What is it?
The Mayones Federico Malaman Jabba Mala 5 is a high-end bass guitar that takes the much-loved Jabba template and augments it with a slew of signature appointments to make it the perfect vessel for Malaman's super-smooth, abundantly groovy chops.
Two things strike you about the build. First, that it is quality. This is a meticulously put together instrument – as you might expect for the price. Second, that it is very loosely based on a Jazz bass format. There is an expansive lower cutaway, with contouring on both the front and rear of the instrument. There is an even more radical approach taken with the six-bolt neck joint, which is largely excavated so you may reach the upper registers with minimal effort.
First impressions on picking it up is that it is built for comfort, but there is a noticeable bias in weight towards the headstock that is relieved when you play with a strap. Swamp ash, however, is one of the lighter tonewoods and so your lower back should have nothing to fear.
Our review model was finised in satin three-tone cherry sunburst but this is also available in available in cream and dirty blue burst finishes. This is either a contemporary or classic instrument, depending on your perspective. There matching headstock is a nice touch. The satin finish on the rock maple neck feels incredible.
The headstock is equipped with HipShot Ultralite tuners and graced by Malaman's signature.
The contouring on the Mala 5 makes for a super-comfortable and playable instrument and is typified by the approach to the six-bolt neck joint.
Performance and verdict
At a 34.25” scale, with 24 frets and 19mm string spacing and low action, the Mala 5 is ridiculously playable, the sort of instrument you might not want to put down. The fret finishing is excellent, and while we would liked to have seen rosewood on the fingerboard of a bass at this price point, the pau ferro looks and feels okay.
Elsewhere, we've got a four-over-one setup of Hipshot Ultralite chrome tuners, a Mayones Big Foot bridge and a six-control layout that promises a cornucopia of options – with three-band EQ and Vintage Tone Control. But even before you plug in you can hear – and feel – the resonance.
We tested the Mala 5 through an Aguilar Tone Hammer, and its natural voice displayed a solid low-frequency floor, with sturdy midrange and no shortage of high-end expression. We love the pairing of Aguilar humbuckers and the Mayones M-BP3 circuit – it just gives you so many options, each all very usable.
The Vintage Tone Control might disappoint those looking for something transformative from it, but, subtle as it is, it does add another texture to the Mala 5's voice.
• Sandberg Chris Childs Signature Enigma
Classy in presentation, sonically the Enigma hits hard but with enough finesse and tonal quality to make it far more than just a 'rock machine'. Consider the Enigma a fine 'all-rounder' with a quite splendid low B performance.
Ultimately, fingerstyle players, jazz players, slap and poppers will take to the Mala 5 like ducks to water. Rockers might find some of the voicings a little soft, but that's where your amp and a strong pick attack can help.
We should leave a final word for that neck profile, because that is the thing that's going to extend your practice sessions, and what would have us returning to the Mala 5 time and time again, and with its profile somewhere between a shallow C or rounded D, and a 43mm nut width, it might just be the neck that pleases everyone – and beckons inquisitive four-stringers into the expansive world of the five-string.
MusicRadar Verdict: A serious bass with heaps of premium tone options and a playability that is seriously addictive. You might never want to stop playing.
Mayones – with Frederico Malaman
Holy One Music
- Made In: Poland
- Colour: Three-tone cherry sunburst, satin finish
- Body: Swamp ash core with eye poplar top
- Neck Joint: Bolt-on, six-bolt attachment
- Nut Width: 43mm
- Fingerboard: Pau ferro
- Frets: 24
- Pickups: Aguilar DCB humbucking pickups x 2
- Electronics: Mayones M-BP3 three-band EQ active preamp
- Controls: Volume (push/pull for active/ passive mode), pickup pan, middle (push/ pull for 400/800 Hz operation), stacked bass/treble, vintage tone control
- Hardware: Chrome hardware, Mayones Big Foot bridge, Hipshot HB6C Ultralite machine heads
- Weight: 3.9 kg / 8.6 lbs
- Case/gig bag included: Mayones hybrid bag/case
- Left-hand option available: No