Dave Thorpe tackles Bill Nash’s latest aged P-Bass
Products from the renowned American luthier Bill Nash are rarely seen in the UK, although well-known bassists such as Glenn Hughes swear by them, so it’s great to get our hands on one for review. Nash, who produces about 90 guitars and basses per month, excels at classic body shapes with aged finishes, using traditional construction methods with a modern twist. On first sight, this PB-57 seems to offer a lot of bass for its midmarket price point: let’s give it a spin.
Close inspection of the PB-57 is rewarded with quality in all the right places. A perfectly weighted ash body meets a contoured maple neck, with a near-perfect fretting and action. The timber choices are typically traditional, but it’s clear that stringent quality and selection control procedures are in place to ensure the best examples are employed on this example. The body looks like a two-piece construction, but is so well matched that it could easily be mistaken for a single piece. The neck pocket and fit is seamless, with the trusty four-screw scenario in place: the aged maple neck is fitted with well-finished and rounded 6105 fretwire. Gotoh is the hardware of choice and is also aged.
A one-piece gold anodised scratchplate holds the pickups and control knobs together atop the nitrocellulose-finished body, with a beautiful, understated three-tone sunburst. The volume controls allow separate volume and tone adjustment on each of the concentric pots, reminiscent of Fender’s stack-knob ’62 Jazz. Lollar provide the pickups for our review model, although Nash also fit Dimarzio as well as Seymour Duncan sets, and the height and adjustment of the pickups feels well executed. As for Nash’s handmade finish, bumps, dinks and scratches are evident throughout the neck and body: you can order various stages of ageing, from a light relic such as the finish on this bass, through to much heavier treatments.
Sounds And Playability
Even before plugging in the Nash, its acoustic feel and resonance is quite something. The PB-57 is instantly comfortable: it feels like a bass that you’ve been playing for years. The C-shaped neck profile is easy to get around, with a chunky but fast feel. On plugging in, the Lollar P pickup offers the expected well-rounded, full sound with a deep and resonant tone. Add in the tone control, which is the outer of the two knobs on the concentric pot, and you gain different levels of attack, which cut through nicely. The string spacing lends itself well to pick, fingers or slap: it’s a real all-rounder. The Jazz pickup isn’t quite as powerful but it does produce some honking tones from the bridge. On its own, this unit doesn’t seem quite as versatile, but both pickups work well together. The end result is pretty close to the best of both worlds in one instrument.
There are plenty of repro classics on the market competing for your hard-earned cash, and the PB-57 is a serious contender. Produced with serious quality in mind at an attractive ticket price, a lot of time has been taken to ensure that this bass arrives at the dealer ready to go, with a fantastic setup, every note ringing out and delivering warm and clear sounds with a familiar feel for players. If this is how every Bill Nash bass plays off the peg, there are very good things ahead for the company.
Price | £1,300 approx
Made in | USA
Body | Ash
Neck |Maple, bolt-on
Fingerboard | Maple
Scale length | 34”
Controls | Two volume, two tone on 250k concentric pots
Hardware | Gotoh
Pickups | Lollar
Weight | 4.2kg
Case/gig bag included? | Case
Left hand version available? | Yes
What We Think
PLUS | A super-playable, well-constructed instrument that delivers great tone and sounds. You will want to keep picking this bass up again and again
MINUS | The Jazz pickup could do with a little more output, and the aged finish may not appeal to everyone
OVERALL | The PB-57 proves that traditional basses don’t have to have a brand name beginning with F or G on the headstock. Nash’s take on the old school bass is excellent at this price point