Peavey Rudy Sarzo Bass
Made In: USA
Specs: Ash body, maple & purpleheart neck-through, ebony fretboard
Electronics: Peavey Wide-Aperture humbucking pickup, passive electronics
Controls: Volume, blend, bass, mid & treble cut & boost, active/passive selection switch
As someone who started on an Aria Pro II and forged an eternal affinity with the brand as a result, I remember having a sense of outrage when the Peavey Sarzo first showed up in ads in guitar magazines at the tale end of the 80’s. Sarzo had been a long time SB player and it’s quite obvious where a lot of the inspiration for this model came from. Indeed, the neck-through design, ash body wings and cat’s eye inlays are drawn straight from the SB template. Thankfully, Peavey did a good job with the electronics too and this is a high quality bass with an identity of its own, albeit slightly hidden underneath the Aria skin.
These have to be filed under “Criminally Underrated“, based on the current market price for what is now an over 25 year old model. Top of the Peavey line at the time, the Sarzo is a very well built instrument with no shortcuts taken. The hardware is made by Schaller, the tuners, in particular, are superb. Upper fret access is as good as I’ve ever played on any bass and the neck has a very comfortable D shape which is somewhat flatter at the back than usual. The sculpted headstock is a nice touch and an indication of the level of attention which went into this bass. It’s not light, but it’s not the heaviest out there either. In terms of playability, the only gripe I’d have is the lack of a forearm contour, but that’s just me.
Plugged in, the tone is meaty with a real “active” sound to it. I’ve read the ceramic wide-aperture pickups were modelled on Alembic but, to my ears, there’s a real taste of MM in there and it’s worth remembering Sarzo played a Sabre for a long time. The three-band EQ isn’t the most powerful I’ve encountered, but the fundamental sound of the bass is good enough to not warrant any drastic changes. It doesn’t want for low end, that’s for sure. When switched to the passive circuit, the active treble control becomes a passive tone, which is a nice touch. Personally, I would favour the active circuit but it’s nice to know passive is there if required.
In the grand scheme of things, the Sarzo is a well made and very usable bass which looks grand and graceful but can do work in the trenches. For the money, these are hard to beat.