Gear Of The Year 2016 – Best Bass Product
From boutique retro four-strings to affordable and credible-sounding small amplifiers, bassists have had a very good 2016 indeed. Here’s our pick of the bunch for lovers of all things bass…
Winner – Sandberg Forty Eight Bass
• Price £1770
• First Reviewed Vol 28 No 01
• Contact Synergy Distribution on 08432 080 999 or www.sandberg-guitars.de
Gareth Morgan: “For the second year in a row, I simply had to pick a Sandberg bass as my favourite bit of gear.
The superb Forty Eight is named after an iconic Harley- Davidson motorcycle engine, its design intelligently and very skilfully evoking a pair of Gibson classics, the Thunderbird and Explorer.
The Forty Eight oozes rock ’n’ roll from every pore, a vibe amplified by the expertly realised hardcore aged finish and enhanced further by the old-school tortoiseshell scratchplate that tracks the dorsal fin horn.
Aside from being tough to access the highest registers, the California Series neck, with its 22-fret rosewood fingerboard, is a supremely playable beast – and a headstock from the same series ensures decent balance.
Active electronics and Sandberg Powerhumbucker/Splitcoil pickups produce growling width and pleasing aggression across the neck with splendid midrange definition and highs with plenty of bite.
Factor in the thuddy, P-Bass-like Powerhumbucker and fat, barky Splitcoil options and you’ve got a plethora of high-quality tones.
The Forty Eight may not be the best all-rounder currently on the market, but that was never Sandberg’s aim. The company wanted to produce a solid, stylish and stylised bass that sounds as good as it looks.
In that aim, it has comfortably scored a rock ’n’ roll bull’s eye.
Highly Commended – Hofner Verythin HCT 500/8 Long Scale
• Price £659
• First Reviewed Vol 27 No 11
• Contact Barnes & Mullins on 01691 652449 or www.hofner-guitars.com
The brand may be synonymous with the Violin Bass, but this is a different and altogether more stable animal.
We said: “an excellent choice for bassists whose tastes include 1950s rock ’n’ roll, old-school R&B, 60s beat, psychedelia, indie-rock and even early-70s funk.”
Highly Commended – B&G Big Sister
• Price $3,450
• First Reviewed Vol 27 No 09
• Contact B&G Guitars www.bngguitars.com
The Little Sister from Israel’s B&G Guitars was one of our favourite electric guitars of 2015.
This year, the company turned its attention to bass with similarly impressive results. Top-drawer tonewoods, an original, vintage-inspired design and highly musical sounds combine on this exotic slice of luxury.
Highly Commended – Orange Crush Bass 50
• Price £229
• First Reviewed Vol 27 No 12
• Contact 020 8905 2828 or www.orangeamps.com
2016 saw Orange reinvent its entry- level bass offerings.
Whether you are jamming with friends or playing in a function band, modern volume restrictions mean this is as much amp as you’ll need for the price of one decent wedding gig. Need more power? Try the 100 (£369).
Highly Commended – Blackstar Bass Fly
• Price £79
• First Reviewed Vol 27 No 11
• Contact Blackstar Amplification on 01604 817817 or www.blackstaramps.com
Battery-powered bass amps used to be little more than a novelty, with all the low-frequency authority of an angry bluebottle.
Not any more: this Fly kicks out a remarkably good tone from a tiny, feather-light package, and the price is democratising too: this amp will create more bassists, and that can only be a good thing.