Review: Mannedesign Newport 4T

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The active Mannedesign Newport 4T bass (current price in Finland: 883,14 €) is part of Manne’s mid-price range of Mannedesign instruments, all manufactured in the Far East to the Italian maker’s specs. The bass closely follows its more expensive Italian sibling in general looks, but offers different solutions in the finer details.

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Both the body’s as well as the headstock’s front have been adorned with beautiful flamed maple veneers, which have been finished in a rich honey-coloured hue.

Quality tuners, made by Gotoh, keep the tuning well and stable.

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Italian Manne instruments feature maple necks with multi-laminated beech cores for added rigidity. The Mannedesign Newport 4T sports a one-piece maple nack, with an additional piece for the headstock and the first frets. You can only just spot the scarf-joint on the reviewed bass.

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Here we see a genuine bolt-on neck, instead of the traditional screwed-on variety used widely.

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The bass’ flat fingerboard radius, as well as its jumbo frets, give the Newport 4T a comfortable and contemporary feel. The fretting is of a very satisfactory standard.

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This Mannedesign’s body comes with a thick, two-piece mahogany back and a thin maple top, accentuated by a thin, dark veneer (walnut, possibly?). The topmost layer is a thin, book-matched flame maple veneer. Custom Shop looks at a very moderate price – nice!

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Super-J/MM-pickup combinations are en vogue these days, and the Newport 4T sports a ceramic singlecoil in the neck position with an alnico-based, large MM-type humbucker next to the bridge.

Our review sample’s control cavity was nice and clean, with the lid housing the quick-release compartment for the 9 V battery.

We find four controls on the Newport 4T – master volume, pickup balance, bass boost/cut, and treble boost/cut.

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The bridge is Gotoh’s sturdy update of the time-honoured Fender-bridge.

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The Newport comes in its own, high-quality gig bag.

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Our review sample was comfortably lightweight. Thanks to the instrument’s long top horn, strapped-on balance is superb, which makes it easy to find your preferred playing position.

Even though there aren’t any conspicuous beer-belly or forearm chamfers on the Newport, the bass still feels much less angular than a Rickenbacker 4003, for example. The secret here are very gentle and flowing long curvatures that Menne’s designers have put into some parts of the body. If you look closely you’ll realise that the body’s thickness is smaller right where your right arm is resting than, for example, directly behind the bridge. These flowing lines keep the crisp angular look of the Newport intact, while adding significantly to the bass’ comfortable feel.

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The Newport 4T sounds nicely balanced played through an amplifier. Both note attacks and playing dynamics are reproduced well, and the signal is clean and clear.

The quality Mannedesign’s active electronics was a very positive surprise, indeed. The EQs have a juicy, musical quality about them, and the whole circuit is refreshingly low-noise.

The singlecoil neck pickup naturally picks up some extraneous buzz when mixed in, but the noise stays at unproblematic levels. The bridge humbucker is somewhat punchier, but never swamps the agile neck pickup.

Here are three soundbites (neck pickup – both – bridge pickup):

Mannedesign Newport 4T – plectrum

Mannedesign Newport 4T – slap

Mannedesign Newport 4T – fingerstyle

The Mannedesign Newport 4T is a beautiful mid-priced bass, with a strong voice and a very personal look. This quality instrument can deal with virtually all musical styles.

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Mannedesign Newport 4T

Current price in Finland: 883,14 €

Finnish distributor: Nordsound

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Pros:

+ beautiful design

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ sound

+ low-hiss active electronics

Cons:

– some metal dust clinging to the review sample’s pickup poles

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