Hey guys its Brian here from World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you guys about some cool five string basses from Washburn, specifically the Force5K, the T25NM, and the AB45-VS. Five and Six string basses appeared in the late 70s as a way for contemporary and studio bassists to stay competitive in a market that was quickly being absorbed by the synthesizer, as it was cheaper to pay one musician to do five jobs, than it was to pay five musicians to all do one job. This meant that a lot of pop music at the time had bass parts that went below the low E string of a standard four string bass. Adding a low B string, that if need be could be dropped to a low A seemed to be the perfect solution.
Since then, the five string bass has gotten its metaphorical hands into almost every genre of music, from rock and metal, to funk and R&B, even country. It’s because of this universal use, and reliance on the five string bass, that I figured it would be a good time to show case some of the finest five strings Washburn has to offer. First and foremost, is the Force5K, which is a neck through, active pickup equipped beast of an instrument. The first thing that strikes me about the Force5K, is its light weight design, which came in at about the same weight as a Squier Stratocaster. The neck profile is a Washburn design that has a flatter back profile than I was used to, but after playing it for a while, it felt comfortable, and almost more ergonomic then a standard, more rounded profile. The Force5K is also equipped with Washburn designed active electronics, which are amazingly responsive and smooth sounding.
For my sound test I played the Force5K through a Fender Rumble, and was surprised at the range of sounds that I was able to coax out of this little guy. Everything from deep throaty reggae style bounce, to big funky snap, the Force5K’s flexible electronics did not disappoint, no matter what I threw at it. Tuning the B down to an A I was also able to get big metal growl out of the Force, with minimal effort, I was jamming out big heavy bass lines in no time. A bass like this is one of those great studio tools that seem to be the one you just go to, with its simple looks it might not seem like much, but underneath the hood is one amazing musical engine. The Force5K did everything I wanted it too, and then some, with a big snappy texture that is more than happy to fall into almost any genre that is needed of it, and its because of this and its great value, that the Force5K gains a well deserved 9 out of 10, because while it is musically amazing, it is a little average looking.
Next up is the T25NM, which stands for Taurus 25 Natural Matte, the Taurus line of basses has been a stable of Washburn for years now, with their unique upper horn and distinctive “funky” shape. The T25 is no exception, with its unique shape, the same flatter back profile neck, and some really good sounding J style pickups. This bass is similar to the Force5K in that it is also a neck through five string, with 24 frets on the neck. The T25 however has passive pickups, which still sound bold and full, even playing the same lines as the Force5K, through the same rig.
Testing the T25 was a delight, even though it only has a slightly different configuration than the Force5K, it has a completely different sound. The T25 sounds far less snappy, and far more round and “jazzy”. Playing slap on the T25 with some nice round wounds was a dream, with plenty of vintage style snap and bite to it. But rolling back the tone, or throwing a good set of flat wounds on it yields some of the most amazing jazz tones I have ever heard from a bass in this price range, with all of the body and soul of a truly vintage bass. The T25 is a slightly more old school feeling bass, which tends to lend itself more towards more old school sounds, classic rock, blues, jazz, and sly and the family stones era funk, which is delightful, although the pickups aren’t really on par to pull off really heavy music, or really progressive styles of bass playing, they are perfect for what they do best, which is sound like a classic bass from back in the day. For its ability to sound and feel just as vintage as it does, the T25 gets a well deserved 9 out of 10, because yet again, its passive pickups don’t lend themselves to heavier styles of music as well as some five string players would want.
Last up in our review is the strangest by far, the AB45-VS. This big bodied acoustic bass has a sound and a style all its own, from warm hollow body jazz riffs, to big funk slap sounds, this thing has it all in spades. Its got to be something about its unique sound hole pattern, or because of its rigid maple back and sides, because even at higher volumes the AB45 seems to cope with feedback like a champ, never booming and rattling apart like some basses. The piezo pickups sound good too, with a nice bit of that lovely piezo sizzle that just adds enough spice to an acoustic tone to give it that little extra cut in the mix.
Testing this bass the same as the others was a treat, as even through the same old Fender amp, the bigger acoustic range of the AB45 still had all the kick and rumble it needed to get the job done, but through a good P.A like a Mackie Thump, it really came to life, with a warmer, more hollow body character that added a very different vibe to the instrument. Slapping the AB45 yielded a fun, funky tone that sounded surprisingly familiar, even though it definitely isn’t your standard P or J bass. Switching it to flat wounds gave it a nice upright character that was completely unexpected, but fully appreciated. For its ability to do everything you wouldn’t expect it to, and everything you want it to, the AB45 gets a well earned 10 out of 10.