Bacchus Duke Master

Bacchus Duke Master

Year: 2007

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.

Bacchus T-Master

Bacchus T-Master

Year: 2007

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.

Bacchus 02 Standard 5

Bacchus 02 Standard 5

Year: 2003

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, ebony fretboard

Electronics: Bacchus Hand Made ALV pickups, Bartolini XTCT preamp

Controls: Volume, blend, bass boost, treble boost

This is the bass which opened my eyes to the world of Bacchus. Another U-box acquisition, I picked this up while I was waiting on the Hotwire to be built and is probably part of the reason why it was such a disappointment when it arrived. The Bacchus was better in every aspect, considerably better in fact.

Everything about this bass reeks of class. Construction and hardware is top-notch and the neck is quite slim for a five string. The fretwork is excellent so the action is low and buzz free. If you don’t like knicks and dinks, they’re not the bass for you, though. The oil finish marks easily and the bass looks older than its years. On the positive side, the wood isn’t entombed in plastic and can vibrate freely and it really projects the sound of the strings unplugged. Despite the body binding there is enough of a forearm contour to ensure it’s comfortable to play. Blocks and binding on an ebony board is always a winning idea too.

The only change I’ve made is to install a pickup blend pot instead of the traditional double volume setup, I just prefer vol-blend to vol-vol. The tone is an aggressive, modern J sound. It’s bright and focussed but with more than enough low end on tap for any job. You just know this bass will sound great every time, on every occasion. It has been used on blues and downtuned Metal with equal success. It’s got growl, it’s got warmth and it’s got a thunderous B string too.

Very serious business.

Bacchus Twenty Four

Bacchus Twenty Four

Year: 2011

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body, three-piece maple neck, ebony fretboard

Electronics: Bacchus JBT Alnico V pickups, Bartolini XTCT 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, blend, bass, mid, treble, coil tap switch, preamp bypass switch

The U-box has been a kind mistress over the years, perhaps never more so than when I picked up this mint condition Twenty Four at an outrageously low price. Another distillation of the Jazz bass concept, the Twenty Four is a lightweight and versatile bass made to Bacchus’ usual impeccable standards.

The downsized body is very comfortable, especially on a strap and it’s light enough to wear for hours without becoming disagreeable. The neck is in the classic Jazz mould and it a breeze to play. The newer models have abandoned the separate tailpiece design in favour of a one-piece bridge which is a bit of a shame. The Gotoh unit had become somewhat of a Bacchus  feature in my eyes.

Electronically, there’s a lot going on. While it looks like a regular cut-and-boost three band EQ, there are no centre detents to indicate a neutral position and each pot fully cuts its associated band completely when the knob is fully turned off. It’s possible to allow just low end, or mid or treble of course, to be outputted. As such, there’s no default sound, aside from bypassing the preamp altogether, the sound is sculpted from how you set the EQ at the time.

This is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook. If you’re the type who likes to settle on one sound or start from a set point each time, this might not be the bass for you. If, on the other hand, you like the idea of dialling in the right sound for that moment in time then this bass offers a multitude of usable sounds via the powerful EQ and the very handy coil tap, which gives you the outside coil from each pickup only. Like the Alembic, the pickup blend is very sensitive and small adjustments make a big change to the sound. The preamp bypass is really just a backup circuit, ok in times of emergency but not something you’d utilise on a regular basis.

If you were to have only one bass, but needed to cover a lot of ground, this would be a great option. There’s nothing it can’t do and do in style.

Bacchus JST

Bacchus JST

Year: 2003

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Yuta single-coil x 3

Controls: Volume, tone x 2, five-way switch

There’s business and there’s serious business. This one surfaced in Cork, of all places, for very little money but I didn’t have the cash at the time and tried to wipe it from my mind, thinking it would be snapped up immediately at that asking price. A month later, I noticed the ad again and it had the usual tyre kicker comments but looked like it hadn’t sold. I contacted the seller and, to my amazement, it was still available. I travelled down the next day. He opened the case, I saw the three-digit serial number and the deal was done straight away. I’ve contacted Bacchus looking for information but all they could confirm was it was a custom order.

At the risk of not making absolute sense, this is the strattiest strat I have ever played. It encompasses everything, in my mind, which defines a strat to the absolute maximum. It’s hard to articulate, to be honest.

It feels great. It has meaty C shaped neck, small frets, super thin finish with a real old vibe to it. Accordingly, the bridge pickup doesn’t go to a tone control and, while bright, is not unbearably harsh. The one modern concession made is a five-way switch. It’s stratty to a ridiculous level and entirely charming as a result.

This is serious business.

Bacchus G-Player

Bacchus G-Player

Year: 2008

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, maple fretboard

Electronics: Van Zandt Blues single coil pickups

Controls: Volume, tone, turbo blender, five-way switch

I make no bones about my admiration for Bacchus, I’ve yet to play one which was anything less than stellar. This one, probably one of the few whiteburst guitars in existence, is no exception.

Shortly after selling my trans-white Fender documented elsewhere here, I was on the hunt for a new strat and, seeing this trans-white beauty in Japan, had no hesitation in snapping it up. I had played another G-Player here in Ireland, amazingly enough, and was confident it would fill the gap nicely.

In terms of construction, fit and finish, it is flawless. The beautiful ash grain is clear up to the edges of the body where the burst fades into solid white. It really is a very tasteful finish. The rest of it is pretty nice too. The action is low, the Gotoh bridge holds tunes well and it’s supremely comfortable to play. The body is slightly scaled down from the regular Strat size. Being honest, it’s quite a step up from the Fender it replaced. As ever, with Bacchus, it’s what you already know, just a little better.

Unlike most strats, all three pickups are routed through the first tone knob. The Turbo Blender, as they call it, is the second tone knob. This is a pot which blends in the neck pickup when the bridge pickup is selected and vice-versa, giving you a very respectable Tele type tone on demand.

The only change I have made was replacing the SC-1 pickups which came as stock. Perhaps it was due to the ash body combined with maple neck, but I felt it was just a little short on warmth. I installed a set of Van Zandts which took care of that. They’re a great set of pickups and really delivered the sound I was looking for.

This is the real deal.

Bacchus Venus 5

Bacchus Venus 5

Year: 2002

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x Bacchus single coil pickups

Controls: Volume, blend, bass cut & boost, treble cut & boost

I bought this with the intention of defretting it, that lovely slab of rosewood just called out to me. However, when it arrived, the fretwork was so good I just couldn’t butcher it. This thing sang, it absolutely had the tone, the looks, the playability and more. In fact, it had everything except a forearm contour which, I discovered, is pretty much a deal breaker with the way I played bass. I did toy with the idea of having a forearm contour put in and the top refinished, but to maim this bass in any way would have been a travesty. This really was as nice as it gets, but the slab top and I just couldn’t get along. In the end, I eased it on out the door in exchange for a 3-band Stingray.