versions. Other pickup options include
P-bass style, P/J style, and J style.
Our test bass had an excellent setup, accurate intonation, and little to no fret buzz.
One of the interesting things we noticed
when we unpacked the Imperial SL was
that, while it definitely doesn’t look “
normal” when you first lay eyes on it, the
extent of its ergonomic angles have a bit
of a deceptive, Escher-like visual quality
when you look at it on a stand. But when
you turn it to horizontal playing position,
the curvaceous body and unique tilt of the
angled neck become much more evident.
Because this is a production model, the
40-degree neck angle is based on the most
popular measurements of Ansir’s previous customers. While the bass felt a bit heavy when I
first picked it up, the shape evenly distributes
the weight when you’re wearing it on a strap.
Overall, it felt quite balanced—regardless of
its position when standing up—and I did not
experience any shoulder or back discomfort
when playing for long periods of time.
The benefits of the angled neck were
equally apparent whether you’re standing
or sitting. While I would have preferred
a more pronounced playing angle for my
playing style, the stock Imperial SL angle
still required fewer adjustments to my fret-
ting-hand technique than the linear dynam-
ic on most electric basses. This resulted in
effortless movement around the substantial-
but-smooth-playing neck. Nearly every note
was accessible on the fretboard, though
some hand extension was required to reach
notes on the upper four frets.
The Imperial SL employs a pau ferro-cov-ered Seymour Duncan SMB-4D humbucker
(a pickup that was originally designed for
the Music Man StingRay). On our test bass,
the control knobs extend far enough from
the body to expose external parts of the
pots, so care should certainly be taken to
avoid any damaging them. Ansir explains
that the knobs are intentionally high both so
one can easily reach them when playing and
for ease of tightening after repetitive use.
I tested the SL through a Phil Jones D-600
head driving a Glockenklang Quattro 410
cabinet, as well as an Aguilar Tone Hammer
500 head powering two Glockenklang 112
cabinets. Plugged in, the Imperial SL could be
described as the tonal offspring of a StingRay
and a Warwick Streamer. It serves up high-end crunch, combined with a tight low
end and a modern, articulate growl. When
I wanted more punch, the SL took to EQ
adjustments quite well: A boost in the amps’
low mids yielded notes that were like a punch
REVIEW > ANSIR
to the gut. Slap tones shared the StingRay
vibe, but with a woodier snap. Additionally,
the bass was very impressive when playing
harmonics. They came out with clarity and
authority, even on the second fret.
While Ansir says the Imperial SL affords
many tones by simply adjusting the tone
knob, this single-pickup configuration has
one inherent tone. The knob performed
like a treble roll-off, and as it neared the
end of its rotation it infused the sound with
some midrange honk. I found this midrange
emphasis worked best with a pick and a little amp overdrive, which created a grinding,
Chris Squire-like tone like in “Roundabout.”
Live, the Imperial sat well in the mix, with
the fundamental of each note being quite
present and the dual-coil pickup conveying
string bends and slides with ease.
The Ansir Music Imperial SL combines
significant ergonomic considerations with
boutique looks and an articulate, aggressive
sound. It’s great to find a US-made instrument at a price that rivals some factory-made imports. The Imperial SL would be
an excellent choice for bassists with back
and shoulder issues, or for those trying to
prevent future injuries. It would also be
ideal for those who often play while sitting.
It isn’t the most versatile bass, and it does
have some minor cosmetic imperfections,
but the Imperial SL is a bass of great value
and might just be the answer for you.
Wenge bolt-on eck
Pros: Solid playability. Articulate tones.
Great bang for the buck.
Ansir Music Imperial SL, $2, 150 street, ansirmusic.com
cons: Minor craftsmanship flaws.