
    Lucky lady to receive such a unique instrument.

    Wish I had an older cousin.

  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    agreed! the instrument looks really nice --- hope it plays well for her! congrats all around!
  18. And the pickups on your (her) bass have adjustable polepieces. Most contemporary violin basses other than Hofner have pickups with blank chrome covers.
  19. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That's about the perfect bass for a small stature player, my son has the Jay Turser violin bass, now everything else feels huge and clunky to him, and he's grown up to 5'-10". They are a lot of fun to play, and just loud enough unplugged for couch noodling without disturbing everyone around you. You did right for your daughter.
  20. That looks almost exactly like the Hofner Icon bass I used to have, except that mine was green. I would bet it's made in the same factory.

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