Ernie Ball Bongo 1H-Piezo FL4 Reviews 4

I use this in a duo/trio situation with no drummer. Diva on vox & KB. We do about 150 nites/yr, several yrs into it. Ballads, bloozes, american songbook, yadayada ... I got it from the local Daddy's Junky Music cuz the peeps there know what I dig and saw it enter the system at a store in the next state, and so give me the heads-up. It's badassed looking black and chrome, like a Harley, and can sound like anything from a Harley to a Jag V12 via its 4 strings, 1 neodymium humbugger, a piezo bridge, and 4-band EQ.

I got it from Daddy's Junky Music at an unspeakably cheap price, cuz it's weird and they were having a holiday sale. Most Bongoistas want dual PUs and most bassers don't care about piezos, which are an expensive but subtle option. And it's got neither frets nor ghost lines. So it's a black white elephant.

Comfortable to play and sounds great. It can sound like almost anything ... kick drum, EUB, Jaco tone, P-bass, etc etc ... it can even sound like a MM Bongo ! The 4-band EQ is very cool, not sure whether I prefer it to a 3-band with mid sweep, but it's about equal. There are independent internal trim pots for each string ... not all piezo basses have them. Black is not my favorite bass finish [I dig natural or burst] but EBMM uses massive-looking chrome tuners and bridge, which look really kick-butt with the shiny black. The easy to use truss rod adjuster is a good feature of EBMM but is even more of a benefit with a FL. I call it 'Dial-A-Mwah'. The 18volt system is very quiet and quite resistant to airborne interference as well. Dual pop-up battery holders are convenient.

There's nothing I actually dislike except the over-styled sculpting of the body. I can think of a few different choices I would have made if I were an EBMM honcho, but these are not really dislikes: I would not have painted the neck. I would make the edge dots more visible. I would have a tone block under the bridge on the piezo models. The basswood body doesn't "speak" in a very woody voice, and a piezo bridge "listens" to the body wood. I would move the single PU further from the bridge, since the piezos are the real bridge PU on such a bass. Of course the lack of a tone block is strictly a piezo concern, more so with a piezo FL, and likewise the PU location ... so considering that this is a mass produced bass, that could be just asking too much. To repeat, these are NOT real problems, just me fantasizing about improvements.

Pau ferro FB on 1-pc maple neck, basswood body, 4-band EQ, typical MM hardware and PU, plus a Fishman piezo system adapted to the std MM bridge. Construction quality seems to uphold the EBMM standards.

I'm not sure this is preferable to my similarly equipt StingRay, whcih needs no tone block cuz it's ash, but I got it at a nice price easy price, and especially with different strings than the Ray, plus differnt wood and electronics, it gives me another voice. A piezo Bongo with dual mag PU's would be really special, cuz dual mag PU Rays cannot have the piezo option. One cool thing a Bongo has over a Ray for FL is the 24 'fret' neck. I never play the high notes but I like having that little bit of extra FB for a playing surface under my right hand. It's right where I play for some of my favorite tone, and I can easily shift my right hand just a little bit to enjoy the "ramp" of the FB, or the extra air space of going off of the FB, yet still keep approxmately the same "on the neck" tone that is the stock-in-trade FL voice. It has it's compromises, but it has it's special touches, so I'll rank it a '4'.

Golem rated this unit 4 on 2009-05-29.

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