5-String Bolt-on Review
Elrick 5-String Bass
By John Dahlman
This bolt-on is the latest offering from Rob Elrick of Chicago.
The review bass arrived here at subsonic HQ ready to play. The set-up was perfect right out of the case, and the fit and finish is equally well done. The sides and back are sculpted in such a way as to make standing or sitting very comfortable. No slab o’wood here. The neck is executed in Wengé, inlaid with graphite rods, and topped off with a phenolic fingerboard. The neck is attached with five bolts; truss rod access is at the base of the neck.
Rob is a believer in using a zero fret. When done right, this can provide a uniformity of tone between open strings and fretted notes. He did it right! I do feel this contributes to the solid tone and feel on both finger style and slapping techniques. Frets are medium size c and well finished.
Pickups are custom Bartolini humbuckers. Signal is sent to the complete Bartolini pre-amp and EQ. This includes a mid control with switchable center frequencies. Finally, Rob includes an electronics bypass switch (I really like that). All this is housed in a very neat and well organized, shielded, control cavity. In electronics, neatness counts. With all this tonal firepower, I was never at a loss for that special tone.
The black hardware includes: sealed tuners, inlaid straplocks, and bridge, and gives the bass a sharp, refined look and feel. The quick change bridge has adjustments for intonation, string height and string spacing. The latter being very useful if you don’t happen to agree with Elrick’s choice of string gauges.
Enough already! So how does it sound? I think focused is the most accurate word to use. The Elrick went with me on the road with a country band, into small clubs with a blues and R&B band, and into the studio for a number of projects. It was played through various amps into my two way TAD reference speakers. I discovered quickly that this bass has a very carrying sound—just tight, focused, and full with a well defined center to the notes. On the country and blues gigs it was able to provide a full and supportive bottom end. At the same time it could climb over the guitars when needed and get funky. Slapping styles are a breeze with the instruments tonal character always in evidence. In the studio the Elrick again allowed me to get the job done with no fuss and a happy producer. What else do you want?
On the value scale, this latest bass from the fertile mind of Rob Elrick is hard to beat. If you happen to be looking for that great all around bass and a luthier you can work with, you’d be doing good to call Rob.
Manufacturers suggested list $2900; as tested $2900
Reprinted from Bass Frontiers Magazine,
Volume 4, Number 1, January 1997