Posted on Jun 25 2023 11:45 AM
As long as we’re talking basses, I’ll mention my favorite Surf bass.
A bit of history. I love playing bass, and have owned a number of basses. An old injury to my left shoulder has placed some minor limitations on my left arm, and eventually, I started to experience tendinitis in my left arm when I played a bass with a 34” scale. After consulting an orthopedic surgeon, the best fix was suggested to be switching to a 30” bass. So I sold my P-Bass, my Jazz Bass and my fretless Warwick and set about finding 30” basses.
My first acquisition was a Japanese-made Fender Mustang, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by how good is sounded. I would describe the sound as P-Bass Lite, having a similar attack and decay as a P-Bass but with a slightly less authority.
To my ear, it’s a nice compromise, with a bass voice that is solid and substantial, but not too heavy, and I like how it sits in the mix for Surf. Beyond that, the Mustang is light, and easy to play. The quality of the CIJ Mustang is excellent, and it has weathered the last 15 years quite easily.
While not really a Surf bass, I will use this opportunity to mention my Custom Shop Warwick fretless. When it was decided that no surgical option would guarantee that I could once again play 34” basses, I decided to get a short scale fretless. I had sold a Warwick Corvette fretless, and decided to order another Corvette to my specs, which turned out to be fairly simple, and inexpensive. I ordered a fretless, with conventional Jazz Bass passive pickups, a Wenge neck, and black hardware. What I ended up with was a junior version of a Warwick Thumb. It has incredible sustain, and power. The dense woods give it a long decay, and the sustain is so good that it’s almost like playing an organ or synth.
Last, but certainly not least, is my MIJ Bass VI. Is it a bass? Is it a baritone guitar? Yes! Played as a bass, it’s a bit toppy, sort of like a Jazz Bass, in its most treble voice. However, by choosing pickups carefully, and a slight roll off on the tone control, a fairly robust, warm bass sound can be created. If I am using the VI as a bass, I use my fingertips, but if I’m using it as a melodic instrument, I use a flatpick.
Played as a lead instrument in the bass register, it can be very Surfy. It will drip like nobodies business and get some respectable twang, even with flat-wound strings. In view of the fact that a Bass VI is basically a Jaguar with a glandular condition, it’s not all that surprising that a VI sounds like a low-pitch Jaguar.
The artist formerly known as: Synchro
When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.