Bassist Alberto Rigoni has bagged a wood/aluminium signature model from Italian luthiers Alusonic. Joel McIver puts the pedal to the metal.
Alusonic offer a range of bass guitars, with the Hybrid series of particular interest to bass geeks like us because of the inclusion of a chunk of aluminium of the instruments in the form of a large top section. We’re keen to see whether this adds much in the way of tonality, so when bassist Alberto Rigoni sent us his signature model for a review, we were keen to get it inside the BGM command bunker for a full test. Feeling metal today? Then read on.
Alberto’s signature axe is a beauty, all right, standing out from the crowd with its eye-catching combination of white, ebony and silver (OK, aluminium). The metal top is sunk perfectly into the body, the two angled Aguilar pickups are set firmly into the aluminium, the five-bolt neck join is solid and everything else seems to be in order, from the Hipshot machine heads – featuring one of those Marmite, love-or-hate Xtender detuners – to the amazing Alusonic bridge and controls. The neck is slick and playable without being slippery, and retains that essential solid feel. In fact, in terms of build quality, there’s little to whine about and everything to like. Well, that part was easy, eh?
Sounds And Playability
The first and most impressive point we noticed about the Alusonic on plugging in is its low B string, which resonated with great firmness and solidity. Tired of low Bs that flap around and give you aching fingers, without much to show for your blisters but a tired subsonic groan from your amp? Try this bass without delay. The low B is like a railway line. Helped by the ebony fretboard and the flatter-than-usual profile, notes below low E sound legitimately rounded rather than chopped off.
At the top end of the scale, you’ll be rewarded by a fluid, smooth feel when you solo above the octave. This bass doesn’t have a shredder’s neck, although you can do your best Billy Sheehan impression if you so desire: instead, it hits a sweet spot between lightweight/fast and heavy/slow. The Goldilocks Zone of bass, if you will (consult Google for that reference, non-astronomers).
Tones? Now you’re in for a treat. Its owner Rigoni, a progressive metal sort of chap, is all over YouTube demoing this instrument’s many areas of functionality, and we confirmed for ourselves that an immense, beefy sound can be coaxed from it without needing to trouble the active controls overmuch. Head to the EQ, however – comprising three controls and a three-way switch – and the fun starts. The push-pull volume control is the place to go to toggle between active and passive modes, although quite frankly, there’s enough going on with passive tones for most bass players.
Enter active mode at your peril, because there is a truly monstrous boost available at either end of the spectrum. The low end is among the fattest we’ve heard in a while, and certainly from a bass with this kind of price tag on it, while the same is true of the glass-shattering treble. Our conservative side wants to point out that this much power is rarely necessary in actual playing situations, but then again, it’s good to have plenty of ammo in reserve, we suppose. Congrats once again to Aguilar and their super-hot pickups.
Two final points. The Hipshot detuner works perfectly well. Why do people get so hot under the collar about this little gizmo? Perhaps, paranoid bunch of musicians that bassists are, we don’t trust it to return to a perfectly tuned position when you flip back to your standard tuning. Like a whammy bar, but less showy-off… and then there’s the aluminium top, which you may have noticed that we haven’t really mentioned in this review so far. Does it affect the tone significantly? It’s hard to say, but there’s definitely something going on: perhaps an extra zing when you pluck or pop a string. That said, the active treble boost does so much for the top end, every other tone-shaping factor seems pretty much irrelevant.
This is a very playable bass indeed, although it damn well should be for the thick end of two grand. There are a lot of sub-£2,000 bass guitars around at the moment, however, and Alusonic is hardly a major name to conjure with, so check the competition before you invest. However, if it’s a wide (and accessible) range of tones you’re after, plus a low B string that feels as steady as a rock, consider this bass as a serious option.
Price | £1,740
Made in | Italy
Body | Alder with epoxy lacquer finish, aircraft-grade aluminium top with mirror finish
Neck | Hard maple, satin urethane finish
Neck | Width 21 mm at 1st fret
Scale | Length 34”
Fingerboard | Ebony
Frets | 24 medium jumbo
Neck | Join bolt-on
Pickups | 2 x Aguilar Super Singles
Controls | Volume (push/pull for active/passive), three-band EQ
Bridge | Alusonic brass bridge with quick release system
Tuners | Hipshot Ultralite with Xtender
WEIGHT | 4.4kg
What We Think
Plus | Mighty B string feel. Huge tone capabilities
Minus | Aluminium element doesn’t appear to do much
Overall | A very decent bass for the price. Try it out