What has 6 bridge-cable strings, a 30" scale, is tuned E to E, and sounds absolutely awesome?
I've wanted one of these since they were announced, but wasn't willing to pay the new price. One of them popped up used for a steal, and since I've started work with a small firm, I could afford to splurge a little bit. I've now had it for about three weeks, so I felt it was time to give it a review.
Compared to the 30" scale OLP MM5 I used to own, this is in another league altogether. The action is relatively low, it plays great without fret buzz, and the variety of tones you can get with three individually-switchable, individually-tappable pickups is fantastic. String tension is lighter than a bass but heavier than a guitar, making it quite easy to play. It's surprisingly lightweight and well-balanced, too, considering the three pickups, long neck, large (albeit slim) body, and paddle-style headstock.
It's a bit more Gibson-y sounding than a traditional Bass VI, probably due to the set neck, TOM/stoptail bridge setup, and humbuckers. A little thicker in the midrange, with a little less treble bite. Still can get quite "clanky" if you want it, and I'm a huge fan of the sort of soulful, slightly scooped tones you get with the middle pickup combined with either the neck or bridge pickup.
What's really cool is how versatile it is. It does djent on the bridge pickup, although I could only do that for about 30 seconds before I rolled the gain down, added delay and reverb, and started playing ambient arpeggiated chords and deep melodic lines.
It sounds especially good through my Sunn T50C, really benefiting from the extended clean low end response, lush reverb, and smooth overdrive channel.
The real shocker was running it into my bass rig, where it had plenty of punch and depth to do "real" bass duties. With just the middle pickup on, it sounds like a P-bass with a little less snap and a bit more thump. I've taken it to band practice twice now, and since I'm in a three-piece I can do traditional bass duties when needed then fill space with power chords and arpeggios when the guitarist is soloing.
Schecter's QC remains fantastic. Great fretwork, clean inlays, no overspray on the binding, the nut is properly slotted, and the bridge has special saddles to fit the larger strings. All this means that it is a genuinely top-quality instrument. It's loud and resonant and feels great.
After my mediocre experience with an OLP MM5 and a few Fender Pawn Shop Bass VIs, I figured that they just weren't for me. But I'm glad that I went and tried this one. I should get a fair bit of use out of it, and the best part is that LaBella makes custom strings (stainless and nickel rounds, as well as flats) specifically for the Schecter Bass VIs, so they're easy and cheap to restring in a variety of methods. Will definitely be interested to try flats down the line.
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