NBD: Emerald Balor Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ahadl2500, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Cool

    49 vote(s)
  2. ABGs are pointless

    17 vote(s)
  3. ABGs are pointless, but I secretly want one

    12 vote(s)
  4. That finish would go good with carrots

    8 vote(s)
  1. ahadl2500

    ahadl2500 Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Greenwood, IN
    Technically a belated NBD. Received my Emerald Balor Bass last week. I was planning on ordering a new one early next year when my bonus from work typically comes in (assuming one comes next year). Found a good deal on a 2018 build that was "used" in one of the configurations I was thinking about and decided to buy it. Owner said it had not been played much and judging by the condition of the instrument/strings it had barely been touched.

    When the bass came in, I immediately took it to get setup and have the strings swapped. It shipped with Phosphor Bronze strings. I am not a fan of Phosphor Bronze strings. They sound fine, but turn my skin colors and smell terrible. Went from D'Addario Phosphor Bronze to LaBella Copper Tapewounds. Tapewounds took some of the brightness from the tone, which I prefer both acoustically and when plugged in. My setup guy disagreed with me and preferred the sound of the Phosphor Bronze strings. He also let me know that he had heard of these basses and never expected to see one (sounded like he enjoyed having it on the bench).

    Build quality... Top notch, which should be expected in this price range. It is really something else to open up an acoustic instrument and not see all the bracing that is a must on a wooden instrument. The carbon weave and quilted top look great together. The instrument is extremely light (they advertise 6lbs). The body design is comfortable even though it is huge. The Baggs VTC system works great, but is a hair bright for my tastes (so the tone knob stays turned down most of the time).

    Now for the how does it sound... I previously owned a Michael Kelly Dragonfly and have played a few other acoustic basses over the years. In my opinion, this tops all of them. It is louder acoustically and has a more usable sound when plugged in than the other ABGs that I have played. My favorite prior to this was the Warwick Alien (I played the Rockbass Deluxe variant when I tried one). This feels like it takes the things the Alien does right a step farther with a larger, but more comfortable body. From reading threads about these here, I did not expect the acoustic output to be huge. To put it in perspective, it is louder than any other ABG I have played. The positioning of the sound hole is great for practicing/hearing yourself. It is not loud enough to be used in a band setting without at least a small amp IMO (I see a PJB combo in my future). This should not be surprising. Double bass players already knew this and they are typically dealing with a louder/larger instrument than any ABG will be. I have seen the Balor get some hate here over this. Admittedly some of it is earned by Emerald's assertion that it can play with two acoustic guitars. It probably can, but the acoustics better not be particularly loud. The marketing leaves that last part out.

    Plugged in, it sounds similar to other acoustic basses that I have played, but with more bottom. I saw a review where someone mentioned the notes "bloom" I think that is a good description. It is not that the bass is slow to build sound. However the notes have a nice round pillowy quality to them (probably not the best description, but the best I have got). With the big body, you have to make an effort to prevent feedback. To be fair, I had to avoid feedback on my Michael Kelly Dragonfly as well. I did that one with a Lute Hole Cover (soundhole cover). For the Balor, I picked up a Radial AC Driver and run it with the notch filter enabled. This setup has done a great job of keeping things tame and usable.

    For those who like coming to ABG threads and asking what the point is... My reason for buying... I have always liked ABGs, and I wanted something for relatively quiet, amp-free practice (headphone amps just are not for me). I also have to admit that the full carbon body and size of this bass have a cool factor that should be mentioned in anyone's reason for liking them. Ultimately it is another tool in the arsenal. One I will use a ton for practice and probably a little outside of practice. It certainly will not see as much use (particularly outside of practice) as my solid body basses, but I did not buy it for that either.

    Poll added just because I have never done one.

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  2. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player

    Mar 14, 2011
    Congrats. Beautiful bass...no doubt about it. I found this review of it with some nice playing by someone in Ireland....which is where it's from apparently.

    I admit I was surprised to see the size of it....way larger than I originally thought from your pic. That probably contributes to the nice full sound. Typically for daily practice I like to use a smaller lighter bass but to each his own. Hope you get a ton of enjoyment from it.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    well: it sure is a looker! i'm glad that you're finding it superior to other ABGs and that it's to your liking. congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:
    Wisebass and ahadl2500 like this.
  4. ahadl2500

    ahadl2500 Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Greenwood, IN
    I get where you are coming from here, but it really does not feel as big as it is. The design is shaped well to sit in a comfortable playing position despite being huge. This is actually one of the first things my setup guy commented on too. It really is surprising how well it sits. I was worried it would be uncomfortable when I purchased it. For weight, it is the lightest bass I own at around 6lbs. I have a Tobias Growler that comes close at just under 7lbs, but I mostly play G&Ls (lightest one of those is sitting around 9lbs). I have definitely enjoyed it so far.
    mtb777, bholder and Runnerman like this.
  5. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Very nice! I was an early adopter - mine was popping up in their advertising for awhile. My Balor replaced a pair of Tacomas, I have no regrets at all. I would like to figure out a soundhole plug solution, though - probably soft black foam rubber cut to fit.

  6. GrapeBass


    Jun 10, 2004
    Graphic designer: Yorkville Sound
    For years I've had a Jasmine/Takemine AGB (pulled the frets) and only played it at home... Then a project came up, a semi-acoustic jazz/blues/classic rock trio... very low key, female singer plays rhythm guitar, stellar drummer/percussionist and myself. The fretless AGB works well in this setup for small venues. Then, problems... electronics started misbehaving... I now needed a b/u but didn't want to spend a fortune. Fretless was key (La Bellas rule the roost here)... I searched and bought an Aria FEBFLUFFEN. Lots of little issues but had my luthier look it over... I needed a new saddle and setup, no biggie. Now plays great. Got the Jasmine/Takemine's preamp changed to an LR Baggs Element and now I have TWO FRETLESS AGBs! Who'd a thunk it?

    La Bella Tape Wounds
    Foam mute
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  7. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Very nice acoustic bass.
    These things look great.
    Probably the only AB I'd consider buying if my Exotica and every other Exotica disappeared from the planet.
    As for the claim you can play one with two acoustic guitars and be heard, Baylor forgot to mention that the guitars have to be played with feathers and you have to use a stone pick, and it helps if you're sitting right in front of the crowd and the two guitarists are sitting about 30 feet behind you...but of course, they're merely trying to sell their basses, so...
    Seriously though, that's why I bought a Roland Micro Cube bass amp...so I didn't have to sacrifice volume and tone nuances by playing unplugged.
    Nice to see you choose proper strings, too.
    As for all those people with their "Acoustic basses are a waste of time!" nonsense...
    mtb777, Marc DLarosa, Krizz and 2 others like this.
  8. ahadl2500

    ahadl2500 Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Greenwood, IN
    I don't plan on doing a plug. If I ever change my mind, I will custom order one from here Lute Hole Products custom designs, odd shapes, sizes and modifications. I had a custom one done for my old Michael Kelly Dragonfly. Quality was great and the cover was secure (uses foam on all contact points). As far as I know they can make any shape you want. You just have to send them a tracing of the shape. Seems like they should be able to fit the sound hole shape and do cutouts for the controls on the Balor.
    mtb777 and HeavyDuty like this.
  9. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Beautiful. Enjoy!
    And paging @bholder !
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  10. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi ahadl2500 :)

    Maaaaan! That sounds like a very bad honeymoon! :D:laugh:

    Happy NBD!!!:hyper::hyper::hyper:


    That bass is hot! (not cool :D)

    And ABGs are not pointless!

    Thx for the carrots option!


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  11. Kevan Campbell

    Kevan Campbell Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Great looking basses, I’d like to try one someday! I’m a fan of how the carbon fiber and figured wood sits together.

    What about the Baylor made you sell off the Tacomas? I’ve got one of the fretless 5-string Tacoma Thunderchief ABGS and while it’s not super loud it will keep up with an acoustic guitar or two.
    mtb777 likes this.
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Just one more choice to consider for a bass player AFAIC. (I have an Epiphone El Capitan 4-string.) :):thumbsup:
    mtb777 likes this.
  13. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Any excuse to post mine again! :woot:

    20180102_141110.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 008.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 007.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 006.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 005.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 004.jpg Emerald Balor Fretless 5 Turquoise 002.jpg
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  14. knigel


    Apr 20, 2009
    I'm the Squier of Fenderbirds
    That bass is actually fairly small--the reviewer is only three apples tall and is always on the lookout for Gargamel and Azrael.

    (Congrats on the nice new bass)

    EDIT Dang, blown opportunity--I missed the accent. I should have said that people were always after his lucky charms.
    mtb777, Runnerman, Wisebass and 3 others like this.
  15. ahadl2500

    ahadl2500 Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Greenwood, IN
    You all are making my photo with bad lighting look bad. Finally took a few better ones to capture the color.

    604FACA6-033F-4074-9E52-05E345788463.jpeg B72DA9AB-BAFA-4D7E-96B7-CDDC76344C14.jpeg
  16. Pretty!

    Are these a composite body, wood top?
    mtb777 likes this.
  17. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    The wood veneer top is optional.
    mtb777 likes this.
  18. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    How is the playing action ( fretwork/ truss rod, etc)??
    A dozen or so years ago I had an Emerald 12-string ( X-30 maybe? I forget the exact model...) and it was a really really likable instrument. Been thinking of how I might try to persuade Alistair to build me a headless solid-body 4-string bass (some sort of Streamline-killer...) :)
    mtb777 and Wisebass like this.
  19. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I like the stability of CF. I’ve devested myself of most of my wood bodied acoustic instruments.
    mtb777 likes this.
  20. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
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