REVIEW: Ernie Ball Music Man Big Al Bass

The Ernie Ball Music Man Albert Lee model guitar is one of the company’s most unusual instruments – and that’s saying something for the company that also gave us the wacky yet awesome Bongo bass. While the Lee model takes certain obvious design cues from the Stratocaster, it’s also unmistakably EBMM. For starters there’s the split 2/4 headstock, the five-bolt neck joint, and the matte feel of the back of the neck (a gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend) which ends abruptly at the back of the headstock. Then there’s there’s the angular body shape, which is unlike anything else out there. (Personally I’ve often fantasized about this shape being used for a Floyd Rose-loaded, aggressive metal machine, maybe with seven strings). Lee may be a country player, and a freaking amazing one at that, but that doesn’t mean his signature guitar design isn’t cool enough for other styles too.

And that leads us to the Big Al bass. Albert Lee isn’t a bass player, but his angular, pointy signature guitar design makes a cracking bass. Interestingly, the bass version started life as a gift to EBMM’s Sterling Ball. The Big Al’s body is made of African mahogany, finished in a high-gloss polyester. (The pickguard is available in black or white as standard, but options include shell, white pearloid, vintage white, pearloid or black pearloid). The bridge is a Music Man chrome-plated, hardened steel bridge plate with stainless steel saddles. The scale length is 34″.

[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]CLICK HERE to buy the Ernie Ball Music Man Big Al Bass from Musician’s Friend.[/geo-out]

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God’s Away On Business

Here’s one for the Tom Waits fans.

Okay, so let’s follow this one with a little story. When I was 16, I did work experience at a store called London Music. My job involved helping to restore old pianos – mainly removing the felty things and gluing on new ones. I liked it. It was only a weeks’ worth of work but at the end of it they offered me a job. Didn’t take it – finishing school seemed pretty important (and indeed it was: the next year I discovered my ability to write and I doubt I’d have become a journalist if I took the piano job). Anyway, the dude who ran the store, Simon Mills, was super-cool. He would play Stevie Ray & Jimmie Vaughans’ Family Style and Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones in the store while we were working. I learned a lot about music during that week that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, since my head was pretty much permanently buried within Steve Vai and Megadeth CDs at that point. So whenever I hear Tom Waits I think back to that time and get all nostalgic n’junk.