Vision VB2 Bass
IT tries the latest range of Far Eastern challengers.
It's a fact of life that, whether we can actually afford them or not, everyone likes reading reviews of expensive products. On the other hand, looking at less glamorous instruments often has more genuine relevance to a lot of our readers, which is why we always try and include some low-cost gear in every issue. Last month we examined a guitar in the under £100 market (declaring the JHS Hondo Encore an excellent buy), and for this British Music Fair Special we've chosen a bass from the new Vision range which is to be launched at the show.
Vision's guitars include various 'Super Strat' types and a 'sort of' Explorer, prices ranging from £155 to £355, and they look attractive enough for us to be hoping to try one in a future issue. But it was one of the two Vision basses that we borrowed from importers Rosetti, the passive VB2 at £150.
Available in jet black or white, the Vision VB2 is an obvious Fender clone (notwithstanding the rather attractive jagged headstock shape). There's nothing wrong with that, of course, because it's what many (most?) players just starting their careers seem to want — and of course it's a tried and tested design which helps ensure long-term reliability.
For a low price bass, the Vision is made of surprisingly good materials. The initially disconcerting lightweight body of our sample turned out to be Alder, and this was fitted to a bolted on Rock Maple neck. A close look at the joint revealed that a very neat job had been made of this feature, likewise the overall manufacturing and finishing of the bass. Polished to a high gloss black the Vision was certainly good enough to justify its price level in terms of how well it was made and presented; in fact it could quite comfortably have been worth a £200 price tag in this respect.
The obligatory Rosewood fingerboard was of a pretty reasonable standard, but the fretting was, again, a good class above what we've expected from Korean-made instruments in the past. 20 frets adorn the standard 34" scale, each one accurately set and of uniform height. The hardware too was good, albeit a bit unexciting where the bridge was concerned. This is that basic Fender Precision type bridge arrangement where the strings are supported on spring-loaded saddles, each of which has two vertically penetrating screws which raise or lower the strings individually. In its favour is the fact that it's hard to get your string height and intonation adjustments wrong with this design, while against it is the ease with which an aggressive slap-style player can shift the saddles sideways while he or she is thumbing and pulling like crazy. The VB2's screws are tracked to try and offset this, but the tracking could have been a bit deeper, we felt. Mind you, as possibly hundreds of thousands of Fender players have enjoyed this bridge design, who are we to suggest that they're wrong? The machine heads, on the other hand, are way, way above what you'd expect. They're easily comparable with the best Japanese types, and would satisfy anyone, however fussy.
Rounding off the hardware, a note about the pickups and controls. Just a single volume and a tone with a pickup selector switch vary the sound from a pair of single coil pickups — a split (Precision type) set back a bit from the neck and a single coil twin pole piece per string (a la Jazz) near the bridge.
Dimensionally, the Vision's neck was comfortably shaped in a Precision-ish sort of way. To put that opinion into figures, we measured the width at dead-on 1 5/8" at the nut, 2 1/32" at the 7th fret and 2 1/4" at the 12th. Pretty standard, we reckon; and matched by a comfortable depth.
Our testers were pretty unanimous about the VB2's sound. Overall, they felt that it was about par for the course for a bass in this price range, although we discovered that the E and A strings seemed a bit low in power against the D and G. This could have been due to rather average quality strings, or may have indicated that the bass sides of the pickups could have been raised a shade. We really didn't feel that it was a serious problem, though.
The single coil pickups deliver a robust and yet clear sound, with the split (neck) one doing a lot of justice to the naturally good sound of an Alder body fitted with a Maple neck. The sustain was good, too. If we had a criticism of the sound, it was that the bridge transducer didn't deliver quite the treble we'd expected from what's usually quite a toppy design. It may be that it's been placed further from the saddles than is common, but, again, we weren't seriously worried by this. Much more important was the general impressiveness of the harmonic richness in the notes, especially from the neck pickup.
At an RRP of £150, the VB2 is up against some stiff competition today (notably from the likes of Marlin, Hondo, Hohner/Arbor, Westone etc). However, it's extremely well made and finished for the money, looks great, plays well and sounds very nice indeed. On the other hand, much the same could be said of most of its competitors. We concluded that the Vision has the edge over many of them in terms of build quality and feel, but it's a close run thing. Either way, don't fail to audition this newcomer. It's definitely got a lot to offer for the price, and if the guitar models offer such a good performance, we certainly look forward to trying them too.
RRP £150 inc. VAT
More info on Vision from Rosetti & Co., (Contact Details).
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