Ashdown Grail Review on Bonedo
We woke up to a great review from the fine folks over at Bonedo in Germany you can view the review on their site just click HERE.
Or... We have translated the review using the powers of Google translate (please excuse any mistakes). Thank you Bonedo for such a great write up truly made our day!
Ashdown "The Grail" Test
Many manufacturers still orientate themselves today to the tried-and-tested bass models and advertise with their own interpretations of the classics for the favor of the buyers. However, the market now seems to be somewhat saturated and quite a few bass players seem rather bored with the umpteenth Fender clone - at least that's my impression! However, when two industry heavyweights such as Ashdown boss Mark Gooday and Dan Lakin, former boss of Lakland Guitars, team up to work together to revive some popular classics, the scene is sure to murmur!
The wait is now over, because the first ashdown basses will soon be in stores in this country. For this test, we had the four models (The Low Rider, The Saint, The Arc, The Grail) send the jazz bass version "The Grail" in the four-string long-scale version to the test laboratory. The new Ashdown Jazz Bass makes a very positive impression on me right from the first contact.
Sure, the look is not new, but the headstock painted in body color gives the Grail a certain noblesse. In addition, the Jazz Bass looks very solid and high quality. You have nowhere near the feeling of holding another mediocre jazz bass clone made in Asia - on the contrary! The recipe for "The Grail" is of course no secret and follows the traditional guidelines known from the original company Fender. Light alder is used for the off-set body, the neck consists of a strip of maple. While the body and headstock have been painted with a thick black poly finish, there is only a subtle oil finish on the back of the neck.
Ashdown uses rosewood for the fingerboard, just as you would expect from a 60s-style jazz bass. The fretboard has space for 20 frets and the usual round layer markings. I also find it commendable that Ashdown installs so-called dual straps from Dunlop as a bracket for the bass strap. Unfortunately Ashdown does not provide the end pieces for the belt, so that only the conventional belt attachment remains if you do not want to pull out your wallet again. Something was saved at the wrong end here, I think. The Wilkinson bass bridge is a normal vintage model without any extras - here Ashdown remains - certainly primarily for sound reasons - with the proven sheet metal angle design.
As expected, two jazz bass single coils and passive electronics are responsible for the sound of "The Grail". The sound is regulated - very traditionally - with a volume control for the pickups and a passive tone screen. The Ashdown Jazz Bass feels familiar straight away with its classic off-set body and typical slim neck. However, the high level of playing comfort offered by the classically constructed four-string is extremely remarkable.
In terms of weight, my test specimen, at just over 4 kg, is more in the four-string average range, but the balance is excellent, so that the bass can be played very comfortably, both when sitting and standing, and without great effort. In addition, the oil finish on the back of the neck gives a very pleasant feel - the neck feels really boutique-like!
It is also positive that the bass was delivered to me with an excellent setup - including a relatively low string position. Thanks to the perfectly aligned frets, the entire tonal range of the bass remains absolutely clean and free of annoying fret noises despite the flat string position - nothing rattles here, even with strong strokes!
I am no less impressed by the basic acoustic sound of my test candidate! Already at the first notes you can feel the healthy vibration behavior of the bass, which undoubtedly speaks for the good quality of the woods used. There are also no dead spots on the bass - every note sounds full and has a rich and evenly decaying sustain. I am quite impressed because this is anything but a matter of course with a classic screw neck in the Fender style!
No wonder that the "The Grail" also convinces on the bass amplifier and delivers really first-class, traditional jazz bass sounds. I don't know who exactly makes the single-coil pickups for the Ashdown basses, but I know that Dan Lakin played a crucial role, at least in the set-up. And the fact that the man understands his craft is clear from the very first sound samples:
With both pickups at the same volume, the Ashdown Jazz Bass delivers a detailed and dense sound with warm low mids and glassy highs - just as you would expect from an excellent 60s-style jazz bass. The tone diaphragm is also perfectly tuned: the bass sounds round and mild with the tone control turned off, but the definition does not stay on track and the sound is absolutely suitable for the band.
If you take the neck pickup out of the game, you inevitably end up in "Jaco Land" and reap a center-weighted solo sound with lots of punch and assertiveness. The bridge pickup delivers strong low mids and therefore sounds relatively full and round in solo mode:
The fat accompanying sound in the style of the precision bass is also completely convincing if you only open the neck pickup. For vintage soul or R&B sounds, all you have to do is lower the treble via the tone diaphragm - et voilà:
For the slapsound, the Ashdown Bass does not necessarily need support from an additional equalizer. The excellently tuned single coils represent a relatively broad frequency spectrum and provide sufficient deep bass and crisp, present highs:
Conclusion (4.5 / 5)
It is certainly not an easy task these days to bring a classic passive jazz bass in the price range of around 1000 euros to women or men, because the range in this category is really large.
On the other hand, not too many manufacturers are able to produce an absolutely high-quality jazz bass with the sound quality of Ashdown "The Grail" in this price range, so that the bottom line is that the debutant still has very good chances of success! There is nothing to complain about about the processing of the bass, which is made in Korea: the neck fits perfectly into the cut, the paintwork is flawless, and the frets have been accurately dressed and polished to a high gloss.
I definitely recommend to all woofers who are looking for a first-class traditional jazz bass and don't want to spend a small fortune to put the Ashdown "The Grail" through an extensive test!
First class jazz bass sounds
High material quality
Wilkinson Bridge wasn't screwed tight