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Take Me to the Big, Bad Bridge, Traben Bootzilla 4-string, By Jae Ko
FEW BASSISTS are as iconic as Bootsy Collins. With a name virtually synonymous with the word funk, his career charts the genres developmentfrom his embryonic days in James Browns backing band to Parliament-Funkadelic, to his stint in the dance DJ supergroup Deee-Lite, to his current collaborations with electronica mastermind Fatboy Slim. No one else has shaken more booty than the self-proclaimed worlds only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll. So its only fi tting that the Traben Bootzilla bass be as loud, proud, and over-the-top as the starry-eyed one himself.
MONSTER OF A BASS
We worked diligently to dial in Bootsys desired specifi cations and tone while still keeping the feel and performance that he demands from his basses, and we demand from a Traben, says Traben Product Manager Todd A. Rockfi eld, who worked closely with Bootsy to develop the Bootzilla. After a few prototypes and numerous custom wiring patterns, the Bootzilla Traben Bass was fi nally born. He adds that several of Bootsys own dream basses were used for reference in the final development and voicing stages of the design. And although Rockfield is a little cagey in sharing what those dream basses are, he assures us that the Bootzilla is everything that Bootsy wants in a bass that bears his name. Clearly intended to stand out in a crowd, the Bootzillas medium-weight basswood body is covered head to toe with a high-gloss metallic-black fi nish sprinkled with light-catching sparkles. And while the overall look is clearly more subdued than some of Bootsys previous basses, the Bootzillas 34-inch-scale maple neck and rosewood fi ngerboard raise the ostentatious ante a notch beyond the norm with a generous helping of fi ne abalone inlay work. From the 24th fret all the way to the tip of the headstock, Bootsys signature motif marks each appropriate fret with a big ol funky star, yall. Continuing the theme, the Bootzilla sports a massively sprawling bridgean essential Traben design elementthat forms a unique fountain of star-tipped spires of gleaming chrome-plated brass. Not just for looks, Trabens oversize bridgeincreases mass and bridge-to-body contact-surface area, promising longer sustain and more powerful, better-focused tone. The theory behind Trabens massive bridge is simple: Bigger bridge = bigger tone. The Bootzilla boasts some serious electronics, too: Its capable of a wide range of tones thanks to its top-quality Basslines Quarter Pounder pickups and an Aguilar 3-band preamp.
B-BASS IN THE PLACE
The Bootzilla proved to be a virileand versatilefunk machine at several rehearsals. In defiance of an overly zealous keyboard player who tends to hog the lower register with his Yamaha S90, the Bootzillas active treble and midrange controls preserved the funk by providing perfect frequencies to claw through and climb over the keyboardists overly woolly sound. And at a hard-rock rehearsal (where I set the preamps controls flat while I wielded my trusty green Tortex pick), the Bootzilla showed it can chug and karrang with authority, as well. In fact, with its characteristically forceful low-end thump and assertive upper-midrange power, the Bootzilla can easily produce the blunt and stout tone commonly associated with a P-Bass. The top end has that upper-mid crunch, and yet its also capable of convincing J-Bass tones (which shouldnt be too surprising, as its equipped with a pair of J-Bassstyle pickups). Sure, the Bootzilla has funk written all over it, but this bass could easily please the hard rock and metal crowd with a sound thatll cut through most any mix. Indeed, theres a certain solidity and weighty focus to the Bootzillas sound that evokes something a bit different than more traditional tones. Its difficult to prove that the extra bridge mass is the sole contributing factor to this characteristic, but the Bootzilla is an unusually big-sounding bass, with a firmly centered, forceful presentation.
THE BOTTOM LINE
gSubtleh is a word that I canft imagine using to describe much associated with Bootsy. But compared to his previous basses (especially the legendary star-shaped Space Bass), the Traben Bootzilla will be a little more palatable to many bassists looking for something different.although it is still recognizably Bootsy. And yet, if you do want a ridiculously awesome-looking and.most importantly.terrific sounding bass that will fit right in on "Polyester Thursdays" this is the instrument that will deliver. Make no mistake: This is still a Bootsy Collins bass, where audacious flash and ferocious funk are always the name of the game.
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