We’ve been impressed with Marleaux basses in the past and with the German company present at LBGS 2018, we thought it timely to investigate current examples from the stable.
With a mouthwatering selection on display, we were informed that this particular model from the Tiuz range had just been bought and furthermore, that it was ‘something special’. So, with the lucky buyer’s permission, we took it down to our control bunker at the show to run the rule over this eye-catching number.
Constructed using locally sourced timber, the Tiuz is attention-grabbing from the off, thanks to its good looks and several interesting features. The satin-finished body, in a Frozen Sky finish, stands out courtesy of the timber grain of the figured maple top, sitting on top of a chestnut body core and flame maple rear facing with black oak veneers running around the body edge.
The extensive cutaways offer unrestrained access to the upper regions of the ‘clean’ maple fingerboard, with no front facing position markers, although black dots have been used along the side of the neck. The overall comfort is maintained with the upper bout chamfer and rear contouring, while a dip in the upper chamfer offers greater comfort to the player’s right arm as it passes over the bass.
The Tiuz balances very well, even when off a strap, and at 3.7kg this is a fine bass to wear with little effort required from shoulders or back. In terms of playability, it hits all the right buttons; the satin finished five-piece neck sports Jazz-esque dimensions, and is nicely rounded without feeling overly substantial. The 40mm nut width and 19mm string spacing also make for a comfortable playing experience.
Carbon reinforcing rods sit inside the neck for extra rigidity and stability, and the level of finishing across the whole instrument is very good indeed, as it should be at this price. The setup was very good, if a little low for my personal preference, but this was easily adjusted - and with no sharp fret ends, the neck felt sleek and slippery.
A magnetic wooden backplate hides the electronics from view, with trim pots for pickup balance and output easily accessible. Clearly visible, however, are the frequency selection dip switches which allow the player to select the frequencies for boosting/ cutting. Bass frequencies are 40Hz or 75Hz; low mids are 300Hz, 450Hz or 750Hz; high mids are 850Hz, 1.2kHz or 1.7kHz; and treble frequencies are 4khz or 8kHz. All-in-all, there’s plenty for any tone geek to get stuck into!
The chrome hardware is solidly attached and works perfectly; the control set may look a little fussy, but in operation it makes sense and calling upon various settings is relatively simple.
Despite having all the tonal possibilities they could want at their fingertips, some players may well be put off by the complexity of the controls and dip switch settings - but have no fear, this setup is quite simple to get your head around. The EQ setup is intuitive, and although some time may be required to get the dip switch settings tested and your favourite tones selected, once you’ve found them it’s merely a case of adding or cutting the level of that frequency. Throw into the mix the single-coil/humbucker switch and you really have a bass for most applications.
The neck pocket is super-tight, as indicated by the seven-bolt attachment, which translates into a bright, bouncing response from the Tiuz. With the mid-EQ well and truly taken care of, this bass certainly doesn’t lack projection; its upper tones are ice-crisp, which is very much in keeping with its colouring. However, it is also capable of producing warm woody tones when they are needed.
Overall, the Tiuz offers a fine mix of rounded bottom-end thunder, midrange presence and sparkling highs. In passive mode, the output is equally pleasing - vibrant and solid without being spongy or sounding like an afterthought. The passive tone control is equally effective in either active or passive mode and, throughout this review, the string volume and response was even and impressive across the whole neck.
If you are looking for a new bass that is a little different from the usual high-visibility names, the Marleaux Tiuz makes a strong case. Its level of craftsmanship is excellent, the electronics package is exceptional and the level of playability and comfort is very impressive indeed. We doubt anyone willing to take the plunge, despite the significant pricetag, will be disappointed or found left wanting. There is much to like about this bass and its design and tonal options work on many levels. Seek one out for a test drive.