An acoustic electric bass that comes apart and fits in an airline carryon bag? Okay, that’s worth looking at. Upon further inspection, we find a carryon bag with an acoustic bass guitar body in one side and a neck in the other, with strings and such all still hooked up. With a simple bolt-on neck screw, the whole thing tightens up, and to my surprise, it was in-tune without touching a tuning key. Okay, that’s cool.
There isn’t really any wood to talk about here; it’s all carbon fiber. That makes the instrument pretty bulletproof and very hard to break. The back and sides and neck all show the carbon fiber material and the top is painted a nice shade of purple. The body is ergonomically intentioned with thinner depth on the bass side than the treble (the Manzer Wedge©™ design). There is a big cutaway on the treble side and a forearm bevel over the bass side forward body edge. All this adds up to comfort, as it plays well seated or standing – even considering it’s not a slab instrument and has a depth much past what you’d expect on most acoustic guitars.
The short scale (27”) is a full 7” shy of the usual Fender scale (34”). Obviously, this shorter scale is part of what allows it to fit into an overhead bag. Interesting, though, it sounds quite balanced up and down the neck, for as short as it is.
The passive pickups appear to be similar to K & K body transducers run directly to the output jack. This is an efficient concept, although perhaps not my ideal choice for electronics in an acoustic bass guitar.
The Grover tuning keys and the neck attachment system are the only hardware to speak of. The keys are simple and lightweight, and open-frame. The attachment system is proprietary and very well made. In fact, the whole instrument is pretty well constructed.
The acoustic sound is pretty good and louder than you’d guess, given its size. However, when amplified, it is somewhat prone to feedback – at least when played at “concert volume levels” – and seems bigger than expected in the bass, and a little scooped in the mids. I suspect the pickup might be the culprit, here. With a different under-saddle transducer, combined with a buffer or onboard EQ, this instrument might really kill it at higher amplified volumes.
Compared to my vintage Fenders, it plays a little stiff, but its saddle has plenty of room to adjust to taste, and the dual-action truss rod is a welcome addition. It’s a little weird to get used to, initially, but not insurmountable. One unique advantage of the detachable neck is that it makes it a simple affair to swap bridge saddles, and also makes it very easy to shim the neck.
This is an interesting design aimed at people who play bass and travel. It’s solidly built and ingenious in its carry on implementation, though I suspect it has a very small market niche. The price point initially seems a little high, but considering the carbon fiber construction, it’s probably right about where it should be.
Journey Instruments OB660
|Style:||Single-cut (“single-scoop,” actually)|
|Body Dimension:||18” long x 12 ½” wide at lower bout|
|Neck width at nut:||1.783”|
|Neck width at 12th fret:||2.295”|
|Neck width at joint:||2.295”|
|Neck thickness at nut:||.964”|
|Neck thickness at 1st fret:||.800”|
|Neck thickness at 12th fret:||1.061”|
|Neck thickness at joint:||1.061”|
|String spacing at nut:||.406”|
|String spacing at saddle:||.712”|
|Descriptor for neck shape:||wide C|
|Peghead break angle:||12 degrees|
|Bridge break angle:||35 degrees|
|Afterlength at nut:||1.589” – 3.149”|
|Afterlength at saddle:||.386”|
|Truss rod type/access:||Dual-action / peghead side|
|Pickups:||Proprietary piezo transducer|
|Pickup location(s):||Underneath bridge|
|Preamp circuit voltage:||N/A|
|Body Woods:||Carbon fiber|
|Neck Woods||Carbon fiber|
|Body Finish:||High gloss polyurethane and paint|
|Neck Finish:||High gloss polyurethane|
|Strings:||D’Addario Phosphor Bronze Roundwound|
|Gauge:||.045, .065, .080, .100|
|Bridge/color:||Proprietary / bone|
|Tuners/color:||Grover / chrome|
|Control cavity cover:||N/A|
|County of origin:||China|
|Warranty:||Lifetime for body, neck & neck attachment; 1-year on pickup and bag; lifetime warranty on tuners through Grover|
|Price:||$1,219.99 (high gloss or matte black, fretted), $1,249.99 (high gloss black, fretless), $1,249.99 (electric purple|
|Available colors:||High gloss black, matte black, electric purple|
|Acquired from:||Journey Instruments|
|Dates:||Spring 2017 to Spring 2018|
|Test gear:||Epiphone El Capitan, Bergantino B|Amp, Bergantino CN212, Ampeg Micro-VR, Ampeg SVT-210AV|
1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)
|Ease of Use:||5|
In-hand Score 3.86average
On-bench Score 3.75average
|Fit and Finish of adornments||4|
|Quality of finish work||4|
|Ease of repair||3|
|Potential range of setup||3|
|Balance on knee||4|
|Balance on strap||4|
|Overall electronic quality||2|
|Solder joints, wire runs||4|
|Quality for Price Range||3|
Low: Deep and clear acoustically; bigger and more round amplified
Mids: Open and balanced acoustically; somewhat subdued amplified
Highs: Amplified tone does not have harshness common to many piezo pickups
This little bass definitely delivers the “acoustic bass guitar” tone when played acoustically, and sounds more like a cross between an ABG and an EUB when plugged in. It has impressive acoustic volume, and no piezo harshness when plugged in.