Aah, the Les Paul. Is there anything cooler than slinging one down around your knees, slumping over like Slash and reeling off sleazy rock riff after sleazy rock riff? Well, yeah. Not having to put down your beloved axe to pick up a wimpy acoustic to play the ballad is cooler. Not being tied to one of those acoustic guitar stands for the songs when you need to play acoustic and electric parts is cooler. Now, Gibson and Epiphone are well aware of how to make a cool thing cooler – just witness the Gibson Tony Iommi SG or the Epiphone Goth 1958 Explorer for proof. So it should be no surprise that they’ve figured out the least obtrusive way yet to cram acoustic sounds (via a Shadow NanoMag pickup) into an otherwise all-electric Les Paul in the form of the Les Paul Standard Ultra-II.
As a Fernandes bass owner myself I was looking forward to checking out the Ravelle Bass Deluxe, although it’s much more of a modern instrument than my vintage-style J-type bass. My beloved four-stringer is great for old-school R&B, Led Zeppelin riffs and the occasional Audioslave moment, and its modern equivalent is the Retrospect 4 X, an alder-bodied, maple necked bolt-on with single coil pickups.
In contrast the Ravelle is a much harder-edged beast, both physically and in musical intention. Shaped like its six-string guitar brother (also called the Ravelle), this bass has a sleek single-cutaway body with subtle bevelling and a few aggressive points that just scream ‘metal!’ The neck is of the bolt-on maple variety. It has a rosewood fretboard with a relatively flat 16″ radius, 22 jumbo frets and distinctively Fernandes pearl split trapezoid inlays, which will help you find your way while also linking the Ravelle thematically to other unique Fernandes designs like the Vertigo. The headstock features a hardy Graphtech Trem nut at 1 3/4″ spacing, and die cast tuning gears with buttons that kinda remind me of knee bones for some reason. Brutal.