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Author Topic: NBD - 2003 FB4!  (Read 251 times)

Offline SynapticGroove

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NBD - 2003 FB4!
« on: April 26, 2019, 06:36:15 AM »
Hi everyone,

So, after many years of 'on again/off again' searching, I finally nabbed a 2003 FB4 that was made in Wilmington.  I'm not sure how many previous owners she had, but she is definitely a closet queen...absolutely minimal play wear and zero nicks, scratches, dents, etc.  I mean, I don't think this bass would've been more pristine had she just come out of the factory, so whomever had her was definitely more of a collector than a player.

First Impressions

Wow, this bass is light!  I'm used to Warwick and Ritter and I swear the FB4 weighs about as much as a standard guitar.  I couldn't believe how light it was!  Also, I agree with anyone who's ever mentioned that photos do not do these justice.  Mine has a translucent red finish and it is much darker in real life than in photos.  Also, the bass has a really great design and doesn't look 'ugly' at all in real life.  Quite the opposite, actually.  No, it isn't as contoured as a Fly guitar, but the curves and lines it does have are very nicely designed.  Very modern, without the ostentatiousness of a bass that has too many bells & whistles.  I can't get over the fiber weave in the neck.  It looks almost 3D in real life.

The bass is as perfectly balanced as my Dolphin and sits in the lap without any neck dive whatsoever.  All that out of the way, I immediately plug her straight into my UA Apollo interface to hear what she sounds like.

The Sound

Quite brilliant!  The only center-indented potentiometer to be found is on the piezo-tone control, so you really have to spend just a modicum of time to dial it in with your ears.  The controls are (from top to bottom): Master Volume, Mag volume, Mag sweep, 2-band Mag EQ, piezo vol/tone.  It only took me a few seconds to dial in a very nice tone and off we go!  There is a clarity to this bass, with and without the piezo blended in, that I've never really heard in any other bass.  A ton of low end, but with a very nice clarity that makes the lower registry never full of mud.  It reminds me just a bit of a jazz bass on steroids, but I was able to cop just about any tone imaginable out of this thing.  Extremely versatile, articulate and very, very punchy.  One doesn't have to adjust the potentiometers too much to get some very nice differentiation in tones that are readily available.  I can already tell that she is going to be a great recording bass.  Dead quiet with no discernible hum, with and without the piezo.

I'd like to take this opportunity to dispel a few rumors I came across, mainly via the Talkbass forums, but on the internet as a whole, when I was researching the FB4:

1. The bass is uncomfortable.

This is complete BS.  Whether in your lap or high/low on a strap, the FB4 is perfectly balanced and the upper horn doesn't dig into your chest.  I don't know how many times I've read, "super fast neck, but the upper horn makes it completely uncomfortable to play".  This must have been written by people who've never played one, because it is a very comfortable bass.  Super lightweight, zero neck dive.  It is very comfortable to play, standing or sitting down.

2. There is no low end.

Again, this is more BS.  There is so much low end that, unlike many other basses, I have to actually roll off of the bass tone control and keep it around 60-65%.  Don't kid yourself, the FB4 packs a helluva punch!  There is a clarity to it and it is never gets muddy.

3. It has a sterile nondescript sound.

Um, ok.  The tonal options on this beast are massive.  Can it sound modern?  Yes.  Can it sound like a P-bass?  Yes.  Can it boom and growl?  Yes.  Again, whoever is writing this must not know how to use their ears properly.  The amount of tones that can be dialed in is impressive.  In fact, it's one of the very few basses I've ever played that can be rolled entirely to the bridge pickup without sounding thin and tinny.  There is a world of tone built into this bass that has to be unlocked with your fingers and ears.

4. The piezo is clacky and unusable.

I highly disagree.  The piezo, whether blended with the magnetic pickups or entirely on its own, is highly usable and tonally rich.  If you're used to the piezo system on a Fly guitar, you'll feel right at home with the piezo on this bass.

Now that we've got that out of the way, it's about time for some pictures, right?  :D

Typically, when I get a new instrument, after checking it out, I'll clean and re-string.  The FB4 was no exception.  I immediately went to work cleaning this baby and slapping on some La Bella tapewounds:















« Last Edit: May 06, 2019, 12:42:49 PM by SynapticGroove »

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Online vjmanzo

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2019, 10:10:18 AM »
Thanks for the excellent review—it’s so great to hear that you like this bass!
Fly Mojo '05, Fly Deluxe '07 w/Sustainiac, Fly Mojo '08 w/Sustainiac, Fly Concert '97, Fly Classic '03, Fly Deluxe '97, Fly Artist '10, Fly Deluxe Redwood '93, Fly Bass FB-4 '03, NiteFly NFV3 '97, Fly Mojo 12-string ‘11 || More Info

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline SynapticGroove

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 01:54:22 PM »
 ;D

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline ParkerPlayer

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 06:03:42 PM »
Thanks for the excellent review—it’s so great to hear that you like this bass!

I agree.  Excellent review!
'95 Fly Deluxe, Majik Blue, Hard Tail
'96 Fly Classic, Transparent Red 
'98 Fly Classic, Transparent Red
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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline Patzag

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2019, 09:07:52 PM »
Awesome review but I can't see the pictures unfortunately.  I think Dropbox is locked on my firewall! :( 
Regardless, makes me want to play one now ... darn!
Teal Fly Classic 1998 / White Deluxe Hard Tail 1994 /Axe FX III

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline SynapticGroove

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2019, 10:25:55 AM »
Thanks everyone!

@Patzag, sorry man, I tried using Google Drive first and couldn't get the images to show up in the post at all!

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline Patzag

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2019, 05:55:29 PM »
Thanks everyone!

@Patzag, sorry man, I tried using Google Drive first and couldn't get the images to show up in the post at all!

No issue.  I'm just happy you are enjoying it.  What you are describing in your review is the same thing I felt when I played that Washburn model.  Same tone description.  Fat and light at the same time.  I hope to be able to play one some day!
Teal Fly Classic 1998 / White Deluxe Hard Tail 1994 /Axe FX III

Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!

Offline SynapticGroove

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Re: NBD - 2003 FB4!
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2019, 01:31:41 AM »
Thanks everyone!

@Patzag, sorry man, I tried using Google Drive first and couldn't get the images to show up in the post at all!

No issue.  I'm just happy you are enjoying it.  What you are describing in your review is the same thing I felt when I played that Washburn model.  Same tone description.  Fat and light at the same time.  I hope to be able to play one some day!

I hope you can too!