When I first removed the Survivor from its
included flight case, I was surprised to find
such a lightweight bass, particularly one
made of mahogany. While the bass required
a few tweaks of the truss rod and bridge
due to some extensive travel getting to us,
nothing raised any major concerns and I
was quickly ready to check it out.
There is an old adage that says one
can determine the excellence of an instrument in three notes. From the very first
pluck of the Survivor, it displayed its
quality. Compelled to hear the natural
voice of the bass, I played for sometime
while unplugged and in a seated position. Instantly, the warmth and “mwah”
of each note was delivered with a quick
response and steady bloom, supported by
a slight, low-mid punch. Anything my
hands requested of the Survivor was easily
communicated, from harmonic slides to
varying vibratos. There was nothing in the
construction that fought the vibrations of
the strings, and for a solidbody bass, it conveyed an impressive amount of resonance.
Jazz bass lovers will likely enjoy the slim
profile of the neck with its fast and smooth
feel. Despite my personal preference for
satin necks, I felt comfortable shifting over
its glossy finish. The Survivor seemed a bit
neck heavy for my playing style, given that
it naturally settled into a horizontal position
when strapped around my body. That said,
it may work for you, depending on your
penchant for perpendicular playing.
Instantly, the warmth and “mwah”
of each note was delivered with a
quick response and steady bloom,
supported by a slight, low-mid punch.
Open Up and Say Mwah
To assess the electric tone, I plugged the
Survivor into a Phil Jones D-600 amp paired
with a Glockenklang 410 cabinet, as well
as a Peavey Headliner amp and Headliner
410 cab. Starting with the volume knob
open and the pickups balanced, I found the
Survivor’s mids were complemented by the
onboard preamp, which was quite capable
of enhancing the articulate voice of the bass
with warm lows and airy highs.
The bass was adept at recreating classic,
fretless tones. By rolling the balance knob
slightly toward the bridge pickup, I was
able to produce a sound similar to ’80s-
era Pino Palladino. Mick Karn fans need
only boost the bass and treble a bit, which
results in tight lows and a present midrange
that just begs a bassist to emulate Karn’s
slides and leaps around the fingerboard.
Though Jaco disciples may not necessarily
find his voice lurking within the Survivor,
they may very well discover their own
through this expressive instrument.
Whether it was plugged into an amp or
sent through a DI, the Survivor was a nice
tool to have in live situations. It created a
sweet, lyrical foundation to ballads, as well
as an eclectic vibe to free-form jams. While
some jazz and bluegrass bassists may not
find the Survivor to be an alternative to
schlepping their upright around town, its
tone found a place for both these styles to
my ears. Surprisingly, the Survivor was also
able to emulate the lower strings of an oud.
Just by lightly plucking the strings right in
front of the bridge, I was able to create this
unique timbre—and that was loads of fun.
The Warwick Jack Bruce Survivor is a bass
that truly channels a player’s voice. The
more than $10,000 price may not be for
everyone, but the Survivor will certainly
appeal to fretless aficionados and fans of
Jack Bruce. Bruce, who turns 69 this year,
calls the new signature bass “the best there
is.” And if the Survivor inspires him to keep
making music, perhaps investing in this
burgundy beauty will inspire you too.
Pros: Articulate tone. Comfortable fretless neck with cool
LED side markers.
Warwick Jack Bruce Survivor Bass, $10,085.50 street, warwick.de
Cons: Expensive. Neck heavy.