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TJ1

Opinions on Bongo Bass?

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20 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

Are you inferring because a basswood Sterling (made on a production line in the far east using cheaper labour/hardware) costs £300, that there needs to be some kind of price correction/correlation against a premium product made in the US by Sterling's parent company costing £2,000+, or that basswood isn't any good?

No - being an ignoramus I am not in a position to infer anything. Just that you might expect more expensive materials to be used,, but as as others have pointed out Basswood is a proper wood and there also probably different grades of it.

 

The responses so far have intrigued me about the Bongo, but confirmed there is no way I should buy one without trying it first - it is just too left field.

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I've been tempted by one that came up on fleabay a year or so back. I think it went for 900ish... Or maybe that was my maximum bid, who knows. Either way I didn't get it but I just fancied it for the weird looks and the potential for a million tones from the pups. I didn't have my ordinary Ray at that point so it must have been 2 years ago now I think about it. I reckon it will be one of those basses that people really appreciate in 20 more years time

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Basswood is fine. However, it has three significant issues;

Appearance- like Poplar and Alder, it lacks much obvious grain or figuring and isn't a particularly attractive colour. This explains why it's usually only available in solid finishes. 

Name- If it were called Tilia bassguitaris superioris, I'm sure people would love it. Being saddled with a plain old name like Basswood just evokes responses like "Yeah, right."

Reputation- because of the two above, at best it gets ignored,  at worst branded as a cheap substitute. I've played Bongos and liked them without knowing or particularly caring what they were fashioned from. Conversely, lovers of natural finishes and multi-laminate through- necks might be suspicious of what's lurking under that solid finish; what are they trying to hide?

I think the Bongo's price reflects the amount of machining required to get the shape,  the cost of the pickups and the (presumably expensive) 4 band EQ, plus a little bit for it being a Musicman..

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3 minutes ago, TJ1 said:

The responses so far have intrigued me about the Bongo, but confirmed there is no way I should buy one without trying it first - it is just too left field.

It's just the shape that seems to irk people; I know my association here is generally Thunderbirds, but that's about as traditional as it gets for me, so the shape didn't deter me and probably made me all the more determined to use it.

I actually liked that the design irritated/amused people in equal measure and as an additional plus, nobody on the circuit I was gigging in played one.  (All these old punk guys with Precisions covered in stickers would be falling over themselves for a noodle and saying how decent it played/sounded.)

Ultimately, it's just a bass.  They all sound pretty much the same.

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Just now, NancyJohnson said:

It's just the shape that seems to irk people; I know my association here is generally Thunderbirds, but that's about as traditional as it gets for me, so the shape didn't deter me and probably made me all the more determined to use it.

I actually liked that the design irritated/amused people in equal measure and as an additional plus, nobody on the circuit I was gigging in played one.  (All these old punk guys with Precisions covered in stickers would be falling over themselves for a noodle and saying how decent it played/sounded.)

Ultimately, it's just a bass.  They all sound pretty much the same.

I think maybe the odd shape would persuade me that I need to try it out, for me being physically comfortable with the instrument is the bottom line - everything else comes afterwards.

 

NB: I've got an musicman Silhouette which is ergonimically the best guitar I've ever played in terms of feel, position etc. And whatever you think about BMW's they are comfortable to drive.

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16 hours ago, owen said:

I have owned 3 of them. The electronics were just superb. I could not get with the lower horn digging into my leg when I sat down.

This is a good observation and one that I never noticed myself for some reason? Perhaps because I never sit down at a gig but this photo does clearly show the point on the Bongo's lower profile compared to soft curves of the Ray and Sterling. 

20181209_113408.thumb.jpg.4222a44ce331719cf0f35ea31113a650.jpg

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47 minutes ago, Sparky Mark said:

This is a good observation and one that I never noticed myself for some reason? Perhaps because I never sit down at a gig but this photo does clearly show the point on the Bongo's lower profile compared to soft curves of the Ray and Sterling. 

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I only play seated these days so it’s likely that wouldn’t work for me. It always surprises me how many instruments are a struggle to play seated. 

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I was having a good dig through my photos and aside from a couple of vanity shots done for insurance purposes, these are the only decent photos I have of my old one and I suspect I only took these when I put it up for sale.  These were taken June 2012.

You can see how close the string spacing was at the nut and how the lower bout gave really easy access to the dusty end.  It was a thing of beauty really.

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Agree with the Marmite analogy. I think they are a bit on the ugly side, but I have never played a MusicMan bass that I didn’t like. Build quality has always been excellent and I love the sound of them.

The bongo is definitely iconic whether that is in a good way or not is definitely a personal thing.

To add my tuppence worth on the basswood debate ... if your not going to see the grain of the wood then the lighter a tone wood can be the better it is for me.

Edited by tegs07
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When MM first introduced the Bongo I thought WTF! However, for a long time now, all I know is... I want one! (Preferably a 6-string Stealth. MMmmmm).

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I think the Bongo could well attain iconic status (if it hasn't already) behind the Stingray as Musicman's second most important bass design. Almost all other Musicman basses are closely based on the Stingray and those that aren't don't seem to be particularly successful in the marketplace. 

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1 minute ago, Sparky Mark said:

I think the Bongo could well attain iconic status (if it hasn't already) behind the Stingray as Musicman's second most important bass design. Almost all other Musicman basses are closely based on the Stingray and those that aren't don't seem to be particularly successful in the marketplace. 

Mine's a keeper anyway!

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1 minute ago, petecarlton said:

Mine's a keeper anyway!

I should hope so too! The single H is a rarish bird with the pup in the MM sweet spot.

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1 minute ago, Sparky Mark said:

I should hope so too! The single H is a rarish bird with the pup in the MM sweet spot.

So true - and I'm so glad you didn't keep it!

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I went to try a few decent basses about 3 years ago.  A gold & black 5HH Bongo was among those I played.  Coming from an Ibby player, I found it very easy to play & the sound was superb.  It's certainly a marmite on looks.  Though prior to seeing it in the flesh, I was never a Bongo fan, but in the flesh, it was lovely.

Useless trivia:  It's designed by the same team that designed the BMW i3 (Designworks).

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7 minutes ago, petecarlton said:

So true - and I'm so glad you didn't keep it!

It's genuinely nice to know it's gone to a good home and being fully appreciated. 👍

Edited by Sparky Mark
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I go into GuitarCenter and go "Euhw" (and why BONGO) but I owned a "champagne pink" Pedulla Pentabuzz so there's no accounting for taste, especially mine.

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Over the years I’ve owned five of them in various combinations of 4 and 5 string, HS and HH but my current one is the first single H I’ve owned. Thought I would have to sell it to purchase the Valenti Jazz I recently got but swung it that I kept the Bongo too. Glad I did as well. It was the favourite and last Bongo sold from a seller’s personal collection. Which was thirteen years to the month after I sold him my white Bongo 4HS. 

In my opinion they are great basses and I’m currently enjoying the bit less thunderous tones of the 3EQ single H. Sterling Ball said the single H is point and shoot and that’s about right. I was forever on the EQ controls with the two pickup ones. This one is more plug in and play and has a StingRay vibe but the sound is smoother and to my ears doesn’t have the top end ‘clank’ of a 3EQ Ray. The bass is also very light with a super fast neck. 

 

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Edited by dub_junkie
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1 minute ago, dub_junkie said:

This one is more plug in and play and has a StingRay vibe but the sound is smoother and to my ears doesn’t have the top end ‘clank’ of a 3EQ Ray. The bass is also very light with a super fast neck. 

 

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This gels with what I've been told - that despite the odds looks it's got more of a 'neutral' tone.

Ok I can see the blue's classier but I still want that orange.

 

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40 minutes ago, dub_junkie said:

Over the years I’ve owned five of them in various combinations of 4 and 5 string, HS and HH but my current one is the first single H I’ve owned. Thought I would have to sell it to purchase the Valenti Jazz I recently got but swung it that I kept the Bongo too. Glad I did as well. It was the favourite and last Bongo sold from a seller’s personal collection. Which was thirteen years to the month after I sold him my white Bongo 4HS. 

In my opinion they are great basses and I’m currently enjoying the bit less thunderous tones of the 3EQ single H. Sterling Ball said the single H is point and shoot and that’s about right. I was forever on the EQ controls with the two pickup ones. This one is more plug in and play and has a StingRay vibe but the sound is smoother and to my ears doesn’t have the top end ‘clank’ of a 3EQ Ray. The bass is also very light with a super fast neck. 

 

3CF82B61-78B9-4CE1-9027-61BC7490896F.png

038C477E-BED9-4793-90A4-B5CC0C42032D.jpeg

Oooft, that is a fine looking axe.

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They don't work aesthetically for me - so I wouldn't splash any cash on one.

Never tried one so don't have any opinion on playability sound etc.

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Without doubt one of the ugliest basses ever built. But, I still kinda want one. :)

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OK if I saw that blue one hanging in G.C. I would definitely pull it down and try it. Just goes to show (me)...

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I've had a stealth 5 string bongo for s few years now, it's a great bass for the kind of music I play, yes the 18v pre-amp is hot, but as long as the system you're running it with has enough headroom on the input, you're golden. 

I use mine with a Helix Stomp and a Shelford Channel in the studio and it provides a real contrast in tone to the SR5 and the fretless. It's got a real presence in the low end that cuts live.

The G is a little close to the edge of the fretboard on first playing, but you get used to it, can't say I've noticed any problems with comfort, standing or sitting.

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