Bass Col­lec­tion ‘Betsy’ Guy Pratt Sig­na­ture Jazz £595

‘Betsy’ Guy Pratt Sig­na­ture

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‘Any­one in­ter­ested in some Bur­gundy Mist?’

A ver­i­ta­ble clas­sic with many sto­ries to tell has been mod­elled for this new Guy Pratt Sig­na­ture model. ‘Any­one in­ter­ested in some Bur­gundy Mist?’ asks Mike Brooks

Guy Pratt’s well-trav­elled 1964 Fender Jazz, re­ferred to as ‘Betsy’, was pre­vi­ously owned by John En­twistle of the Who and de­spite her vin­tage, value and gen­eral de­sir­abil­ity – Bur­gundy Mist was a very lim­ited colour – has cov­ered many miles on the road with Guy. There comes a time, how­ever, where tak­ing cer­tain basses away from home isn’t prac­ti­cal, so Barry Moor­house of the Bass Cen­tre sug­gested copy­ing Betsy as part of his Bass Col­lec­tion Bri­tish Bass Masters range, so that Guy will no longer need to take Betsy away from home.

As Mr Pratt says: “They’ve re­ally cap­tured the feel of the old girl, and it sounds great. There’s a re­ally nice punch and depth. I don’t like tak­ing Betsy on the road too much, so I’ve used two of these on tour now and in­tend to con­tinue do­ing so next year. It’s great that it’s so af­ford­able, too.”

Let’s plug in and play – and see if we agree...

Build Qual­ity

Hav­ing played the orig­i­nal Betsy back in 2013, what struck me was how playable the bass was and how it nat­u­rally res­onated, still with a mas­sive spring in its step. This new sig­na­ture copy cer­tainly catches the eye, re­splen­dent in pe­riod-cor­rect Bur­gundy Mist gloss fin­ish, match­ing head­stock, chrome hard­ware and white three-ply scratch­plate. All the usual Jazz char­ac­ter­is­tics and features have been lov­ingly repli­cated.

Wear and tear aside, the con­tour­ing at front and rear and the cut­aways – with ex­cel­lent ac­cess to the up­per re­gion of the 20-fret Ma­cas­sar ebony fin­ger­board – re­tain all the charm of the orig­i­nal, while the team have sen­si­bly opted to fit the bass with pas­sive EMG sin­gle-coil pick­ups, just as Guy did when he pur­chased the bass. The hard­ware is sim­ple and ef­fi­cient: the chrome ma­chine heads, bridge and con­trol plate set off the vin­tage vibe a treat and work as they should. A nice touch is the in­clu­sion of a vin­tage-cor­rect bridge with string-spac­ing op­tions.

The player-friendly neck di­men­sions have been re­tained: the neck pro­file and nut width are as slinky as you could ask for, and the satin neck fin­ish is the ic­ing on the cake. The tra­di­tional three­con­trol lay­out (vol­ume/vol­ume/tone) should be fa­mil­iar to most of you, and mother-of-pearl po­si­tion mark­ers adorn the front-fac­ing of the fin­ger­board, with white dots along the side. If you like your bass to look as a clas­sic Jazz should, the Betsy ticks all the boxes.

Sounds And Playa­bil­ity

Betsy has a stand­out tonal char­ac­ter and this model re­tains much of that. The bass­wood body (alder was tri­alled but was heav­ier with no tonal im­prove­ment over bass­wood) and maple neck are aided by the ebony fin­ger­board which gives the notes in­creased def­i­ni­tion due to the hard­ness of the tim­ber. Playing the bass acous­ti­cally, the whole length of the neck has a nat­u­ral bounce and bite, while re­tain­ing the nat­u­ral woody char­ac­ter­is­tics of a Jazz.

Plug­ging in, those fa­mil­iar sin­gle-coil tones jump out at you: check­ing each pickup in­di­vid­u­ally, the EMG units re­ally de­liver the goods. Thank­fully, the D and G strings don’t sound clin­i­cal, but match the warmth of the E and A strings, and con­sid­er­ing this is a pas­sive bass, the tonal de­liv­ery is sub­stan­tial. There is clar­ity, matched with a solid, pow­er­ful re­sponse, es­pe­cially in the low-mid regis­ter. All three con­trols work across the whole turn, as op­posed to the all-too-fa­mil­iar on-off re­sponse which we some­times see.

Both pick­ups pro­vide a re­spon­sive dis­play and in a band mix, this bass doesn’t dis­ap­point, bub­bling along nicely with­out sound­ing woolly or indis­tinct. In terms of playa­bil­ity, the 19mm string spac­ing at the bridge is in­stantly fa­mil­iar, while the neck di­men­sions make you feel very much at home. There is some mi­nor head­stock bias, but the bass sits per­fectly on a strap.

Con­clu­sion

This bass is an ab­so­lute joy to play – I can’t rec­om­mend it highly enough. It’s solidly con­structed, with a cool fin­ish, playa­bil­ity and com­fort by the bucketload, and a tonal per­for­mance that out-boxes many a bass at dou­ble the price. The Bass Cen­tre have a win­ner on their hands – check out Betsy’s sib­ling as soon as pos­si­ble.

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