For years I have had a Douglas violin bass, a Hofner inspired Beatle bass clone that is very similar to an Epiphone Viola Bass. I’ve had flat wounds and round wounds on it. It plays well and it is good at woody thump. If a woody thump is the right sound for the track, this one does it. However, I was getting tired of that sound. I started researching other short scale basses, short scale because I am mainly a guitar player and when I have had long scale basses, they always seemed to be a mile long.
Short Scale Basses
There are actually quite a few choices in short scale basses these days. I narrowed the search down to the Fender style offerings: the Fender Player Mustang bass or the Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar bass. However, a bass that was often mentioned favorably in the context of these two was the Ibanez TMB30, the cheapest of the Talman line. This bass used to be under $200, but now goes for $229. However, the Mustang is $699 and the Squier Jaguar is around $350, so the Ibanez offered similar features for less money. In addition, reviewers and purchasers seemed to like the bass a lot. For that much money, it’s worth a try. I ordered one from Sweetwater.
The bass came to today in perfect condition. It comes in Ivory, Mint Green, or Black. I ordered the black. Here are some pictures:
The bass has a “P/J” pickup configuration, which means that it has a Jazz bass pickup near the bridge and a split Precision bass pickup in the neck position. Each pickup has a volume control so that they can be blended. This setup allows for a lot of different sounds. I created a backing track to demo the bass. The first verse has the Precision pickup by itself. The second verse has mostly the Jazz pickup with some Precision. (Because of the circuit, if you turn both of them all the way up, there is some loss of volume, so this is about 80% Jazz and 20% Precision.) The third verse is all Jazz bass pickup.
Some players said that they bought this bass thinking they would have to swap out the pickups, but found that the stock pickups were actually very good, especially the Precision bass pickup.
Edit: Here is a full track I made with this backing track. The original track was my cajon, my Starcaster, and the TMB30. I added a lead part with my Starcaster and a synth piano.
The neck is wider than the Beatle bass and chunkier, with a matte finish. I like the neck a lot. It has round wound strings on it now. I may put flats on it. We shall see. The tuners, the bridge, and the electronics all seem solid.
Lately I have been making backing tracks with cajon, bass, and guitar and posting them on TDPRI for other people to play on. That is my main purpose for this bass. And hopefully, in time, my bass playing will improve!
Update: I lowered the action a bit using the supplied hex wrench. I am really liking this bass!
Update 2: I put La Bella Deep Talkin’ Flats (760FL short scale) on it. When you go from round wound to flats, you lose some clarity and punch, but you gain thump and smoothness. This bass is pretty bright to begin with, so flats work really well on it if you want an old school Precision Bass sound. I like them.