Gear4Music LA Bass Guitar and amp pack
It's something of a myth that only guitarists and singers 'get girls'. If you can stomach it, just ask Kiss bassist Gene Simmons or Lemmy from Motörhead about their success rate in the boudoir.
The bass guitar is an integral part of any band, irrespective of musical style, and if you lean towards rhythm and holding down the low end rather than shredding and pinched harmonics, the humble four-string may be for you.
The Gear4Music bass and amp pack includes a full-scale instrument and a small-yet-perfectly-formed 15-watt combo. The G-4 bass resembles one of the most popular basses of all time, the Fender Precision, with a split humbucker pickup controlled by single volume and tone pots, a four-saddle bridge and the classic body shape.
Its paulownia wood body is much lighter in weight than the hefty single-piece maple neck. This makes the bass quite unbalanced if you're playing it standing up, but the instrument feels much better when played sitting down.
The neck itself has been finished well: it sports a rosewood fingerboard loaded with 20 frets that have been excellently crowned and finished. The headstock bears little relation to the classic Fender design and bristles with four chunky split-barrel machineheads. If we're being ultra-critical, the plastic nut is a little high. This leads to quite a high action, but can be rectified, to a point, by adjusting the saddles.
Accessories comprise a lightweight soft case, a strap, two pearloid .81mm picks and even a set of strings into the bargain. Breaking a bass string is a rare occurrence unless you're really hitting them hard, but they don't come cheap, so the inclusion of some replacements is a generous act.
The SB15 amp offers just about everything a student of the bass guitar should need to obtain a decent tone, short of an on-board fuzz effect. It's loaded with a 6.5-inch speaker and fronted with a suitably hardcore metal grille.
Controls include a volume, plus a three-way EQ augmented by a presence pot. There's also an ergonomically-designed rear panel that can be flipped out so you can tilt the amp back for efficient tone projection, and there's a small cavity behind the panel that hides the hardwired mains lead.
To be honest, this amp's tone isn't especially bassy as the small speaker and modest cabinet do little to aid the projection of bass frequencies, but this is common with many entry-level bass amps. We found that rolling off some of the tone from the guitar helped round out the sharp edges of the sound, and a compressor pedal worked even better.
Some may bemoan the lack of auxiliary inputs for a CD or mp3 player too, as it's included with the guitar version of this amp. However, as a bassist, it's far easier to play along with music coming from external speakers than it is for a guitarist, and although their inclusion would have been a nice touch, we can let it slide here.
We enjoyed playing this bass; issues with the action aside, it plays nicely and has been adequately set up. The fingerboard is a little dry, but a swipe and a rub down with some lemon oil will soon cure that. We're struck by the versatile nature of the split pickup. It reacts to your playing style and the strength of your picking and, with care, you can alter the tone simply with your own style. Try alternating between using the picks and your fingers to see which you prefer.
Packs that provide everything you need to start playing are an obvious purchase choice and this is a worthy contender. With a decent amp and bass, plus the full range of accessories, it's certainly worth a look.
A comprehensive starter package.
The guitar is not brilliantly balanced and the bass amp isn't very bassy.
If you're looking for a complete, basic, value-for-money package to get your bass playing off the ground, this is a good place to start.