Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #48
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Summing up, the very wide range available from Maruszczyk means this is totally customisable - the choice is pretty bewildering in fact.
Custom instruments from a brand with 30 years experience
Endless options to make any of the available range your personal bass.
Very well made
Very good value
Endless options could make it hard to choose
In which Dan Veall wins a prize for being able to correctly pronounce the name of the bass he's reviewing... we think.
Adrian Kuban-Maruszczyk, the man behind Maruszczyk instruments is, I have to say, an incredible musician. I love his playing and he gets a big thumbs up from me for the demonstration videos he's made for his fabulous looking instruments.
There is quite a range of different models available to pick from, too, including such instrument names as Hellwood, Frog and Sputnik, but before I get carried away about frogs and early Soviet spacecraft we'll stick on more familiar territory with one of Adrian's basses that is named as a tribute to those two indomitable Blues Brothers - the Elwood P bass. And yes, of course, there's a Jake model on offer, too!
These basses come under the umbrella of a company called Public Peace which is based in Germany, and have been produced for over 35 years in neighbouring Poland. We got our review sample from our good friends at Bass Direct in the UK, who stock the brand and offer their usual excellent advice and help.
So to the Elwood P bass - and yes, you're right - it's another multiscale bass, so it looks like the idea really is catching on. It's unusual to see this sort of fanned fret arrangement on what is, otherwise, a fairly standard take on the immortal Leo's original basses but it is very interesting and in keeping with the growing interest in this multiscale movement.
The Elwood's body is fairly straightforward being made from ash and being as curvaceous as you would hope. The maple neck is a great match with the ash and having the block markers in black contrasts well against the natural maple fretboard.
The attention to detail throughout this bass was very impressive and it has some nice touches, including a zero fret installed, which I personally like. The neck profile is another nice touch that I noticed the second I picked the bass up. I don’t really know how to describe it, other than to say that it’s pretty perfect. The edges were rounded, like a rolled fretboard but more so. There wasn't a single sign of fret edges under my fingers and the whole neck settled in my hand like it had been played for years.
The fretwork was also super tidy, which you'd hope it would be with a fanned fret system, of course! Being an owner and player of Dingwall basses I am already familiar with why and how the system works and as it's ground we've covered before I'll keep it brief and say that among the many benefits it brings are a balance of tone and tension across the bass's neck. It may look a bit forbidding at first but when I made the change I found very little ‘retraining’ (if any) was required to adapt. In terms of the theory, think of the design of a grand piano. The lower strings are much longer, allowing them to ‘speak’ more clearly.
In terms of ‘speaking’, the voice of this particular example with its classic maple and ash combination was absolutely a winner. As you almost always can, I could tell it was going to be good even before I plugged it in. There was a richness to the bass straight out of the case that only improved when it was amplified.
As for the electronics, I’ve liked Delano pickups for some time but not had an opportunity to try out this particular set, the JSBC 4 HE. These are mini soap bars, with twin coils in each but you’ll be pleased to hear that they have a clear openness when soloed and that classic rasp when played together. This is a great sounding Jazz bass and it's all passive, no batteries required. The two pickups are fed to a master tone control and as you’ll see in our video, I was surprised at the extended top end in this example. I tend not to use passive tone controls much myself, often opting to set a master ‘tone’ on my amplifier, but I really liked the opportunity to have almost ‘too much’ bright that I could back off and as it happened, my sweet spot was about halfway around the dial. I hope it sounds the same for you listening back to the video as the sound in the studio was superbly balanced.
Summing up, I should say that the very wide range available from Maruszczyk means this is totally customisable - the choice is pretty bewildering in fact. This means you'd be well advised to get to try as many of these options as you can and discuss them before you buy. And should you? Buy, that is? Well, the price is excellent for a handmade bass and the experience of this one left me sad at having to return it. In fact I'd go as far as to say it enters my top ten of basses ever played! Yes, it really is very good indeed. A superbly comfortable bass that I would keep going back to I am sure, if only I could!