Phil Maneri’s
BASS
LAB

This Article Was Originally Published On: July 1st, 2014 #Issue 14.

I must confess an affinity for dark blue basses. This F Bass is a beautiful transparent dark blue shade where the grain of the ash is fully visible beneath the surface. That motif is carried into the pickup tops, so that it looks like they thrust up from the top in a tectonic plate shift. The bolt-on, 3-piece maple neck is topped with a very figured birdseye cap. I much prefer using caps of figured wood over straight grain billets, rather than full birdseye necks, which in my experience tend to bow and twist way more over time than what is done here. Smart. 

Electronics are two stacked single-coil/hum-cancelling pickups in a classic Jazz Bass arrangement of volume, volume, passive tone, that feed a PEEQ Research 3-band preamp, which is perfectly installed in a foil-shielded cocoon. The pickups have coil taps on the bridge pickup volume control and a passive/active switch on the passive tone pot. The battery even has a foam compression pad that freezes it in place when the cover is screwed tight. Nice choice to keep things in place during transport and play.

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Hipshot bridge, Gotoh keys, oversize strap buttons and cool-looking wooden control knobs round out the hardware, and are all great choices. The neck-side strap button sits around the 11th fret, which might disturb some who are accustomed to the Fender 12th fret spot, but it works well with the somewhat atypical 34.5” scale.

This instrument is very well built, overall, although I was not as impressed with the fret ends, which showed visible file marks. On the whole, though, the details are all well attended to. It sounds great and plays very well. Its design is a modern 5-string J-bass, with some little detail twists to make it interesting. Clearly, F Basses are in the exclusive club at the top of the bass food chain, and should be on everyone’s short list in this price range.

bass test
F Bass BN5

F Bass BN5

CONFIGURATION

Strings:5
Style:Double cutaway
Overall Length:46.5”
Body Dimension:20.25” long x 14" wide at lower bout
Body Contouring: Heavy
Weight:10.06 lbs

NECK

Scale length:34.5”
Neck width at nut:1.752”
Neck width at 12th fret:2.599”
Neck width at joint:2.904”
Neck thickness at nut:1.189”
Neck thickness at 1st fret:.804”
Neck thickness at 12th fret: .928”
Neck thickness at joint:.945”
String spacing at nut:.32" to .36"
String spacing at saddle:.745"
Fingerboard radius:9-16”, compound
Descriptor for neck shape: Flat D shape
Peghead break angle:15 deg
Bridge break angle:20 deg
Afterlength at nut:2.820" to 6.108”
Afterlength at saddle:1.3" to 1.4”
Attachment:Bolt-on
Pocket gap:none
Truss rod type/access:Double-action / body end
Fret count:22
Fretwire:103 x 51

ELECTRONICS

Pickups:F Bass proprietary stacked single-coil/hum-cancelling
Pickup location(s), from the 12th fret:11 1/8”, 14 5/8"
Electronics:PEEQ Research 3-band boost-only EQ
Controls:Volume, volume (push/pull for coil tap), tone (push/pull for active/passive) treble, mid, bass
Shielding:Foil
Preamp circuit voltage:9 volts

CONSTRUCTION

Body Woods:Northern ash
Neck WoodsMaple
Fingerboard:Birdseye maple
Body Finish:Conversion varnish
Neck Finish:Satin

HARDWARE

Strings:F Bass, exposed-core, stainless steel rounds
Gauge:.043”, .063”, .085”, .102”, .128”
Attachment:At bridge
Bridge/color:Hipshot B-Style / black
Nut:Bone
Tuners/color:Gotoh / black
Knobs/color:Blackwood / natural finish
Pickguard:n/a
Control cavity cover:Body wood (ash)

GENERAL

Company:F Bass, Inc.
16 McKinstry Street
Hamilton, Ontario
Canada L8L 6C1
ph (905) 522.1582
www.fbass.com
County of origin:Canada
Warranty:Limited Lifetime
List Price:$4,000, USD (standard), $4,450, USD (as tested)
Street Price: $3,500, USD (standard), $3,850, USD (as tested)
Test Bass Options:Enhanced grain treatment, birdseye maple fingerboard, black hardware
Options: Too numerous to list; see webpage
Accessories:Hardshell case, strap
Available colors:Multiple transparent, burst, and solid color options
Acquired from:F Bass, Inc.
Dates:March, 2008 to March, 2014
Locals:Ohio
Test gear:GK MB115, GK MB Fusion 800, Mesa/Boogie Titan V-12, Ampeg SVT-7Pro, Bergantino NV215, Bergantino 15/6, TecAmp Puma 900, TecAmp S212, '73 Fender Jazz, Celinder J-Update 5

TEST RESULTS

1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)

In-hand

Features: 4
Tonal Flexibility:4.5
Ease of Use: 4
Aesthetics:5
Ergonomics: 4.5
Tone: 5
Value:4

In-hand Score 4.43average

On-bench Score 4.65average

On-bench

Overall construction4
Wood choice5
Materials choice5
Joinery5
Fretwork3
Fit and Finish of adornments5
Quality of finish work5
Ease of repair 5
Potential range of setup5
Balance on knee4
Balance on strap4
Overall electronic quality5
Solder joints, wire runs5
Clarity5
Noise5
Shielding5
Quality for Price Range4

SONIC PROFILE:

Low: Deep, detailed, slightly warm, with a hint of growl
Mids: Smooth and exceptionally balanced for a J-style bass
Highs: Pure and smooth, sweet, “bell-like” clarity


TONE-O-METER:

Old school roots, with refinement, and modern capabilities. This BN5 is smooth as silk, but also defined, dynamic and powerful. A very versatile instrument.

Eastwood Bass
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Phil Maneri