- Alder body
- Maple neck
- Rosewood fingerboard
- 34” Scale length
- 19mm string spacing
- Antique ‘Relic’ finish
- Custom Jason Lollar pickups
- Passive tone control (push/pull for modern/vintage taper)
- De Gier/Vanderkley ‘Fatboost’ control
- Vintage narrow fret wire
- ETS bridge
- Hipshot hardware
The Netherlands may be known for a lot of exciting things, but most of us stateside low-enders would agree that custom exotic basses are not one of them. But De Gier Guitars and Basses, hand built by Sander De Gier in the Netherlands, craft a variety of vintage inspired guitars and basses, as well as some beautiful and exotic models of modern design. This particular BeBop 5 jazz bass landed in my lap for review after some conversation with De Gier, and I’ve been trying to put it down since the day it arrived. It comfort, playability and good looks are fairly addictive. For one thing, this BeBop features an optional relic’ing package to simulate age and wear that is tasteful and artistic. Not to be confused with ‘road wear’, the BeBop’s vintage white alder body appears to have finish checking all over, and the neck has a burnished, broken in vibe that feels super comfortable, with a few intentional bumps and nicks for simulated playing wear. Even the Lollar pickups and ETS hardware look a few decades old, thanks to some tasteful and artistic tarnishing. This is BeBop #79, and it includes the latest modifications to the design, such as a slightly thicker headstock for increased mass, a 7.25”-12” compound fingerboard radius, slightly thinner body, and a more radical belly contour for comfort. It also features a dual function passive tone control that we’ll dig into in a moment. The BeBop had meticulous fretwork and played beautifully with low action. The narrow vintage frets felt great under the fingers, perfectly seated in a gorgeous rosewood board. The truss rod is accessed by removing the pickguard, but the Bebop can be ordered with a pickguard slot routed out for easy standard access. It’s also worth mentioning that there is no surface routing for the pickup wires or electronics, It’s designed so that one can remove the pickguard for a more unfettered and modern jazz bass look.
De Gier’s BeBop can be ordered in a couple of different standard configurations, including any combination of alder or ash body, rosewood or maple fingerboard, 60’s or 70’s pickup placement, Fralin, Nordstrand, or Lollar pickups. This bass came with the custom Lollar pickups, which I just love for their raw and robust tone. The electronics package on the BeBop is a very elegant and hip combination of passive simplicity and modern flexibility: It is a standard volume/volume/tone setup, but things get a bit deeper from there. The tone pot is push/pull, selecting two distinctly different passive tone rolloff tapers, courtesy of both a standard 0.47 cap and the 0.22 vintage cap, that offers a more burp-y vintage tone when rolled off, especially with the bridge pickup solo’d. It’s a very hip, innovative, and above all else, useful feature. Finally we come to the ‘Fatboost’ control, via the 4th knob that works as an on/off switch. Designed in collaboration with Dutch amp builder Vanderkley, This little beauty is a very subtle but effective boost circuit, which (in my own words) plumps up the low end nicely while adding a slight touch of sheen to the top end. Nothing crazy or extreme going on here, just a subtle shift in tonality bringing it just slightly out of the passive feeling/sounding realm. It offers up to 6db of boost via a trim pot in the cavity, and sounds very natural, to my ears. When off, it is true bypass for a 100% passive sound. I really like the ‘Fatboost’s tone and had it engaged for about 90% of the time I played the Bebop.
So I played this bass a lot while it was here for review. I found its vintage aesthetics and modern design sensibilities totally appealing, and combined with its great playability and fabulous tone, it was just addictive. The BeBop sounded great in a band context; the Lollar pickups with the Fatboost served up a raw, full and meaty tone, that filled out the midrange spectrum beautifully while providing a big supportive bottom and a surprisingly (for an alder/rosewood bass) snappy top end, with just enough snarl and grit on hand when you dig in. Being able to access both a “standard” passive tone control, and one that retained much of its midrange fullness when rolled off was immensely versatile, and is a tonal option not found on most other jazz style instruments. The bass arrived with R. Cocco nickel strings, which felt great and sounded warm and full, with a nice amount of snap. I tried a set of medium gauge DR Hi-Beams on the bass (my handy reference point), and found that the BeBop indeed has a lot of inherent grind and snap, with a remarkably muscular slap tone for an alder/rosewood bass, and its ample midrange complexity helps it sit very comfortably in a busy mix.
It seems like there is an exhausting variety of “boutique jazz basses” on the market these days, and one could easily be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options and array of choices. As I sat playing the De Gier, it felt like no other jazz bass I’ve played: Very sleek and refined, but with a distinctive and unmistakable vintage feel. The BeBop feels like your favorite 10 year-old recliner, or an old pair of comfy slippers. Its tone profile lies squarely within the vintage Fender wheelhouse, but its unique electronics package expands within that wheelhouse, and allows for a surprising range of tones, all of them compelling, inspiring, and usable. As many builders are following the obvious trend these days to blend ‘vintage feel and mojo’ with modern refinement in one way or another, very few, in my opinion, do it with the elegance and gusto of the BeBop.
For more information, visit De Gier guitars on the web at degierguitars.com/bebop