Equipment

4-strings Pensa J Custom

One day, while hanging in New York, I got into Rudy’s Music Shop. At the shop’s bass section I asked for “something cool.” The representative asked me “have you heard about the Pensa basses?” I said I had heard about the name, but I didn’t remember when or where.

Pensa Custom J4
Photo by Marcia Foizer

Man… the very first note I played on a Pensa bass was terrific. I heard the tone I think all bass player in the world would like to hear. Deep and clear lows, well balanced mids, sparkling highs, excellent playability, class-A jazz bass tone … Can you figure out the result of this visit to Rudy’s Music Shop? At the time I didn’t have money to buy it, but a couple years later I bought a Pensa bass.

My bass has a black Korina chambered body, maple neck and Pau Ferro fingerboard. The pickups are Lindy Fralin Split and the preamp is a Pensa Custom.

The four controls are neck pickup volume, bridge pickup volume, treble and bass. Despite being a common controls setting, they have some particularities. The bass control is a boost-only control. It means it only adds bass and if you want a flat sound, you have to set it to zero volume. On the other hand, the treble control is a regular boost/cut control.

Both volume controls have a “pull” function. The neck pickup volume control turns the electronics to passive mode, while the bridge pickup control alters the pickup configuration from parallel to serial.

My impressions

It is an amazing instrument. It has a well balanced and versatile jazz bass tone with its characteristic prominent mids and with a strong and clean lows. Every slight change I make in the pickup controls alters a lot the tone of the instrument. It is very versatile. In addition, the serial pickup tone is killing.

One of the things that most catches my eyes is the cleanliness of the tone. When I record with my Pensa I almost don’t need to add EQ to correct its tone. Almost perfect.

 

N Zaganin Blend Fretless

A good fretless bass is hard to find. I have had several ones, but I have never got the tone I wanted… unti I get the N Zaganin Blend.

N Zaganin Blend Fretless
The bass has an Alder body, Pau-marfim neck and Jacarandá fingerboard (with fretlines). The pickups are Cabrera Custom and it has passive electronics. The controls are neck pickup volume, bridge pickup volume and tone. The bridge is Badass and I installed an Hipshot Xtender key in the E string.

I love the playability of the instrument. One thing I can say about its tone is that the bass reaches the extremes of punch and smoothness. Explaining…

If I play the bass closer to the bridge, the bass delivers a prominent and punchy tone, as a fretted jazz bass. It comes with a huge attack. On the other hand, if I play it closer to the neck, I have the characteristic sweet tone of a fretless bass. I can say I have never seen this before.