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Review

Roscoe SKB 6 Custom Bass

Issue #49

The bass's sound is alive and even acoustically I noticed that notes seems to pop right out of the instrument with a vocal clarity but plenty of bite and low end. No doubt this is helped by the premium wood choices and quality hardware.
Dan Veall

Pros:

Top spec custom instrument from a big name in bass
Very versatile tones
Would be a great all-rounder

Cons:

Quality costs money

Roscoe SKB 6 Custom Bass

Six string basses have always been an acquired taste - but maybe top US specialist builder Roscoe's SKB 6 Custom can win over Dan Veall?

 

 


Keith Roscoe and his team hand-build each Roscoe instrument to a quality finish from Keith's North Carolina workshops, having built a reputation for making fine custom basses over some 25 years. Roscoe's basses are instruments of striking beauty with a nod to classic lines and much thought for ergonomics, which will come in handy on a six string monster like this SKB6 Custom!

As before we're indebted to Bass Direct for the loan of this review sample.

There's no getting away from the fact that this is a real prestige instrument. The moment you take it from its case you’re confronted with an absolutely gorgeous swamp ash body, faced with an exhibition grade top of burl redwood. It's eye catching, of course, and is matched up on the headstock as you can see in the images. It should be pointed out that it's not just a sliver of wood either, as the body sculpting and contours themselves are like deep valleys that show off the burl richness even more. This is supreme wood and superb craftsmanship!

The neck of the SKB 6 custom is a maple/purpleheart/maple laminate with contrasting stringers that looks really classy. But it doesn't just look good and I found myself pretty excited by the profile, that almost feels like holding a rounded bar of soap, yet at the same time beautifully slim. Of course this is a 6 string and thus with the not over-so-wide string spacing which feels around the 17.5mm mark, it’s still a nice handful!

The neck bears 24 frets applied to a bird's eye fingerboard and, as noted in my video, I could feel the fret edges on the side of the board, which I was surprised by. That said, they were beautifully tidy and allowed for reasonably buzz free playing on the higher strings.

The bolt-on construction features a rounded heel and the two components are bolted together with four fixtures. From top to toe the neck offers a 35” scale length, letting the bass deliver a big tone but that inch really isn’t going to be anything to worry about when stretching if you are used to a 34” instrument.

As standard, the neck features a Graphtec nut and the strings are anchored with premium Hipshot hardware, including those super lightweight tuning keys. Keeping with the premium theme, the Roscoe features Bartolini electronics and pickups and as a consequence, the sound options available are pretty wide. I demonstrated only a few of the available tones in the video review due to time constraints, but take it from me, there are a lot of sounds on tap here!

The particular Bartolinis chosen are ‘Classic Bass' CB pickups. These passive units have been designed for an extended and more resonant range. They can be described as having more definition and  'air' without, as Bartolini suggest, sacrificing lows and highs - a perfect addition to the bass no doubt and coupled with the pre-amp will give you superb tone sculpting options. Take first of all a bass and treble concentric stacked control offering cut and boost, which is enough on its own to allow the distinct and full voice of the bass through – but in addition there's a mid-boost and cut with frequency shift between 250Hz and 800Hz – two really useful frequency centres. The pre-amp is topped off with a pan control for the two pickups and master volume control.

The bass's sound is alive and even acoustically I noticed that notes seems to pop right out of the instrument with a vocal clarity but plenty of bite and low end. No doubt this is helped by the premium wood choices and quality hardware.

Of course, as I always say, the best way to hear the bass is with the video here and of course getting over to a Roscoe outlet and let fly. I hope that you’ve been able to get an idea of what a premium instrument has to offer.

An all round great bass, well balanced and not too heavy for a sixer!

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Issue #51

Wolf Hoffmann

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