String basses of quality have rarely, if ever, come cheap. With the Primavera range, however, new standards have been set. This Prima 50 quality Chinese instrument comes in both the Gamba and Violin shapes and has a laminated spruce top with laminated maple back and sides. Along with the ebony fingerboard and top-nut, the Prima 50 also carries a maple bridge with brass height adjusters. Included in the price of £800 is a wooden bow with an ebony frog and a padded carrying case with straps. Fit a set of Dominants and it even sings.

Affordable quality basses are not easy to come by, so when the Sinfonica turned up – we were intrigued. Made in China out of the highest grade “cold grown” solid spruce, with a beautifully hand carved back and front, the Sinfonica is not a “production line” model, but one that is hand built. Not only is the Sinfonica made from quality tone woods, but there is a staggering attention to detail on this instrument. For example, the rubber foot is screw threaded. The pin is held in place by a nylon insert and brass collar and yacht wire is used to hold the tailpiece to the peg – a true sign of a quality instrument. The use of the French Despiau bridge once again reflects the Sinfonica’s pedigree, while the ebony fingerboard is like a highly polished slab of black marble. The Sinfonica is fitted with German-made machine heads with stainless steel worm gears and brass cogs that offer no resistance and give a smoothness and control that bassists would normally only find on the “high end” electric cousins. In the volume stakes the Sinfonica carries plenty of power, with a rich timbre and full tone.

The quality of sound is remarkably clean – you can clearly hear all the overtones. Harmonics are very pronounced and ring out perfectly with great depth and excellent sustain – Spirocore strings come as standard. The whole comes in a soft padded case with five handles, two face pockets, a bow bag and a large “score” pocket to the rear. The Sinfonica bass is proof if ever it was needed, that with the right quality controls in place, some Chinese factories are now making musical instruments to centuries old European standards. Highly recommended. For info:

There has recently been a great deal of concern amongst bass players (and other string players) over bows being impounded along with their instruments by American customs, on the basis that they are made out of endangered tropical woods. Um! Enter the US made carbon fibre CodaBow. Lightweight, and clearly manufactured to the highest tolerances, the CodaBow makes an interesting addition to the bass players arsenal. Everything about this bow screams quality, especially the finish of the stick, the shaping and contouring of the ‘frog’ and the use of the finest stallion horsehair. Comparing the CodaBow to the traditional Pernumbuco wood bow does throw up a few interesting anomalies and there are certain adjustments to be made in the playing style. Because of its lightweight and seemingly less flexible stick, the player has to work very hard to achieve a similar volume of sound to a comparable wooden bow. The sound that the CodaBow produced on test was thinner and colder than a wooden bow, and seems to offer less in the lower harmonics. However, there are certain instances where this may suit a particular performance. Overall, an interesting and useful addition to the bass player’s sound palette, that will presumably pass safely through any port of entry in the US. For more info visit or

Fender have upgraded one of their most popular lines. The Highway One series of instruments is built like they used to make ’em, with a satin nitrocellulose lacquer finish to the body that lets the natural tone of the wood shine through. The 2007 “upgraded” model comes with the benefit of the high performance Badass II bridge with grooved saddles. Added to this, Fender have given the instrument a retro 70s styling with typical period headstock logo and body contour. They’ve even thrown in the white dot position inlays to give the instrument that truly authentic look.

This Joe Osborn signature 5 string Lakland jazz style bass is a real feast for the eyes – and it’s not a bad player either! Designed in Chicago but built in Korea, this instrument is carefully crafted from quality wood with a swamp ash body, maple neck and super smooth rosewood fingerboard. The scalloped body is fitted with two single pole jazz style pick ups, tone and volume controls and a 3-ply traditional cream pick guard. The neck is modelled along the lines of the 60s/70s Precision and is super slick, with a solid five screw attachment to the body. The fingerboard is fitted with 22 surprisingly light frets. Apart from the superb finishing, this instrument has clearly been “thought through” in the R&D department. Rolled Precision style bridge adjusters with a shallow shoulder minimise the possibility of string break, while the nut clamp bringing the strings down from the nut head keeps the tuning nice and tight. Sustain on this instrument is excellent, due no doubt to the thru’ body construction, with the five strings being capped off at the head by five solid open geared ‘screw head’ Fender style machine heads. The action is also excellent, with spot on intonation and a clean, clear tone even in the third position. As an all round 5 stringer, this Lakland Joe Osborn is hard to beat but as a slap bass, it’s sensational  For more info go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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