by Arthur Stone
Introduction: My first bass...bit of a novice buy; I went to the shop and tried a few Fender, Yamaha, etc. but I felt most comfortable with this one in terms of ergonomics and playability although at the time I didn't appreciate what this would mean in terms of studio tone in the mix.
Hardware: Mahogany body, 5-piece bubinga neck and rosewood fretboard with oval abalone position inlays; Bartolini pick-ups. Plenty of tonal control from the active EQ (seperate pots for bass/mid/treble), also a continuous rotary dial between pick-ups and a master volume. The bridge is a solid Accu-Cast B20 with solid well-engineered sealed tuning-machines. Whilst light in comparison to almost every other bass it still feels solid and robust. The styling and ergonomics are distinct and eye-pleasing often drawing positive comments. It's a looker IMO.
In Use: In the shop I knew this was the guitar for me; normally I find basses too heavy and that discomfort can distract from performance but this was like warm butter...smooth and flowing with a fast neck and totally enjoyable to wear and play. It invites the player to explore. I'd consider myself a learner on bass, so in many senses this was the perfect guitar...I've done some live band work with no issues (apart from my inexperience) and the crew were happy with the live tone through an Ampeg system.
My difficulty came when using the SR500 in my home-studio; although it's difficult to tell if this is down to my skills or the lack of tone when DI'ed for recording. The big breakthrough came when I plugged it into a BAE preamp...now I could hear the tone and became more confident digging in and earthing the track. I used the bass on this track although my skills haven't really done it justice and I'm sure a more competent bassist could have a field day with it (best start from 1.00 in):
Very tonally flexible with the active EQ but best left as near to flat as possible. I'm not sure bass light is a fair description from such a limited player but the heavier more solid basses seem to impart the nether regions with more ease.
Conclusion: Despite my initial concerns about studio tone, as my playing skills have progressed and I've acquired a decent DI/preamp, I'm happy and confident it will do the job. Great for non-critical live work too. It's comfortable, playable, and good value - although tonally, unless the player is accomplished, the SR500 will need some help from a decentDI/preamp/compressor to get the best out of it.