This Article Was Originally Published On: June 3rd, 2015 #Issue 16.
Ampeg made some really interesting basses in their short run as an instrument maker. The Baby Bass is iconic with the salsa community. The Devil Bass was by far the most interesting, followed by the AUB-1 Scroll Bass and the Dan Armstrong “Plexi” bass. This particular instrument is a takeoff of the AUB-1 Scroll Bass. Traditionally, that instrument looked way cooler than it performed. It had construction problems that kept if from playing very well, or very well in tune. It had a weird pickup system loosely based on the Baby Bass construct, which while okay on the Baby Bass, didn’t work so well on the Scroll. Although it had its fans, for the most part, it was ignored as some kind of novelty.
This bass is another modern homage to vintage hipster instruments, where the stuff that didn’t work on the original is mostly ignored and modified to be more functional and then constructed where labor is inexpensive to keep the overall price low. This is a cool bass for $750. Compared to its other imported brethren, the “cool factor” sets it apart from the Fender lookalikes that dominate the market.
Digging into the details, the body is a mahogany variant, with a maple neck and a rosewood slab fingerboard. The electronics are super simple: a single humbucker, placed roughly between the modern Precision Bass location and the MusicMan Stingray bridge position. Inexpensive passive volume and tone pots are nestled in an unshielded cavity beneath a mammoth pickguard. They went to the trouble of installing a foam mute pad under the bridge cover in vintage Fender style, but put it in a position behind the takeoff point of the strings over the bridge saddles, negating the typical function of a mute pad.
The bolt-on style construction is set apart by the full, through-body routes of the f-holes.
The polyurethane sunburst finish is quite pretty, albeit a little thick on the neck. I did observe a patch of bare wood in one of the f-hole “slots,” where the paint was either never applied, or didn’t manage to stay put.
As a result of the setup, the bass did not play all that well right out of the box. Raising the saddle height remedied this, though. The instrument is a bit neck heavy, and didn’t balance very well for me in either standing or sitting positions.
This is a kitschy bass, with materials and execution typical of the price range. It’s high on cool potential, but still quite affordable. It’s not really a “pro” instrument, but it is a cool entry level, or hipster bass, where an original vintage instrument is unaffordable or impractical.
|Body Dimension:||18" long x 13" wide at lower bout|
|Neck width at nut:||1.688"|
|Neck width at 12th fret:||2.264"|
|Neck width at joint:||2.401"|
|Neck thickness at nut:||1.061"|
|Neck thickness at 1st fret:||.822"|
|Neck thickness at 12th fret:||.947"|
|Neck thickness at joint:||1.076"|
|String spacing at nut:||.430"|
|String spacing at saddle:||.745"|
|Descriptor for neck shape:||flat D|
|Peghead break angle:||17 deg|
|Bridge break angle:||27 deg|
|Afterlength at nut:||3” to 4 7/8”|
|Afterlength at saddle:||1”|
|Truss rod type/access:||Single action / peghead access|
|Pickups:||Proprietary alnico humbucker|
|Pickup location(s):||12 5/16”|
|Preamp circuit voltage:||Passive|
|Gauge:||.102, .082, .062, .042|
|Bridge/color:||Proprietary / chrome|
|Tuners/color:||Sealed / chrome|
|Knobs/color:||Metal / chrome|
|Control cavity cover:||Pickguard|
|County of origin:||Korea|
|Price:||$949 (list), $749 (street)|
|Accessories:||Gig bag ($39), hard shell case ($99), truss rod tool, instrument cable|
|Available colors:||Sunburst, Black|
|Acquired from:||Eastwood Guitars|
|Locals:||Columbia, Missouri(in-hand review), Ohio(technical review)|
|Test gear:||Gallien Krueger 1001RB-II, Bear ML112|
1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)
|Ease of Use:||4|
In-hand Score 3.64average
On-bench Score 3.06average
|Fit and Finish of adornments||4|
|Quality of finish work||2|
|Ease of repair||4|
|Potential range of setup||3|
|Balance on knee||2|
|Balance on strap||2|
|Overall electronic quality||3|
|Solder joints, wire runs||3|
|Quality for Price Range||3|
Low: Big and powerful, but not overpowering
Mids: Rich, articulate, responsive
Highs: Clear, sweet, but somewhat muted
As a passive bass with one pickup, the tonal spectrum of this bass is somewhat limited. It delivers in much the same way as a good P-bass does, and sports nice fit and finish, at an affordable price point and with a great warranty.
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