Anaconda Tribute J5E Elite review

Custom five-string basses are always attention-grabbing - and this slithery example is no different

MusicRadar Verdict

A fine instrument in every respect and a joy to play.


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    Stunning looks, fabulous sounds and tones.


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This particular Anaconda was presented to us at the LBGS back in March and although it’s a custom order, it is a good indication of where this particular range sits in the catalogue. 

The Tribute range tips its hat to the classic Jazz basses of the past while offering its own unique slant. This particular model incorporates an interesting electronics package as well as some visual knockout elements, and has been designed to the customer’s specifications as a working professional. 

Playability and flexibility were high on the list - so let’s see how it weighs up.    

Build Quality

Resplendent in a purple candy burst finish and with a satin lacquer, this is a highly enjoyable bass to wear and play. The dark figuring of the swamp ash body stands out a mile without the clear scratchplate spoiling the visuals: the balance is good and the bass sits perfectly. Although the shape is similar to the usual offset Jazz body, it is rounded and contoured for comfort and feels exceptionally smooth. 

The deep lower cutaway offers unhindered access to the dusty end of the 24-fret maple fingerboard. The shallow D-shaped neck profile is very accommodating, the five-piece flame maple and wenge laminates adding a touch of visual class. 

With a 48mm nut width, 19mm string spacing, satin finished neck and a broad fingerboard, this feels like a real player’s neck: it isn’t cumbersome or overly bulky, but hits the bullseye in terms of left-hand comfort and manoeuvrability. 

The level of neck finishing is exemplary: there are no sharp fret ends, as expected, and there’s a slinky action with no buzzes anywhere on the neck. Offset ebony piano marker inlays adorn the fingerboard, while white Luminlay markers have been used on the side: there’s also a brass nut. 

Delano pickups have been matched with a three-band Glockenklang preamp which also offers a three-position switch: this selects three different mid frequency settings for boosting or cutting. Gold hardware has been used throughout, the machine heads and bridge being Hipshot products. 

The controls, like the machine heads, are securely fitted and operate very smoothly indeed, with pots for volume, pickup pan, bass, middle and treble and the aforementioned mid-EQ selector all located closely together.   

Sounds And Playability 

Tested through an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 and a pair of SL112 cabinets, this is one lively bass! Before plugging in, it’s clear that this is a bass with its own voice and tone. The lively bounce of the five-bolt neck attachment is one element, and the choice of timber and neck lamination is another, offering solidity and consistency of performance along with a strong definition of tone, particularly in the midrange. 

The whole instrument vibrates and resonates against the player’s body, always a good sign. With both the Aguilar system and Glockenklang preamp set flat, the attention to detail in the construction is matched by the sonic details - the flat response brought a smile to this reviewer’s face immediately. 

The bottom end is tight but powerfully rounded without being boomy or excessive; the midrange is tightly focused; and the highs can be whatever you want them to be, as there is plenty of cut and boost to facilitate your requirements. 

The B string stands out very well should you need it to, but if you prefer for it to be present in a more subtle manner, work with the mid-EQ to get the tone you require. 

Talking of midrange, the selector switch is a flexible and sensible option, as the frequencies selected give the bass a bright boost in the upper mids, a central mid frequency colour or a sizeable low-mid boost. Used sensibly, this is a real plus point. 

The whole package has obviously had some forethought expended on it and the result is a highly playable five-string that will work in virtually any musical situation. Playability is sublime, the comfort element has been addressed and fulfilled, and the materials and electronics package give the player a highly pleasing selection of sounds.   

This is another fine example of the work coming through the Anaconda workshop in North London. Once more, luthier Andrew Taylor-Cummings has created a sumptuous instrument: little wonder that it had the crowds talking at the LBGS back in March. 

It’s a sturdily assembled bass: so much about this instrument feels and sounds right that it is very difficult to find any negative points, try as we might! The lucky owner definitely had some firm ideas as to what he wanted and with this bass, Andrew has brought those ideas to life. Very impressive.