Hohner Jack bass
I've been looking forward to playing this bass properly since I saw it at the Frankfurt preview earlier in the year, when I played it improperly. The impressions I got then were that the Jack is sort-of-Status shaped and is similar in feel and sound to Hohner's excellent B2 Steinberger lookalike. These are borne out now, with some minor reservations.
The Jack has a three-piece maple through-neck, with long, sculpted body wings added. Sit down with the bass on your lap and it slides away to the right sometimes. On a strap, no probs.
It sounds very healthy. The only way for you to change the sound is to choose back, both or front pickups and then wiggle the tone control. But the tone's wide-ranging enough to give a muffled thud at the bass end and a crackier ring at t'other. I found enough variation to be getting along with, generally settling for full treble backed off a little and the inevitable both-pickups-on-full. Like this, Jack honked and spat sufficiently for me to forget the controls, which is essentially what you want.
The pickups are Select by EMG types — in other words legitimate eastern copies of EMGs, and they supply a clear, useable range, but are hardly spectacular. In fact the name EMG on them seems a bit academic as I thought the whole point of 'real' EMGs is their internal activeness. But no matter, the Jack's pickups are OK for a passive Korean bass, EMG-influenced or not.
The two-octave neck is comfortable, with thickish, very rounded frets and a neck profile almost identical to the B2's curvey solidity. There is enough space between the strings for my purposes — about 15mm at the between-pickups position narrowing to 10mm at the 'nut'. The deep cutaways into the body give easy access to the 24th fret (no position marker — odd, but all right).
My criticisms are not of the sound and feel, which are commendable. The lax attention to finish on our sample is irritating. Nothing major, just niggling little details that imply the factory weren't entirely careful with this one. For example, and without wishing to get too pedantic, there are a couple of small knocks under the lacquer on the neck, some frets are roughly seated, the pickup screw 'targets' are just visible, the knobs can come off in your hand, the tuners rub into the wood, and the 'nut'/neck join is rough. If only these tiny things were right, the bass we reviewed would be perfectly finished.
In pure pose terms I miss the B2A's little red light — so cool — and electronically miss some of its easy volume. But the Jack's sounds are as good as you'll get from a single-tone passive bass, the feel is solid and encouraging, and the looks are attractive and well proportioned. The Steinberger bridge retains its good and bad points — speed of string change is superb, but the 'chocolate block' saddles are still difficult to position accurately for intonation. At £255 this is marginally more expensive than the active B2A 'bodyless' version, which personally I still just prefer. But if you like a bit of body, Jack's your man.
Review by Tony Bacon
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