This bass was on my wishlist for quite some time! After owning it for a few months now I think it's time to write a review.
The bass came in packaged safe and sound by the Thomann crew.
Beautiful, smelling of Nitro lacquer, and not too heavy but still a good weight on it for a P-Bass.
However, after opening up the boxes and tuning up the bass I instantly noticed that the G string's tuner peg was crooked.
I contacted Thomann and got a new set! No problems there at all!
The relic, or road-wear if you would, is very subtly done. Some dings on the body, "unpolished" finish (however in the spot where my fore-arm rests the finish started shining quite quickly) and slight wear the headstock. I like the subtle relic work on this bass, it looks real enough and you never have to worry about scratching it etc.
The neck is pretty much the selling point for this bass. Between the nut width of a P and a J. I prefer slim necks over wide ones, so this neck fits perfectly in my hand. The almost satin-ey finish on the neck is getting very comfortable, where kind of sticky early on. Especially while getting sweaty at rehearsals. This stickiness is completely gone as far as I can tell.
The sound of this bass is HOT. Seriously, the output is nice and hot. Though owning another bass with (old Bassline) SPB-3's I think the Nate Mendel sounds a bit "darker". A bit less zingy/trebly. This could be the wood of the bass, or the (road-worn) pickups, or the heavy bridge. To be honest I couldn't tell you. I don't mind this darker tone at all!
The strings that come with it should be tossed away at first arrival. In my opinion at least. I never like the stock strings that come on Mexican Fenders, guitar OR bass. I installed Ernie Ball Reg Slinkys on it, and it sounded ten times better instantly.
My particular bass didn't need much of a set-up at all! I play pretty hard and with a pick so the action might be a tad high, but that's a good thing in my case. I only needed to do a small amount of intonating it.
Last and also least: the gigbag that comes with the bass is not of very high quality. Or comfort for that matter. My Tobago bag works better. And if you have the option, a hardcase will always be better. Especially in the case of Nitro finishes. My Surf Green Nitro jazzmaster has been aesthetically ruined by storing it in one of these Fender gigbags for 4 months.
The bass sounds and plays like a dream to me. Exactly what I was looking for. The smell and look of the nitro finish makes me happy everytime I'm near the bass. May sound darker than other SPB-3 equipped basses. But that might just be me?
The gigbag and strings it comes with are pretty much trash. So spend another 80 for a nice bag and some strings of your choice and you have yourself a very nice bass!