Video: 5 Boutique Brands Every Bassist Should Know

When it comes to bass, there are a handful of classic options that have remained popular for decades—Fender Precision and Jazz basses, the Gibson EB series, Rickenbacker 4001s and 4003s, and even relatively newer entrants like the Ibanez SR series. While any of those choices are great for any number of playing styles and genres, there exists a wide world of boutique brands that adventurous players can explore.

Like their equivalents in the six-string world, boutique bass models can get pretty expensive, though that's not always the case. Generally speaking though, these basses will be more than $1,000 USD and often several thousand dollars. In our video above, we showcase five different boutique basses that every player should know, and we've tried to keep it to the lower-end of the boutique price range.

All of these basses offer something a little different, a certain flair that can bring a unique edge to your sound and playing style.

Sandberg

Sandberg makes a number of quality basses, including the California VM4, which has a Precision/Jazz-style pickup configuration and active electronics, along with some boutique features and building techniques.

In our video above, Jake Hawrylak explains: "Traditionally, when we think about relic'd instruments, we think about it purely in the cosmetic sense. But Sandberg has taken this a step further, introducing things like wood vibration [just as] violin makers use to simulate the natural aging that you would get out of an older instrument." The process helps to bring out "some of the resonance in the wood that you're just never going to find in a factory-made instrument."

While the California VM4 hews closely to a Fender P-Bass, the California TM4 leans more heavily into the Jazz bass template. Shop all Sandberg basses here.

Sandberg California VM4
Sandberg California TM4
Serek Basses

Serek Basses offer a mix of elements from classic basses while offering their own unique designs, pickups, and body styles. In the video above, Jake plays a Serek Armitage—which, like the Sacramento model, is named after a street in the builder's Chicago neighborhood. As Jake explains, the Armitage is "his take on a P-style body and pickup configuration. Super light. It's like a leaner and meaner P-Bass." Meanwhile the neck's width at the nut is closer to a Rickenbacker size.

You can read more about Serek basses in our interview with the builder, Jake Serek (not to be confused with Jake, our video host). As an independent luthier hand-building all of his own instruments, Serek's available inventory on Reverb can be small, but you can shop all Serek basses here, and add the Serek Armitage to your Reverb Feed to be notified as soon as a listing becomes available.

Serek Basses Armitage
Roscoe

Greensboro, North Carolina's Roscoe Guitars offer something different with their basses. According to Jake, they're well-suited for more chops-intensive styles like funk, fusion, or gospel. The LG Standard Plus Series has easy access to its upper-register frets, thanks to the thin body shape and cutaways. Cosmetically, the basses offer eye-catching yet natural finishes.

The LG Standard Plus in our video is outfitted with Aguilar pickups in a P-Bass configuration and an active preamp, but other models can include Bartolini pickups. Shop for all Roscoe basses here.

Roscoe LG Standard Plus
Roscoe Classic 5-String
Mayones

"If you're looking for an instrument that packs a ton of playability, versatility, durability, and style in one package, Mayones has you covered," Jake says. The Viking Series of basses, like the 4-string version played here, are packed with various options. The one in our video has Bartolini pickups, an Aguilar preamp, as well as built-in EQ options and boost. It has a full 24-fret range and plenty of room to get there thanks to the cutaways. "This bass was really designed for players with a lot of chops that really need the room to fly."

And of course the looks are high-flying too—with the wood grain proudly on display beneath a gradating purple-to-natural finish. You can hear in our video just how many sounds the Viking is capable of. If you're looking for 5-string or multi-scale versions, you're in luck, as the Viking comes in many different styles. Shop all Mayones basses here.

Mayones Viking
Electrical Guitar Company Standard
Electrical Guitar Company

Electrical Guitar Company is one of the leading brands of aluminum instruments. You can see and hear why with the custom-built Standard bass model featured in our video. Bongripper bassist (and Reverb employee) Ron Petzke was nice enough to let us borrow his. While this particular bass is a one-off instrument, the company offers many body shapes and customizable options, with new and used EGC basses showing up on Reverb from time to time.

In our video, you'll hear how long a note can sustain thanks to EGC's all-aluminum construction techniques. But sustain is not the only benefit to being metal. With a neck so strong, there's no fear of warping or need for a truss rod. And the nut is built right-in, so there's no need for a setup. The hollow body also makes it lighter than you may imagine by its looks. Shop all Electrical Guitar Company basses here.


Be sure to watch the video above to hear all of these basses in action. Have your own favorite boutique bass brand? Let us know in the comments.

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