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SIGNAL CHAIN: Bass into CEntrance AxePort Pro into Reaper DAW software on MacBook
Ironically, if the New Jazz Standard represents an evolution of an old classic, the e-volution Single-Cut can be seen as a new beginning for bass design—not really an evolution of any instrument’s genetic line at all. The e-volution is an exquisitely hand-crafted piece of woodworking art and a fine instrument all rolled into one. If you’re into beautiful woods carved into smooth ergonomic form, this bass is for you. If my eye is correct, the e-volution includes maple, swamp ash, Macassar ebony, walnut, and alder. A simple, elegant touch is the inset straplock receivers to avoid that awkward protrusion of dual-duty strap buttons.
A first glance, the eye quickly goes to this axe’s unique body shape—and the beauty of the one-piece crotch walnut top (a $1000 option). Unlike the familiar double-cutaway design of most basses, the Single-Cut extends the attached upper horn clear to the octave fret. On the lower horn, though, the cutaway is quite deep, going all the way to the second octave. With a fully carved neck joint, there is no problem whatsoever in reaching the second octave with ease. Come solo time, this baby is ready to soar.
The key to this design is the way the extended body section enhances the transmission of resonance between the body and the neck. At one end of the transmission spectrum is the humble bolt-on design that relies on a small surface of mechanical connection between neck and body. Elrick’s distinctive Single-Cut innovation goes to the other extreme, working to maximize an instrument’s resonance—I found it had a ton of sustain.
The 35” neck on this e-volution is decked out with smaller-than-usual medium fretwire on its nicely striped two-tone ebony fingerboard. As with the NJS bass, Elrick uses a zero fret. I like this choice because it keeps open notes sounding like all the others, but also one piece of the setup challenge gets eliminated when nut slots are removed from the equation. The fingerboard is appointed with small position markers. From the nut to the octave, the dots run between the B and E strings. At the octave, a second dot is added between the D and G strings. From that point on, though, the dots remain only on the high side of the neck—that’s the side of the neck where the money notes are.
What looks at first like a neckthrough design actually is much more complex. A neck-width piece of alder (with ebony stringers) runs through the body clear to the bottom strap button, but then remember—the neck itself is built as three-piece maple. This design could be considered a cross between a set neck and a neckthrough. Because of the phenomenal heel sculpting, the whole amalgam of woods looks a little like the sandstone beside a creek that has been eroding over the centuries to reveal differing colors of smooth rock layers.
Equally amazing is how the cover over the battery and electronics has been cut right out of the body with what appears to be a zerokerf cut—the grain flows continuously across the body, interrupted only by faint joints. The neck profile itself tends again toward the modern, feeling a little flatter and wider than the classic neck forms. This is a functional choice, because the thinner G-side profile makes access across the wide 19mm-spaced bridge a cinch—a spacing that allows either digging in or clean slapping with ease. The thin finish of the neck adds to the overall sensory experience, making moves both across and up-and-down the neck a luxurious glide.
But what about the sound?
The e-volution boasts all Bartolini electronics, with a pair of soapbar humbuckers run into the NTMBF 3-band preamp and controlled by three EQ knobs and two switches. The switch nearest the bottom of the bass selects active or passive mode. On its own, the tone is rather neutral, neither begging to be slapped nor calling for deep-voiced thumping, and I found myself wishing for a little more authority. The sound was consistent across strings, an important attribute that sometimes doesn’t hold true for a bass’s low B string.
Indeed, there are plenty of voicing options to work with. I tended to favor soloing one of the two pickups and then applying some EQ to taste. The three-option midrange control was seriously helpful in this regard, guiding the bass toward bright, deep, scooped, or even a burpy staccato tone. Both fingerstyle and slap players can adapt the sound to their own preference and the transparent, musically-voiced Bartolini electronics accomplish the job without adding noise or creating odd-sounding tones.
Clearly, with a street price of $5200, it won’t make many players’ short list of must-have gear. But if you have the cash and want to play something distinctive, the Elrick e-volution Single-Cut 5 would be quite worthy of consideration. Maybe the hardest part would be the heightened playing expectations when you show up with this axe at a gig or studio session.
aesthetic considerations, quality, playability, and tone-shaping options are high on your list
you want a bass that brings a distinctive sound right out of the case and are on a tight budget.
Street $5200 - Elrick Bass Guitars, Ltd - elrick.com