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...
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.
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
Overall A 24-carat winner
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