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MGR/ShackMan 01/03/2010

Peavey T-40 : MGR/ShackMan's user review

« Peavey 1978 T-40 »
5

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Black satin finish
Maple 4-piece bolt-on Neck
Northern Ash body (quite heavy)
2 Passive Peavey Blade Humbuckers
Three-way pickup selector
2 Volume, 2 Tone
Phase Switch
Massive Peavey Bridge
Wide string spacing for a 4-string

I've used this bass when playing in a reggae band as well as in various rock ventures. It has a very full and rounded tone with a fantastic treble edge with the tone rolled all the way on. Roll the tone back a bit and it maintains a very clear but deep note. Overall it has an almost piano-like sound that I palm-muted for most of the reggae recordings. I have not used this bass for my jazz recordings because of the wide string spacing and the dexterity required.

This was acquired as a hand-me-down from my Uncle - a birthday present. As far as I've seen these basses run for something like $150-$250 depending on condition. The Natural finish usually runs on the higher side of that range.

It was my first bass at the time, and I've owned it for about seven years now (My Uncle owned it for another twenty-some years, and it still survives in very solid condition.)

I enjoy the near-crystalline tone of the bass and the wide spacing of the pickups for a wide variety of tones that I can get by turning each pickup's volume up or down, panning between the two. The bridge pickup almost has a Jaco-esque midrange bumb with the tone fully on, too, something I would never expect out of a bass with such dark wood and warm neck pickup. Both pickups are incredibly responsive to your finger stroke. All the better to hear bad technique in your fingers, as well, so don't be frightened if it takes some getting used to to start playing it and getting all these sounds. The sensitivity will eventually become your best friend, as the subtleties, piano-like tone and almost vocal expression are not only possibilities but even available at muscle memory recall speed.

A fantastic-sounding, well-rounded, and wonderfully expressive bass. Not only a jack but maybe a Queen or King of all trades.

I find myself wishing for a 5th string now, although I didn't when I first got it. Now that I'm used to 'normal' 4-string spacing, this bass seems quite wide when I come back to it and takes some getting used to.

Not only is the string-spacing wider, but the bass has a long-scale neck, and the spaces between frets are wider, which can be taxing on the hands for long repeated riffs (such as Golden Earring's jam in the middle of 'Radar Love'). In the lower positions, because of this, I generally resort to a three finger technique in my left hand reminiscent of upright technique to make playing easier. This is probably my greatest complaint with the bass.

As a minor note, I find the sound with the phase switch in the 'out' position to be on the tinny side, without much foundation to the sound. It's still worthwhile to experiment with, but it's not a 'bass' sound, more of a lower-pitched guitar. This is both good and bad, and either way it's an extra sound to be played with.

I don't find the added weight to be a bother (it's also one of the sources of the instrument's large, round tone), but then I'm only 21 and back problems are a long way off, I hope. I can't speak for the older generations.

The model (and the brand in general) has a rock solid reputation for rock solid construction. Peavey basses and guitars seem to always be referred to as 'tanks,' and although they do weigh a bit more than their counterparts, Peavey has generally more than made up for the added weight in beautiful tone and with an instrument that can take a serious tumble without nary a scratch.

Long story short: They don't break. Ever. Short of lighting the thing on fire or running it over with a steamroller, they don't break.

Pros:
Beyond solid construction. It's a tank.

Beautiful, expressive, warm tone in the neck pickup that gets a Warwick-esque growl when attacked strongly. SIZZLY slap tone!

Biting, midrangey sharpness in the bridge pickup reminiscent of Jaco.

Overall range of tones, each done quite well for a cheap bass with such variety.

It's CHEAP: Usually around $200. I guarantee you won't find a bass that sounds this good under $500 new.

Northern Ash is a fine wood.

Cons:
It has been called 'weighty' and 'heavy on the shoulder' by some, although I don't really notice.

Wide string spacing can make dextrous right hand work harder.

Wide fret spacing and large scale length can make work in the lower positions tiresome, but still doable.

I feel like in the right situations, this bass makes a fine choice. I play it in rock groups, reggae bands, where not a lot of jazz or fusion-esque dexterity is required (a la Stanley Clarke, Tal Wilkenfeld, etc.). Lines in the vein of The Who's Jon Entwistle or Zeppelin's John Paul Jones are still very reachable and sound particularly great on this beast. I would give it JUST shy of a 5 because of the string spacing issues (perhaps a 4.8), but in these situations, it really shines as a fantastic instrument with few equals.

Good comparisons include: Squier Vintage Modified Series, Warwick Rockbass series, OLP Music Man and Tony Levin Signature bass, Ibanez ATK, ESP 300 and 305

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com