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This article was originally published in issue #36
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Regular Bassment denizens will remember that we've looked at the Vigier Excess bass before, but just as cars change down the years as models are tweaked and shaped to fit changing times, so are basses, so we make no apologies for returning to the Excess, which is now available in an updated version.
The Excess Original II bass is available in four and five string models with either rosewood or maple fretboards and in a wide range of colour choices, including antique, gloss and matt finishes. If you fancy something a bit extra though, we're told that there are clear black and clear purple finishes as well as sparkle colours and 'retro options' available - but of course this will add to the price, as will requesting a matching headstock colour too. Still, options are good!
If you are not familiar with Vigier instruments, they share a key feature that sets them apart from the more usual off-the-shelf basses: all Vigier instruments use carbon reinforcement bars that replace the need for a truss rod. You can see the wide skunk stripe down the back of the neck in this example. The result, Vigier says, is a more stable neck and the ability to precision set the relief for optimal playability. The tone of the instrument is said to be improved also. This is an important consideration for touring professional players and is probably one of the reasons for Vigier's popularity among 'name' players who need their instruments to stay at the peak of their performance on long tours with frequently changing climactic conditions.
Certainly, I really like the feel of this very slim 'satin' Vigier bass neck. The maple bass is capped with a rosewood fretboard and 24 stainless steel frets, another sign of high quality materials being used in a resolutely professional class instrument. Up at the headstock end we have a Teflon nut and an interesting addition is the inclusion of a removable zero fret. That's fine by me as I am a fan of zero frets.
Vigier offers a fretless Excess model too and in line with the company's commitment to pushing boundaries, that model comes with an 'iMetal' fretboard that as the name suggests is made of, yes, metal. (I'm inclined to throw some 'rock horns' at this point in the review, but I shall remain composed!). Actually, I've played the metal fretless board in the past and have to say, it was great!
The super comfortable neck is bolted on to an alder body which in this case has a clean satin finish. It's understated and being free from layers and layers of lacquer there's a resonance to the bass that is welcomed.
On the video I ran through the settings of the pickups so you can hear them soloed. The two single coil pickups of the previous Excess basses have been upgraded and I understand that these are now 'noiseless' models, coupled to a new on board pre-amp that further improves the signal to noise ratio. Round the back of the review bass, there's a clear cover, which is a window for the new active circuit. Instead of a modular design approach it utilises a single circuit board. That's not unusual these days and it's encouraging to see that Vigier has moved with the times. The company says to it will make any future repairs easier and, of course, it is quite right. The Excess II offers two band EQ and a master volume and there is also a fourth knob, which is the pan control to mix between the two pickups. In the video I sweep between settings so you can hear the tonal variations the Excess has to offer.
Weighing in at just over 3Kg this bass is no back breaker and it balances nicely on the lap. The five string model is only slightly heavier and equally will reward you with a fatigue free gig. Your shoulders will thank you!
With plenty of options available, you are sure to find a model and colour scheme to suit your tastes and you can be assured that you are buying in to a quality instrument, but with that comes a premium price tag. That said, Vigiers are instruments designed for serious players - especially professionals who value their superb reliability. Though the Excess plays like a dream and sounds great, that reliability is an 'extra' that you don't always get with a high price tag but certainly do get here.