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This article was originally published in issue #69
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Wonderful to play
Didn’t miss active electronics!!
No five-string or left-hand option just yet
Swamp Ash Body
5-Ply Maple Neck
SE 4B 'H' Treble and Bass Pickups
The PRS Kingfisher SE is a modern-style bass that packs an impressive arsenal of tones. Featuring a lightweight ash body, a stable five-ply maple/walnut neck and a set of pickups full of punch and articulation, commanding sound at a reasonable price, the PRS Kingfisher SE is quite the low-end instrument. Dan Veall tells us more.
As we have already taken a thorough look at the PRS SE Kestrel bass, I am pleased that we have also been able to get our hands on the PRS SE Kingfisher bass for a review.
Both models were originally released back in 2014; we have this pair fresh out to investigate further this month.
Having had both models on my lap on the same day, I can tell you that these are very different beasts yet, visually they share a lot in common,.
The same PRS outline greets us with an incredibly well-balanced instrument that happily sat on my knee with no signs of heading towards the floor. Brilliant. Whereas the Kestrel features an Alder body (or I should say wings around a Maple and Walnut ply neck-thru configuration) the Kingfisher goes for a Swamp Ash pair of wings. The lovely natural finish here shows off an eye-catching ash grain.
The neck, like the Kestrel, is also beautifully finished and they share the same ~40mm nut. The two examples we had in did differ in terms of “meat on the bone” as it were, as the Kingfisher definitely had a thicker neck, front to back. I’m not saying by much though and even the smallest of hands wouldn’t struggle. I’d say a sort of D carve, but nothing like the classic “baseball bat” profile that’s for sure. I do know of players that would prefer a thicker neck due to hand positioning or size, so this could be a good bass to try out. Let me review that.. this bass must be tried out!
Like the Kestrel bass, Hipshot hardware is also neatly installed and looks the part, especially the choice of buttons for the tuners, evenly spaced out.
Both Kingsfisher and Kestrel are passive basses. Kestrel leans toward the classic J-Bass flavour and delivers that tone in spades. I’d say that the Kingfisher has a bit more “bark in it’s bite” with a hum-bucker tone providing staunch but not overpowering mids. Expect less sizzle but an overall stronger note definition in the mid range.
For me it’s not a PRS unless it has the famous bird inlays - thank you PRS, just what I want to see then!
As I mentioned earlier, the bass is a neck through design and like the Kestrel I am very pleased at the set up of the models we have been provided. The strings are rear-loaded too, so we can enjoy the advantages that each of those construction elements bring.
The whole instrument is resonant - we used a bright and punchy amplifier set up in the studio that made for a suitable pairing especially when bumping the upper bass frequencies on the EQ for some additional warmth.
24 frets for those who enjoy a bit of noodling “north of the border” as they say and the scale length of 34” is familiar and very comfortable when navigating the perfectly installed fretwork.
As I had mentioned in my review, I would love to see a 5 string version of the Kestrel, but I think with these humbuckers, well, we should have a 5 string model here too. I’m sorry to say that at the time of writing, there are no left-hand models available either.
Referring again to both models, the price point of these isn’t entry-level bargain, so you can expect the sort of build quality expected in a higher price bracket. Actually, I will go as far as saying that I was pleasantly pleased at the quality of these two examples. One of my team members simply said, “They’re spotless!”
So, rounding up - a nice pair for any season. Similar in certain aspects but different enough that you could have one of each :) Also available in tortoiseshell colour.