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This article was originally published in issue #5
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Peavey has a long history in the bass market and has been mass producing instruments, including both budget and high end basses, for many years. New to the range are two models that offer more than a nod to Metal. Enter the PXD series Void 4 bass and the model we have here, the Tragic 4. Both use the same hardware and electronics that are used on Peavey's Cirrus and Millennium AC ranges of instruments, including the VFL pickups and 18 Volt active electronics. Yes, 18 Volts for added signal headroom!
The Tragic 4 bass features a standard, tried and tested 34" scale and a 'fast' skinny neck fitted with jumbo frets, so it immediately feels comfortable under hand. It was nice to see a bound neck too, adding to the slick feel of the neck. The whole instrument is lacquered in a gloss finish, even the back of the neck. This might put some people off who may prefer a satin finish or indeed even an oiled wood finish, but it has never been a problem for me, even playing music requiring speed and dexterity.
Underneath that glossy exterior and beneath the rosewood fretboard is a laminate maple neck. The maple neck finds its way through to the bridge and basswood wings are attached top and bottom, completing the neck-thru design. The bass sustains moderately but appears less resonant and chiming in tone than I was expecting, though acoustically it was loud and with a presence in the midrange. When amplified, you'll see in the video that I was expecting quite a big change in tone when I switched over to the rear pickup of the bass, but had in fact had been greeted with a similar tone to the front pickup. This isn't such a problem as I suspect this bass will be finding itself driving a 'Rock rig' rather than playing a delicate acoustic session where a wider tonal palette may be required, but it was a surprise, all the same.
Moving on to the electronics, the three band system does exactly what was expected of it and my comments in the video maybe didn't pick up on the style of music this bass is likely to be employed in. Our review model's bass control seemed to be more a punchy frequency up around or above 100hz, than deep below 100hz. It could be that it wasn't a shelving bass control. It's hard to tell without a technical specification available. I'm afraid I can't therefore appease my 'geekiness' with technical facts and figures! The mid control and treble control were musical however and helped to bring out the contemporary tones when both pickups were mixed evenly and boosted a little.
To sum-up, this new Peavey's eye catching design is a welcome break from all the 'clones' out there. It's good that Peavey is willing to offer up a wide range of body shapes and designs and be a little daring. That said, I can't help feeling that I was left wanting more at that suggested retail price. All the same, these basses are new and I expect that it won't take long for retailers to badge them up with a more competitive price tag.