I was looking for a budget 5 string fretless when I came across this. I mainly wanted a backup for my 5 string fretted and we do a few numbers where a fretless adds something. I could not believe the price and thought it would be a waste of money. However I read whatever reviews I could find and given Thomann's 30 day return policy and 3 year guarantee, I thought it would be worth a look so I bought one. It is not the best bass in the world, but then you would not expect it to be. There are 1 or 2 minor issues - the nut is a bit rough, the control knobs all have different levels of resistance, you wouldn't find the machine heads and pickups on a £2,000 bass. Not much else really. Good points - the neck joint looks a really good tight fit. It has push/pull active/passive switch on the volume knob. It has a quick change battery box. With the addition of a small amount of effects, I was able to get a decent fretless tone. Given the dozens of basses I have owned, I would put this in the £400-500 bracket. Not expensive but punching way above its £126 price tag. Obviously if you are a virtuoso fretless soloist, this would not be the bass for you. However I would not let the price put you off if you have similar objectives to mine. My understanding is that Thomann have these made in China directly for themselves (er . . doesn't a certain other well known bass manufacurer do this?). Factory to website, no middle men, no expensive marketing etc. etc. If you are looking for a work horse bass, I doubt very much that you will be disappointed. With Thomann's oustanding customer service policies, what have you got to lose? UPDATE: the more I use this bass, the more I like it. In my case at least, the action is fairly low and suits me nicely and the intonation seems fine. I use a Zoom B3 with it and after a bit of experimentation with Chorus, Reverb etc. I have managed to build a few patches which make this fretless sound really good. I've had a few people ask me about it after gigs and it seems to impress. I had specific objectives when I tried this bass and I have to say I am very happy with my purchase. I still can't believe they can make & sell a very useable 5 string fretless for that price.
first impression B-550FL and two weeks later.plus gigs.
There are not many reviews, it's a new model. Got mine after 6 days on monday, it feels longer if you want it in the weekend...
Anyway, the bass looks good. The Thomann picture was not of the original bass, when i got mine, and mentioned it to them, they changed it to the right ones. In real life it's a nice professional looking Bass. (My other basses are a great Spector NS2004 and a trusty JazzBass.)
The neck and body sound tight, not hollow as some cheap woods can sound like. The strings are roundwound. Not very good ones. I had a set of Daddario chrome flat wounds. They are 35-40 euro, depending were you get them. Really old school ;) they feel good on this bass. This set might last for ever ;)
First oiled the fretboard. Dunlop lemon oil. It liked that a lot. Then straightened the neck a little, trussrod works very wel.
The bridge is a bit strange for me, but it works ok. Interesting. Set-up intonation was ok! The battery has a special battery holder. Clever.
The position markers on the side of the neck are right in the place were the note should be, on the third, fifth etc fret position.
Functions: four rotating knobs are: 1-master volume, 2-neck and/or bridge pickup, 3-bass,4-treble. Pickup-blend and tone knobs have a slight dent in the middle position. No visible markers. Since the web description of the bass was inaccurate when i bought it, it was a surprise the volumepot is a push pull switching potmeter. It bypasses the active system, has a nice sound of its own and you can still play when your battery is dead. When not in active mode, the bass pot gives hardly any change in lows, the treble pots functions as with any other bass. The push pulls pot gives a very loud click through your speakers and tweeter so beware. (Had to resolder the joints and fix a possible short circuit with a loose wire to fix: extreme noise but no disconnection of the active circuit when switching. First production bass i guess.)
sound: the original round wound B string and the 130 Daddario B-string sound a bit like a very loose bass string, but usable enough. Lots of lows.
The Jaco mwaahs can be made, didn't play very loud yet. Edit, with high volume also good. Sounds really fretless, like Jaco, Paladino, and the bass player on "Boy in the Bubble from Paul Simon.
It is a good modern bass, with new strings it's about 200 Euro. That is not a lot of money!
Edit: because of the really hot weather on and of, the neck was not stabile, after initial setting up, it became too concave. I hope the neck is factory dried enough, and remains stable for now. next week after live shows i'll report back;) **And i'm lucky, the neck stayed ok, in- and outdoors. The active preamp gives a rounded extra bass/low and brighter highs. My Spector goes twice as loud, so i had to really turn it down to switch bases. Spector can handle it splendidly of course.. Nonetheless, time for an AB switch.
As with all new gear, in a few weeks /month i'll know if the sound will last. My HB P90 gold top passed this test already, gave me confidence on the HB guitar brand.
Extra: Still was not really comfortable with the bass after one year of use. The bridge could not be lower enough for my taste. When i took the neck of for a shim, i found out it was factory shimmed... when i took it out the bass was perfect again. My band members like the sound of fretless. Not the half notes i'm off sometimes of course ;)
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