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Got my Bongo!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by abngourmet, May 21, 2005.

  1. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004

    Received my Bongo 4 today. Review follows (and I'll post one in the gear reviews as well).

    It's a four string, HH, Lava Pearl finish. Standard Bongo electronics, rosewood board, etc.

    Action: a bit high at the moment, but I'm tweaking it. There is some buzzing on the neck around the 1st to 5th frets, but hopefully I'll be able to fix this with a decent set up.

    Fit and Finish: I'm very impressed with the fit and finish. I bought it used, and the previous owner obviously took extremely good care of it. There are no scratches, major dings, etc. save two small nicks on the top of the headstock. Controls all work effortlessly, and the bridge is actually pretty good. Tuners are very high quality, and don't require a zillion turns to bring it to pitch. Overall, a very impressive package for the price.

    Playability: This thing practically plays itself. Even with the action a bit higher than I prefer, this thing plays effortlessly. I was amazed when I first picked it up too - fairly light and facile feeling. I love the finish on the back of the neck - it not only feels great, but it actually helps me play faster. Frets aren't huge, and I really like that - adds to the fast playing persona of the Bongo. Strapped on, it feels extremely comfortable, and the balance is nothing short of perfect (for me, anyway).

    Looks: Here's the rub for some. When I first saw these basses, I thought someone had squared off a Stingray. I thought it was ugly as sin. But it's grown on me, and now I think it looks pretty good. In fact, I find it downright attractive. Kind of like the ugly duckling who turns into a swan. No doubt though - you either love the look or you hate it.

    Tone: Sounds a lot like my '79 Stingray, but with the added versatility of the electronics and the neck pickup. I did notice that it was clipping the 4X10 cabinet of my Ampeg stack. A tweak of the compressor and rolling off the bass a bit fixed that. While I can't really get a Jazz tone, it's perfect for slapping and popping (like the stingray), and there are lots of useful tones here. I can see playing everything from rock, to country, to jazz with the Bongo. All in all, a very versatile instrument.

    Bottom line: Now I know why some here rave about these things. They're awesome. If you can't get over the body shape, they're definitely one of the best bolt on basses available regardless of price. I bought this with the intent that if I didn't like it, I'd sell it. Guess what - it's staying in my stable because it's that good.

    My two cents,

  2. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I still can't get past that body, or the body/pickguard lines. I suppose I will eventually though, and I'll be looking for a HH too. Maybe a lava peral as well. That's definately a well named color because it's HOT for sure.

    Hmm, maybe a clear pickguard would help...

    Then again I'm still exploring the tones of my new Tribute L-2500 so no GAS pains at the moment.

    Anyway, a big congrats on the new bass! I don't think I've heard a negative comment yet on those other than the looks.
  3. That's the Bongo I want to get! Congratulations!!! :bassist: :bassist:
  4. Mahlon


    Jan 27, 2005
    Bennettsville SC
    That's the exact same Bongo I have. Awesome.

    But are you gonna change the "Alembic-there is no substitute" thing? ;)
  5. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    Where's the pics?

    No pics = no Bongo.

    Those are the rules.

  6. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Congrats! I'm loving mine too... :D

    And yes. No pics, no bass. Bring it to life now!

  7. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Nahh, not going to change my tagline. For me, there are no substitutes for Alembics.

    However ...

    The Bongo is quite an instrument for the money. Never understood why folks raved about them until I got mine. It plays beautifully, and has a huge range of tonal variety. It's a lot like my '79 Stingray, except the electronics make it much more versatile, and the neck pickup helps. Only thing i've not gotten used to is the fingerboard being so close to the neck pickup. The two octave neck takes a bit of getting used to.

    It plays great, though the action is still a bit high. I'm working on bringing it down, though.

    Here's a pic. Enjoy.

  8. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Congrats! and welcome to the club!
  9. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    I'm glad your enjoying the bass Alan, I found your review to be spot on. That neck pickup can be a speaker killer!! The bass control is powerful on the Bongo, I don't think I moved it beyond the center detent very often. I personally like the sound favoring the bridge pickup 80% with the mids and bass centered and the treble up about 80%. If there is any way I can help with anything with regards to the bass PM me.
  10. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    Welcome to Club Bongo. I've been here a while and was saving you a chair near the bar.

    I very seldom turn the bass up past center unless I am playing at low volume and need some extra oomph. Otherwise, someone could get hurt.

    Beautiful bass, by the way.
  11. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    On the bass control, I keep it pretty much maxed. I just use the blend to dial in the bottom end - much like I do with my Jazz and other basses. Problem I'm having at the moment is the action. The neck is straight from what I can tell, and I'm wondering if I need to shim it. I use light gauge strings (.40-.95), and my experience with that gauge on my other basses tells me that I'm going to be doing some tweaking for a while before I get it where I want it. I'm not the greatest at setups ... I know the basics, but I'm sure there are others here (and I've read the sticky) who know more.

    Problem with setups is that most of the references I've seen tell you to check the relief at about the 10th fret or so. This is great for a 20 fret bass, but not for a 24 fret bass - I assume we need to check it at the 12th/13th fret then? I usually use the capo first fret/hold down at last fret and check the relief method. Also, what should be the distance in millimeters between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string at the correct fret? Again, the references I've seen haven't been exactly illuminating.

    Action is a bit easier to fix - just up and down, go with the radius of the fingerboard, etc. I like my action as low as I can get it without buzzing, so I hope we can all see why I need to know what I should be looking at in terms of relief.

    All this being said, I really like the Bongo. It won't replace my Alembics, but it will be one of my main instruments I think if I can get the action where I want it and get used to the positioning of the neck pickup.

    If anyone has any suggestions for setting it up (other than reading the sticky), e.g., websites you may know of, I'm all ears (and eyes!).


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