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This article was originally published in issue #50
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Whether fancy tops are your thing (it’s OK if not, Mayones will happily do a solid colour spray job instead, I am sure) this manufacturer of fine instruments will no doubt excite your wallet grabbing tendencies.
Wide range of models and body shapes available
Value for money in this price bracket
None, unless you have a very tight budget
Polish maker Mayones has become one of the most respected purveyors of fine bass guitars to the landed gentry in recent years. Nevertheless, we let Dan Veall try one. Here's his report.
We feature some of the very best basses from the globe over, both in ‘off the peg’ and custom formats for your enjoyment and I get a great deal of pleasure doing these demos. As you would expect, there are brands that I know will deliver every time and one is the Polish manufacturer, Mayones.
Mayones has been making beautiful and quality instruments since 1982; this example offering a familiar outline update and a wonderful stage on which to create and enjoy. The Jabba is the Mayones' take on the Leo Fender’s classic 1961 design yet brings elements of modern thinking, encompassing both looks and playability.
I’ve hopefully shown in the video those areas that demonstrate an attention to detail and as I’d mentioned in my introduction the BE 4 that I reviewed in GI 40 (although a more understated instrument in look), was a simply superb bass guitar, so I had extremely high hopes for this one!
The Jabba we have in here is a custom order for UK retailer Bass Direct, which kindly loaned us the instrument for review. It’s certainly a great demonstration of just some of the options available when putting together your custom Mayones order and if you either can't wait for a custom version, or don't want to have to think through all the many options, it’s good news that the Jabba is also available as an ‘off-the-shelf’ specification too.
This particular Custom model is graced with facings of buckeye burl both on the body and headstock. No two tops will be exactly the same, so you could call this one unique and it certainly is a handsome beast, as our pictures and video reveal. Underneath the top is a swamp ash body, keeping the weight down to an acceptable 4.7Kg or thereabouts. Swamp ash is a great tone wood too, so expect a richness from this instrument both acoustically and plugged in.
Whilst we are talking of tone, the Jabba Custom has superb Aguilar DCB pickups. I really like these. They are a dual rail type pickup that has a great top end zing to it and a punch in the low end that will please the ‘slappers’. Both soapbars feed into Mayones’ own pre-amplifier, the MBP2, which is a great sounding unit featuring a 3 band EQ and a passive tone control to boot. The EQ can be switched in and out by way of a toggle switch that sits out of the way of the playing area. Bass and Treble controls are stacked, leaving the mid boost/cut knob next to it. Again, crank the video audio up to hear the bass in action!
The hardware is all top quality as expected. You get Hipshot light weight open gear tuning keys and a chunky yet smoothed edged bridge anchoring those five strings. Matching chrome knobs top off the look.
In terms of feel and playability, you can expect it to be set up very well out of the box. Ferd Wagner fretwork is expertly installed with no signs of edges or unfinished installation. They are of the jumbo size variety and there are 24 of them, all the way up to the second octave on each string.
On this particular bass, we have a 17.5mm string spacing which is super comfortable. I’m used to a spacing around this measurement so found very few problems with getting my fingers in between the strings. The neck profile in conjunction with this string spacing does mean the bass is very playable indeed. In fact I understand that this bass has a custom profile on the neck making it slimmer than standard specification. It’s nice to know you can order that if it’s your wish. The Jabba 5 Custom has a 34.25” scale length and retains a good modern sounding low B string, just what you need.
Round the back of the bass, you have a matte finish on the neck, so no sticking for those who like to plant their thumb or ‘broom-handle’ the neck. The facings get the gloss treatment making the woodwork ping in the light. Topping off, you have Schaller strap locks, a Switchcraft Jack and a Graph Tec Nut, all of which lets you know that no expense has been spared, even going as far as an 18v power supply rail for the pre-amplifier.
Whether fancy tops are your thing (it’s OK if not, Mayones will happily do a solid colour spray job instead, I am sure) this manufacturer of fine instruments will no doubt excite your wallet grabbing tendencies. I’m yet to find fault with any Mayones instrument I’ve ever played. This might seem quite an expensive bass but it's not it terms of what you are getting for your money - fine quality workmanship, the best hardware and electronics and a bass that plays and sounds like a dream!