Journey Instruments OB660 Review

Carbon-fiber construction and a removable/stowable neck make airline travel a cinch.

Recorded direct with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface into GarageBand.
Clip 1 - No onboard controls on bass. EQ set flat in GarageBand.

While not exactly mainstream, an instrument built with carbon fiber isn’t such an out-there thing any longer. Take, for instance, Journey Instruments’ OB660 acoustic bass guitar. It’s a sharp looking 4-string that brings all the benefits of carbon-fiber construction to a compact bass. And the neck joint also disengages to transform this svelte number into a supremely efficient travel companion.

Form meets function with a Manzer Wedge-inspired body that’s tapered for playing comfort, a soundboard armrest, and a “Scoopaway” cutaway that eases access to the upper frets. The offset abstract-geometric soundhole is another nice touch, and all those elements contribute to the “could see it hanging at MOMA” vibe.

Locking the removable neck into place is a 10-second breeze. After spending a few minutes playing the OB660 acoustically, I was impressed with the smooth-playing neck, volume for its size, and woodsy tone. Like most all acoustic bass guitars I’ve had my hands on, it won’t compete with your dread- or jumbo-sporting mates at an acoustic jam. Plugged in, the under-the-bridge transducer does an excellent job of transmitting a timbre that could stand in for an acoustic upright if you don’t own one, or do and don’t want to schlep it. One should be mindful of feedback—which I experienced a touch of—but the balanced and full-bodied sounds that belie the first look at this bass are nonetheless impressive.

The OB660 will set you back quite a tidy amount of cash for such a relatively niche instrument. But niches need to be served, and the OB660 does just that if you’re looking for a stealthy and stylish way to take your low end on a journey with ease.

Test gear: Gallien-Krueger 800RB head, TC Electronic RS410 cab

Ratings

Pros:
Awesome sounds in a shockingly convenient and simple package.

Cons:
Mix and sample knobs lack visible setting indicator. Moderate to high sample-reduction settings add difficult-to-manage noise.

Street:
$1,199

Journey Instruments OB660
journeyinstruments.com

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The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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