The Guy Pratt Betsy Bass

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A tribute to long term Bass Centre comrade, Guy Pratt, this new addition to our British Bass Masters range is a glorious tribute to "Betsy", the storied 1964 Jazz Bass which has been Guy's go-to instrument for many years. As he enthuses, "Betsy is the best bass guitar in the world. I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise! It has a little date carved inside it - June 7, 1964 - which I love because it’s my dad’s birthday, and it was him who gave me my first bass." 

Purchased from the legendary John Entwistle in 1987 after Guy's mate Johnny Marr insisted that if they were going to play together he needed a Fender - a good one! (It was actually Johnny who inspired the nickname ‘Betsy’), Guy collected the original 1964 Burgundy Mist beauty from the Bass Centre’s Wapping HQ in London, after a set-up by the store’s long-serving, in-house tech Chris Ward.

"It's a fab instrument!"

Fast forward to 2019 when, searching for a new road-worthy, high performance instrument for his touring commitments with Saucerful of Secrets in, Guy was suitably impressed with the quality of the Bass Centre's vintage styled Bass Collection range and, in conjunction with Bass Centre MD Barry Moorhouse, struck upon the idea of a modern, commercial recreation of Betsy in all her Burgundy Mist glory, incorporating the Bass Centre's "Super Slim Sixties" neck profile, period accurate detailing, and beautifully balanced, lightweight construction.

Like its namesake, the new Betsy is loaded with EMG's superb, low-impedance J pickups. Guy's original got an active upgrade during early rehearsals with Pink Floyd in August '87. "I said to my tech, Syd Price, one day, ‘These pickups are a bit quiet, maybe we should think about getting some new ones?’ - and the next morning, it had EMGs in it. I shouted ‘What the f*ck have you done? You can’t put EMGs in a ’64 Jazz!’ but when I plugged it in, it sounded amazing!"

Needless to say, the Betsy also comes complete with Guy's strings of choice -  "I play Elites roundwounds and have done for decades. They’re utterly reliable."

Completing the circle, every new Betsy bass will have its pickups installed and be set up by none other than Chris Ward, still taking care of business in the Bass Centre workshop after 35 years!!

A versatile, stage and studio workhorse, The Betsy has been designed for Guy, not just to appease his own exacting standards, but also to deliver a superb, competitively priced instrument to modern players. The fact that Guy is using one for the demands of Saucerful Of Secrets is testament to the success of the project... "It's a fab instrument, and very reasonably priced."

The Betsy Features

  • Classic Burgundy Mist finish, with mint-green scratchplate.
  • EMG pickups
  • Satin finish "Super Slim Sixties" Maple neck with Maccasar Ebony fingerboard
  • Original, vintage style, roller bridge
  • Original 60's style control knobs
  • Strung with Bass Centre Elites Stadium Series strings 
  • Built in South Korea in the same factory responsible for our superb Bass Collection range
  • Complete with Bass Centre padded gig bag and 12 month warranty.
Guy with Betsy at Friars Aylesbury on the UK Saucerful of Secrets Tour, April 2019 (photo : John Phillips)

Guy Pratt

Guy Pratt is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, comedian and actor whose career took off at the tender age of 19, when he was asked to join Australian act, Icehouse for their prestigious support slot on David Bowie legendary 1983 “Serious Moonlight” tour. This led to him being asked to perform with Robert Palmer, Bryan Ferry, Womack & Womack, and The Smiths (for a week!), before being promoted to the global bass premier league when David Gilmour selected him for Pink Floyd's post-Roger Waters "Delicate Sound of Thunder" and "P*U*L*S*E" world tours in 1987 and 1994. He also toured as part of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's "On An Island" band

Beyond the Floyd fam, Guy has worked with Gary Moore, Roxy Music, Michael Jackson, Echo & The Bunnymen, Kirsty MacColl, Tears For Fears, Lemon Jelly, The Orb, All Saints, Madonna, Stephen Duffy, Robbie Robertson, Tom Jones, Iggy Pop, Coverdale/Page, The Power Station, Bond, Natalie Imbruglia, The Pretenders and The Transit Kings (with The Orb's Alex Paterson and Jimmy Cauty of The KLF) amongst many, many others.

As a composer, he has written TV scores for "Spaced", "The Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star", the Vic Reeves re-boot of "Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)" and Jimmy Nail's "Crocodile Tears", won a Grammy and been nominated for 2 Ivor Novello Awards and co-wrote the UK Number 1 hit "Ain't No Doubt" (sung by Jimmy Nail). Amazingly, Guy has also found time to present his one-man music and comedy show, "My Bass & Other Animals" around the World, AND write a best-selling book based on the show (a signed copy of which accompanies every purchase of the Betsy Bass!).

In 2018 Guy joined Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets, performing early Pink Floyd classics with the new Bass Centre Betsy now an integral part of his on stage arsenal.

Of course, Bass Centre Elites Strings have also been with him for the last 25 years... even if, as the man himself claims, the "jury's still out!!"

Guy with Bass Centre MD Barry Moorhouse at the London Bass Guitar Show, September 2019
Body Basswood
Finish Burgundy Mist with Matching Headstock
Neck Satin Finish Maple with "Super Slim Sixties" Profile
Fingerboard Macassar Ebony with Pre-CBS-Style Clay Dot Markers
Frets 20 Medium Nickel Frets
Pickup 2 x EMG J Pickups
Controls Volume/Volume/Master Tone
Tuning Machines Chrome Vintage-Style, Open-Gear Tuners
Hardware 4 Bolt Engraved Chrome Neck Plate, Chrome Control Plate & Vintage Control Knobs
Bridge Traditional Roller Bridge
Pickguard 3-ply Vintage Mint-Green
Scale Length 34" (864mm)
Neck Width at Nut 38mm
Neck Width at 12th Fret 57mm
Neck Depth at 1st Fret 20mm
Neck Depth at 12th Fret 22mm
String Spacing at Nut 10mm
String Spacing at Bridge 19mm
Weight 4.05kg (8.9lbs)
Strings Bass Centre Elites Stadium Series Roundwound Standard Gauge .045 - .065 - .085 - .105
Extras Bass Centre Padded Gig Bag
Warranty All Bass Collection instruments come with a 1 year warranty

A veritable classic with many stories to tell has been modelled for this new Guy Pratt Signature model.
"Anyone interested in some Burgundy Mist?" asks Mike Brooks

From the February 2020 issue of Bass Guitar and Bass Player magazines


Guy Pratt's well-travelled 1964 Fender Jazz, referred to as 'Betsy', was previously owned by John Entwistle of the Who and despite her vintage, value and general desirability – Burgundy Mist was a very limited colour – has covered many miles on the road with Guy. There comes a time, however, when taking certain basses away from home isn't practical, so Barry Moorhouse suggested copying Betsy as part of his Bass Collection British Bass Masters range, so that Guy will no longer need to take Betsy away from home.

As Mr Pratt says : "They've really captured the feel of the old girl, and it sounds great. There's a really nice punch and depth. I don't like taking Betsy on the road too much, so I've used two of these on tour now and intend to continue doing so next year. It's great that it's so affordable, too."

Let's plug in and play – and see if we agree...

Build Quality

Having played the original Betsy back in 2013, what struck me was how playable the bass was and how it naturally resonated, still with a massive spring in its step. This new signature copy certainly catches the eye, matching headstock, chrome hardware and white three-ply scratch plate. All the usual Jazz characteristics and features have been lovingly replicated.

Wear and tear aside, the contouring at front and rear and the cutaways – with excellent access to the upper region of the 20 fret Macassar ebony fingerboard – retain all the charm of the original, while the team have sensibly opted to fit the bass with passive EMG single-coil pickups, just as Guy did when he purchased the bass. The hardware is simple and efficient : The chrome machine heads, bridge and control plate set off the vintage vibe a treat and work as they should. A nice touch is the inclusion of a vintage-correct bridge with string-spacing options.

The player-friendly neck dimensions have been retained : The neck profile and nut are a slinky as you could ask for, and the satin neck finish is the icing on the cake. The traditional three-control layout (volume/volume/tone) should be familiar to most of you, and mother-of-pearl position markers adorn the front-facing of the fingerboard, with white dots along the side. If you like your bass to look as a classic Jazz should, the Betsy ticks all the boxes.

Sounds & Playability

Betsy has a standout tonal character and this model retains much of that. The basswood body (alder was trialed but was heavier with no tonal improvement over basswood) and maple neck are aided by the ebony fingerboard which gives the note increased definition due to the hardness of the timber. Playing the bass acoustically, the whole length of the neck has a natural bounce and bite, while retaining the natural woody characteristics of a Jazz.

Plugging in, those familiar single-coil tones jump out at you : Checking each pickup individually, the EMG units really deliver the goods. Thankfully, the D and G strings don't sound clinical, but match the warmth of the E and A strings, and considering this is a passive bass, the tonal delivery is substantial. There is clarity, matched with a solid, powerful response, especially in the low-mid register. All three controls works across the whole turn, as opposed to the all-too-familiar on-off response which e sometimes see.

Both pickups provide a responsive display and in a band mix, the bass doesn't disappoint, bubbling along nicely without sounding wooly or indistinct. In terms of playability, the 19mm string spacing at the bridge is instantly familiar, while the neck dimensions make you feel very much at home. There is some minor headstock bias, but the bass sits perfectly on a strap.

Conclusion

This bass is an absolute joy to play – I can't recommend it highly enough. It's solidly constructed, with a cool finish, playability and comfort by the bucketload, and a tonal performance that out-boxes many a bass at double the price. The Bass Centre have a winner on their hands – check out Betsy's sibling as soon as possible.

What We Think

Plus Faithful Jazz tones and playability
Minus None
Overall A 24-carat winner

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Average Rating (2 Reviews):  
Write a Review and share your opinions!

Rating:  
You can't miss the Betsy
Thursday, 28 May 2020  | 

Since I am a fan of Guy Pratt's bass style since 30 years, I cannot resist to purchase the Betsy bass replica.Even if having a fairly low price, it is a pretty nice bass that works much better than you can expect from. If you are a Guy Pratt fan you can immediately recognize its classic sound when playing this instrument.

It has a comfortable, easy to play, slim neck and a very good overall balance. The only detail I can complain about is the total absence of finish at the back of the neck. I asked to my luthier to add a coat of tone and glossy finish.

The bass came with soft bag and a copy of Guy Pratt's book.

The overall service from shop and staff has been very good!

If you are a Pratt sound fan and you want a greatly playable instrument at a fairly low price you can't miss the Betsy.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful.


Rating:  
Betsy is a keeper!
Tuesday, 12 May 2020  | 

Iíve owned about 30 basses in my lifetime (including some USA Jazz basses) and this is the best bass Iíve ever owned.

I was a little nervous ordering a bass sight unseen, but the gamble paid off. Set up was perfect right out of the box, action is low and fast, no rough fret edges, the pickups are dead quiet, the color is gorgeous - itís a total home run. And thatís before taking the price into consideration. Even shipped to the USA, the price is ridiculously low. In almost 30 years of playing Iíve never seen this kind of quality in a bass in this price range. I hate to sound like a shill, but Iíve barely put the bass down since I got it; just ask my wife!

In short, Iíll shout it from the mountains....if you are in the market for a Jazz Bass, THIS IS THE ONE YOU WANT!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful.