We’ve reviewed several bass guitars from the Atelier Z Guitar Works range in the past, and here’s their latest souped-up, triple-pickup five-string. With so many tonal options, is it a half-baked jack of all trades? Is it the bass equivalent of ‘buy one, get one free’? There’s only one way to find out.
We all know the standard design remit for a Jazz Bass, and we all know that a standard J doesn’t come with an added humbucker. Otherwise, this is a familiar design, with contouring front and back, a slightly extended top horn and a sizeable lower cutaway offering full access up to the 24th fret of the maple fingerboard.
Player comfort has been addressed sensibly, and weighing in at 8.8 lbs, this isn’t too much of a heavyweight thanks to the swamp ash body lumber. The shallow D-shaped neck profile fits the fretting hand like a glove, and despite the broadness of the maple fingerboard and 48mm nut width, navigating the 34” scale length is a comfortable experience. This is backed up with a very impressive setup across the whole instrument, featuring a medium-low action with very little fret buzz and no sharp frets.
The attention to detail is noticeable, and the bone nut, clear scratchplate, pearloid block position markers, and large Luminlay side dots all add value. Chrome Gotoh hardware has been used throughout, with the lightweight tuners improving the overall balance.
There is some neck dive, but this vanishes, as always, once the bass is placed on a strap. The control selection features a pair of stacked volume and bass/treble controls, along with a separate volume control for the humbucker, a mid-EQ control and a pickup selector switch, all of which makes total sense from a functional point of view.
Sounds and Playability
The acoustic response of the Beta bass is striking, with a consistent string-to-string volume across the whole length of the neck. If you like your Jazz-inspired basses to have a lively character with a bolt-on bounce, then you’re going to enjoy this instrument.
It’s vibrant and responsive, and the note clarity suggests that it will sit well in a band mix. The twin single-coil tones are a little thicker than you would find on a four-string bass, possibly because of the extra body and neck material.
Surprisingly, and positively, the humbucker performance is what you would expect of a bass in that format, but with a little less of the razor-like treble and slightly more warmth and throatiness.
With the EQ flat, all the pickup combinations sound woody and forthright, if also a little uninspiring; adding some EQ to the mix brings the individual pickups to the fore. Each of the EQ frequency bands has been well selected, offering the player a very usable selection of tones to work with.
There’s a significant amount of punch, as well as a tightly defined low-mid performance and a solid bottom end. The low B string puts in a thunderous display as well, and using the EQ and pickup combinations to full effect reveals some distinctly different voicings, should you want to change the character of your instrument easily and quickly.
Despite the 34” scale length rather than the alternative 35”, the low register performance is powerful and defined. The playability is superb, whether that’s down to the 18mm string spacing, the comfortable neck profile or the overall design that draws you in.
This is a bass that offers possibilities to any player, no matter what your musical preference or playing style may be. Rockers, tappers, and slappers will all revel in the possibilities on offer here.
If you’re looking for a feature-filled, Jazz-inspired five-string, give this bass some serious consideration. It presents the player with an enticing array of options, all of which are very impressive.
The control set might be a little busy, but familiarity with the options will pay dividends in the long run, and the combination of tonal opportunities covers considerable musical ground with ease. Very impressive indeed.
- PRICE: £1,950
- MADE IN: Japan
- COLOUR: Translucent white, gloss fi nish
- BODY: Swamp ash, two-piece
- NECK: Maple, 34” scale
- NECK JOINT: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- NUT WIDTH: 48mm
- FINGERBOARD: Maple
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: 2 x Atelier Z JZ-5 single-coils, Atelier Z humbucker
- ELECTRONICS: Atelier Z EQ-Z active circuit, 3-band EQ
- CONTROLS: Stacked volumes (single-coils), volume (humbucker), stacked bass/treble boost/cut, mids boost/cut, pickup selector switch
- HARDWARE: Chrome hardware, Gotoh 205B-5 bridge, Gotoh GB-528 Res-O-Lite machine heads
- WEIGHT: 4 kg / 8.8 lbs
- CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED: Gigbag
- LEFT-HANDED: Yes, custom order
- CONTACT: Atelier