In the olden days, you only ever saw an acoustic bass guitar at the monthly folk noggin and natter, usually being played by a beardy bloke singing about ships leaving Liverpool and poor souls a-perish’d. With bands like Mumford & Sons currently filling the airwaves and the festivals, there’s definitely a vibe of renewed interest in acoustic music of all genres. Every bank advert on telly now seems to feature a ukulele in the soundtrack, and I hear there’s even been an increase in the sightings of feral banjos…
It wasn’t always the case, but it’s now almost a given that a budget instrument made in China will be as well put together as one made anywhere else, and so it proves with the CB100. Although the back, sides and top are all laminated woods, the accuracy of the machining and fitting are excellent, as is the thin satin finish. It’s plainly a mass-produced instrument, but care and attention to detail have obviously been important in the manufacturing process, and it shows. The book-matched top, for instance, which only really has value in terms of appearance, is a sure sign that thought has been given to how the instrument is perceived by the player. Inside too, it’s just as smart, with neatly cut and scalloped spruce bracing, and not a sign of excess glue or sawdust anywhere.
What little this bass has in terms of decoration is limited to the tasteful double binding around the top, and the simple acrylic mother-of-pearl inlay around the sound hole. Other than this, it’s just as a traditional dreadnought-shaped instrument should be, with a standard black scratchplate, simple dot markers and two-a-side chrome M4 type tuners. The headstock is faced with rosewood to match the fretboard and bridge, with its angled compensating saddle. Apparently, the nut and bridge saddle are made from something called ‘synthetic bone’. It looks just like cream-coloured plastic to me, though, and while I’m being picky, it’s a shame they didn’t make the string anchor pins from the same ‘synthetic bone’ too (perhaps they ran out of synthetic skeletons?). They’re a very bright white, which, added to the fact that – out of necessity – they’re quite large, tends to overwhelm the look of the simple and elegant rosewood bridge.
One of the real highlights of this bass is the solid mahogany neck. Its profile is based on that of a standard Jazz bass, which means it feels slim and comfortable. Top marks too for the rosewood fretboard: it’s a lovely piece of close-grained wood, and the 22 frets are accurately fitted and filed with neatly polished ends. The decoration on the fingerboard is as simple as that on the body, with tiny white dot markers giving the neck a clean,functional appearance.
The Fishman Isys lll preamp has a simple Bass, Middle and Treble EQ with a volume control and low battery indicator, but the cool feature is the built-in tuner. Press the tuner button, play an open string and a small, coloured LED display shows you the note played and whether you’re sharp, flat or in tune. This is a really neat design and it means that even when you’re using the bass without amplification, you can tune up without carrying around extra cables or a separate tuner.
TOP | Bookmatched laminated spruce
BODY | Laminated mahogany
BACK/SIDES | Laminated mahogany
NECK/HEADSTOCK | Solid mahogany
FRETBOARD | Rosewood
TRUSSROD | Dual action
FRETS | 22
FINISH | Satin
PICKUP/PREAMP | Fishman, built-in tuner
TUNERS | Chrome
NUT WIDTH | 54mm
SCALE | 34”