Flea’s Signature Jazz Bass arrived here at Music World Ipswich last week and I’ve been sitting, staring in absolute awe at this beautiful piece of craftsmanship, struggling to locate the words to give this instrument the sterling review it truly deserves. Quite simply, it’s beyond belief. The ultimate blend of playability, comfort and style combined with razor-sharp highs and wall-trembling lows.
Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary is a name known by musicians far and wide. Majority of artists create in the way they consume and there’s an extremely fine line between mimicking and taking inspiration. Flea nailed it. The man is a genius. He’s got the groove; the ability to design the line that allows him to slip into any genre he so desires, yet is instantaneously identifiable. I would imagine this kind of musicianship came from listening to the giants of funk, bepop and jazz (where the bass was simultaneously the lead and supporting instrument) and applying them to the skills he picked up along the way. Although Flea’s initial love was for the trumpet which could explain where his ear for such staccato, yet soulful melodies rises from.
Based on a 1961 model that was gifted to him from a fan, the Flea Jazz Bass has become the sound that has since inspired countless musicians to follow suit. Okay, so let’s talk spec. This bass is definitely one for the vintage fans/hipsters. Offset Alder body with a carefully replicated Road Worn finish, coated topped off with one of the most attractive colour schemes I’ve ever seen on a bass; Shell Pink body (a finish that was discontinued in the early 60’s), Red Tortoise Shell scratch-plate and that neck… a faded rosewood fretboard that gives a growl as immense as Chewbacca, yet when played gently, purrs like a Moroccan Fennec Fox. Crazy, right?!
Now for those pickups… Pure Vintage ’64 single-coils. Such depth and so much clarity. It’s almost like every bass before this was a test run. They really got it spot it. The bridge can go from a bright rasp to a tone as light as air. And the neck ranges from as deep as the ocean blue to what I could only describe as brown noise. I can’t fault them. At all. I’m a massive fan of the stacked concentric pots too. Meaning you have total control over your tone (a much simpler layout to the standard). Especially useful when wanting to make rapid changes during a gig.
Basically (lol) this instrument is flawless, marvellous, spiffing, some would even say glorious. It’s not just comfortable, it feels right. Playability is outrageous, like it was made for the individual’s hands. This is a bass unparalleled in aesthetic, tone and general awesomeness. The kind of bass you wouldn’t just meet on a night out and never call again, but one that you’d introduce to your parents, invite to your friend’s wedding, make future plans with. This is a bass for life.
And even if the Jazz bass isn’t ‘your thing’… just try it, you will be pleasantly surprised. Trust me.