What makes F Basses so amazing? This FAQ explains some of the advantages F Basses offer. A big “Thanks!” is owed to talkbass.com user Tom7 for contributing most of this content. Tom’s words are in italics.
Fbasses have some unique advantages over nearly all other basses, advantages that make them the quintessential players’ bass.
Some bass makers use other people’s pickups, (Fodera, Pedulla, Roscoe, Mike Lull, etc.). Others design and use their own pickups (Sadowsky, Ken Smith, Nordstrand, etc.) FBass pickups are proprietary single coil stacks that play in either single coil or humbucking mode via a pull up coil tap control. Most of us prefer the single coil tone, but if you want a glassier tone, or need to kill a hum, you just pull up on a knob and you’ve got humbuckers. The thing is, Fbass gives you a choice: single coil or humbucking — in the same bass, and they get points for that in my book.
The preamp is likewise made by Fbass. It’s famous for being “transparent” and nearly impossible to distinguish from the tone of the bass in passive mode when the preamp is turned on. The Fbass preamp is boost only and 3 band (bass, mid and treble). What makes the Fbass preamp stand out is how each boost is musical at any setting. You can’t seem to make the mids honk, or the bass muddy or the treble shrill. You always have an organic sounding bass even when playing it in active mode.
Here’s a little added blurb from Garry, the designer/maker of the F Bass preamp. Lots of people are fans of this awesome preamp – fascinating stuff!
“Another unique feature of the preamp is the utilization of a “multiplying” EQ, as opposed to the more conventional cut/boost type. The signal passes through all bands in a single path, resulting in lower distortion, tighter correlation and improved definition, while enabling a wide range of sonic possibilities. Gradually boosting the mid band, for example, while the lows are already boosted, results in a smooth higher frequency focus, while not diminishing the power in the low band. This is partially due to the bandwidth designation of each band, which further lends to a more natural sounding preamp.
Things get more exciting when treble is dialed into the mix. The treble band on the standard preamp is designed to add sparkle, without engaging the more “nasal” upper mid-band tones.”
— Scale length
I’m always going on about the genius of a 34.5″ scale. Both the Fender Precision and the Fender Jazz basses were 34 inches from nut to bridge, which was fine until people starting putting B strings on basses. To give the B more oomph, many luthiers began to make basses 35″. The trouble is, that didn’t just tighten the B string, it tightened all of them. Many players don’t like the tightness, especially on the C string of a 6 string bass… it just sounds too tinny and artificial. Plus the added distances between the frets near the nut wears down hands faster. And while American builders were hung up debating the pros and cons of integer measurements in inches, (34 vs. 35), the Canadians’ use of the metric system must have left them not caring because George Furlanetto figured out that the sweet spot for electric basses is 34.5″. At 34.5 inches, the C strings are musical and the B strings are solid, and the extra half inch difference from 34″ scale just isn’t a burden on the fretting hand. The 34.5″ scale length works so well, I am pretty sure I will never buy a 35″ bass again.
— String spacing
All Fbasses that I am aware of use the string spacing of the standard 4 string Fender Jazz bass: 19mm (3/4 inch). I am SO glad, because I go between 4, 5 and 6 string basses all the time, and having the string spacing standardized like that makes the transition minimal.
Many players prefer the control configuration of a single volume control and a “blend” (a.k.a. “pan” and “balance”) knob. The trouble is, blend knobs tend to give you just 3 tones: soled bridge, soloed neck, or both pickups on. The only exception I know of is the Audere preamp which treats each pickup’s signal separately, preserving a STEREO signal throughout the preamp, and making the preamp in essence a little mixer which allocates sound in a smooth, linear way proportional to the knob’s position, giving a bass the tonal variation it would have it had dual volume controls… like Fbasses have. Dual volumes are annoying because you can unintentionally mess up your tone by simply trying to turn your bass up or down, but on the other hand, you can dial up tones not available to most volume / blend basses. That is worth it to me and to a lot of other players who prefer vol/vol to vol/blend.
Donovan’s Comments: Also, regarding the lack of a blend knob, here’s more info straight from George Furlanetto:
The balance pot adds another resistor, so there is more capacitance in the signal chain, thus slightly reducing the high end (slightly noticeable).
With two pots you can blend the amount of each pickup, whereas with the balance you can only blend the two levels in balance; you can never
have one pickup on full and add a little of the other.
— Balance on the strap
FBasses hang on the strap in a unique way. The entire bass is shifted to the right (if you are right handed), making life a lot easier for your fretting hand. An additional benefit is the viewing angle you get on the upper frets, which is especially nice if you have a fretless, lineless bass like I do. It helps me play in tune.
— Quality workmanship
Actually, quality workmanship isn’t unique to Fbass, but Fbass quality is right there with anyone else you want to name.
Other guys know the details and the reasons… whether it be the shape of the neck or whatever, but the Fbass truly is a players’ bass. It plays very well, not just easily, and rewards players who have developed hand techniques to make their playing more musical.
Here is a favorite clip of mine on Youtube of an Fbass BN6. The player is an excellent bassist by the name of Dave Hughes.
And here’s info from Neil Moore – who is the finisher at F Bass:
Here’s the information regarding the finishes:
The finish is a conversion varnish that is designed for interior wood surfaces which are exposed to extreme moisture, heat, and house hold chemicals. It is not a rock hard finish, but it is stronger then a classic nitro lacquer finish. I found that the conversion varnish has a better resistance against checking, chipping, cracking, mar, and scratches as well. It has been tested in extreme hot and cold conditions with excellent results, however to be on the safe side I would not recommend subjecting the bass to fast temperature changes in extreme conditions. For example, going from a freezing cold car to sitting next to a heater or hot light. Coming from Canada, we see both sides of extreme hot and cold. I have done some tests myself, and I can’t get the finish to fail. So I believe it would be very difficult for someone to subject their bass to conditions where it would affect the finish.
All and all I think the durability of the finish relies on the owner to take care of it, which I sure most people spending good money on our instruments do. I hope I was able to answer your question and of course if you have more don’t hesitate to contact us again.
Neil Moore (Fbass Finisher)
Donovan’s Comments: I had asked George why his exotic tops were so expensive. Here is his answer:
Exotic tops: Again this is reflecting the amount of labor required. A topped bass requires double the time of a non-topped bass to construct and again the “efficiency of numbers” comes into play; standard basses are made in batches of six to twelve. Topped basses are made one at a time. Topped basses also include a matching headstock, heel, and pickup shells usually cut from the tops for a fairly accurate match. Adding to the labor is the fact that the headstock veneer is curved and the top is rounded and carved, so that the gluing procedures for head and body are much more labor intensive then most other manufactures, whose tops and headstocks are flat and easily glued.