Benavente Guitars SCD5 & DCD4 Basses – Gear review by Jake Wolf… Luthier Chris Benavente is no newcomer to the custom bass world; he’s been handcrafting basses and guitars in his small shop in Oregon since 1996. Whether he’s making 4 string jazz style instruments or 11 string extended range basses, Chris describes himself as a painstaking perfectionist, and he holds himself to a very high standard of workmanship and consistency, as evidenced by the clean lines and meticulous construction of his instruments. Artists such as Al Caldwell (Vanessa Williams), Neal Fountain (Jimmy Herring Band) and Tad Kinchla (Blues Traveler) rely on their Benavente’s for great tone and superb playability. Spending time with the basses Chris sent for review, it’s easy to see why.
Benavente sent 2 basses for me to check out, a single cut 5 string (SCD5), and a double cutaway 4 (DCD4). Although they both clearly share the same DNA, they each had their own distinct character and flavor. I was very impressed by the fit, finish, and build quality of both instruments. The warm sunburst and classy satin finish on both basses gave the instruments an inviting warmth and elegant feel.
The first bass to arrive was the DCD4; one of Chris’ newer body shapes. This particular DCD is essentially a jazz bass at heart, with ash/maple construction, a slim, fast neck, Nordstrand hum-cancelling jazz pickups and Benavente’s own 3-band preamp. I loved this bass’s synergy of ‘new meets old’. Aesthetically it is striking and unique, but tonally it’s clearly from the jazz bass family tree. It’s also very light and comfortable to play, and sounds great. Nordstrand jazz pickups are a sure-fire win, and paired with Benavente’s own 3-band preamp, powerful tone shaping and sonic versatility were abundant. The DCD was able to pull off ‘Marcus’ style muscular slap tones with both pickups on and a slight boost of bass and treble, as well as a fantastic ‘jaco burp’ tone via the bridge pickup with some boosted mids and a slight roll off of the passive tone control. I dug the classy look of black binding on the lovely birds eye maple fingerboard. This DCD4 lists for $3150
Next to arrive was the SCD5, a different animal altogether with its rich mahogany body, and delicious quilted maple sunburst top. This bass also sports a gorgeous birds eye maple fingerboard with black binding, and like the DCD4 features killer fretwork with super low action. The 3 piece maple neck felt rock solid, and was firmly bolted to the ergonomically contoured body. Benavente’s slim humbuckers and an Aguilar OBP3 preamp adorn the single cut. The combination yielding a big and bold modern tone, which was easily tamed with the powerful onboard EQ. I was able to get a variety of great tones out of the SCD, all on the modern end of the spectrum with plenty of punch and detail, but also capable of holding down traditional sonic duties. This SCD5 lists for $3300
No doubt Benavente is one of most talented wood slingers forging a path in the boutique bass market these days. His constant drive to refine and improve on his instruments has helped to achieve the high level of precision and sophistication that give his basses a cult following among the most discerning exotic bass aficionados. Benavente claims that he is a perfectionist to a fault, but that passion for excellence is what pushes him to excel and continually raise the bar on himself. Keep up the great work Chris!
For more info, go to benaventeguitars.com