In 2007, I was in need of another bass. Yes, G.A.S. had struck again, but this time I really did need ‘the right tool for the job’. My only bass at that time was a Steinberger clone which, tho’ cool and often got me interested ooglers and questions, was beginning to be a little too one-dimensional for my style, which was branching out at the time into something more ‘funky’ and ‘soul-ish’. So I shimmied on over to the Internet, did a little groovin’ Googlin’, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon a company that had just hung out their shingle to do th’ bold business of basses. It’s because of that spark-to-fireworks discovery that I offer you now…..this Bass Mods bass review! Let’s keep going….
In a quick read I learned that Robert Lemas, the sole owner, designer, assembler, marketer, shipper and all-around-everything-dude, was getting quality bass bodies from other countries to keep his costs down, but mod-ding them out with the most killer, blazing electronics and machinery such that a truly amazing, powerful bass could be constructed for around $1,000. The pics online looked amazing, and I couldn’t believe for that price how much big-gun artillery electronics were on these puppies; it was stupid-awesome how loaded these basses were!
Well, any thought of finding a G.A.S.-mask was loooong gone, so I dialed up the number and spoke to Rob (who answered the phone because, well…he’s the Administrative Assistant to himself too!). He told me about opening his shop, how he does what he does, how he keeps the costs down, but how he’s a bass player himself and is all about making something excellent that will stand up to whatever the road might throw at it…for decades to come.
Rob let me choose the exact finish I wanted, based on pictures of in-stock axes, and after throwing my CC numbers at him in a swift fit of ecstasy, I was quickly the latest owner of an NT-5 “neck-through” 5-string bass that was sure to get attention wherever I play it – and I don’t just mean from the sound!
Obviously the first thing people notice is the shape of my Bass Mods bass. One good friend who’s been a fine bass player in his own right for decades, said, when I showed up with it to stage one day, “It’s….pointy.” He had more glowing words once I plugged it in and played it, but, yes, most humans immediately want to comment on it’s downward horn. Frankly, for me, I didn’t care which way the bottom horn pointed; I was getting an amazing bass for an amazing cost – case closed!
The other visual curiosity of the bass is the top wood grain. This is actually a big reason why I chose this particular instrument. Underneath is solid mahogany, but on top is a landscape-like, organically patterned maple layer that looked almost alien to me. But I like alien. If I met an alien I’d want to go for a Chai Tea latte and discuss the long-term plans for humanity. Unless it was like the one in “Alien”. Then…no. No, I wouldn’t.
This wood type is called “spalted” maple. You can tell spalted wood by it’s black “veins” that course through it. Wanna take a guess what the spalting really is?? Get this: it’s what happens when a tree is in a swamp somewhere and has started to ROT away!! Yes, the black there is shouting out “there’s a fungus amongus!!”. But hey…it looks cool. I liked it the first time I saw it and it still is inspiring to me to this day. Yet, all this is just spalting the surface; let’s get down to what reeeeeally matters….
I absolutely love how this bass sounds. The biggest reason is because it has so many sounds! The electronics Rob put in this beast, like the 18v 3-band preamp for example, allow me to custom tailor the bass’s output to such an extent that I’ll never find myself without a way to fit in to any style, genre or spectrum of sound. It’s simply outrageously configurable. And here’s how:
So there you have it – you can see now that with so many ways to carve out a particular sound, there is no end to this bass’s diversity. For live or studio, this is all I need. Oh sure, I may get G.A.S. one day for some other Earth-shaking bottom-dweller that catches my ears and eyes, but I won’t need it. That’s the difference.
I don’t know where Rob finds the various machinery pieces that he puts on, but I have to say….I can’t find a weak link anywhere. The tuners, for example, are so easy to move yet so firmly in place I wish every bass had ’em. I’ve gone weeks between playing this bass, only to come back and find it still in tune. Amazing!!
One important caveat: if you’re the type of bass player who prefers the light, hardly noticeable weight of, say, my previous Steinberger bass, you’re probably not going to dig a Bass Mods product. These ring with such all-encompasing sustain because they’re made of big, thick wood, and as such they are more on the heavy side. It clocks in at 9.8 pounds.
The weight never bothers me personally; in fact, I think its beefiness feels amazing and only adds to overall effect of a bass that demands to be noticed. But caveat emptor!
Out of all the many instruments in my studio, this Bass Mods axe and my Paul Reed Smith guitar are, without question, the most versatile sound-producers I’ve ever owned. Add to that the cool looks, the immense power and the solid, built-like-a-Death-Star moxie of this baby, and you’ve got an obvious winner.
Oh, and lest I forget…all basses shipped from Bass Mods come with a free included Plek job, just to add honey on top of the luscious frosting of these babies!! This assures the very best string action on an instrument by delivering extremely accurate nut and fret profiling. No intonation problems; no sucky action. You wanted a hot rod – you got one!
If you’re in the market, give Rob’s options a look. Tell him Teaj sent ya. He’ll just laugh, but it’ll make me feel good.