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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Erizias Singlecut 5 String

Review by Jake Wolf
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I must admit, when it comes to the custom bass biz, I’m always leery of the new guy.  Sure their stuff looks great, but how does it stack against the tried-and-true the industry benchmarks?  Is it just another pretty face, or does it deliver the goods?   When I approached the inconspicuous Erizias booth at NAMM (after several friends’ raving recommendations) I was immediately impressed by what I consider to be one of the most elegant singlecut designs out there.  My first thought was “WOW! Those look amazing!”  Then came the cynical “yeah but… how does it sound?  How does it play? It’s probably another beautiful piece of lumber that plays and sounds like you know what.”  Pierre Erizias greeted me with a warm smile and immediately let the bass speak for itself by plopping it in my lap. Within minutes I was sold.  Answer:  yep, this is the real deal.  Pierre’s singlecut made my (and many others’) all-stars list for Winter NAMM ’09, and I couldn’t wait to spend some quality time reviewing and testing one of his delicious basses.  As it turns out, he sent me the same bass I came to adore from NAMM, and several months later, my initial impression was correct; this thing is a beast.

Erizias pulled out all the stops and chose some seriously beautiful pieces of wood for this bass.  It features a lightweight ash body topped with a gorgeous slab of buckeye burl.  The sumptuous flame maple neck is connected to the body with 5 solid bolts, and features some unique high end touches.  The rear of the headstock features an ash veneer.  Understated and subtle for sure, but it looks super hip.   Blue green abalone is abundantly inlayed on the Erizias, from the well executed blocks on the thick maple fingerboard, to the classy fleur de lis inlay on the back of the neck.  It even has some sexy accent inlays on the face of the headstock that blend beautifully with the buckeye’s figuring.

Erizias chose Nordstrand’s dual coil pickups for this bass, and paired it with a Glockenklang 3 band preamp, a combination that allows the bass to sound as good as it looks in my opinion.  A removable bird’s eye maple ramp between the pickups gives players the choice of utilizing a playing ramp; a feature that more and more bassists are finding improves their technique and comfort.   The Asymmetrical neck took a second for me to get used to, due to its thickness on the bass side, but I quickly adjusted and found it comfortable and solid feeling.  Access to the highest frets was effortless, and the bass balanced perfectly in my lap.  It was clear from the get-go that Erizias is a player.  From the minute I picked this bass up, it felt perfectly balanced, and was super comfortable to play.

I took the Erizias to a variety of gigs and it quickly became a go-to for its warmth and richness.  Plugged in with the preamp bypassed and with a fresh set of DR sunbeams, the bass had a thick, full voice with abundant depth and midrange complexity, yet didn’t sound bloated or muddy (as basses which possess those midrange characteristics sometimes do).  The Erizias sounds warm and articulate, but not in the hi-fi zingy kind of way that many of us have come to identify as “articulate” (with a set of DR hi beams, it had much more going on in the upper mids and treble, but at no time did it sound clanky or brash).  Its articulation lies more in the mid response of the bass, notes tended to fly off the fingerboard with authority and clarity.  The Erizias retained its fullness above the 12th fret.  Upper octave notes that on other instruments can sound thin or twangy sounded warm and clear on the Erizias, and chords rang true and well defined.  The 35″ scale B string sounded massive and powerful, and blended well with the sound of the bass overall.

One cool ergonomic feature that sets the Erizias apart from the pack is the countersunk Hipshot A style bridge.  By recessing the bridge into the body by a small amount, the string clearance over the body is lowered, which in combination with the playing ramp results in a streamlined playing surface.  This is not for everyone, as some of my bass player buddies commented, but I really dug it.  When I asked Erizias about the purpose of the countersunk bridge, he responded: “I wanted to simulate the string to body clearance from my ’77 jazz bass, and counter sinking the bridge achieves the proper height for that.”

The Glockenklang electronics were cleanly installed in the well shielded cavity; all the wiring looked tidy and clean.  The Glock preamp offers great tonal flexibility, and plenty of noise free boost.  Pulling up on the volume knob disengaged the preamp circuit, and I was happy to find that the sound was almost identical to the active setting with the eq flat.  Often times, a preamp’s passive function is intended only as a battery failsafe, and not as a viable tonal option.  It’ll get you through the gig, but it ain’t gonna sound great.  I myself really like a usable passive setting, and the Glock allows you to bypass the pre and get a fantastic natural sound. Also, when the bass is in passive mode, the active treble control becomes a passive tone control.  Cool!

The only shortcoming I detected on the bass was the finish used.  Erizias used a water based lacquer for this instrument, and although it was sufficient and quite protective, it didn’t have the luster or 3d sheen I’ve come to love with gloss finishes.  Erizias responded that since this bass was built, they have switched to a finish that they much prefer for its looks, maintenance, and durability.

All in all, I was very impressed with the Erizias.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what comes next from the Erizias shop, and I’ll try harder not to be so judgmental of the new guy from now on, after all, I don’t want to eat my words again!

For more info, visit Erizias online at: http://eriziasbasses.com/

Jake Wolf welcomes your comments and questions… drop him a line

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