It’s always a good day when a Diamond guitar visits for review, but this is the first Diamond bass to drift into my claws. The Hailfire SM 15 Bass is very similar in looks to the guitar version of the Hailfire we reviewed a little while ago (maybe you’re in a Diamond-playing ZZ Top tribute band and you want your guitar and bass to look the same?) but with all sorts of bassy touches.
PRETTY BUT TOUGH
The body is made of Spalted Mahogany either side of a five- piece Maple/Walnut neck-thru center block/neck. There’s a 22-fret Rosewood fingerboard adorned with block inlays, an aggressively-styled two-a-side headstock with deluxe tuners, and a comfortable body bevel below the raised center block which recalls a Gibson Firebird or Thunderbird without copying. The bridge is a Diamond custom solid-mount system, which prevents lateral movement of the saddles, allowing for extra tuning stability. The electronics include a pair of Seymour Duncan SSB-4 passive soapbar pickups along with an active preamp with volume, balance and stacked high/low
EQ controls powered by a 9v battery in a compartment in the back. The pickups have ceramic magnets and a relatively scooped tone profile, designed to give you plenty of punch and an organic feel.
GIMME FUEL, GIMME FIRE
First up, this bass is crazy com- fortable. The balance is just right whether you’re playing seated or standing, and the neck just fits right in your hand. It’s great for really laying into a repetitive, static bass part (which can be ironically difficult and painful on some basses), but it’s also slick enough to let you get more ad- venturous with soloing or more progressive bass parts. As for the tone, it’s full-bodied, yet not cluttered in the midrange. You can further enhance this effect by boosting the highs or lows at the concentric pot. The bridge pickup has a good amount of attack and detail, and the neck pickup is fuller and darker but not in a muffled way. Balance them just right and you’ve got a basic sound that’s ideal for clean tones in a blues context. Add a little more treble focus and you have the perfect foundation for a more edgy rock tone. Boost the bass and run into some overdrive and you’ve got a great metal tone.
ROCK + METAL = HAILFIRE
This is a comfortable, beauti- ful, great playing bass. The look might not be for everyone and it’s not exactly a slap-and- popper, but if you play rock or metal, or even blues or blues- rock, you’ll find plenty of great sounds and effortless playability in here.
Hits and Misses
Wide range of tones
Construction/scale - Neck Thru/34”
Body - Spalted Maple / Mahogany
Neck - 5-pc Maple / Walnut
Fretboard - Rosewood
Frets - 22
Inlays - Block
Pickups - Seymour Duncan SSB-4 Passive Phase II Soapbar Calibrated Neck/Bridge Set
Electronics - Vol/Bal/ Stacked Hi-Lo
Tuners - Deluxe
Hardware - Nickel