There can be no doubt that every Modern Vintage instrument is painstakingly crafted with the finest materials available. Period-correct materials, sourced and combined with modern updates that are the result of many years of research and refinement. Keep the old-school sound, feel and vibe, while 'tweaking that elusive formula to meet today's serious demands. Nick Jennison tells us more as he test runs the Modern Vintage MVJ4-66.
Vintage basses are great. I know this will divide the audience down the middle, and if you're in the "modern basses are best" camp, I hear you. Playing in tune; staying in tune; even tone from string to string and all across the neck; balance on a strap or on your lap; these are all important things that are often lacking in vintage instruments. Here's the thing though - vintage basses are great IN SPITE of these flaws.
Of course, it would be great if we could have all of the vibe, mojo and aesthetic gorgeousness of a vintage bass, but without these issues. That's where Modern Vintage comes in. The MVJ4-66 is a '60s style "J" bass at its heart, but with a host of modern appointments "under the hood". Crucially, these improvements don't impact the look or the tone of the bass, but they do greatly improve the playability and reliability of the instrument.
Most obvious of these is the neck. It's a maple neck with a bound rosewood board that looks perfectly traditional from the audience perspective, but the maple has been heat-treated to remove moisture, meaning it's much more resistant to atmospheric changes. It's also been "plek'd", meaning the fretwork and setup are absolutely perfect. While some vintage basses can be a punishing playing experience, this instrument plays so well it feels like cheating.
Similarly, the hardware looks very old school, but the tuners are open-geared hipshot models that are both buttery smooth and extremely lightweight. This improves both balance and tuning stability, while still retaining that vintage aesthetic. Likewise, the truss rod adjustment is at the heel end of the neck as you'd expect on a '60s bass, but there's a cutaway that allows for easy adjustment without taking the neck off the body.
Tonally, it's classic "J" all the way. It's a passive instrument with two classic voiced single coils, each with its own volume control along with a master tone control. This may seen simplistic if you're used to complex switching matrixes and active EQ controls, but there's a huge wealth of tones to be found within. At the extremes, you get Jaco-style honk with just the bridge pickup active, classic funk tones with both pots up full and pseudo- "P" fatness with just the neck pickup (albeit with the refinement you'd expect from a nice "J"). There are also a ton of colours "in the gaps", with a near-infinite range of blends available.
If you're looking for a bass that oozes vintage tone and vibe, but with the perfect blend of modern and time-honoured construction methods, this bass should definitely be on your list. It's also surprisingly affordable for such a high-quality instrument.
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