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Chris2112

NBD: Manne 1990 fretless 6'er

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Evening all,

I had just wanted to write a quick piece on a new acquisition of mine, something that may be of interest to some of you because there isn't really a great deal about Manne basses on the internet, especially these older models. There is so little, in fact, that I don't even know what this model was called when it was first made, though I will probably write to the company to find out more about it.

In any event, Manne are still around today and probably doing a better trade now than they ever have done. They remain very popular in their native Italy and have a very strong following there. Notably, the virtuoso Dominic Di Piazza used to play one of these. They've been in production since the late 80's with the original luthier still in charge today.

I spotted this one for sale on Reverb at about 3AM on a night shift a couple of weeks ago and made contact with the owner, a nice Italian guy who was selling the instrument after owning it for 30 years! Yes, I was dealing with the original owner who remarked that it had cost him a 'fortune' when new and it had obviously been well looked after. After a few days of exchanging messages to work out the logistics of a sale, a deal was made and the bass was promptly shipped from Italy, flying out from Milan and making it's way to me in Northumberland, England.

I've liked the look of Manne basses for years but I've never seen one in person, never mind held one. However, I am fairly adaptable and must say it is very comfortable to play. The body and neck are maple, with some sort of burled wood veneer on the headstock. The fretboard is unlined ebony with dot markers in line with where the fret would be. It's a substantial instrument, I have not weighed it but it feels about on par with an old maple Yamaha TRB. The neck is very fast and quite thick front-to-back. In comparison to my Pedulla Pentabuzz, which has a very flat neck which is thin front-to-back, the Manne is considerably heftier but no less comfortable for it.

The electronics have been replaced with an EMG setup with active/passing switching. So far, I just run it flat choosing active or passive as I fancy it. The output must be buffered because there is no drop off in output between the two, though the tone in noticeably altered. I haven't yet restrung it with new strings, but I can say that present it has an insane amount of grunt and 'mwah'. The sound is full of body, rich and with a very tactile attack. It really responds to plucking hand placement and technique. The setup gives such low, clean action that makes notes 'bloom' and sustain for ages, just the ticket for carefully considered glissando and sliding a few cents up or down into a note.

One thing that tech-heads will note is the tuning system, which is one of the smartest I have seen. The headstock has string-posts that the end of of the string is wound through. The post is controlled by a very small, smoothly geared knob mounted on the back of the headstock. The strings are threaded through the post and locked in at the headstock and then tuned from the bridge. Again, the tuning action is so smooth and accurate. I find this unique system to be rerally smartly made and it works perfectly. It seems that this tuning system faded out in the early 90's, I will try and find out why that was. I expect it was pretty expensive to make compared to off the shelf parts.

In any event, this bass is a real find for me. I must thank the original owner for keeping it in such good condition. I am now going to woodshed some UZEB and Alain Caron material...

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7 hours ago, Chris2112 said:

The output must be buffered because there is no drop off in output between the two, though the tone in noticeably altered.

Likely because there's no real passive mode with EMG's: they only work when they're battery-powered, and have an internal preamp which is always on. I'm guessing the switch only bypasses the tone controls, which may colour your tone slightly even when set flat.

Very cool find, looks well-made and very pretty!

Edited by LeftyJ

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He he, knowing Manne basses for decades as I played one in a shop back in the day, I was also about to buy this one at this very slim price. I ended up buying another sixer fretless from Italy that I'm awaiting in the next days.

Manne basses are quite unknown outside of Italy indeed. But once you've played one, you know these are high end instruments.

I always liked their look and craftsmanship too. Their sound has something organic that is hard to describe.

That said Dominique Di Piazza is French. 😉 

Good pick @Chris2112 !

PS : It would be nice if you removed your black background for the text as it's quite aggressive to the eyes. 😎

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Wishing I could remove the black background from the text, but it seems to be something that has copied over from Talkbass where I made the original post for the sake of convenience, since it's so much easier to post images on basschat! 

Regarding Di Piazza, yes I know, inuut thought he would be a notable name recognised by our forum users. 

As for the basses, I am looking forward to really putting them through their paces soon. Having both a Pedulla and the Manne is a dream, I just don't think one fretless is enough! 

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1 hour ago, Chris2112 said:

Wishing I could remove the black background from the text, but it seems to be something that has copied over from Talkbass where I made the original post for the sake of convenience, since it's so much easier to post images on basschat! 

Regarding Di Piazza, yes I know, inuut thought he would be a notable name recognised by our forum users. 

As for the basses, I am looking forward to really putting them through their paces soon. Having both a Pedulla and the Manne is a dream, I just don't think one fretless is enough! 

If you'd selected the "paste as plain text option" after pasting your copied text into the post window you could have got rid of the black background.

BTW I used to own the Manne Mandobass.

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1 hour ago, Chris2112 said:

Wishing I could remove the black background from the text, but it seems to be something that has copied over from Talkbass where I made the original post for the sake of convenience, since it's so much easier to post images on basschat! 

Done it for you Chris. Great looking bass, I have always been very interested in Manne, I like the design philosophy and I love a headless with a 'headstock'

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@Hellzero

Let us know when the new bass comes. I'd be interested to know what you're getting. Stefano did say that he had had messages off another couple of guys in Europe interested in the Manne. Being an unlined fretless six, I did immediately wonder if you were one of those who had been looking at it.

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@Chris2112 No, I didn't contact the seller. That said it will be a sixer fretless (defretted) coming...

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