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This article was originally published in issue #16
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Is there anything left to be done with the classic bass designs? The Bass Collection clearly thinks so - hence its Jive Bass. The company has been selling them for a long while too, which suggests users agree.
A lot of us start our playing days with cheap copy basses and yearn for the 'real things' which one day (when we're rich and famous, of course) we'll be able to afford. But don't be fooled into thinking that replica, lookalike, or 'inspired by' instruments ( call them what you will - and what the lawyers will let you!) are necessarily the lesser choices. Take the Bass Collection, for example. The company has an almost unhealthy obsession with vintage basses - especially in this case those from the '60s era and it has won rave reviews for a succession of authentic vintage-style instruments which, despite being made in one of Korea's top factories (with all that implies for high quality) are very affordable.
There's a wide range to choose from. In the case of this Jive Bass, with a wide selection of colour schemes, but also in other body designs too. The Speak Easy Pro and Californian Bass cater for those who might like something either more modern looking, or in the case of the latter, a nod to another iconic bass shape that I'd have called 'The Lemmy' or 'Yes Bass'! Also within the range is a very tasty black Precision-styled instrument with a mirrored scratch plate known as the 'Lizzy Bass' and also a distressed sunburst finished fretless bass with the pickguard removed. No prizes for guessing which jazzy artist's bass that instrument imitates!
As a side note, Bass Collection has also created the 'Bass Centre Blockhead Bass' a premium recreation of Norman Watt-Roy's original workhorse 1962 Jazz bass. This particular instrument commands a much higher price tag but has been very well received by reviewers. It's great to see the Bass Centre supporting one of the UK's great bass players with what promises to be a superb instrument.
The Jive Bass features a maple bolt-on neck with a rosewood fretboard, in to which 22 medium sized frets have been cleanly installed. The neck's vintage '60s profile was immediately comfortable to play, as well as having a quality finish to the fret job. Naturally, being an accurate recreation, the bass has a 34" scale length. The basswood body is home to the classic arrangement of two single coil pickups and the standard 'volume, volume, tone' control panel layout which again has been installed neatly and tidily There are no signs of corners being cut. I'm really impressed with the colour finish on the review instrument, too. It's clean and even, fitting of any premium instrument.
The video review will give you a demonstration of the tones available from the Jive Bass. In the studio those 'middle tones' were easily attainable. We left the bridge pickup on full and rolled off the front pickup just slightly to the point that the tone changed. I liked a little boosting on the bass control on the amp and the bass delivered a punchy and clear tone through the in-house system. It's understandable that, at this price point, the pickups will not be boutique or top name - but brand names aside, they have a pleasing output and rounded sound, if being just a little less tonally rich than some of the best vintage/modern replacement pickups around. Of course, you could always add those later and that could be a very tempting option for a perfectionist. This bass is more than well enough made to justify that sort of customisation!
Don't assume that's code for saying the Jive Bass doesn't already sound great, because it certainly does - amazingly so for the price. Slap style bass sounded percussive and zingy and the installed Bass Centre Elite Player strings are a very welcome inclusion too! Some, like myself, may wish to remove the pickup guard. As nice as it looks, I found it got in the way a bit. But that's been a problem since the original was born and you can hardly blame the Bass Collection for getting the details right!
Summing up, the Jive bass feels great - there's an attention to detail that is welcome, not only in the feel of the neck profile but also in that this instrument is nicely balanced and surprisingly light in weight. I didn't have any scales to hand myself, but according to documentation, they are in the region of 4Kg. That's pretty good I think. Tonally there's much on offer, its palette may be limited in terms of not having active electronics but on the other hand, plugged and played, it delivers the goods without fuss.
Value for money, it's great and should see you through years of service. A very good bass for not a lot of money, so specially high marks!