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DOUGLAS WOB 826 REVIEW

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Price: $261.49CAD from Rondo Music
-----FEATURES - 8/10
--------------The Douglas WOB 826 is a fretless six-string bass available from Rondo Music tha
t sports many interesting features usually not available on basses at this price
point. This Chinese-built bass has the following features:
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34" scale
Maple neck with 2-octave rosewood fingerboard (equivalent to 24 frets)
Ash body
Two active humbucker pickups
Adjustable BB-006 bridge
Volume, balance, bass, and treble controls

The website also mentions "die-cast tuners", which are just the typical sort of
cheap tuners you'd find on any lower-end instrument, and "gold tarnished hardwar
e", though my bass received regular chrome hardware. The bass is available in a
natural finish and white. I got the white one, and it looks rather stunning.
If you're ordering from Rondo Music outside of the lower 48 states of the USA, y
ou're going to need to order a hard shell case for it, and that will automatical
ly add to both the overall price, plus the shipping costs. But it is worth it to
have a good case with your bass.
All together, you get a rather impressive list of features for a bass that costs
around $190USD, certainly a lot less than pretty much any other fretless 6-stri
ng bass with active pickups out there. Understandably, to keep the costs low, th
ey couldn't put too many higher-end components like tuners from a trusted brand
name like Hipshot or better pickups, which is the reasoning behind this category
getting an 8/10, but what you actually get on the bass is of reasonably good qu
ality and will likely last you a long time.
SOUND - 8/10
-----------I play bass as both a solo artist playing progressive metal and instrumental roc
k, as well as in a concert band ensemble playing classical, jazz, and marching b
and music. I'm playing this bass through a variety of amps including my own litt
le Fender Rumble 15 practice amp, and larger Fender and Orange bass amps during
rehearsals.
The bass' pickups are rather clean sounding, something which surprised me as thi
s was my first experience with active pickups on a bass, and provide a very punc
hy tone that also surprised me as my last fretless bass, a Yamaha BBN4F, had a v
ery flat and dull sound compared to this. The only issue with the tone I'm havin
g is that Rondo Music packaged the bass with the dullest sounding strings I've e
ver heard in my life, with a low B string that barely produced a note when pluck
ed. Replacing the strings has solved that issue, and revealed the true tone of t
his bass, which actually has a stunning amount of clarity and low-end punch. Whi
le the pickups could be easily swapped out for a better set, the ones that come
with this bass are rather excellent to begin with.

The bass and treble controls are rather fun to play around with as well, and I'v
e had some very interesting tones as a result of playing around with them. I've
taken to rolling the treble control to half (the controls have a handy notch to
let you know when you're at the halfway point!), which decreases a bit of the tr
eble-y "attack", which makes it rather perfect for use in the concert band setti
ng, where you want a sound rather closer to that of a double bass.
Really, for the money, you can't go wrong with this tone. Once you change the st
rings for something better, you're good to go. For that reason, I've also decide
d to give it an 8.
ACTION, FIT & FINISH - 6/10
--------------------------This is about the only place where the bass starts to really lose some points. W
hile the bass' components are rather excellent in quality, it was obviously not
set up very well at the factory. The action was close to where I liked it, but s
till quite high for most people. The pickup screws needed <i>serious</i> adjusti
ng, as one of them had completely come loose. As mentioned, the strings they shi
pped with the bass were of the lowest possible quality and needed an immediate s
wap. The 9V battery also needed to be changed almost as soon as I plugged it in.
However, none of these issues presented any truly <i>serious</i> challenges, and
were easily dealt with. The rest of the bass seemed to be without any serious f
law, though there were some annoyances with the edge of the fingerboard, as I'm
not sure if they're supposed to be rolled smooth or not on fretless basses, but
this one was left particularly square. Obviously, it will wear down a little ove
r time and be a little smoother to play, but it does seem odd to have a gripe wi
th the edge of the fretboard on an instrument without frets. Perhaps it's just m
y own lack of experience with fretless basses, though, as I quickly adapted to i
t and it even became rather comfortable to play.
So this is the one area where this bass is going to lose a few points, but overa
ll, I still feel it deserves a 6, as it still did not need any truly serious adj
usting to become playable, like work with the truss rod or actual woodwork. Noth
ing that a newbie with a screwdriver (or the included allan key set) couldn't ha
ndle.
RELIABILITY & DURABILITY - 8/10
------------------------------I haven't owned the bass quite long enough yet (just over a month as of this wri
ting) to judge its long-term reliability, but I've used this at several rehearsa
ls with my concert band, and so far it seems to have held up quite nicely. The h
ardware on it seems rock-solid for the most part, though that will remain to be
seen as I use this bass more and more. You will have to invest quite heavily in
9V batteries to feed the active electronics, though if you're thrifty, rechargea
bles are easy to find, or you could do like me and simply purchase them from a d
ollar store. I have opened up the electronics cavity and it looks like all of th
e electronics are soldered together rather well, and properly shielded as well.
While I would not do a rock gig (concert band gigs are not exactly known for the
ir tendency to lead to extreme instrument abuse...) without a backup on ANY inst
rument regardless of price, I do feel that if I did not have one for some reason
, I would not sweat it too much, since this is a pretty solid instrument. The st
rap buttons seem pretty solid, the finish seems pretty solid, and the components
seem pretty solidly in place. Definitely deserving of an 8 at this point, but t

hat could become a 5 (or a 10, depending on circumstances!) easily as I live wit
h this bass for a while and see where flaws start to show themselves (or don't!)
.
OVERALL IMPRESSION
-----------------So overall, this is a great bass for the price. While there may be comparable pr
oducts from other low-price manufacturers like Harley Benton and such, I'm pleas
ed that I went with Rondo Music for this one, as I ended up with a very pleasing
bass to play. For less than $200 USD (before you consider shipping and buying a
ccessories like a case or a new set of strings), you get a 6-string fretless bas
s with active electronics, and there are very, VERY few companies that offer any
thing even close to that. And when you consider that the quality on this is rath
er decent (I'd say it's VERY comparable to my Ibanez RG8 in quality, which was a
bout twice the price in USD when I bought mine), it really begins to show itself
as a total steal!
However, there is something to mention: If you live outside of the lower 48 stat
es, you need to buy a hard-shell case, which can easily add another $80 to the p
rice after you include shipping. I ordered this in Canada during a particularly
hard time for our dollar, so I ended up paying just a little over $500CDN for th
e bass plus the case, all together with the shipping cost. So that's something y
ou'll want to keep in mind if you're ordering this from outside the USA. That be
ing said, it's still a bargain compared to the other 6-string fretless basses yo
u can buy in Canada.
The only thing I wish this bass had was a better set of strings out of the facto
ry, because I would have been able to enjoy this bass more right away, and since
6-string sets for bass are rather expensive, you'll want to consider the cost o
f those in purchasing this instrument.
All in all, I want to give this instrument a solid 7 out of 10. I REALLY want to
give it 7.5, because I also have to look at this rating as an extension of its
price point as well, because among sub-$200 basses, this one probably deserves a
much higher rating than that, but it's obviously not a flawless instrument and
my rating needs to reflect that as well. So truthfully, any rating is rather use
less here to convey the quality of this instrument. All I can truly say is that
if you only have a few hundred dollars to spend on a fretless 6-string bass, you
're probably not going to come across a better deal than this.
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