A short-scale exercise in bass design that doesn’t come up short on classic style or versatility.
Clip 1 - Neck pickup, tone at 20 percent.
Clip 2 - Both pickups, tone at 70 percent.
Clip 3 - Bridge Pickup, tone at 30 percent.
Chicago luthier Jake Serek, the former Lakland bass craftsman, has developed his own take on vintage-inspired basses by combining passive electronics with clean, cool looks. Serek’s latest design is the Midwestern 2, an adaptation of his original short-scale line that brims with understated sophistication.
The original Midwestern bass was influenced by Serek’s procurement of a ’60s Epiphone Newport. While he appreciated many aspects of the Newport, Serek knew he could make improvements to the quirky instrument.
Developing the Midwestern 2, Serek made the lower horn smaller, carved a deeper cutaway, and added an extra fret. Like its predecessor, the Midwestern 2 employs a 1-piece mahogany body and a 2-piece, quartersawn-mahogany neck. Our review bass featured a jatoba fretboard upgrade, but pau ferro and Indian rosewood are the standard fretboard options.
Darkstar pickup fans will be pleased to know that Serek employs a single Guild BS-1 as the stock pickup, though he also offers a nice selection of other choices, including the proprietary line of pickups he has developed. On our tester Midwestern 2, a pair of his handwound, wax-potted Singles were installed. The single-coil pickups are manipulated with a simple control setup consisting of two knobs (volume and tone) and a 3-way pickup switch.
Additional features consist of a bone nut, Hipshot hardware, and a "satin faded black" finish. While Serek offers other options, this particular grouping of components gave our Midwestern 2 tester loads of tonal versatility and a pretty badass look.
Monster of the Midway
The Midwestern 2 impressed right out of the case. It was remarkably light at 6 1/2 pounds, which made my back smile with anticipation. The satin finish and sleek demeanor made for the perfect aesthetic combo and evoked fun nicknames for the bass like “Darth Vader” and “Raider Bass.”
But the Midwestern 2 is way more than just a pretty face. In a seated position, the bass balanced very well on the thigh or between the legs, like a classical guitar. It did, however, rest at a horizontal position when worn on a strap. This won’t be an issue for those who prefer this orientation, but it would have been nice for it to stay balanced at different angles.
The playability was seemingly effortless, as the neck shape and fretboard radius provided a comfortable platform for string skipping and smooth shifting. Every fret was accessible and the deep cutaway invited explorations of the upper portions of the instrument. Not only that, the Midwestern 2 had an uncanny broken-in feel, as if I’d been playing it for years.
Serek’s Singles pickups sounded fantastic, despite the expected 60-cycle hum that comes with single-coils. Soloing the neck pickup revealed tones reminiscent of a Gibson EB, with full lows, scooped articulate mids, and harsh-free highs that accentuated finger attack. Balancing both pickups delivered a Rickenbacker-meets-Jazz bass sound, providing stronger high-mids and tight lows. The bridge pickup on its own didn’t deliver sounds as bark-y as a Jazz bass, but it produced an authoritative, pointed timbre that would still please Jaco disciples.
The tone control did a great job shaping the sonic qualities of the Serek single-coils. I experimented with the dial in depth at a songwriter jam, where different bass sounds were required for the various tunes. For example, by dialing down the tone control and soloing the neck pickup for a country ballad, the Midwestern 2 delivered a thick, warm tone with great sustain—ideal for recording in this genre. A funk tune required some slap work, so I engaged both pickups and set the tone at about 70 percent. Though it may not have delivered a completely spot-on, funky Jazz Bass sound, it had a deep, aggressive tone that worked quite well. Going from chart to chart, it was evident the Midwestern 2 could be used in almost every musical setting thrown its way.
Short-scale basses have enjoyed a noticeable rise in popularity over the last few years, and the Midwestern 2 is a shining example of what makes these little rascals such a blast to play. Serek has created a portable instrument with big, articulate tones and supreme playability. Professionals might well find its vintage voice invaluable in the studio and onstage, while weekend warriors will consider it to be … well, pretty damned fun. Serek may be the new kid on the block, but it seems he is already planting his flag near the top of the short-scale mountain. If you’re looking for a bass that will inject some fun and fire into your playing, give the Midwestern 2 a good look.
Watch the Review Demo:
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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
The new Gibson App simplifies the learning process and brings guitar playing to life for the current and next generation of guitarists in a modern, comprehensive, and intuitive way. The Gibson App is the place to take your guitar playing to the next level. New to the Gibson App is the Gibson Digital Amp, the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediate players and pros to get their sound anywhere. The Gibson Digital Amp is an accessible amplifier for both acoustic and electric guitars, and is currently available for Apple/iOS users--an Android version will debut next year.
Use the Gibson Digital Amp’s jamming guide to get started and transform your sound with built-in effects and pedals, jam to backing tracks, or use it in lessons and songs. The Gibson Digital Amp only requires your phone, and wired headphones for the best playing experience, no cables are needed. The amp features 3 acoustic mic presets, 4 electric amp presets, and 6 effects pedals.
The Gibson Digital Amp is the ultimate starting amplifier for beginners and a flexible amp on-the-go for intermediates and pros.
The Gibson App uses a unique two-way, interactive platform to teach guitar students how to do everything from playing their first note to shredding loads of songs. The Gibson App features interactive lessons with thousands of lessons and songs. Learn the songs step-by-step with video tutorials from superstar artists and pro guitarists in the “Gibson App Guide.” The Gibson App also includes the new Digital Amp, a built-in tuner, a metronome, Gibson TV, and new songs are added every week. New Gibson App Guides are added regularly and include Tommy “Spaceman” Thayer’s favorite iconic KISS guitar solos, Richie Faulkner’s (Judas Priest) “Guide to Metal,” Jared James Nichols’ “Guide to Blues,” CELISSE’s “Guide to Songwriting,” and more.
The Gibson App uses “audio augmented reality” to provide dynamic feedback to students as they learn and play. As you pluck a note or strum a chord, the Gibson App listens to your guitar and gives you real-time feedback on your playing. It also gives students a more contextual learning experience: Instead of learning chords and scales in a vacuum, you’re able to practice on a scrolling tablature that lets you hear how you sound with the backing of a virtual band. That means you can load up “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, “American Girl" by Tom Petty, “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, “Where is My Mind" by Pixies, “Country Roads” by John Denver, “I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett, “Heaven” by Kane Brown, “Shape Of You” by Ed Sheeran, “Killer Queen” by Queen,“ Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” by Lenny Kravitz, and “Don't Look Back In Anger” by Oasis and hundreds more songs in a wide range of genres, to see how your play matches up with such seminal tracks.
As you’re playing, the Gibson App gives you feedback on timing and tone, ensuring that students are getting active input on how their play is developing. The Gibson App appeals to players of all levels, it’s not just for beginners looking to learn a few chords; the app can assist seasoned guitarists who are working their way through difficult riffs, want to learn their favorite songs, or polish their advanced techniques.
Players can also challenge themselves by speeding up or slowing the tabs. Like having a full-time guitar teacher, the Gibson App keeps track of all your progress and adjusts lesson plans accordingly. The Gibson App released a “backing track mode” which supports both lesson and song playback without headphones, so users can self-select what works best for their current environment. And that’s not all: the Gibson App also packs in a fully-featured digital tuner for guitar first-timers, there’s even a detailed lesson on how to tune your instrument, a multi-function metronome, players can connect to free one-on-one consultations with Gibson’s Virtual Guitar Tech team, and to direct links to the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer online stores for easy shopping for guitars, gear, apparel, and accessories.
Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
The Gibson App is more than a pocket-sized guitar teacher, it’s loaded with an archive of exclusive content and original programming from its premium and accessible award-winning online network, Gibson TV, featuring music icons telling their best guitar stories, with more episodes and installments added regularly. Users can watch Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi share insights and tales from his decades-long career on the series “Icons,” dive into Joe Bonamassa’s assortment of legendary Les Paul guitars on “The Collection,” or see how Gibson’s iconic instruments are made in their Nashville factory from body to binding on “The Process.” There’s even a series called “The Scene” that focuses on backstage stories from hallowed music venues from coast to coast like The Troubadour and Grand Ole Opry.
The Gibson App free version features a few lessons a day; the premium version of the Gibson App offers full access and a 14-day free trial, then costs $19.99/£16.49 monthly or $119.99/£98.99 yearly.
For more information, please visit gibson.com.
This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
Belltone P-90 Foil-Tron Pickup
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.