Reviewed: Warwick Alien Acoustic Bass 5 String

Amber Technology| ambertech.com.au | Expect to pay: $2,699

When it comes to acoustic basses, Warwick have been leading the way in both design and innovation. Their Alien range won the M.I.P.A. award in 2010 for best acoustic bass guitar, and they’ve been seen in the hands of excellent musicians including Craig Newman (John Farnham), Anthony Jackson (Birds of Tokyo), and Rod Bustos (Vanessa Amorosi).

But even still, let’s face it: acoustic basses are a bit of an anomaly in a conventional band setting. They’re hefty and cumbersome in size and are somewhat limited in their amplified capabilities. Either way, Warwick has more or less doubled down on their eccentricity, and it seems to have paid off in spades.

 

This is definitely the quirkiest instrument I’ve ever had the chance to play. The guitar looks like it was recently stolen from Area 51, with a solid spruce top that faintly resembles a grimacing alien face. The back and sides are made from laminated ovangkol (an African cousin of rosewood), while the neck is made from mahogany and the fretboard from dark wenge.

 

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the guitar played straight out of the box. The satin finish on the Alien Bass’ neck made it an absolute joy to play, complimented by its supremely comfortable neck shape. The 24 jumbo bronze frets are set and filed excellently, with no fret sprout to speak of. The factory setup kept the action low and slinky, and the Alien Bass stayed in tune remarkably well.

 

While I wasn’t a fan of the seemingly awkward plastic thumb rest, it didn’t detract away from the tones this guitar produced. When unplugged, the Alien Bass produced a well-rounded thump, with a slick kick in the midrange. Although bearing a relatively small sound hole, the sound projected from the guitar remained full-bodied and centralised. Due to its acoustic properties, notes delivered a sweet, singing sustain with an incredible resonance unrivalled by a traditional electric bass.

 

 

We all know the satisfaction that comes from slapping an electric bass. However, you haven’t truly lived till you’ve slapped an acoustic bass. The Alien’s hollow interior adds an unfounded level of percussiveness that adds an explosive punch to every hit. For players with a heavy right hand, don’t fret. Strings are tampered down with a solid steel tailpiece, and the bridge itself is securely fastened to the guitar’s body.

 

A Fishman piezo pickup drives the guitar’s amplification, and when plugged in, it doesn’t sound half bad. Most of its lofty acoustic tones are accurately translated through an amplifier. The Fishman Prefix PlusT control panel offers a diverse range of EQ options, which assist in increasing tonal variety. Most noteworthy of all is the contour control, which can be used to provide a boost in a specific frequency, modifiable via a slider. While the amplified Alien isn’t able to achieve the same level of tonal variation as an electric bass, it’s not a bad baseline tone by any means.

 

Look – this bass isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking to bounce wildly around on stage, this guitar probably isn’t for you (it doesn’t even have strap buttons). But, if you’re looking for something that plays exceedingly well, sounds great, and will undoubtedly put you in the centre of the spotlight, look no further.

Hits and Misses

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Great build quality

Awesome playability

Thumping tones

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No strap buttons

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