Ernie Ball Bongo 4HH Reviews
This one is ''Lava Pearl'', one of the initial crazy Bongo colors that are gradually being dropped by EBMM. Great color if you happen to find one :-) I play in a string band and in a duo, well-worn melodic tunes ... so this bass is not my usual gig ax and is pretty much the opposite of what I usually need ! But I just love the sound and the feel of it, so occasionally I enjoy ''using a hammer to drive screws''.
I bought it on clearance at the local GC. It cost about the same as a used one, but it was their last new one. The local GC no longer stocks the Bongo. Even tho it's not the best fit for my gigs, where frets and solid bodies are not a great choice, it's got a versatile, musical voice, so I sometimes use it anywayz, for sake of variety.
I like the color, the looks, the controls, the neck .... and of course the sound, which is like typical dual humbuckers taken to extremes. The controls are volume, PU balancer, and 4-band EQ, and they are verrrry effective. The 18v EQ-pre makes no audible hiss or hum unless twisted to ridiculous EQ settings ... and even then, the noise is minimal. Sometimes we play large venues with echoing hard surfaces and busy crowds that are not there mainly for the music. In such circumstances, the Bongo rules. There's a lot of knobs to twirl, but
the right EQ is in there somewhere, and its basic voice carries nicely. I've gone wireless out into the crowd and heard this for myself. It's also a good way to get the twirly knobs just right :-)
The top horn should be longer, as balance is just OK, but barely. The narrow bottom edge is not good for extended sit-down gigs. The neck finish feels OK but the StingRay finish feels better.
The most noticeable thing, regardless of color, is that every inch of wood is painted, and all one color. Body is basswood and according to EBMM it's ''select basswood''. Baswood is not pricey, nor beautiful, but it has a cool mellow tone. So the basswood tone makes a good foundation for all the possible enhancement offered via the controls. PU's are typical MM PU's [far as I can tell]. There are seperate battery chambers for the TWO 9v batteries [18v] so you don't really *need* to open the control box, but if you do peek under the hood, you'll find things very different than the old-school simplicity of a StingRay !
Well, everybody knows Bongos are uglee, or at least ''too weird to love''. Appearance-wise I agree, even tho I own 3 Bongos. So, there *is* something that makes them desirable despite their looks. For me, it's a double something, an overall easy playability combined with the way the controls can shape the foundation tone into many musically useful variations. Altho I don't do any recording, I appreciate to amazing lack of noise in the 18v system. I play some pretty quiet gigs, and moderate hiss or hum [from other basses] will bother me, even tho the audience really never notices. Noiselessness makes me happy, and making me happy makes me make better music.
If the tophorn were longer, the bottom edge were less edgey, and the back of the neck had the StingRay finish, I would rate this ax at '5'. With those reasonably tolerable shortfalls, it's '4'.Golem
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