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Review: Sterling SUB Ray4 + Ray5

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Sterling SUB Ray4 – SUB logo

We bassists owe a lot to Mr Leo Fender – Mr Fender was the father of the electric bass, which he introduced in 1951, as well as the man behind three of the most classic bass designs ever.

After inventing the Fender Precision and the Jazz Bass for the company that still bears his name, Leo Fender carried on designing and building instruments for Music Man, with the StingRay becoming a true classic. The StingRay wasn’t the first bass with active electronics, yet it was the design that brought the active bass into the mainstream.

Since 1984 Music Man is part of the Ernie Ball-company. The company’s current boss – Sterling Ball – is behind the more recent moves to also bring out affordable Music Man-instruments in the guise of a new brand – Sterling (by Music Man).


Sterling SUB Ray4 – beauty shot 2

Sterling’s brand-new SUB-series offers even more affordable versions of Music Man’s…

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Review: Warwick Corvette Standard Ash

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Warwick Corvette Standard Ash – body angle

Warwick’s Pro- and Artist-series instruments are being built in South Korea these days, which results in lower prices when compared to Warwick’s German basses. The question is “Are Korean Warwicks really thoroughbred Warwick basses?” Read on…


Warwick Corvette Standard Ash – full front

The Warwick Corvette Standard Ash (current price in Finland: 873 €) is the German (Warwick Series) Corvette Bolt-On’s more affordable Korean Pro Series counterpart.

As is already hinted at by its name, the Corvette Standard Ash bass features a body made from swamp ash.

Warwick Corvette Standard Ash – full back

Three long stripes of ovangkol are used as the main ingredient for the neck. The ovangkol pieces are visually offset by two thin strips of ekanga. Both woods come from West Africa.

Warwick Corvette Standard Ash – neck joint

The Corvette’s neck is screwed on using four separate screws and individual washers. A round chamfer on the body takes away some of the bulk for smoother top fret access.

Warwick Corvette Standard Ash – neck grain

Warwick’s famous oil and wax…

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Review: Tokai AJB-55BB + Basslines SJB-3

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AJB-55BB? Is this bass Tokai’s Big Brother -special edition? No!
The BB stands for “big blocks”.


The Tokai AJB-55BB is a special edition run of the company’s Jazz Bass -inspired model with block inlays instead of the usual small dots. Finnish importer Musamaailma has equipped the test sample with a pair of Seymour Duncan Basslines SJB-3s, which promise a hotter-than-vintage output. As supplied, the whole package would set you back about 888 € here in Finland.

This Japanese bass is a streamlined beauty with a maple fingerboard and a tortie-type scratchplate (sometimes this model also comes with a three-ply black pickguard).

Even though the large block inlays invoke a Seventies-look, the Tokai’s deep body chamfers talke you back all the way to the Sixties-period Fender Jazz.

Tokai uses Gotoh-tuners with smaller diameter tuning posts on the AJB-55BB, compared to the usual Kluson- or Schaller-types on many other…

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Review: Spector Legend 4 Classic + Custom


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The Legend 4 Classic and Legend 4 Custom basses are Spector Bass’ affordable, Korean versions of the company’s NS-2-bass, the famous model that Stuart Spector designed in co-operation with Ned Steinberger.


The Spector Legend 4 Classic (current RRP in Finland: 672 €) is a long-scale active bass.

The body is crafted from three pieces of maple, with its frontside spruced up with a very pretty quilted maple veneer.

The bass’ bolt-on neck is put together using three long strips of hard rock maple.

The neck joint features rounded edges for added comfort, while five screws with separate, countersunk washers make for a very precise and sturdy fit.

The pearl SSD-logo has been cleanly inlaid into the back-angled headstock.

A self-lubricating top nut makes tuning a smooth experience. The nut’s corners have been rounded – a nice upmarket touch in this price bracket.


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Review: Schecter Ultra Bass

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The GibsonThunderbird is a raunchily-voiced classic bass from the 1960s, even though its design isn’t really the most ergonomic. The “reverse” body and the resulting long neck sends the T’Bird nosediving the second you let go of its neck.

Schecter’s R&D-team set about to design a bass, which would offer all the sound of said Gibson-classic, but would also feature a much better strapped-on balance. Following this brief they came up with a beauty, called the Schecter Ultra Bass.


The Schecter Ultra Bass (current street price in Finland: 865 €), which is part of the company’s mid-priced Diamond-range, is a long-scale bass equipped with passive electronics.

The Ultra is by no means a straight T’Bird-copy, blending successfully the body’s Gibson-type treble side to a Telecaster-style bass side. The end result pleases the eye, sits comfortably in the lap, and balances rather nicely strapped-on, because the…

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Review: Mannedesign Newport 4T

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The active Mannedesign Newport 4T bass (current price in Finland: 883,14 €) is part of Manne’s mid-price range of Mannedesign instruments, all manufactured in the Far East to the Italian maker’s specs. The bass closely follows its more expensive Italian sibling in general looks, but offers different solutions in the finer details.


Both the body’s as well as the headstock’s front have been adorned with beautiful flamed maple veneers, which have been finished in a rich honey-coloured hue.

Quality tuners, made by Gotoh, keep the tuning well and stable.


Italian Manne instruments feature maple necks with multi-laminated beech cores for added rigidity. The Mannedesign Newport 4T sports a one-piece maple nack, with an additional piece for the headstock and the first frets. You can only just spot the scarf-joint on the reviewed bass.


Here we see a genuine bolt-on neck, instead of the traditional screwed-on variety used widely.

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Review: Lakland Skyline 44-60 Custom

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Lakland are offering their basses in two distinct lines: The US-series comprises of instruments made completely at Lakland’s own workshop, while the Skyline-series has the woodwork and finishing performed in Indonesia. The Skyline-basses are then shipped to Chicago, where they are equipped with the electronics and set up, using human craftsmanship alongside a German PLEK-machine. tested the passive Skyline 44-60 Custom (current price in Finland: 1.599 €), which is the company’s take on the venerable Fender Jazz.

The review sample is a beautiful instrument, very carefully crafted from quality woods, hardware and passive electronics.

These very nice, licensed versions of Hipshot’s Ultra-Lite tuners keep the headstock’s weight down.

Lakland-basses tend to feature quite low and slim frets, which probably add a percussive element to the attack of each note. Some players will be concerned about how well small frets hold up to modern roundwound strings, though.


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Review: Kataja Guitars – three basses



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Ari Kataja’s Kataja Custom Shop is a small builder from Tampere (Finland), who has concentrated on one-offs for his clients up to now (alongside repair work).

Kataja Guitars have recently come out with their line of Fender-inspired basses, produced in small runs; the new models were also on display at this year’s Bassopäivä (the annual Bass Day at the Pop-Jazz-Academy in Helsinki). jumped at the opportunity to get three models for a review:

Ari Kataja’s version of a P-bass…

…a model based on a 1960 Jazz…

…as well as a ca 1962/63 Jazz Bass -based bass (current prices in Finland start from 1,920 €, incl gigbag).


Kataja Custom basses are crafted in Finland – start to finish. Even though there is quite a number of so-called custom builders, who use pre-fabricated bodies and necks as their basic ingredients, this is not the way for Mr…

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