This weekend I had the opportunity to try out a couple of BassLab basses, so I've decided to review what I saw. I stopped at GH Services which is located in the Niagara Falls area, on my way between Cleveland and Boston.
The impetus for this has been after spending a lot of time on the BassLab site, I saw a lot of excellent players doing amazing things. The problem is, I'm not excellent. I'm pretty good. I've been playing for 15 years or so. I can play a wide variety of styles, but hell, I'm not Vic or Jaco or Billy or Steve or...
So without further ado, here is a review of some BassLab basses.
Upon entering the establishment, I saw 4 basses on stands. My first reaction was !!!!!!. They look MUCH better in person than they do on the website.
The first bass I picked up was a STD-V in blue. I immediately set it down. Picked it up again.
It has no mass!
I thought maybe this was some toy version, not the real thing. It couldn't possible be lighter than my Parker Fly guitar could it?
After the initial shock of being able to throw a 5 string bass around my shoulder without blinking, I started plucking some strings.
The composite feels excellent on the fingers. Very fast and light. The tone unplugged is very loud and full sounding, thanks to a hollow body design. I don't know how this fingerboard would feel on a fretless. The instrument is so light you can barely feel it, and balances perfectly in just about any position.
After plucking, slapping, and basically tooling around while talking to Greg about the tech specs, I plugged it into an Acoustic Image Clarus 2R, set flat.
There is not a single sound that cannot be had by this bass. From old P style to super funk slap to anything else you can think of. The EQ and pickups on this baby are beautiful sounding. All around the instrument, you get a nice tone, from the low B to the 24th fret on the G. I've never heard anything so even.
I also played an L-BOW as well as a Soul 4 string.
Both instruments had the same amazing tone qualities and playability. The L-BOW has the upper horn attached to the headstock, while the Soul is basically a J style.
Anyway, that's all I can remember off the top of my head, feel free to ask any questions as it will probably trigger some memories.
If you contact Greg, he is very helpful and was quite patient with me. He's also one hell of a bassist!
Geoff St. Germaine wrote:
Cool thanks for the review.
I really want to try one of those out. Maybe in the spring.
I highly recommend it, if you can get to the Niagara area, Greg will spend a couple hours with you playing, (and of course letting you play). He seems to know just about everything about them there is to know. I really had a good feeling about it, and it wasn't a pressure situation, it was really bassist to bassist.
How did the L-bow compare to the standard? The website states that the bow structure increases low end...how valid is this statement?
I really need to try one of those.
 oh yah, and what was the pickup config on the ones you tried, the 3 pickup or the 2 pickup? If there were different configs, what was the difference, etc. etc.
The L definitely brought out the low end, but as you would expect. More area for resonance == more sound in general.
It's a personal preference thing, the STD and the L both sound wonderful, but if you need that extra boost, and like the appearance of the L, then it's definitely a cool addition.
A couple other features on that thing is a movable strap button, so depending on your strap length you can fix the balance (not that it seems to matter since it's so light).
Also, the L bow is MUCH MUCH MUCH more attractive in person. When I saw them on the website I wasn't very thrilled, but feeling them and playing them really made me GAS hard!
I played through both PU configs. The STD had the 2 soapbars with BassXX preamp, and one of the L's had the 3 stacked humbuckers with the Capo PreAmp.
Honestly I did not A/B the two very much, but I thought the 3 PU config made it much easier to dial up tones I wanted (Classic P, jump into a more modern Big Bass tone)
The only thing I can say is, get your hands on one, you will not regret it.
I wish I knew of a place near here that had any. I've wanted to try one out ever since I first saw the website.
When I buy one I'll let you take me out to dinner so you can play it. ;-)
Thanks for the review!!
You offered to answer some questions. Here are some? (Sorry, I dont want to bother you. I'm just interested to know, what you recognised first.)
Did you play the L-bow acoustically?
Did you feel any differences of the B-strings of STD and L-bow?
What is the main difference to a wooden instrument (except weight)?
A few words about the L-bow and its low-bottom to Killdar: I think, the basic sound has much more low-end. That's why we moved the pickups a little closer to the bridge. (This gives different harmonics in the basic sound, etc., but this something completely different.) Ergo, we would have much more output in the low end, if we move the pickups to a "standard" position. That's what we do, if someone needs/wants it.
Thank you for your basses. :-)
Probably the biggest difference between these basses and anything made out of wood would have to be TONE.
Without even plugging it in, the tone is huge! I wish I could find the correct words to describe it. Loud and full, literally like a semi-acoustic. The only way I can describe it is through the feel you get when you play it. There is 0 resistance from the neck. Hmm. That reads odd. The neck plays something like aluminum or glass. There is none of the tackiness/stickiness that comes with rosewood fingerboards, or wood necks. It's like nothing at all but your fingers and the strings. And DAMNIT that's how I like it.
Unfortunately I did not play the L as much as I should have. I had an aversion to the shape for a while. But after seeing it in person and playing it, I'm liking it more and more.
The B string on the L was definitely fuller, I would say even a little "boomier" than on the STD (btw, I would recommend X-Wave for a name over STD, sounds less itchy. ;-)
I can't really stress enough how amazed with these instruments I am. I'm currently in negotiation with the devil to sell my soul for a couple of these axes.
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