Marceau Standard Basse
Made In: France
Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: Marceau J single coils
Controls: Volume, volume, tone
Things have been quiet in these parts, so I’m quite pleased to add the first new addition of the year. I’ve just acquired this one having never heard of this brand previously. It’s a defretted Marceau Standard Basse, No. 2. First impressions are very good. It’s well built, sounds quite lovely, balances and plays very well. The hardware is by Hipshot, CTS and Switchcraft. A little bit of investigation into Marceau instruments and I had no worries about making the purchase.
I was attracted to it by the pickup positions, the neck pickup is 35mm closer to the bridge than a standard Jazz type, with the bridge pickup also 10mm closer to the bridge than standard, and the body is an elegant take on the J shape. It was originally fretted but no has maple inserts nicely in the fret slots, done by Tom Marcaeu himself last year. The nut with a zero fret meant the action was quite high at that end, so I’ve done a little work bringing that down more to my liking and the action is now low along the fretboard with tasteful levels of mwah. I will spend a little bit more time on the zero fret and get it just right, but that will be about as much work as it needs.
As I get to play it more I will update this entry.
Bacchus Duke Master
Made In: Japan
Specs: Mahogany body & neck, maple top, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: Bacchus STP-1 P90 pickups
Controls: Volume x 2, tone x 2, three-way switch
Another import from Japan, you either really like the brown oil finish or you really don’t. I picked up this Duke Master new after having my appetite for P90s whetted by PRS. The PRS didn’t stay long after the Duke arrived.
A much darker sounding guitar than the PRS, the Duke doesn’t have the ear-grating brightness of its predecessor, instead it’s a mean sounding hound-dog growl with that characteristic P90 twang. It’s equally at home clean or smothered in dirt.
It’s chunky from head to toe. The body is thick and deep, the neck is exceptionally chunky. When you pick it up, you know it’s 100% serious business. Despite the size, it’s not overly heavy, though it is a substantial piece of equipment. The big neck still accommodates a nice low action with Bacchus’ usual exemplary standard of fretwork.
This one is built for comfort, built to last.
Made In: Japan
Specs: Ash body, maple neck, maple fretboard
Electronics: Bacchus STP-1, STL-1
Controls: Volume, tone, three-way switch
I’m unrepentant about my praise and love for the u-box and guitars like this are the reason why. Without them, I’d likely have never have discovered Bacchus and, as a result, my life would be a poorer place.
Any Bacchus in my favourite white-blonde finish will grab my attention and I was in a position to pick this beauty up shortly after it appeared on the site. When it arrived, it had barely been played. It was completely unmarked apart from some light scuffing on the scratchplate. Such small things can really make your day.
As ever, it’s incredibly well built and quite light, no doubt partly due to the slightly downsized and contoured body. The neck features Bacchus’ side-scallops, a technique where the sides of the fretboard are filed by hand to make the neck feel played in the first time you pick it up. Using the spoke-wheel nut for adjusting the truss rod is just another simple, but hugely convenient, refinement. There’s a satisfying solid feel to the pots and switch. The whole thing just feels very sturdy and reassuring, like it’s built to withstand serious abuse. It’s the most comfortable Tele style guitar I’ve ever played.
The bridge pickup gives that classic Tele spank we all know and love. The P90 is where it deviates sharply from what you know a Tele can sound like. It’s remarkably fat sounding, warmer than you’d think an ash body and maple neck combination could sound. To be honest, I’ve considered rewiring the P90 so it bypasses the tone control. To my ears, in this guitar the P90 sounds best wide open and the bridge pickup with a little bit of top end taken off and it takes a bit of juggling on the controls when moving from one to the other to make that happen. Either way, it’s a very versatile guitar which covers a huge amount of ground.
I always find myself playing this guitar for longer than I thought I would every time I pick it up.
Fender Mustang Bass
Made In: Japan
Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: Fender spilt-coil pickup, passive crcuit
Controls: Volume, tone
When the missus expressed an interest in bass playing I picked up this Mustang for her. As ever, you can’t go wrong with Fender Japan and, aside from being very well made, this little thing was surprisingly punchy. The small spilt-coil pickup had a lot of balls, at lot more than I was expecting. It could comfortably hold its own against a full-sized P. Unfortunately, however, her interest in the fine art of the bassist was short lived and the bass was largely unused in its time here. I liked it, but I’m not a short-scale guy so it recently got eased on out the door. Nice bass, all the same.
Made In: Ireland
Specs: Ash body, maple neck, ebony fretboard
Electronics: Seymour Duncan SH-4 humbucker
Controls: Volume, tone
I think it’s part of the journey of the player to have a crack at a home build at some point. Aftermarket parts have never been more plentiful and it’s possible to build a very nice guitar without too much stress or, indeed, effort.
Which is nice.
With this in mind I set about building a strat based guitar in early 2007. I picked up a decent no-name ash body off ebay and placed an order with Warmoth for a quartersawn maple neck with a reverse 50’s headstock. An ebony board with no dots and 6105 tall and narrow frets completed the specification and it arrived in good time from the USA. I sourced some Gotoh tuners to do the needful. The guitar was built with a particular band project in mind, so I kept it simple. You can’t go wrong with a JB pickup, so that’s what went in with just a volume and tone control. I plundered a Kahler Flyer bridge from a old Aria Pro II and put it all together.
It turned out surprisingly well. A minor bit of fretwork was needed to really turn it into a player and have gigged it plenty of times over the last few years. It has been strung heavily and tuned low for that period, usually own to B or even dropped A. It’s a solid, reliable workhorse type and I can’t recall having ever to adjust the truss rod since the initial setup, so I doff my cap in the direction of the good people of Warmoth.
The body has H-S-H routing so, at some point, I may stick a trio of single coils in there just to see what kind of real strat it would be but, for the time being, I keep it as my primary downtuned player, a role it performs admirably.
Bacchus Woodline P Classic
Made In: Japan
Specs: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: HMC PB Alnico 5 pickups, passive circuit
Controls: Volume, Tone
Bacchus’ take on a classic design, made from around 2006 to 2009, features a slightly smaller than standard body and is very light. The neck is chunky, in keeping with Precision tradition, and features luminous side dots. I bought this new from Japan on the strength of other Bacchus I had played and wasn’t let down. Typically, the build quality is superb it feels comfortable sitting or on a strap. It does all which could be asked of a P with a tweak of the tone control. This thing has meat!