NAMM 2024: Can it really be five years ago that Ernie Ball Music Man first launched the Joe Dart Signature bass guitar? Well, it is, and while updated iterations arrived in the shape of the Joe Dart II, Dart’s take for 2024 is a 30-inch model that’s designed to capture the tone of Dart's short-scale P-Bass.
Dart observed, “We always sought to build a trilogy of basses that represent the Vulfpeck recorded catalog. The Joe Dart I and Joe Dart II were in the StingRay and Jazz Bass styles of the vintage disco records I love, but whenever Jack Stratton would ask me for a raw, unmuted P-Bass sound, we would always reach for a Fender P-Bass Junior.
“We knew that instrument needed to be perfected, which became the perfect way to round out the Joe Dart stable of instruments.”
Building on from the original Joe Dart bass, the Joe Dart III features a lightweight ash body, and a flame maple neck topped by a figured maple fingerboard with 22 stainless steel frets.
Other features include a passive split-coil pickup with Alnico 5 magnets, a single volume control, and custom-gauge flatwound strings.
“We’re really proud to offer a limited run of the Joe Dart III,” said Dart. “Each bass is a testament to our philosophy of simplicity, and leaving the tone in the hands of the player.”
Of course, we can’t forget the input from the man himself, a bass player we know is fastidious about how his basses look, play and sound. “I’ve been playing this thing everyday since they shipped me model zero. Now I’m looking forward to seeing this thing out in the world.”
While recent Vulfpeck shows have found Dart in the company of his factory-fresh signature model, his association with Ernie Ball began with a Music Man copy that became a mainstay in Vulfpeck’s recording line-up.
“I played Jack Stratton’s Music Man clone on a track called It Gets Funkier,” he says. That was probably the best tone we ever got on a Vulfpeck track, and so after that we thought we should probably get the real thing.
“We borrowed a StingRay, we borrowed a Sterling Classic, and played those on a few Vulf tracks to great effect, but even then still didn’t own one until Ernie Ball reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to come demo some of these new basses we have?’
“I flew out to San Luis Obispo, where I demoed some of the axes. I loved them, and they said, ‘If you want one, I think we can hook you up.’ That’s how I got my first Ernie Ball axe.”
The Joe Dart III is limited to 50 units worldwide and will ship with custom-numbered neck plates and a classy Mono Vertigo Bag. It’s available for purchase exclusively from the Ernie Ball Music Man Vault for $2,599.
Though – as of writing – all of these limited-edition models have already been snapped up. Let's hope there will be more…
For more information, head to Ernie Ball.
To stay in the loop with all gear releases ahead of NAMM 2024, head over to our guide to the latest NAMM 2024 news.