Raw Power

A cus­tom bass that’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to play.

Classic Rock - - Contents - Si­mon Bradley

We pluck a Warwick Thumb NT seven-string cus­tom bass – an in­stru­ment that’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to play.

Bas­sists dream­ing of their ul­ti­mate in­stru­ment may well find in­spi­ra­tion within the cus­tom cat­a­logue of Ger­man bass­meis­ters Warwick, and the ex­am­ple pic­tured, the fret­less Thumb NT seven-string, is ar­guably about as cus­tom as it gets. Taken from the com­pany’s Master­built range, it’s a won­der­ful piece of work that’s as stun­ning to look at as it is dif­fi­cult to play, and there’s no avoid­ing the ob­vi­ous draw­back: that whop­ping fin­ger­board. It ranges in width from 55mm to 99mm(a Fen­der Pre­ci­sion fret­board is just 41.3mm at the nut) and is nighon im­pos­si­ble to play us­ing con­ven­tional fret­ting-hand tech­niques un­less you pos­sess hands like the In­cred­i­ble Hulk’s.

Com­mon tun­ing sin c lu deF#BEADGC or BEADGCF, low to high, and the NT’s MEC ‘soap bar’ pick­ups and ac­tive elec­tron­ics are adept at han­dling any sonic fre­quency. A strik­ing grade of swirly bub­inga wood has been used for both the body and neck, and the oil fin­ish makes the wood’s fig­ur­ing to al­most glow from within. The tuners are capped with but­tons fash­ioned from the same ma­te­rial, and the ex­pan­sive pearl in­lay at the oc­tave is the cherry on the cake. The neck even has il­lu­mi­nated side-dots.

Fret­less basses, while cer­tainly chal­leng­ing to play, pro­vide an arse­nal of un­mis­tak­able tones, and the NT is no dif­fer­ent. Ar­guably the great­est fret­t­less bass player of them all, Jaco Pas­to­rius, rein­vented the art, while

Pino Pal­ladino (The Who, John Mayer Trio) lath­ered his fret­less all over

Paul Young’s best-known 80s hits.

A Warwick bass with this spec will set you back al­most £6,200, but the com­pany do of­fer a raft of op­tions that are closer to the main­stream. As far as the Thumb NT goes, we’re not sure whether we should play it or sim­ply hang it on the wall.

More info at war­wick­bass.com

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