Review: Squier Affinity Bronco Bass & Höfner Ignition Violin Bass SE

This is a slightly shorter version of an article in Finnish published at


In 2021 short-scale basses are often seen as less desirable, as instruments purely for beginners, but not for ”serious” use.

Back in the Fifties, Sixties and much of the Seventies, a wealth of great music has been recorded by bassists playing short-scale basses. To some degree this was out of pure necessity, as many guitar manufacturers didn’t regard the electric bass guitar as a serious instrument in the early days. Those companies simply used slight redesigns of their guitar models with longer necks and different pickups, in order to have something to sell to the public. Gibson, for example, only released its first long-scale basses – the Thunderbird II and IV models – in 1963, while Gretsch and Guild stuck to their ”modified guitars” well into the 1970s.

Other companies designed their short-scale basses from the ground up:

In 1956 a German luthier called Walter Höfner developed a comfortably light and compact semi-acoustic bass with a violin-shaped body. In keeping with the Höfner Company’s nomenclature this new bass received the rather uninspiring name Höfner 500/1.

This bass might have become a mere footnote in history, had it not been for a young British musician, who ordered a left-handed 500/1, while working in a nightclub in Hamburg (West Germany) with his band. This young bass player was, of course, none other than Paul McCartney, and the Beatles’ global fame from 1963 onwards catapulted the Höfner 500/1 right into the limelight.

Paul McCartney still uses his iconic Höfner bass.
Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads; Tom Tom Club) is regularly seen with her Höfner 500/1, as well as with Höfner 500/2 Club Basses (as in this picture).

The Fender Company, whose founder Leo Fender was the father of the electric bass, introduced its first short-scale bass in 1966. The Fender Mustang was based on their legendary Precision Bass, and was meant as a companion to the company’s Mustang Guitar.

Most classic Status Quo hits were recorded by Alan Lancaster playing his Mustang Bass.
The Rolling Stones’ original bass player Bill Wyman used his Mustang Bass on stage between 1968 and 1971.

Regardless of their affordable price tags, the models in this review are straight descendants of the Höfner 500/1 and Fender Mustang models.


When the Fender Musicmaster Bass was released in 1971 it was Fender’s most affordable electric bass, making it an ideal choice for beginners, music classes, and – in the late 70s and early 80s – for Punk or New Wave bands. The original Musicmaster Bass used the same body as the Mustang, but sported a redesigned scratchplate and bridge, cheaper machine heads, and a covered guitar (!) pickup.

The Squier Affinity Bronco Bass (current price in Finland around 200 €) has been the brand’s most-affordable bass for many years, until the very recent arrival of the Mini-P Bass, which is a few euros cheaper.

The Indonesian Bronco Bass is clearly based on the Musicmaster Bass from the Seventies:

The Bronco Bass sports the same Mustang-style body, and shares its predecessor’s simple, two-saddle bridge, as well as the 19-fret bolt-on neck. The new scratchplate design, which is clearly Strat/Precision-inspired is much prettier, though.

The satin finished maple neck is a one-piece affair, with the frets directly installed into its curved front, and it offers easy truss rod access next to the top nut. The tuning machines are improved versions of the originals.

Squier’s websites aren’t especially clear on the body material; some places state it is made from agathis, while others mention poplar. Be this as it may, our review sample comes finished in a beautiful Torino Red gloss finish. The bass is also very light in weight.

The single-ply scratchplate holds a powerful ceramic Stratocaster pickup, and the master volume and tone controls.

The quality of workmanship on the reviewed Squier Bronco Bass is simply amazing. I’m old enough to remember affordable instruments from the late Seventies, and this little bass is simply in a completely different league. Everything is clean and crisp. The neck profile is a very comfortable ”C” and the fretwork is very good. The playability of the bass is buttery and there are no annoying mechanical buzzes or rattles. You could basically grab this bass and do a gig.

Due to the very spartan bridge the Bronco’s intonation is never completely spot-on in the higher reaches of the fretboard, but I feel I can live with the small compromises required.

What the Squier Bronco offers is great playability, a healthy acoustic tone, and a surprisingly balanced and full-bodied performance from its single-coil guitar pickup. The Bronco Bass sounds like a ”real” bass played through a quality bass amp.


A German Höfner 500/1 ”Mersey”.

Höfner’s Violin Basses are currently produced in three model ranges:

The Made-in-Germany range comprises several vintage reissues, reliced basses, and an ecologically-conscious Green Line-version.

Höfner’s mid-price range is called the Contemporary Series (HCT), and it is produced in China. The Contemporary Violin Bass models come equipped with genuine German pickups, but differ slightly in construction by adding a feedback-reducing centre block inside the body.

The most affordable instruments are the Höfner Ignition models (HI). These instruments are also made in China, but offer less painstakingly exact recreations of Höfner’s most famous models.

The Höfner Ignition Violin Bass SE (current price in Finland approx. 350 €) is the newest update of the McCartney-inspired Ignition-version of the Höfner, which adds a few features that have been requested by many fans:

The body’s bass-side shoulder is now adorned with a vintage-style Höfner-decal, while the previous Jazz Bass-style control knobs have been replaced with Höfner’s famous teacup knobs. Additionally, the bass now also comes with a replica of the famous BASSMAN-sticker in the box. During the making of the Beatles’ Get Back/Let It Be film and LP, Paul McCartney had peeled off the sticker from his new Fender Bassman amplifier stack and stuck it to the top of his bass. For some Beatles fans this sticker has since become a legendary piece of memorabilia, which has now been made available to buyers of the Ignition Violin Bass SE.

The Höfner Ignition is a beautifully made instrument that closely follows the most crucial aspects of the German original’s build:

The hollow body of the Violin Bass is made from an arched plywood spruce top and plywood flame maple for the rims and the arched back. The set neck is carved from rock maple, while the rosewood bridge is held in place on top of the body by the downward force of the strings in Jazz-guitar style.

The most obvious difference between German (and HCT) basses and the Ignition is the exact build of the neck. The original features a freestanding, so-called cantilever fingerboard between the neck joint and the neck pickup. The Ignition’s neck continues as a solid block of maple for the whole way, which actually even makes the neck joint a tiny bit stronger. Additionally, while German 500/1s come with (depending on the model) necks made from either two long strips of maple, or a central piece of beech sandwiched between two outer strips of maple, the Ignition’s neck is one-piece maple with a separate piece glued on for the headstock.

For environmental reasons Höfner now uses thermo-treated jatoba wood for the fingerboards on Ignition Violin Basses. The string trapeze is chromed, while the tuning heads are four separate units with pearloid knobs.

The Ignition pickups are actually reissues of rare Japanese Staple pickups, which were used on some ”New Special” models for the Japanese market back in the Eighties. They look similar to the classic Staple pickups on Paul McCartney’s 500/1, but are slightly wider, and – what’s more important – easier to adjust for height than the German originals.

* Click/tap the picture for a larger view *

Many players who are new to Höfner-basses have trouble with Walter Höfner’s classic ”Aggregat” control console that also comes installed on the Ignition Violin Bass SE. I hope the above picture will do its bit to clear up which component does what.

It looks like a Höfner, it’s built like a Höfner, and – surprise, surprise – the Ignition Violin Bass SE sounds like the genuine Höfner it is! This is a quality instrument, and very compact and light to wear on a strap. The set-up and playability of our review sample was spot on, making the Ignition SE a fast and comfortable player. The neck’s depth may be a bit chunkier than on many modern basses, but the relatively narrow U-profile means that a Höfner neck sits very nicely in the palm of your hand.

It is true that the Höfner 500/1 (aka Violin Bass aka Beatle Bass) will forever be associated with Paul McCartney and the Beatles, but that shouldn’t lead to the instrument being pidgeonholed as a ”Sixties music” bass. I know what I’m talking about, as I have been a very satisfied 500/1-owner since 1990, and I regularly use the Violin Bass in many different contexts. As long as you don’t need to play slap bass or high-gain Metal, a Höfner will handle anything you throw at it.

Squier Bronco Bass & Höfner Ignition SE – 80s-Style Demo Song

A demo of the Squier Bronco Bass and the Höfner Ignition B-Bass SE based on the Eighties classic ”Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club.

Squier Bronco Bass

Höfner Ignition Violin Bass SE


• The bass tracks, guitar tracks, and the tambourine have been recorded with a Shure MV7X and the Cranbourne Camden EC2.

• The electric piano (Korg SP-200) was recorded with a Cranbourne Camden EC2.

• Guitar amp – Bluetone Black Prince Reverb

• Bass amp – Bluetone Bass 200

• Guitar used – Hamer USA Studio Custom

• Phaser – EHX Nano Small Stone

Review: Carvin MicroBass MB 10

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel

Carvin’s series of extremely compact MicroBass bass combos is built using the company’s lightweight BX 250 MicroBass amplifier sunk into four differently-sized speaker cabinets. Thanks to some clever design work – as well as lightweight modern bass speakers – even the largest of the MicroBass-combos, the MB210 (equipped with two 10-inch speakers and a horn tweeter), only weighs 16 kilos.

Kitarablogi received the smallest member of the MicroBass-family for testing. The MB10 is small enough to take with you on public transport, should the need ever arise.


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view

Carvin MicroBass MB10 (current price in Finland: 577 €) is compactness incarnate:

The combo’s dimensions are only 47 x 33 x 28 cm (h/w/d), and it weighs in at just below 12 kilos!

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – side view

Despite its diminutive size the Carvin’s build is roadworthy and sturdy.

The 10-inch speaker and the horn tweeter are safely tucked away behind a chunky metal grille.

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – back view

You can use the MicroBass MB10 both with the cabinet standing up and lying on its side, thanks to two sets of rubber feet installed to the closed-back cabinet.

Carvin MB10 colour options

Black vinyl is the MB10’s standard livrée, but if you feel more flamboyant you could also get your small Carvin in, say, fake snake hide for a small surcharge (40 €).


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel – large

Small it may be, but Carvin’s BX 250 MicroBass amplifier comes fully equipped:

Carvin’s preamp section runs in Class A with satisfyingly low levels of hiss. Adding more Drive to proceedings will fatten up your tone and add a little bit of grind, but you shouldn’t really expect any Metal-style distortion from this combo.

The Contour-knob allows you to apply a loudness-type pre-EQ curve to your signal, which will boost both the bass and treble frequencies, while attenuating the mid-range slightly. Contour works nicely in cleaning up a crowded mid-range, as well as adding a bit of punch to your overall sound.

The EQ-department on the MicroBass is very well equipped, too. In addition to the shelving Bass and Treble filters Carvin has added a lot of flexibility in the guise of two semi-parametric mid-frequency filters. There’s ample boost and cut on tap to satisfy any bass player.

The amp also includes a nifty bass-optimised one-knob compressor. A red light in the middle of the amp’s blue jewel light gives you nice visual clues about the amounts of compression applied to your signal. Carvin’s compressor works in a very musical fashion, and it helps the player to get the most out of this little bass combo. Even small amounts of compression will go a long way in helping to clean up the MB10’s output, helping you to get even more volume out of the Carvin.

Using only the built-in speakers, the MicroBass’ Class D power amp will dish out 200 watts of power, adding a compatible extension cab will give you 50 watts more.

In addition to the speaker output, there’s also a headphone output that doubles as a tuner out, and a balanced DI-output (XLR). The output levels for the headphone and DI-output are controlled by the DI Level knob. Using the Pre/Post switch you can decide, whether to send the input signal directly to the output, or whether you’d prefer to use the preamp signal, complete with compression and EQ.

Lovers of warm vintage sounds will be pleased to hear that you can dim the Carvin’s tweeter, using a mini-switch.

Because writing about sound always seems somewhat futile, I’ve prepared different audio clips to give you an idea of the Carvin MicroBass MB10’s versatility. All clips have been recorded with a microphone:

Jazz Bass – EQ-controls in neutral

Jazz Bass – light bass boost, Tweeter-switch set to Dim

Jazz Bass – played with a plectrum, a little bit of Contour added

Jazz Bass – slapped, Contour set to 12 o’clock

Höfner 500/1 – plectrum, Tweeter set to Dim

Rickenbacker 4003

Rickenbacker – plectrum


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view 2

If you’re holding down the bass in a loud-as-f*ck Metal band, or if your usual gigs include 20,000-seater stadiums, Carvin’s little combo probably isn’t the right choice for you. The MicroBass MB10 is a loud amp – for its size – but it can only go so far…

But: The Carvin MicroBass MB 10 is a fantastic choice for the majority of us bassists, who play in small clubs, in restaurants or in pubs. In venues such as these the Carvin will be just the ticket, its tiny footprint and big sound making it a gig machine. The recording studio is also a place where a high-powered bass stack can be counterproductive, due to issues such as audible bleeding into drum mics, making a high-quality, moderate-power combo, such as the MicroBass MB10, a great choice. I’d also reckon that this little Carvin will find a place in the hearts of many Unplugged-, Folk- and (acoustic) Jazz-players.


Carvin MicroBass MB10

577 €

Finnish distributor: Musiikki Silfverberg

Thanks to Vantaan Musiikki for the loan of the review combo!



+ compact size

+ lightweight

+ versatile

+ easy-to-use compressor

+ sound

Testipenkissä: Carvin MicroBass MB 10

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel

Carvinin erittäin kompakteissa MicroBass-bassokomboissa firman ultrakevyt BX 250 MicroBass -vahvistin on upotettu neljään erikokoisiin kaappeihin. Hyvän suunnittelun ja nykyaikaisten (entistä kevyempien) kaiuttimien ansiosta, jopa isoin Carvin MicroBass -kombo – kahdella kymppituumaisella kaiuttimella, sekä diskanttitorvella varustettu MB210 – painaa vain 16 kiloa.

Kitarablogi sai testiin MicroBass-perheen pienimmän jäsenen, MB10-kombon, jolla pystyy matkustamaan vaikkapa julkisilla treeneihin tai keikalle.


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view

Carvin MicroBass MB10 (577 €) on oikea kompaktiuuden ruumiillistuma:

Kombon ulkomitat ovat vain 47 x 33 x 28 cm (k/l/s), ja pikku-Carvinin paino pysyy jopa alle 12 kilon!

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – side view

Pienuudestaan huolimatta myös tämä Carvin on jämerää tekoa.

Kunnon metalliritilän takana näkyy kymppituumainen bassokaiutin, sekä kombon neodyymimagneetilla varustettu diskanttitorvi.

Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – back view

MicroBass MB10 -vahvistinta voi käyttää joko pystyasennossa tai sivullaan. Kombon suljetun kotelon kylkeen on tätä varten lisätty toinen satsi kumijalkoja.

Carvin MB10 colour options

Musta vinyylipäällyste on MB10:ssä vakiona, mutta pientä lisämaksua vastaan (40 €) voi tilata oman MicroBass-kombon vaikkapa käärmeennahka-kuvioisella vinyylillä.


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – control panel – large

Carvin BX 250 MicroBass -vahvistimen varustelu ei todellakaan jätä toivomiseen varaa:

Carvinin etuvahvistin toimii A-luokan periaatteella mukavan alhaisella kohinatasolla. Drive-säädintä avaamalla voi saada soundia vintage-tyylisesti vielä rouheammaksi ja mehevämmäksi, mutta säröpedaalin kaltaista Metal-säröä ei pitäisi odottaa tästä vahvistimesta.

Contour-säätimen tarkoitus on lisätä soundiin hieman loudness-maista esi-EQ:tä, jossa basso- ja diskanttirekistereitä boostataan vähän, samalla kun keskialueelta otetaan hieman signaalia pois. Signaaliin voi näin lisätä jo hieman potkua (ja siistiä keskitaajuuksia), ilman että taajuuskorjaimiin on edes koskettu.

MicroBassin EQ-osasto on hyvin varusteltu – Bass- ja Treble-hyllykorjainten lisäksi on tarjolla jopa kaksi puoliparametrista korjainta keskitaajuuksille.

Vahvistimesta löytyy myös bassolle optimoitu, helppokäyttöinen kompressori. Signaalitasosta ja kompressorin toimesta saa MicroBass-kombossa myös optista viestiä, punaisella merkkivalolla muuten violetin jewel-valon keskellä. Carvinin kompressori toimii musikaalisesti ja on oiva työkalu, jolla saadaan pikkukombosta kaikki irti. Jo hyvin maltillisesti käytettynä kompressori tekee lopputuloksesta siistimmän, ja samalla voi soittaa komboa lujempaa.

Omilla, sisäisillä kaiuttimilla MicroBassin D-luokan päätevahvistimen maksimitehoksi ilmoitetaan 200 wattia. Sopivalla lisäkaapilla voidaan saada pikkukombosta vielä 50 wattia lisää tehoa ulos.

Kaappilähdön lisäksi on tarjolla vielä kuulokelähtö (joka on samalla myös lähtö viritysmittarille), sekä balansoitu DI-lähtö (XLR). Kuuloke- ja DI-lähdölle on yhteinen säädin signaalitasolle (DI Level), ja Pre/Post-kytkimellä voi valita lähetetäänkö tulosignaali suoraan lähtöihin vai käytetäänkö EQ:lla ja kompressorilla höystetty signaali lähteenä.

Pehmeän vintage-soundin ystävät iloitsevat varmasti Tweeter-pikkukytkimestä, jolla saa haluttaessa diskanttitorvi hiljaisemmaksi.

Koska soundin kuvailu on hyvin hankalaa touhua, olen äänittänyt erilaisia audiopätkiä, joilla saa kuvan Carvin MicroBass MB10:n monipuolisuudesta. Äänitykset on tehty kahdella mikrofonilla (siis ilman DI-lähtöä):

Jazz Bass – EQ:t neutraaliasennossa

Jazz Bass – kevyt bassoboosti, Tweeter-kytkin Dim-asennossa

Jazz Bass – plektralla, pieni ripaus Contouria

Jazz Bass – slap-soittoa, Contour-säädin kello 12

Höfner 500/1 – plektralla, Tweeter-kytkin Dim-asennossa

Rickenbacker 4003

Rickenbacker – plektralla


Carvin MB10 Micro Bass – front view 2

Jos olet todella kovaäänisen Thrash Metal -bändin basisti, tai jos olet lähdössä soittamaan seuraava keikkasi Olympiastadionilla, Carvinin pikkukombo ei ole ehkä se paras valinta. MicroBass MB10 on kyllä – etenkin kokoonsa nähden – hyvin kovaääninen bassokombo, mutta jossain tulee kuitenkin raja vastaan.

Carvin MicroBass MB 10 on kuitenkin loistava valinta meille enemmistölle, jotka soittavat säännöllisesti ravintoloissa ja pubeissa. Näissä paikoissa Carvinin maltillinen volyymi, kompakti koko ja loistava soundi tekevät MicroBass-kombosta lyömättömän keikkakoneen. Studiossakin pieni bassovahvistin on usein kullan arvoinen, koska vuotoäänet, esimerkiksi rumpumikkeihin, saa estettyä helpommin. Myös Unplugged-, Folk- ja akustisen Jazz-musiikin ystäville pikku-Carvin voi osoittautua erinomaiseksi valinnaksi.


Carvin MicroBass MB10

577 €

Maahantuoja: Musiikki Silfverberg

Kiitos Vantaan Musiikille testivahvistimen lainaamisesta!



+ kompakti koko

+ alhainen paino

+ monipuolinen

+ helppokäyttöinen kompressori

+ soundi

Uusi kirja: The Complete Höfner Violin Bass Story

Höfner Book 1

Hiljattain on ilmestynyt ensimmäinen vakavasti otettava kirja Höfnerin viulubassosta.

The Complete Violin Bass Story on Höfner-asiantuntijoiden – Steve Russellin ja Nick Wassin – huolellinen ja kattava historiikki Höfnerin klassikkobassosta.

Höfner Book 2

320-sivuiseen kirjaan on hyvin kirjoitetun tekstin lisäksi mahdutettu suuri määrä bassokuvia – skaala ulottuu tunnetuista varhaisen 1960-luvun viulubassoista…

Höfner Book 3

…ja 70-luvun malleista…

Höfner 4

…nykypäivän reissue-mallistoon.

Kirjassa on mukana myös Tommi Posan ottamia kuvia minun omasta 90-luvun Höfneristäni!

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