Alvarez AEB6AB Six String Bass
Last Update 01-24-2010
Like my Fender Jazz Basses, this
six-shooter was a stroke of luck. My big beef with five string
basses is that the low B string is "flubby" and lacks decent tone and
sustain. They can be the worst for cherry-picking because you'd
find one that would sound good but
have poor playability, another would play really good but would sound
like a dog. I happened to be passing through a store when I
spotted this Alvarez - not a brand known for bass guitars. This
was the first low B bass guitar that had a SOLID low B. Plus it
like butter and the sound (unplugged) was really nice. Despite
being a six string, the string spacing was comfortable and I could
slap-n-pop without much trouble.
...and I didn't take it home with me. I was going through a
divorce and money was tight. But I ran across some extra $$$ and
went back to claim that bass. Good thing I did, because the store
owner told me later that some folks came back later to buy it.
This one ALMOST got away.
Resonance goes a long way to good tone on a guitar, which is why the
first thing I do when I audition a guitar is to play it
UNPLUGGED. That way you can judge from the resonance how good the
tone of the guitar will be. This has as much of an impact as well
as strings, pickups, or electronics. The problem is it is either
inherent in the wood or it isn't. Changing pickups, strings,
electronics, bridges, et al does no good if the wood in the guitar have
poor resonance. Yeah you can buy replacement bodies and necks,
but you have to sort through THOSE to find the resonant ones.
There's a lot of dispute over resonance in a solid body guitar but it
is the standard I have used and it hasn't failed me yet. For the
doubters, I remind them that when Gibson was developing the Les Paul
guitar in the 50s, they experimented with a variety of tonewoods and
found many differences in tone.
This was the first guitar I owned with a sunburst finish and it looked
really nice. After some googling I found this pic online and
"damn that sunburst finish looks just like mine!" Waitaminnit...
a closer peek revealed an outline all the way around the body
edge. I was the proud owner of a "fotofinish" sunburst - a
facsimile overlay of a sunburst finish that was simply applied to the
unfinished wood top of the body. The only thing I don't like is
the spliced neck where there is a glue joint between the third and
fourth frets. I'm nervous that this will one day separate under
the neck tension. But you can't feel the joint when playing the
neck, and the neck resonates when you play, which is a plus in my book.
After I got this specimen, I sold my Gibson
RD Artist. I was starting to learn slap-n-pop and the Gibson
simply wasn't cutting it for that style. Plus this Alvarez had
that nice full tone of the Gibson so the RD was redundant.
Despite the wider neck, it didn't take much adjustment to learn to play
this bass. The high C string isn't that bad, you can play the
same pattern as the others. It also opens your playing to chords
- I know jazz chords from learning piano so the theory is there, I just
have to practice it more. The action and fretwork is very nice
and fast, I can play around the neck really easily. The sound is
really good, and the feedback from musicians is that they prefer the
Alvarez to the Jazz Bass. The only minus is that I'm stuck with
the pickups as there are no third party replacements, luckily the stock
pickups do sound good. The controls are front/back volume with a
single tone control. I am changing the pot on the tone control
because the change is very abrupt, which indicated they used a linear
taper pot instead of an audio taper pot. The bridge is solid and
hasn't shown any rust, unlike the cheap bridges that come stock on the
MIM Jazz Basses.
These basses have been out of production since 2000, but they are a
good deal on the used market is you want a five/six string bass at a