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Review: Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

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Review: Devon Bass Guitars J5 Modern 24

Review of the Devon J5 Modern 24 from Devon Bass Guitars…

The modern 5-string jazz bass market is a mighty tough room to make your mark in. It seems like there are a ton of great offerings from serious contenders new and old, and it can be hard for a great bass to shine, when it’s surrounded by so many solid instruments. So where does one fit in, or better yet, how does one punch “the signal through the noise” and shine as a unique standout among many other great basses, all building off of the venerable 5-string jazz platform? 

For Devon Smullen of Devon Bass Guitars, the answer seems to be a delightful combination of thoughtful design, meticulous execution, a number of unique and innovative features, fantastic playability, and outstanding customer service. After playing this bass, it’s not surprising that Devon has extensive experience in the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) sphere.  No doubt his time spent thinking about how certain choices affect the user’s experience has been put fully into practice in his bass building. You can feel it the moment you pick up the bass. Everything feels so well thought out and perfectly placed, with a cohesiveness that is hard to describe, and rarely seen, even in some of the most well-respected bass brands.  

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

From a construction standpoint, this bass is flat-out amazingly well built. The fretwork, the body shaping, the neck carve, the finish work: all are off-the-charts. I struggle to find anything that doesn’t look like a slam dunk in terms of execution. The neck and fretwork in particular are extraordinary. This bass showed up with crazy low action, with little to no buzz anywhere on the maple fingerboard. I had to raise the action up for my ham fists, but I still like pretty low action and the bass played like a dream.  Chords and fast runs felt easier than usual on this bass.   

Devon’s trademark rounded fingerboard edges and C-shaped neck was an interesting departure from the slim and fast D-shape I am used to on Jazz basses, but as soon as I stopped thinking about it and started playing it, I was immediately comfortable and felt right at home.  The neck is fast and slim front to back, with a bit of a shoulder, but by no means beefy. It felt great under my hands and played very fast. This profile seems like a great way to maximize mass in the neck without increasing any feeling of beefiness or heft. I loved the thin satin finish on the back of the neck, which felt thin and smooth, almost like a sanded-off neck finish but still protective. The black oval inlays on the maple board tie in beautifully to the oval Delano Xtender pickups, creating a really cool, unique, and somewhat futuristic vibe. 

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

Devon basses are available with a range of electronic options in Modern (rear-routed) and Classic (pickguard and electronics plate) configurations, with a lot of available customization. This particular bass is outfitted with Delano Xtenders: twin coil humbucking pickups, housed in oval shells, which offer an array of coil tap options. Paired with a Nordstrand 3 band preamp, the controls offer 3 bands of EQ with a push-pull option for the mid-frequency, as well as 3-way switches for each pickup to select front coil, both coils, rear coil settings for both. The result is an impressively varied array of tones.

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

The more time I spent with the bass, the more interesting and useful settings I discovered. This electronics package is on the modern end of the spectrum, and reminiscent of music man tones, capable of all kinds of muscular and thick modern sounds that really help it stand out in a mix, with a great midrange articulation.   Customers can choose from a variety of popular pickups and preamps, and Devon works hard to meet his customers’ needs and desires around tone preferences and versatility.

Here is the fun part: getting into some of Devon’s signature innovations. Devon’s Modern basses have recessed control knobs, which has a very streamlined and low-profile vibe. Likewise, the tuning machines are slightly recessed into the headstock to help “lock” them in place.

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

The output jack is something new for many. Instead of a side jack or a front-facing jack, it is inset into the bottom bout of the body, facing “up” at you when playing. This keeps the cable out of the way and works great for either straight or 90-degree angle cables and will never pull out when you step on it like a bonehead in the middle of your only bass solo of the night and get glared at by the drummer, who, couldn’t be bothered to get to the gig in time for soundcheck, but now feels like he can judge you for an honest mistake.  Ahem, just for example.  

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

Looking at the back of the bass, one immediately notices the perfectly matched control cavity cover, which is held on by strong magnets.

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

Popping the cover reveals the cleanest control cavity I’ve come across. It looks like it was designed by an OCD Nikola Tesla. Wiring is uber tidy and cable tied into clean runs everywhere. It is a thing of beauty, and in combination with expert shielding, is truly best practice for the quietest operation possible.

Devon J5 Modern 24 Bass Guitar

The battery cover is magnetic as well and houses a nifty proprietary assembly that contains two 9v batteries, with a small handle. This neat system allows for a battery swap in about 5 seconds.  Just another smartly thought out “better mousetrap”, which appears to be par for the course with Devon’s work.

After being lucky enough to spend some time with the Devon J5 Modern 24, I can say with confidence that Devon Smullen has knocked it out of the park on basically every level and succeeded in standing out from the ‘5 string jazz’ pack. My sense is that these days, it’s not enough to make a cool-looking bass. There is no shortage of those. A great bass has to look great, sound great, and play amazingly well. Likewise, as a luthier, you have to have a solid online presence, be responsive to customers’ requests, and keep your timetables shored up for delivery times, so as not to get months behind on promised shipping dates. Unfortunately, there just aren’t too many bass builders that check all of those boxes, but it sure seems like Devon does, and does it while coming in at a VERY competitive price point, given the outstanding quality of the build and componentry.

For more information on the Devon J5 Modern 24, visit Devon Bass Guitars online at devonbass.com

Bass Videos

Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

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Review: Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB…

Minuendo Lossless Earplugs Live 17dB – Hearing protection has always been front and center on my mind because I love music so much, I cannot imagine my life if I were unable to hear.

You might remember back in 2021, we had a good look at the Minuendo Lossless Earplugs featuring adjustable protection. This system has a lot of very good features but there was always the question of how much sound attenuation to choose.

Now, the great folks at Minuendo have come up with a new version of their earplugs that has a set 17dB noise reduction. You still get a lot of the great features of the adjustables but you just don’t have to think about the specific sound level. In addition, this new version of earplugs comes at a very attractive price point.

For more information, visit online at Minuendo.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

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Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

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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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