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제목 (bass player)Sire V7 4- and 5-String Basses // (Premier guitar)Sire V7 Review
작성자 SIRE KOREA (ip:)
  • 작성일 2016-07-14
  • 추천 추천하기
  • 조회수 751
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Review: Sire Marcus Miller V7 4- and 5-String Basses

November 10, 2015

As we gaze in our mind’s eye at an imagined Mount Rushmore of bass icons, it’s as easy to picture the basses as it is the faces. There might be Chris Squire with his Rickenbacker 4001, Victor Wooten and his Fodera Yin Yang 4-string, Geddy Lee and a mid-’70s Fender Jazz, and James Jamerson with a flatwound-strung ’62 Fender Precision. Our perception of most of the greats is inexorably linked to their weapon of choice, and Marcus Miller—he of multiple Grammy Awards, an influential stint with Miles Davis, and enough session credits on hit records to make even his own peers envious—has had one of the closest instrument/player relationships in the bass guitar’s relatively short history. His Roger Sadowsky-modded ’76 Fender Jazz, with its strange jumbo pickguard, transparent blonde finish, and little “MM” applique letters, is one of the most instantly recognizable basses in music. Why, then, would Marcus decide to work with a relatively unknown Korean company on a line of exceptionally affordable signature models that he actually plays onstage? In two words, price and accessibility.

Back in 2002, when I’d write a story about an Asian-made bass, I’d inevitably marvel at its quality. It got to the point where my primary task seemed to become dreaming up new ways to say the same thing: It’s amazing how cheap and good these basses can be. In 2015, it’s no longer surprising, and the quality difference between the basses reviewed here, each under $600, and a U.S. or European bass costing three times as much (with the same specs) is essentially nil. Marcus wanted to make a pro-quality bass accessible to the masses, and the Sire V7s accomplish the task with ease.

HATS OFF

Made in Indonesia, the V7 basses benefit hugely from the consistency and precision of contemporary CNC manufacturing. Moreover, the hand-finished details, like hardware installation and fit-and-finish, were pretty much faultless. It was genuinely impossible to find a flaw in the instrument’s finish or fretwork. That isn’t to say that the bass is a direct replacement for a handcrafted boutique instrument, though. The best high-end Fender-style basses I’ve played integrate a slew of subtle touches into a palpable feeling of luxury, playability, and quality. The Sire doesn’t quite pull that off, but it comes mighty close—and while the micro-nuanced touches aren’t there, there’s also really nothing of substance missing. One small clue as to the bass’ inexpensive origins is its hardware, which includes a “high-mass” bridge with optional through-body stringing and Fender-style open gear tuners. They function as expected, with no binding or imprecision, but they also don’t ooze deluxe sex appeal. Undoubtedly the bridge is intended to offer a tone similar to the Badass II bridge on Miller’s Fender, which incorporates massive saddles, but it lacks the Badass’ visual vibe. But I’m nitpicking. For the price, the V7s’ construction was essentially perfect.

In keeping with the theme, the Sire basses offer an impressive electronics package for the price. Their J-style pickups are made with Formvar-insulated heavy-gauge wire wrapped on fiber bobbins and energized with an Alnico 5 magnet—vintage-esque details that are often neglected in inexpensive import pickups. The pickups feed a remarkably robust 18-volt preamp that Sire and Marcus Miller partnered to design. Consisting of three bands of EQ with a semi-parametric midrange, a passive-style tone control, and active/passive switch, the preamp sounds fantastic, offering a ton of variety due in no small part to the sweepable midrange band and always-welcome tone control. Given that it’s such a lovely-sounding circuit, it’s a bummer that the knob ergonomics are so poor. The two concentric pots (volume/tone and mid/mid-frequency) were finicky as heck; adjustments to the top knob inevitably led to inadvertent sweeps of the bottom knob. If I were Sire, I’d be on the lookout for a pot/knob combo that doesn’t bind top adjustments to the bottom. Even less appealing is the placement of the active/passive switch, which seems like an afterthought, shoved awkwardly between the midrange and bass controls. While it isn’t a switch that gets much switching, it still seems weird where it is.

Both Sire basses had excellent playability, with just a touch of the neck dive that one can reasonably expect from a J-style body/headstock combo. The shallow-C profile neck was fast, the healthy radius felt right, and the strapped and lapped balance was pure Fender-land. Not much to cover here except that the V7s feel like Fender Jazz Basses through-and-through—relatively light ones, to boot.

THE MILLER’S TALE

I tested the Sire basses through a slew of rigs, including various combinations of Glockenklang, Aguilar, Markbass, and EBS heads and cabinets, and in my home studio through a Neve RNDI into an Apogee Duet feeding Logic Pro. I took the 4-string out on a gig, the 5 to several rehearsals, and did a little tracking. In short, I know what the basses sound like.

So, what do I know? They sound good. This, by far, in spite of the great-for-the-price construction, is the basses’ most compelling attribute. They sound legit good. Of course I couldn’t resist trying to pull my most Marcus-ish tone out of the 4-string, and sure enough, it was a breeze. I simply boosted the bass and treble, cut the mids in the 600Hz range, blended the pickups, dimed the tone, et voilà, total “Tutu” time. Backing off on the tone a bit and soloing the bridge pickup was Jaco-city, with a rich and burpy midrange and gut-busting punch. Interestingly, the pickups are in ’60s position—different from Miller’s Fender, but perhaps the favored position for bridge-pickup funk and blended full-bodied support. The EQ is powerful—with 18 volts on tap, small adjustments yield big results. I was no less impressed with the 5’s Bstring, which felt consistently taut and controlled. And kudos to Sire for stringing the basses with good D’Addario strings and not some generic knockoffs—it makes a huge impact on a first impression.

The Sire basses represent the best value out there if you’re looking for a hot-rodded J-style bass. I haven’t seen anything that comes close. In order to purchase an instrument that offers a notable upgrade in sound or feel, one would probably be looking at triple the price, at least. Whether you’re seeking to add a J to the quiver, or you already have one but need a 5 (or perhaps an alder/rosewood combo), the Marcus Miller Sire V7s deliver. Just like their namesake.

SPECIFICATIONS

SIRE

Marcus Miller V7
Street
4-string, $500; 5-string, $600
Pros Delicious tone; flawless construction for the price
Cons Knob ergonomics need further development
Bottom Line Those on the hunt for a hot-rodded J-style bass would have to spend hundreds more to even get close.

SPECS

Body As tested, one-piece ash; alder optional
Neck Maple
Fingerboard Maple
Nut Bone
Radius 7.25”
Frets 20, medium-small
Scale length 34”
Neck width at nut 38mm
String spacing 19mm
Pickups Sire single-coil J-style
Preamp Sire Marcus Heritage 3-band w/tone
Hardware Sire Marcus Big Mass
Weight 4-string, 9.2 lbs; 5-string, 9.5 lbs

Made in Indonesia
Contact sire-guitars.com

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Read the July 2016 issue now!


Sire Marcus Miller V7 Review

Marcus Miller knows a thing or two about Jazz basses. So when Sire Guitars set out to create a J-style line, they consulted with the respected player to assist in the design and development. The goal was to create a well-crafted instrument with a heavy dose of inspiration from the classic J-style formula, yet with some modern enhancements. It also had to be financially feasible for just about any player. Could Sire achieve all this to stand out amidst a crowded field of J-style basses? Short answer: Yes.

All Miller, No Filler
Like Miller’s cherished ’77 Fender Jazz, the Sire V7 oozes timeless style. The body of our V7 test bass was carved from swamp ash, dressed in a beautiful tobacco-sunburst finish, and topped with an ivory pearl pickguard that adds decorative flair. (Alder construction and other finishes are available.) The one-piece hard-maple neck supports a maple fretboard that’s adorned with pearloid-block inlays and a natural-bone nut. While 3-bolt necks were commonly used on mid-to-late ’70s Fender J basses, Sire opted for a standard 4-bolt joint.

The Sire V7’s electronics package mixes tradition and today’s technology. The Marcus Super Jazz pickups are made with fiber bobbins, alnico 5 magnets, and heavy formvar wire to replicate classic J-style tone. Miller’s input inspired the Marcus Heritage-3 18V preamp that has a sweepable-mid EQ stack in a 3-band package, and a main-tone control that also works in active mode.

The V7’s hardware is quite nice for an instrument in this price range. Sire and Miller came up with an excellent high-mass bridge that combines simplicity, stability, and string-through capability. The open-gear tuners felt solid and instilled confidence that they could handle string tension over time.

Backing off the tone a bit and boosting the mids created a nice old-school sound that never left me wanting for a P.

Desired Virtues
When I first pulled the V7 out of the case, it felt a touch body heavy. This turned out to be advantageous in terms of balance since the V7 held its position extremely well in both seated and strapped orientations. In fact, the extra mass made it easier to maintain a comfortable playing posture, which allowed my left hand to move freely across the neck and effortlessly access all parts of the fretboard. The C-shape neck and 7.25" inch radius should please J aficionados, and the neck’s glossy finish never felt sticky.

Of all that Miller’s signature bass has to offer, the most impressive aspect was the electronics. The preamp is voiced to near perfection with the J-style pickups, and I really dig the inclusion of the tone control that functions in both passive andactive mode. The added dimensions it offers can change the character of the instrument or work as a quick problem solver for bright or boomy rooms. The bass control contains huge lows and it didn’t take much at all to bring some big bottom to the tone. And the treble dial serves up modern sizzle for adding edge to fingerstyle playing or brightness to pops while trying to cop a favorite Miller riff.

The standout component of the preamp for me is the stacked-mid section. Since I believe the mids are such an essential part of bass tone, the midrange flexibility that the Heritage-3 offers is a thoughtful feature. If I had to make any gripes at all about the preamp, they’d be small ones: The bottom controls of the stacked knobs were a little difficult to access and the wires to the battery clips were rather short.

Dominant ’7
Getting familiar with the V7 took no time at all, so I felt confident taking it out to an 11-piece horn-band show and a performance with a blues quintet. For both gigs, I plugged the V7 into the same rig I used at home: an Epifani UL501 head (set flat) driving two Bergantino HD112s.

Ratings

Pros:
A versatile J-style bass with excellent balance and playability. Huge bang for the buck.

Cons:
A little on the heavy side. Stacked knobs are a touch difficult to access.

Tones:

Playability:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$499

Sire Marcus Miller V7
sire-guitars.com

Miller’s signature bass impressed at both shows. The EQ accommodated every sonic request I made, from a punchy low-mid boost that kept my bandmates and the dance floor happy, to a big boost in the tone and treble dials to cut through a boomy room. Apart from the typical dead-note areas found on most electric basses, the V7 projected well-defined notes with an evenness and clarity I just don’t expect from an instrument at this price point. Regardless of volume or instrumentation, I played dynamic and confident bass lines all night long.

Tonal versatility is another big benefit of the V7. It was easy to get a barky, Jaco-esque tone by soloing the bridge pickup, dialing the tone control almost all the way down, and slightly boosting the bass, mid, and treble. The setting was excellent for those rare bass solo moments or jamming Jaco classics like “Come On, Come Over.”

The neck pickup delivered thick, punchy notes. Backing off the tone a bit and boosting the mids created a nice, old-school sound that never left me wanting for a P. This was ideal for Duck Dunn moments with the blues band when we jammed over “Born Under a Bad Sign” and “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.” You can expect some typical 60-cycle hum when soloing either pickup, but the Marcus Super Jazz pickups weren’t as noisy as many others on the market.

Balancing both pickups sounded full and articulate, and was excellent for fingerstyle and slapping. The V7 responded quickly to slides and bends, great for tunes like Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star.” Simply boosting the bass and treble knobs got me to an aggressive slap tone. No, the V7 didn’t transform me into Marcus Miller, but I was able to capture a great sound that pleased my ears and my bandmates’ ears equally.

The Verdict
Sire’s V7 has already created quite a buzz in the bass arena, and my experience with the bass confirmed and exceeded expectations with its excellent construction, versatile J-style tones, and clean aesthetics. The price point only intensifies the qualities that make the V7 one of the best basses on the market under $500. In fact, it might be one of the best production J-style basses out there regardless of price. If Sire’s consistency is in line with the quality of our test instrument, there is a true-standout player in the crowded J-style market.

Watch the Review Demo:

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