Given the glum state of the world, the arrival of the latest version of Orange’s highly cheerful O Bass couldn’t be better timed. A passive, bolt-on instrument with a single split pickup and solitary tone control, this instrument may look unsophisticated – but there’s a little more under the hood than you might expect. (Not a fan of the orange finish? Never fear, a black version is available.)
Pull the bass out of the supplied gigbag and, if you’re already familiar with the original 2015 model, you’ll notice that improvements to this Les Paul-shaped instrument include binding around the body and a new, black finish on the headstock. The split-coil pickup has been moved towards the neck for tonal reasons, and the neck molding has also been retooled for extra playability.
This last point is important because the bass makes few other concessions in the name of comfort, with no chamfering to the body and only 20 frets to play with: still, it’s not overly heavy at 8.3 lbs.
Plug in and there’s an immediate, friendly feel, thanks to both the okoume body and the purpleheart fretboard.
The former is classified as a soft hardwood, which means that it has enough brightness to deliver top end while still being tough and resilient, while the latter is extremely durable and pushes back nicely against the fingers. Together, they give the O Bass a feeling of solidity that belies its unthreatening appearance – welcome news for anyone who thinks this isn’t a ‘serious’ bass.
There’s plenty on the tone menu if you’re looking for a range of sounds. For obvious reasons, monstrous low end and glass-shattering highs aren’t available: at this price point, and with this design, the focus is more towards mids.
There’s also only so much you can do with a single tone control and a passive setup, of course, so step on a preamp of your choice if you’re after extreme sounds. Still, tread softly and you’ll find a perfectly reasonable, Motown-style thump; roll on the tone and there’s sufficient honk at the top end for most applications.
Kudos to Orange for designing a bass that looks different, sounds good and doesn’t break the bank. Crucially, the O-Bass has its own identity, something for which we bass players are often willing to pay large sums. It’s a steal at 500 bucks.
- PRICE: $549
- MADE IN: China
- BODY: Okoume
- NECK: Maple, 34” scale
- NECK JOIN: Bolt-on, four bolts
- FINGERBOARD: Purpleheart, 20 frets
- PICKUP: Split-coil humbucker
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone
- HARDWARE: Nickel tuners and bridge
- WEIGHT: 8.3 lbs / 3.8 kg
- CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED?: Gigbag
- LEFT-HAND AVAILABLE? No
- CONTACT: Orange Amplification