The Gibson Thunderbird is a raunchily-voiced classic bass from the 1960s, even though its design isn’t really the most ergonomic. The ”reverse” body and the resulting long neck sends the T’Bird nosediving the second you let go of its neck.
Schecter’s R&D-team set about to design a bass, which would offer all the sound of said Gibson-classic, but would also feature a much better strapped-on balance. Following this brief they came up with a beauty, called the Schecter Ultra Bass.
The Schecter Ultra Bass (current street price in Finland: 865 €), which is part of the company’s mid-priced Diamond-range, is a long-scale bass equipped with passive electronics.
The Ultra is by no means a straight T’Bird-copy, blending successfully the body’s Gibson-type treble side to a Telecaster-style bass side. The end result pleases the eye, sits comfortably in the lap, and balances rather nicely strapped-on, because the top strap button is now noticeably closer to the headstock, compared to said classic from the Sixties.
From a sonic standpoint the through-neck-construction is vital – Schecter uses three long strips of hard rock maple set off nicely by two thinner strips of walnut.
The body wings are crafted from mahogany. The front of the body sports the characteristic step between the wings and the middle formed by the through-neck, while the Ultra Bass’ flip side has been left level for added comfort.
Schecter have chosen smooth Grover-tuners for their Ultra Bass, which feature a ratio of 18:1.
Our test sample’s beautiful rosewood fretboard has been adorned with cream-coloured dot inlays. The well-seated frets are of medium size.
A sturdy tune-o-matic and stopbar combination is a very stylish choice, fully in line with this bass’ fine looks.
EMG’s passive TBHZ-humbuckers are direct replacements for Thunderbird-type basses, so we can fully expect them to deliver the desired sonic goods.
The Schecter sports two separate volume knobs – one for each pickup – as well as a master tone. The output jack sits safely on its own metal plate on the rim of the body.
The Ultra’s tidy build and quality workmanship are carried along into the control cavity, which reveals three high-quality pots and neat shielding.
The Schecter Ultra Bass handles much easier and much calmer than the Gibson-classic, which served as its inspiration. Balance really isn’t an issue here at all, and it’s easy to find a comfortable playing position.
The Schecter’s neck profile is a slim and tapered ”C”, not miles away from a 1970s Fender Jazz. Thanks to the clean workmanship and nice set-up on our test sample the touch is light and the bass plays well.
Most importantly, though, the Ultra Bass has the characteristic growl in spades. The bottom end is fat, the mid-range slightly smokey and hoarse, and this scrumptious dish is topped of with the top-end’s silky sheen.
Just like the Thunderbird, Schecter’s Ultra Bass is simply made for Rock and heavier styles: Played with a pick, the attack punches a sizable hole into any guitar stack wall. The overall sound also takes well to a bit of overdrive, regardless of whether you’re playing with a pleck or fingerstyle.
Here are some soundbites; it’s alway the neck pickup first, then both pickups, with the bridge humbucker played on its own last in line:
Schecter is really dishing out the goods with their Ultra-model – finally, here’s a worthy update of the T’Bird-theme. It sounds fantastic, feels great, and offers very high value for a very fair price.
Schecter Ultra Bass
Current street price in Finland: 865 €
Finnish Distributor: Soundtools
+ neck profile
+ strapped-on balance