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The Marcus Miller By Sire V7 Bass Review

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The Marcus Miller By Sire V7 Bass Review

The Marcus Miller By Sire V7 Bass Review

Becoming a bass player includes getting a good instrument and learning how to play it.  For most of us who play the bass, the pursuit of what we think is a good instrument can be a life-long chase.  We have to balance what we know makes a good instrument with our budgets.  This tug-of-war often pits quality against price.  The trend over the past decade and a half has been a sharp rise in bass guitar prices.

During Winter Namm 2015, Chicago bassist Jauqo III-X showed me a new five string J-style bass made by Sire Guitars.  This bass was built in conjunction with bass legend Marcus Miller.  Essentially, Marcus Miller specified what he wanted the Marcus Miller by Sire V7 (jazz bass) model to have.  The end result was a great looking bass.

Description:

The first thing that struck me was the high quality gig bag that comes with the Marcus Miller by Sire V7.  It has plenty of protection, a neck pillow with a Velcro neck restraint.  Also, the gig bag has two pockets.  The larger pocket is large enough to carry music, an iPad or laptop and some instrument cables.  The smaller pocket is large enough to carry a tuner, instrument cable, a cell phone, keys, etc.

The bass that was delivered to me was a natural finish five string jazz bass with an American Swamp Ash body, a one-piece Maple 20 fret neck with a Maple fingerboard.  The neck is bound and blocked beautifully!  Also, the frets were dressed impressively well.   The five-string Sire V7 jazz bass has two graphite rods that add strength and stability to the neck.

The one-piece body comes with an option to string the bass through the body, or through the high mass bridge.  The hardware looks good and the tuners work flawlessly without binding.  The pickguard is a beautiful pearloid pickguard on the Ash body basses, and tortoise shell pickguard on the Alter body basses.   The neck joins the body cleanly with no odd gaps at the neck pocket.  Holding the neck and body together are four bolts.

The pickups are single coil pickups made with a fiber bobbin, Alnico 5 magnets, and heavy Formvar magnet wire.  They are positioned in the ‘60’s position.  Like everything else on this bass, the pickups are made by Sire Guitars.

Initially, I thought I would be overwhelmed by the preamp.  Although I usually prefer three-band preamps, this 18-volt preamp is by far the most versatile preamp I have used on a bass.  It comes with the following knob layout: stacked volume/tone, blend, treble, stacked mid/mid sweep, and bass.  It is also very quiet.  A small two-way toggle switch is located below the bass EQ knob on the control plate.

When strapped up or balanced on the knee, the bass balances very well without any neck dive.  The weight is moderate at less than 9.5 pounds for a five string.  The neck profile feels very familiar to my hands, without feeling chunky, unwieldy and wide.

The bass has some felt bumpers at the strap buttons. The finish on the three Sire basses I’ve seen and played thus far has been flawless on all three basses.  In addition, the Sire V7 is shipped with a compliment of Allen wrenches that are required to adjust the truss rod and bridge saddles.

The Playing Experience:

The Marcus Miller by Sire V7 five string bass was strung with D’Addario strings.  I immediately switched them for a set of DR Strings Fat Beams – my strings of choice.   The bass needed a minor set up, but was very playable straight out of the box.

Acoustically, the bass sounded very alive.  To me, that indicated that it would sound good amplified, if the electronics were of a high quality.

In passive mode, the bass had a punchy and focused sound with plenty of bottom end.  The volume did not drastically drop off when switched from active mode.  In my experience, most active/passive basses generally do not have a good passive sound.  This bass sounded great in passive mode.  The tone knob also offered a wide palate of tones.  When slapped or thumped in passive mode, the bass had a lot of percussive response.

In active mode, the bass is very quiet.  I initially kept all three bands of the EQ flat and used only the volume, tone and blend knobs to really hear what the bass sounds like.  The tone knob works in both active and passive modes.

The knobs are all very sensitive.  A minor adjustment results in a very audible tone or volume change.  The potentiometers all feel smooth and the passive/active switch is noiseless when used.

I found the mid-sweep knob very useful.  The mid range sounded very musical in its entire range.  The mid-sweep knob allows the player to choose the quality of mid range he or she wants to use.

The Tone:

Tone is very subjective.  I’ll qualify my opinion by stating that I own a 1975 passive American Fender Precision bass.  In addition to it, I also own a variety of active basses loaded with EMG pickups, Bartolini Pickups, etc.  Noll, Bartolini, Graph Tech, and EMG make the preamps in my basses.  Some of the basses I own are reasonably priced and others are obscenely expensive.  They all sound really good to me.  They are the basis of my opinion of how the Sire Guitars V7 bass sounds.

The Marcus Miller by Sire V7 has a focused, full and round sound with an endless supply of bottom end available.  The strings all sound very well balanced.  The “G” strings sounds “bassy” in a musical way and the “B” string is clear and articulate.   If you like your bass to growl, this bass will make you happy.

When thumped or slapped, the Sire V7 sounds better than any bass I own.  This is not a statement I make lightly.   This bass does a fantastic job of achieving the modern jazz bass sound as well as the vintage passive jazz bass sound.   When thumped, the bass is capable of providing a great and full sounding bottom end.  The notes ring clear.  The highs are also clean, musical and percussive.

Sire builds their basses in a factory owned by Sire in Indonesia.  Their quality control is nothing short of impressive. I have actively looked for flaws in build quality, components, playability and sound and so far, I’ve found none.

In the week I have had my Sire V7, I have not picked up any of my other basses.  If, God forbid, I had to have one bass, I would be happy to have this as my only bass.  It is capable of being an all-around workhorse.  The range of tones that can be coaxed out of the EQ would allow this bass to be at home in the club, studio, or church.

The Nitty-Gritty:

Let’s talk price…  This bass is amazingly affordable!  Based on the quality, options and workmanship, I would expect that this bass would cost about three times more than the $599.00 price for the five string Ash body/Maple fingerboard model.  The four-string version costs $100.00 less.  The Alder body/Rosewood fingerboard five string costs $499.00, and the four-string version costs $100.00 less.  An even more reasonable model that plays and sounds really good is the Marcus Miller by Sire M3 four string bass model at $299.00.

Conclusion:

Had I been introduced to Sire basses based on price alone, I may have been very skeptical about how good they might be.  Fortunately, I got a chance to see and play the bass before I was told how much it costs.

My take on this bass is, this is a very, very good jazz bass.  Although the price is amazingly affordable, this is not an entry-level instrument.  I would proudly play this instrument on any stage in the world without reservation.  It sounds and looks that good!

Marcus Miller and Sire have managed to put together a pricing model that will allow virtually anyone to be able to get a high quality, good playing and excellent sounding bass without breaking the bank.

Currently, the players that are playing the Marcus Miller by Sire V7 basses include Jackie Clark, Jonathan Moody, Kevin “KT” Tyler, Marcus Miller, Chicago bassists Will Howard, Jauqo III-X, and me – Vuyani Wakaba.   A large number of basses has been sold to many other bass players and are currently in the process of being delivered.

Specifications:

Body Material – Swamp Ash/North American Alder

Body Shape – New Marcus Miller Jazz Type

Neck Material – 1 Piece Hard Maple

Neck Shape – C-Shape

Scale – 34”

Fingerboard – Hard Maple (Swamp Ash)/Rosewood (Alder)

Fingerboard Radius – 7’25”

Frets – Medium Small, 20 Frets

String Nut – 4 String: Natural Bone @ 38mm width/5 String: Natural Bone @ 46mm width

Binding – 1 Ply Ivory

Inlay – White Pearloid Block

Neck Joint – 4 Bolt Steel Square Plate

Pickups – Marcus Miller Super Jazz Single Coil

Electronics – Marcus Heritage -3 With Middle Frequency Control

Controls

  • Volume/Tone (Stacked Pot)
  • Pickup Blend
  • Treble
  • Mid/Mid Frequency (Stacked Pot)
  • Bass, Mini Toggle (Active/Passive)

Bridge

  • Marcus Big Mass – 1
  • String Spacing @ Bridge – 5 String: 18mm; 4 String: 20mm

Hardware Finish – Chrome

Pickguard – Ivory Pearloid (Swamp Ash)/Tortoise (Alder)

Vuyani Wakaba is a South African bassist that is based in Chicago.  He works as a freelance bassist and leads his own band, Vuyani Wakaba & Friends.  Vuyani can be reached on his websiteFacebookTwitter & Instagram.

Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

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String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

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Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

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Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

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Gear

New Joe Dart Bass From Sterling By Music Man

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Sterling by Music Man introduces the Joe Dart Artist Series Bass (“Joe Dart”), named after and designed in collaboration with the celebrated Vulfpeck bassist.

Above photo credit: JORDAN THIBEAUX

This highly-anticipated model marks the debut of the Dart bass in the Sterling by Music Man lineup, paying homage to the Ernie Ball Music Man original that all funk players know and love. The bass embodies many of the original model’s distinctive features, from its iconic minimalist design to the passive electronics.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The design process prioritized reliability, playability, and accessibility at the forefront. Constructed from the timeless Sterling body, the Dart features a slightly smaller neck profile, offering a clean tone within a comfortable package. The body is crafted from soft maple wood for clarity and warmth while the natural finish emphasizes the simple yet unique look.

Engineered for straightforward performance, this passive bass features a ceramic humbucking bridge pickup and a single ‘toaster’ knob for volume control. Reliable with a classic tone, it’s perfect for playing in the pocket. The Dart is strung with the all-new Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Flatwound Electric Bass Strings for the smoothest feel and a mellow sound.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The Sterling by Music Man Joe Dart Bass is a special “Timed Edition” release, exclusively available for order on the Sterling by Music Man website for just one month. Each bass is made to order, with the window closing on May 31st and shipping starting in November. A dedicated countdown timer will indicate the remaining time for purchase on the product page. Additionally, the back of the headstock will be marked with a “2024 Crop” stamp to commemorate the harvest year for this special, one-of-a-kind release. 

The Joe Dart Bass is priced at $399.99 (MAP) and can be ordered globally at https://sterlingbymusicman.com/products/joe-dart. 

To learn more about Joe Dart, visit the official Vulfpeck artist site here https://www.vulfpeck.com/.


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Gear Reviews

The Frank Brocklehurst 6-String Fretless Bass Build

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The Frank Brocklehurst 6 String Fretless Bass Build

A few months ago, my Ken Bebensee 6-string fretted bass needed some TLC. You know, the one rocking those Pink Neon strings! I scoured my Connecticut neighborhood for a top-notch luthier and got pointed to Frank Brocklehurst, F Brock Music. He swung by my place, scooped up the bass, and boom, returned it the next day, good as new. Not only that, he showed up with a custom 5-string fretted bass that blew me away. I couldn’t resist asking if he could whip up a 6-string fretless for me. 

Alright, let’s break down the process here. We’ve got our raw materials: Mahogany, Maple, and Holly. Fun fact – the Mahogany and Maple have been chilling in the wood vault for a solid 13 years. Frank is serious about his wood; they buy it, stash it away, and keep an eye on it to make sure it’s stable.  

First up, they’re tackling the Mahogany. Frank glues it together, then lets it sit for a few days to let everything settle and the glue to fully dry. After that, it’s onto the thickness planer and sander to get it nice and flat for the CNC machine. The CNC machine’s the real star here – it’s gonna carve out the body chambers and volume control cavity like a pro.

While the Mahogany’s doing its thing, Frank goes onto the neck core. Three pieces of quartersawn maple are coming together for this bad boy. Quartersawn means the grain’s going vertical. He is also sneaking in some graphite rods under the fingerboard for stability and to avoid any dead spots. The truss rod is going to be two-way adjustable, and the CNC machine’s doing its magic to make sure everything’s just right.

Screenshot

Now, onto the design phase. Frank uses CAD software to plan out the body shape, neck pocket, chambering, and those cool f-holes. I had this idea for trapezoid F-holes, just to do something different. The CAD software also helps us map out the neck shape, graphite channels, and truss-rod channel with pinpoint accuracy.

Once everything’s planned out, it’s CNC time again. Frank cuts out the body outline, neck pocket, and the trapezoid F-holes. Then it’s a mix of hand sanding and power tools to get that neck just how we like it. Oh, and those f holes? We’re going for trapezoids of different sizes – gotta keep things interesting.

Next step: gluing that neck into the pocket with some old-school hide glue. It’s got great tonal transfer and can be taken apart later if needed. Then it’s onto hand-carving that neck-body transition.

For the custom-made bridge, Frank uses brass for definition and Ebony for tonal transfer and that warm, woody sound.

BTW, for tunes, Frank went with Hipshot Ultralights with a D Tuner on the low B. This way I can drop to a low A which is a wonderful tone particularly if you are doing any demolition around your house! 

Now it’s time for the side dots. Typically, on most basses, these dots sit right in the middle of the frets. But with this bass, they’re placed around the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets.

Frank’s got his pickup hookup. Since the pickup he was building wasn’t ready, he popped in a Nordstrand blade to give it a whirl.

It sounded good, but I was itching for that single-coil vibe! And speaking of pickups, Frank showed me the Holly cover he was cutting to match, along with all the pink wire – talk about attention to detail!

A couple of things, while it is important for me to go passive, it is equally important for me to just go with a volume knob. Tone knobs are really just low-pass filters and the less in the way of a pure sound for me, the better. 

Finally, it’s string time! As usual, I went for the DR Pink Neon strings. Hey, I even have matching pink Cons…Both low tops and high!

Screenshot

Once we’ve got everything tuned up and settled, we’ll give it a day or two and then tweak that truss rod as needed. And voila, we’ve got ourselves a custom-made bass ready to rock and roll.

I want to thank Frank Brocklehurst for creating this 6 string beast for me. 

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Gear Reviews

Review Transcript: BITE Custom Bass – The Black Knight PP Bass

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Review - BITE Custom Bass - The Black Knight PP Bass

This is a written transcript of our video review of the BITE Custom Bass Black Knight PP Bass originally published on March 4, 2024

BITE Custom Bass – The Black Knight PP Bass Review…

Bass Musician Magazine did a review on a Steampunk bass from BITE Guitars about three years ago, it was an amazing instrument, and we were very impressed. Now we’re happy to bring you another BITE bass, the Black Knight PP.

Everybody needs a P-type bass, it’s the standard of bass. If you’re recording, they want you to have a P bass. So why not have something that gives you a little more by having two instead of one P pickup. That’s the idea of this bass, it’s the first thing that leaps out: the double P pickup configuration.

Installing two of their 1000 millivolt split-coil pickups, BITE then went one step further and wired them up in a 4-way parallel/series circuit, a look at the controls reveal a 4-way rotary selector:

The first position, marked “B”, gives you the bridge pickup by itself.

The second position, marked “P”, gives you the bridge and neck pickups in parallel mode, that’s the traditional J-type circuit, it reduces output due to the physical law of parallel circuits.

Position number 3 is marked “N”, it gives you the neck pickup by itself.

And finally, number 4, marked “S”, gives your bridge and neck in a series (humbucking) mode which adds up resistances and thus boosts output. The other two controls are master volume and master tone.

What’s more, like every BITE bass, this one also has a reinforced headstock heel designed to give it extra output and sustain. The BITE website features a graph and explanation of what they have done to the heel, as compared to traditional headstocks.

A look at the body reveals a beautiful Black Blast body finish and underneath that we have alder wood. The bass has a matching headstock with a 4-in-line tuner setup and the traditional bite out of it, so everybody will know what kind of bass you’re playing. The pickguard is 3-ply black, the neck is vintage tinted hard maple and it has a satin speed finish at the back which keeps your thumb from sticking.

On top of that, there’s a clear-coated roasted black locust fretboard with black blocks marking the frets. The nut is a black Graph Tec nut, we’ve got diamond dome control knobs, and the tuners are lightweight compacts with cloverleaf buttons and a 1:17 ratio precision gear. The bridge is a Gotoh brass bridge with 19-millimeter string spacing.

Overall measurements: we’ve got a standard 34″ scale, a 1.65″ width nut and a C neck profile. This bass weighs 8.2 pounds, or 3,7 kilograms for our metric friends, and it uses standard 18% nickel silver frets.

Taking a closer look at the sound, this bass is a joy to play. The BITE proprietary 1000 millivolt pickups deliver an extraordinary amount of output which is surprising considering this is a passive instrument. You may even want to set your amp to active mode because of all of the juice you’re getting out of this guy.

The tonal possibilities are very versatile, it’s a straight P if you want but also much more with those different arrangements of the circuitry. So why have multiple basses when you’ve got one that can give you your basic P plus a lot more?

To sum it up, the Black Knight PP is an amazing instrument. The attention to detail that BITE puts into their basses is second to none. This bass is also amazingly balanced and gorgeous to hold and feel with the satin neck finish.

For more information, visit online at bite.guitars/product/black-knight-pp

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