Polish luthier Maruszczyk evidently knows its classic films.
The ‘Jake’ model - and yes, there is an ‘Elwood’ too, to complete the Blues Brothers reference - is lightweight at 3.6 kilos, handmade and particularly eyecatching with a turquoise burst finish. With much being said in bass-world about their playability and tonal quality, we set about assessing this particular ‘blue’ brother...
Straight out of the box, the Jake’s light weight will take your breath away; this has much to do with the chambered alder body. The familiar P-Bass shape is quite striking, with its satin-finished, turquoise burst quilted top, along with the matching headstock, while the pearloid pickguard and white Delano pickups make a pleasant change.
The colour scheme works very well alongside the birdseye maple fingerboard, chrome hardware and control set. The bass is very easy to wear, with some rear contouring, although there is minimal shaping to the upper body bout on the front. Access to the truss rod is very easy at the base of the neck, and for a change, pearl position markers have been used on the maple fingerboard instead of black ones, although black dots have been utilised on the side edge.
The four-bolt neck pocket is tight and rigid, and the overall setup of the neck is very pleasing, with no sharp fret ends and a high standard of finishing across the instrument. The Delano pickups have been matched with a Delano circuit, incorporating controls for volume (offering a passive option via the push/pull control) and pickup pan, as well as a three-band EQ and a separate selector switch for picking your mid-frequency; choose from 300Hz, 500Hz or 800Hz. The treble control functions as a passive tone control in passive mode.
The rounded D-shaped neck profile is reminiscent of a Stingray profile, and it sure is playable, aided by the satin neck finish and 19mm string spacing. Acoustically, this is a vibrant beast, the chambered body obviously contributing to this; the sustain is also very notable.
The characteristic vibrant ‘bounce’ you would expect from a bolt-on bass is also evident with this instrument, and from a balance point of view, although there is a minimal amount of headstock bias, the bass sits perfectly against the player’s body.
With the EQ set flat and the bass plugged in, there is much to enjoy about this bass’s performance; the power and projection on tap are very impressive. Soloing each pickup illustrates the sounds and tones which you would expect of the respective unit, but added to each is a clarity and focus that really works. Every note stands out and there is consistent string volume from all four strings across the whole neck.
Adding some EQ to the mix opens the tonal palette up significantly. If you want traditional P and J tones, you can certainly have them - but you can add some extra boom and bite to make your tone stand out. The mid-EQ is well set up; the three frequency choices make complete sense and offer distinct voicings should you require them.
The lowest mid-frequency in particular rounded out the sound very nicely. Slap players will appreciate the treble response, too.
To sum up, we were hard pushed to find a tone we didn’t like. The Jake responds very well to your playing style; digging in produces a forceful raspiness and attack, and if you use a pick, the initial string attack is defined and punchy. Fingerstyle players may find the bottom end a little full-on, so use the bass EQ with a touch of caution.
However, the mid-EQ selector switch is very much your friend if you require extra definition in a live context. With a modern twist on classic looks and styling, the Jake is a high-quality performer, and players of any genre won’t go far wrong should they choose to use one. The dimensions make the bass feel familiar, and the components and construction have been combined to create a great bass playing experience.
It seems as if the fuss around this brand is definitely well deserved, because the Jake is a very pleasing instrument in every respect. It mixes traditional and modern styling perfectly and has tones to match.
We can’t imagine too many players being disappointed by their purchase and at £1299, it’s punching above its weight in terms of what you get for your money. With Maruszczyk offering a ‘bass configurator’ on its website, the different features, components and styling can all be adjusted to your requirements should you wish to design your own bass from the ground up. On the other hand, you can take a trip to Ye Olde Bass Store and put one through its paces right now. So what are you waiting for?