Recorded direct into Focusrite Saffire 6 interface into MacBook Pro using GarageBand.
Clip 1 - Neck pickup only. First riff in passive mode with tone at 100 percent. Second riff in active mode with mid and treble boost.
Clip 2 - Both pickups blended equally. First riff in passive mode with tone at 100 percent. Second riff in active mode with bass boosted.
Clip 3 - Bridge pickup only. First riff in passive mode with tone at 100 percent. Second riff in active mode with bass and treble boosted.
Relative newcomer Sire’s collaboration with Marcus Miller has already been a prosperous one. Since the bass manufacturer’s launch in 2015, they have garnered attention and praise by producing quality instruments at eye-popping values. Diversifying from their successful Jazz-style instruments, as well as a take on modern bass design with their M Series, Sire has unveiled another classic-form bass with the introduction of the P7. It has P-style aesthetics with versatile inclusions like a P/J pickup configuration, active electronics, and, for the P7 model we checked out, a 5th string for sonic spelunking.
The P7 features design elements of the past and present. Sire kept it classic for our test bass: a black-finished alder body bolted to a hard-maple neck that’s capped with a rosewood fretboard. Players who prefer a swamp-ash body and maple fretboard combo will be pleased to know they're also available (for an extra $100), and the P7 is offered in different finishes.
Sire’s proprietary components make up the P7’s electronics outfit. The Marcus Super Precision pickup set consists of a P-style pickup in the neck and a J-style single-coil residing in the bridge position. A Marcus Heritage-3 preamp handles the tone-shaping duties. Fronting the 18V preamp are dials for volume and tone, which are in a stacked configuration. Neighboring the stacked duo is the blend control, which is followed by the 3-band EQ. The treble and bass dials provide cut and boost of fixed frequencies, while the midrange is manipulated by a stacked combination of boost/cut and frequency controls. A passive/active switch is tucked in neatly among the knobs.
Other features include a heavy mass bridge that was developed with Marcus Miller’s input, Sire open-gear clover tuners, and a bone nut.
Like Sire’s other basses, the P7 is attractive. The black finish and tortoiseshell pickguard on our tester were a classy combo, and the pearloid blocks and white binding pop nicely against the fretboard’s dark rosewood. Our bass weighed in at 9.2 pounds, but it felt lighter than its scale reading when in hand.
The balance was a touch disappointing, as the P7 was unable to maintain a satisfactory balance on my thigh in a sitting position. Fortunately, the bass held its position in a classical-guitar posture. There was zero neck dive when the P7 was strapped on and it held a playing angle slightly above horizontal. Though my personal playing style has a more pronounced angle than the P7 naturally maintains, I think most players should find Sire’s latest to be a pretty comfortable instrument.
The P7’s neck design was impressive with its C shape, 7.25" fretboard radius, and 1 13/16" spacing at the nut. This combination felt substantial, but not chunky. The glossy neck did not hinder shifting whatsoever, which allowed for effortless acclimation of the fretboard.
I plugged the P7 into a Bergantino B|Amp and HD112 cabinet. Keeping everything flat, I set the bass’ preamp to passive mode and attempted to adjust the tone knob for pickup experimentation. I found, however, that the stacked volume and tone knobs were installed too close to each other, which wouldn’t allow me to move them independently. As a result, I had to use one hand to hold the volume knob and the other hand to adjust the tone. While this might not be the case on other P7s, it was a frustrating characteristic of the test instrument.
Once I got the volume and tone where I wanted them, I set my sights on the P7’s sounds. Balancing both pickups yielded a tone with tight lows, shy low-mids, pronounced high-mids, and a sparkling top. Soloing the bridge pickup projected the pointed, mid-heavy tone bassists have enjoyed since the Jaco days. In fact, my only criticism of the Super Precision set came when rolling the balance towards the neck pickup. I found that the P-style split-coil didn’t offer the vintage tone commonly associated with this type of pickup, as it lacked in midrange complexity and aggressive high-mids. With that said, those who prefer a more modern-sounding split-coil with bigger lows and highs will likely appreciate what this pickup has to offer.
Any sonic concerns were mostly mitigated with the help of the Heritage-3 preamp while in active mode—particularly with the flexibility of the mid controls. Extensive experimentation took place at a jam session where I plugged the P7 into the same Bergantino rig. The frequency control was handy in finding the ideal mids to enhance the P-style pickup, as it was able to inject a little vintage vibe for copping Motown-style bass lines and classic Stax-sounding low end.
The preamp also aided in bringing some low-mid punch to the bridge pickup, which gave my timbre aggression and bark. This tone was ideal when Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” was called, as I got close to replicating Nate Watts’ slippery fills and pulsing eighth notes. The bass and treble controls provided ample amounts of boost, which gave my slaps and pops punch and presence. And Sire’s 5th string was, well, awesome. It delivered sub-sonic notes with clarity and huge definition. In fact, a bandmate remarked that it may have produced a few—ahem—“brown notes.” All said, the P7 performed quite well over the course of the three-hour gig.
Sire and Marcus Miller have come together to create a bass that’s packed with features and a price point that will please the wallet. For a hair under $600, you get practical tones, great playability, and a big 5th string. It might not be a match for the vintage-bass lover, but the P7 would be a great option for an amateur, budget-conscious, or pro player seeking a workhorse. Despite the minor issues regarding the balance while sitting and the sticking volume/tone stack on our test bass, the P7 proved to be a versatile 5-string that offers freedom from buyer’s remorse, and another impressive addition to Sire’s low-end family.
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