What is it?
The thing about Stonefield basses is that we all love the instruments, we all we wish we could take them home, but then the price tag is always going to be a barrier.
It's not that Stonefield solely operates at the upper-limit of boutique bass pricing, where you can be talking silly money, big sums for deep pockets – the G and C series are priced at just over two grand, what you might expect for a pro bass. But it has never been affordable until now.
The F-Series is made in India, retails for under a grand, and yet on first impressions looks like it retains much of the design fundamentals of its more expensive siblings.
Take the Classic: here we have a heavily contoured instrument, with a body of alder with a 10mm maple cap, to which a three-piece maple neck is bolted, and if you flip it over you'll find a deep channel running down from the heel, both reducing the weight of the bass and enhancing upper-fret access.
The neck has a pleasing D profile, rounded, comfortable. Altogether the dimensions of the Classic are very kind to the player. It measures 45mm across the nut, but there is a Slimline 42mm option, too, that offers more of a P-Bass feel.
Equipped with a pair of OEM humbuckers, the Classic is a passive bass with a fuss-free setup; there are independent volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control. There's plenty of scope for tone-sculpting here.
There's also a fair degree of fancy-schmancy design here, particularly with regards Stonefield's use of timber, with ebony tuners matching a floating ebony bridge. That just feels boutique.
Performance and verdict
The first thing that strikes you when you plug the F-Series Classic in is that those humbuckers sure deliver an excellent degree of definition. They let those low bass notes bloom, rounded and wide but never muddy.
Sometimes the passive humbucker combo can give you some midrange that'll make your nose bleed, but there's a super-smooth quality to these that just feels so musical, and ultimately practical.
• Sterling by Music Man Stingray 34HH
Ray34HH has a darker side to its sound, which is where the fun really begins. Thanks to its two alnico humbuckers, the Ray34HH’s five-way toggle switch provides access to a wealth of pleasingly fat tones.
• Spector Legend 4
This is a wonderful, muscular bass. It oozes a traditional feel which may or may not suit you, depending on your predilection for solid, massive-feeling basses. Throaty, unforgiving, even slightly obnoxious... all your favourite bass adjectives apply, and then some.
Roll the blend back and forth between them and you'll hear the distinction between both, the warmth of the middle position, that extra clarity from the bridge 'bucker. Perhaps the ebony fingerboard is doing a bit of the work here, helping maintain the attack, endowing the Classic with a crispness in its response.
There is an organic quality to the Classic's tone that is very easy to like. The tone control has a good range to it, and can dial some of that attack back and bring out some real low-end earthiness. And as easy as it is to get a tone out of it, the Classic is just such a forgiving bass to play.
It flatters you. The neck fills the palm nicely but doesn't get in the way of fast, note-heavy passages. The playability that we associate with Stonefield basses is clear and present here, with an excellent setup straight out of the box. The only difficulty is in putting it down. The 19mm string spacing works fine, but if you prefer a more compact experience, the Slimline option offers 16mm.
Either way you'll find a lovely balanced instrument with a deeply musical voice. And it might be hard to believe but it's true; here is a Stonefield bass, with Stonefield playability and a superlative passive bass voice, and all for under a grand. That's quite special.
MusicRadar verdict: The F-Series represents great value for money and offers more players a taste of that Stonefield quality. It's a little different, too, and definitely one of the best passive basses we've played in recent times.
Willis Music Company
- Made In: India
- Colour: Natural, satin finish
- Body: Alder core with 10mm-thick North American maple top
- Neck: Maple (three-piece laminate), satin finish
- Scale: 34"
- Neck Joint: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- Nut Width: 45mm
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Frets: 24
- Pickups: Passive OEM humbucking pickups x 2
- Electronics: Passive
- Controls: Volume, volume, tone
- Hardware: Floating ebony bridge, OEM-geared machine heads with ebony tuners
- Weight: 3.8 kg / 8.37 lbs
- Case/gig bag included: No
- Left-handed: Yes
- Contact: Stonefield