Phil Maneri’s
BASS
LAB

This double bass is a work of art. As far as I can see, it’s perfect. I could stop right there, and that would be enough. But I’ll tell you why I think so. Most importantly, it plays incredibly well. Clean and clear, up and down the instrument, in every position. The tone is quite consistent across the range, as well. Notes are neither boomy nor absent in any spots I could find. It doesn’t have the gravitas of an old instrument, but I’m not sure that matters so much; at least not compared to the lack of quirks always present in aged instruments. Put some years on this bass, and I’m guessing it will eclipse a huge portion of instruments that have an aged sound, but not near the level of craft in the build.

One caveat to this review is that I am not an orchestral arco player, and a true arco artisan would undoubtedly be able to coax greater nuances of performance out of this bass. That being said, I am no stranger to the bow, and what stands out to me with regard to this bass’ arco performance is the balanced response. Not many double basses truly roar on the E string, and this bass does. Many basses which do achieve substantial output from the E string do so at the expense of reduced sensitivity on the G string. Not so with this bass. The balance from top to bottom, pizz or arco, is amazing.

I would also like to address the applicability of the measurements of the various dimensions listed in this review. Every handmade double bass is an individual creation, and no two are remotely the same. Furthermore, while these dimensions may help to understand the physical dimensions of this particular bass, Nick Lloyd – or any highly qualified double bass luthier – will obviously work with the individual customer to build an instrument with dimensions that work the best for that individual.

Laying down on its side, the instrument’s lines are smooth and flowing. It’s perfectly asymmetrical, as any hand-made instrument would be. The varnish is gorgeous and perfectly antiqued. It indicates the subtle attention to detail that is required to demand the top dollars in the industry.

The arching is graceful and just right for great midrange. It’s neither too arched, nor too flat. Walnut back and sides are great for adding warmth, like an aged bass might have. The purfling is perfect. Every miter is executed with care. All the details of this bass are like that. The plates, the joinery, the bracing, the linings; everything is done with an eye for detail and executed perfectly. It achieves an amazing balance between factory like perfection and hand-made idiosyncrasies.

In playing position, the neck angle is precisely set so transitions to all the positions require minimum effort. The sound is balanced across the registers, and it is warm, fat and punchy. Everything is lined up just right. The overstand, the bridge height and width and how it relates to the bass bar are right on the money. The f-hole cuts and positioning, and virtually all the angles associated with an instrument playing and sounding great, are exactly where you’d expect them to be for optimum performance.

At first glance, it seems simple and straightforward. There is no signature calling card on this bass, like an unusual pegbox or unique shape or strange f-holes. It doesn’t draw obvious attention to itself. One must examine it in closer detail to see the effort brought into the total package. And it’s really something. There aren’t too many builders around that can do this level of work on their own, and do it consistently. It is exceptional. If you like his work, I’d get one sooner than later, because they’ll never get any less expensive.

bass test
DNA Guitar

Nick Lloyd Upright Bass

NECK

Scale length:40 1/8”
Neck width at nut:42mm
Neck width at overstand:66mm
Neck thickness at nut:42 to 48mm
Neck thickness at 1st position:42mm
Neck thickness at 3rd position:46mm
String spacing at nut:11mm
String spacing at bridge:11mm
Bridge height: 6 3/8”
Fingerboard radius:66mm radius at end of board (compound; flatter at nut)
Neck shape descriptor:D shaped
Neck heel cheek taper:66 to 42mm
Overstand:40mm (adjustable from 30-40)
Top overhang:4mm
Rib depth neck joint:6”
Rib depth bottom block:8 ¼”
Rib depth lower corner: 7 7/8”
Rib depth upper corner:7 ¼”
Arch height: (32-42) 40mm
Top width upper bout:19 7/8”
Top width lower bout:26 ¼”
Top width C bout:14 ½”
Body length (back; including button): 45”
Pegbox angle:12mm
Bridge width:165mm
Button size:42x30mm

GENERAL

Company:Nick Lloyd Basses
1760 Hanfield St
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45223
Tel: 513.681.1863
www.nicklloydbasses.com
County of origin:USA
Warranty:Lifetime warranty for workmanship and all original materials.
Price:$34,000.00
Options:5-string, C-extension, travel neck, violin outline, gamba outline, 3/4 size, 7/8 size, flat back, round back, string lengths varying from 40" to 42" upon client request.
Accessories: Padded gig bag in several colors, travel neck fiberglass flight case.
Available color: Antiqued and distressed reddish-brown varnish.
Accessories:Padded gig bag in several colors, travel neck fiberglass flight case.
Available colors:Antiqued and distressed reddish-brown varnish

TEST RESULTS

1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)

In-hand

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

In-hand Score 4.85average

On-bench Score 5.00average

On-bench

Overall construction5
Wood choice5
Materials choice5
Joinery5
Fit and Finish of adornments5
Quality of finish work5
Ease of repair 5
Potential range of setup5
Quality for Price Range5

SONIC PROFILE:

Low: Quick and define

Mids: Articulate and immediate

Highs: Overtones are present but even and not overbearing


TONE-O-METER

Obviously, everything about this review is filtered through brand-new spirocore strings for pizzicato playing. In my experience, a bass of this caliber can do just about anything asked of it with the right strings of the right age, provided the player has the technique to draw the desired sound from the instrument. This is a very articulate instrument that could fit in anywhere with enough subtlety on the part of the player.