What is it?
One look at the picture above is enough to tell you that the Beta 5+ Deluxe from Atelier Z Guitar Works is not just a common or garden offset electric bass in the style we all know and love.
Sure, the silhouette is broadly familiar but this smart five-stringer has a very interesting S-H-S pickup configuration, with an oversized Atelier Z humbucker flanked on either side by a pair of JZ-5 single-coils. Controlling all this is an active EQ-Z circuit, with stacked volume knobs for the single-coils, humbucker volume, stacked bass and treble boost/cut, mids boost/cut, and a pickup selector switch.
Finished in Translucent White, the Beta 5+ Deluxe has a two-piece swamp ash body, a bolt-on maple neck and a 34" scale. The neck is attached to the body with a four-bolt joint and has a 24-fret maple fingerboard inlaid with pearloid blocks.
Luminlay glow-in-the-dark side markers run down the outside of the fingerboard and will be invaluable for those moments when you are on stage and need to check your fretboard geography ASAP.
Atelier has used lightweight Gotoh hardware and it helps keep neck dive to a minimum. It is all but unnoticeable when played with a strap, the instrument perfectly balanced and a nice weight. It's just under 9lb, perfectly acceptable.
Performance and verdict
The shallow D neck profile is one of those carves that offer plenty of support and comfort, filling the palm without getting in the way when you want to nip on up the fingerboard. The 48mm nut width and 18mm string spacing makes for a roomy fingerboard but the proportions are unlikely to offend anyone. Comfort is the watchword here.
Out of the box, the setup was tip-top – low on buzz, nice low action. The QC at Atelier has not been sleeping on the job; there are no sharp ends and the frets are impeccably dressed.
Acoustically, the Beta sounds fantastic, the notes really pop out with that Jazz Bass effervescence, and it's a quality that comes to the fore once you put it through your bass amplifier. That's where you first encounter that humbucker, and it is quite something. It has a tone equal to the thickness of the body and extra width on the neck; it's big, warm, and you can tease a little grit from it.
This muscular tone profile is carried over on the single-coils. Yes, there's that vibrant, punchy response, but there's a little bit more meat on the bones than a regular four-string J-type. Set flat, the EQ offers a blank slate tone. There's not that much to distinguish it, but that EQ is very powerful and subtle tweaks reap big tone transformations.
Well-voiced and powerful, it's a circuit that offers a wide selection of musical tones. You could recommend this five-string Beta to all kinds of players. It's a five-string that wears its shortish 34" scale well; that low B is solid, and has all the thump you could need.
Jazz-inspired basses are ten-a-penny but Atelier approaches the concept from a different angle, offering a StingRay-esque humbucker to complement the single-coils and elevating the design, making it more than just a tricked-out copy.
MusicRadar verdict: The Beta 5+ Deluxe makes light work of souped-up J-type/StingRay hybrid tones and is effortlessly playable and very cool to look at.
Bass Japan Direct
Bass Freaks SPRL
- PRICE: £1950
- MADE IN: Japan
- COLOUR: Translucent white, gloss fi nish
- BODY: Swamp ash, two-piece
- NECK: Maple, 34” scale
- NECK JOINT: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- NUT WIDTH: 48mm
- FINGERBOARD: Maple
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: 2 x Atelier Z JZ-5 single-coils, Atelier Z humbucker
- ELECTRONICS: Atelier Z EQ-Z active circuit, 3-band EQ
- CONTROLS: Stacked volumes (single-coils), volume (humbucker), stacked bass/treble boost/cut, mids boost/cut, pickup selector switch
- HARDWARE: Chrome hardware, Gotoh 205B-5 bridge, Gotoh GB-528 Res-O-Lite machine heads
- WEIGHT: 4 kg / 8.8 lbs
- CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED: Gigbag
- LEFT-HANDED: Yes, custom order
- CONTACT: Atelier