In Ampeg’s showcase room we found two new bass pedals. The Liquifier Analog Chorus and Opto Comp Analog Compressor were this year’s offerings. Both pedals have true bypass, excellent signal-to-noise ratio, and a sturdy all-metal design. The Liquifier has a dual chorus circuit with Rate, Depth and Effect Level controls. This pedal can be used with either a bass or a guitar to achieve desired chorus tones. The Opto Comp can also be utilized by either bass or guitar. The pedal has an optical circuit, which creates a vintage-style compression. Compression and Release controls are dialed to optimum tone. —AL
Blackstar introduced a range of compact bass amps this year! The Unity amps are combos with a variety of power ratings and speaker options, all of which can be expanded with a matching, self-powered, 1x15 cabinet. The amps have selectable voicing options: classic, modern, and flat, and selectable dynamics response: linear, 6L6, and 6550. They each feature direct recording options, overdrive circuits, and compression, and have budget-friendly pricing putting them within easy reach of gigging bassists.
We came across two stunning new basses from Dingwall this year. The D-Bird Standard is a beautifully crafted, Khaya body, also known as African mahogany, with a 5-piece maple neck, Pau Ferro fretboard and black hardware. This 34” to 36.25” multi-scale, 4-string is equipped with Dingwall FD3n passive pickups, master volume, and four-position pickup selector. Offered in Aquamarine Metalflake, Matte Blue/Purple shift, Matte Blackburst and Matte Vintageburst, this instrument is sure to be a welcome addition to any bass player’s collection.
Also, of note for left-handed players is Dingwall’s NG, now available in a Left Hand version. It features an Alder body with a five-piece maple neck, matching headstock, and chrome hardware. The NG also has FDn3 pickups, master volume, and a four-position pickup selector. The Adam “Nolly” Getgood signature version features a custom Darkglass Tone Capsule preamp. For all you lefty bassists out there, you can choose from 4, 5 or 6-string in metallic black, Ducati white, Laguna Seca Blue, and Mopar Purple. If you are really looking for a stand out finish, the NG Left Hand is also available in swirls.
What’s a bass amplifier company without their signature sound in a preamp pedal? We got to check out GK’s Plex Preamp pedal. Besides footswitchable overdrive and compression, the pedal includes the brand’s iconic, active, four-band, “Variable Q” equalizer and contour circuit. It has an effects loop, XLR direct output (in addition to standard quarter-inch jacks), and a USB connection that provides direct recording capabilities!
What’s up, people? That would be the new Ibanez electric, upright bass! It was an interesting looking slab of wood to be sure, though it will be interesting to see if they can take a bite out of NS Design’s supreme dominance in this instrument space.
Lakeland introduced the new Ice Blue Skyline series at Winter NAMM. Available in four- and five-string variants with a variety of pickup options, we love the subdued metallic blue finishes with matching headstocks. You can order these basses with a huge variety of pickup configurations, colors, and tops if the cool blue finish isn't your thing.
New to the Radius series, NS Design showcased its NXTa bass. This headless bass made in the Czech Republic weighs a mere 7.8 to 8.6 pounds and features a straight-grain maple body with the option of maple top in satin black or flamed maple with a sunburst finish.
The NXTa boasts the NS-patented self-clamping tuning system, which makes bringing the instrument to exact pitch a breeze. Available in 4- or 5-string, the NXTa features custom NS/EMG pickups and battery-free, Dual Mode Output electronics made for NS by Mi-Si. Fretted or fretless, this baby is sure to impress. NS also includes a nice, padded gig bag with plenty of room for wires that can easily be stored in a plane’s overhead compartment.
The new Bantam 4 bass has a chambered, alder body beneath its quilted maple top, and a short, 30” scale length for its bolt-on, maple neck with Indian Rosewood fretboard. It’s made in the Czech Republic and features a pair of EMG pickups (EMG35DC) with active EQ.
We were also excited to check out Rudy Sarzo’s signature bass, the Euro4 LX RS. It features the extremely versatile SimS pickups that were one of our NAMM top picks two years ago. We’re hoping to getting our hands on this bass for review soon.
With its retro-future vibe, it was hard not to love Warwick’s new Idolmaker bass guitars. These 34” scale four- and five-string instruments have bolt-on necks, strap locks, and offer a variety of active or passive pickups and electronics, different tops and woods, etc.
The 2018 Limited Edition Streamer LX was another striking model, featuring a swamp ash body, wenge neck/fretboard, and passive Aquilar Soapbar DC-D2 pickups.