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LeftyP

Italia Maranello Cavo Bass

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I've had my Italia Cavo Bass for a month and am still finding out what it can do.  It has a retro look about it and, despite its Italian name, was deigned by an Englishman (Trevor Wilkinson) and built in South Korea!  The build quality is very good. It is a short scale bass and features a semi hollow body which makes it pretty light at just over 7lb.  There is a central block inside the body to which the bridge and pick-ups are anchored. The weight - or lack of it - is what first attracted me to the Cavo.  I was playing a Chowny SWB-1 short scale bass and really liked it but my 68 year old back struggled with the weight of it, even though it was just over 9lb and not very heavy for a bass.  Sadly the Chowny had to go and I managed to track down the Cavo bass at Richard's Guitars in Stratford.

It took a lot of keyboard time to find a UK dealer who had one available and Richard's were good enough to have it weighed for me.  They set the bass up beautifully but it came supplied with round wound strings which I very soon changed for flat wounds.  Although the Cavo is "short scale" it needs medium length strings (34") to take into account the bridging system. D'Addario Medium Scale 45/100 flat wounds fit it perfectly.

The bass comes in a choice of two colours; green or red, and I chose the red which I hope comes out well in the photographs.  I am not a big fan of chrome but the Italia's styling carries off the shiny stuff well and I do like the look of it (even the strings are Chromes!).  On the strap there is slight neck dive but nothing to get excited about and the lightness of the bass is very welcome.  Controls are; Volume, Tone and "Sweep" which enables the player to blend the bridge and neck pick-ups to order.  One thing that has caught me by surprise is how much the tone control alters the sound.  The Cavo is a passive bass and usually tone controls on passives have very little affect on the overall sound (the Chowny's tone control was almost just a decorative knob) but turning the control from one extreme to the other produces a noticeable change in the tone of the Cavo.  I play in our church band and the bass is plugged into a D.I. box and fed to a mixer at the back of the hall.  I have very little control as to how the bass sounds or sits in the mix and I am still experimenting with the tone and pick-up controls to find a sweet spot.

All in all, I really like this little bass guitar.  It makes a difference from all the Fender look-a-likes, is kind to my ageing back, and I think it will be my playing partner for many years.

 

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Edited by LeftyP
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I've just found this post. Thank you for your review. I shall arrange a visit to Stratford soon to try one out. The lightweight and beauty of this model along with the short-scale makes it look very much like a new bass for me soon. And I'll probably try out the D'Addario chromes, not yet tried them but they're spoken highly of by many, so it's about time I did.

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On 31/12/2018 at 17:48, LeftyP said:

I've had my Italia Cavo Bass for a month and am still finding out what it can do.  It has a retro look about it and, despite its Italian name, was deigned by an Englishman (Trevor Wilkinson) and built in South Korea!  The build quality is very good. It is a short scale bass and features a semi hollow body which makes it pretty light at just over 7lb.  There is a central block inside the body to which the bridge and pick-ups are anchored. The weight - or lack of it - is what first attracted me to the Cavo.  I was playing a Chowny SWB-1 short scale bass and really liked it but my 68 year old back struggled with the weight of it, even though it was just over 9lb and not very heavy for a bass.  Sadly the Chowny had to go and I managed to track down the Cavo bass at Richard's Guitars in Stratford.

It took a lot of keyboard time to find a UK dealer who had one available and Richard's were good enough to have it weighed for me.  They set the bass up beautifully but it came supplied with round wound strings which I very soon changed for flat wounds.  Although the Cavo is "short scale" it needs medium length strings (34") to take into account the bridging system. D'Addario Medium Scale 45/100 flat wounds fit it perfectly.

The bass comes in a choice of two colours; green or red, and I chose the red which I hope comes out well in the photographs.  I am not a big fan of chrome but the Italia's styling carries off the shiny stuff well and I do like the look of it (even the strings are Chromes!).  On the strap there is slight neck dive but nothing to get excited about and the lightness of the bass is very welcome.  Controls are; Volume, Tone and "Sweep" which enables the player to blend the bridge and neck pick-ups to order.  One thing that has caught me by surprise is how much the tone control alters the sound.  The Cavo is a passive bass and usually tone controls on passives have very little affect on the overall sound (the Chowny's tone control was almost just a decorative knob) but turning the control from one extreme to the other produces a noticeable change in the tone of the Cavo.  I play in our church band and the bass is plugged into a D.I. box and fed to a mixer at the back of the hall.  I have very little control as to how the bass sounds or sits in the mix and I am still experimenting with the tone and pick-up controls to find a sweet spot.

All in all, I really like this little bass guitar.  It makes a difference from all the Fender look-a-likes, is kind to my ageing back, and I think it will be my playing partner for many years.

 

P1020285 (450x800).jpg

P1020286 (450x800).jpg

P1020288 (641x800).jpg

Lovely looking bass.

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I agree, this is a really lovely looking bass. Nice colour too, and re the chrome - it does look good on this bass
I especially like the Italia badge too. I don't know why - perhaps because it just has that retro look?

Re the pickups - does it sound like a Hoffner Violin bass? Just wondering.... 
Looks a really nice instrument for when you want to go as lightweight as possible (increasingly important for many of us)

EDIT: I'm also surprised that your Chowney was as heavy as that - they always look as though they should be light, to me

Edited by Marc S

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On 11/02/2019 at 11:41, Marc S said:

I agree, this is a really lovely looking bass. Nice colour too, and re the chrome - it does look good on this bass
I especially like the Italia badge too. I don't know why - perhaps because it just has that retro look?

Re the pickups - does it sound like a Hoffner Violin bass? Just wondering.... 
Looks a really nice instrument for when you want to go as lightweight as possible (increasingly important for many of us)

EDIT: I'm also surprised that your Chowney was as heavy as that - they always look as though they should be light, to me

The weight of the Chowny took me by surprise as I had been playing a Tanglewood copy of the Hofner violin bass and that was very light - I still have it.  I would not wish to put anyone off buying a Chowny SWB-1 as I really liked it and it played very well - it is a very good bass guitar.  My back issues were the problem - not the guitar.

I tried flat wound strings on the Italia but have now fitted my favourite tape wounds to it.  I like the sound and feel of tape wounds (D'Addario) as they are not "zingy" and prevent the zip-wire sound when sliding across the frets.  They provide the bass with more of a thump instead of a piano ring and I prefer that.  I can stand with the bass around my neck for much longer than I could with the Chowny and my back is very grateful for that!

The Italia is certainly something different from the usual Jazz and Precision basses out there and suits the music I play (in a church service) very well.  It's a keeper!

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Thanks for that info LeftyP.
Re the tapewounds - what's the tension like? Are they lower tension than many flats?
Similar tension to rounds?

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5 minutes ago, Marc S said:

Thanks for that info LeftyP.
Re the tapewounds - what's the tension like? Are they lower tension than many flats?
Similar tension to rounds?

It's difficult to say because they feel so different under the fingers.  Some brands may differ too.  If they are of a lower tension it will be minimal.  All I know is that I like the way they play and they are kind to my fingers!  I am a light player so that will affect the sound of them too.

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Good review LeftyP. 

I was seriously looking at the non-hollow version of this when I was looking at a backup for my Mustang.  I ended up not partaking as I was concerned over comments on neck dive.  In many respects I prefer a heavy bass to a neck divey one as the latter puts a strain on my left shoulder which is the first to grumble.  Ironically the back up bass I ended up getting, which I'd expected to be ok, had some neck dive..........more fool me.

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