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Traben Bootsy Collins Bootzilla Bass Review from BassGuitar

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 genre’s development—from his embryonic days in James Brown’s 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 “world’s only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll.” So it’s only fi tting that the Traben Bootzilla bass be as loud, proud, and over-the-top as the starry-eyed one himself.

“We worked diligently to dial in Bootsy’s 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 Bootsy’s 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 Bootzilla’s 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 Bootsy’s previous basses, the Bootzilla’s 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, Bootsy’s signature motif marks each appropriate fret with a big ol’ funky star, y’all. Continuing the theme, the Bootzilla sports a massively sprawling bridge—an essential Traben design element—that forms a unique fountain of star-tipped spires of gleaming chrome-plated brass. Not just for looks, Traben’s oversize bridgeincreases mass and bridge-to-body contact-surface area, promising longer sustain and more powerful, better-focused tone. The theory behind Traben’s massive bridge is simple: Bigger bridge = bigger tone. The Bootzilla boasts some serious electronics, too: It’s capable of a wide range of tones thanks to its top-quality Basslines Quarter Pounder pickups and an Aguilar 3-band preamp.

The Bootzilla proved to be a virile—and versatile—funk machine at several rehearsals. In defiance of an overly zealous keyboard player who tends to hog the lower register with his Yamaha S90, the Bootzilla’s active treble and midrange controls preserved the funk by providing perfect frequencies to claw through and climb over the keyboardist’s overly woolly sound. And at a hard-rock rehearsal (where I set the preamp’s 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 it’s also capable of convincing J-Bass tones (which shouldn’t be too surprising, as it’s equipped with a pair of J-Bass–style 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 that’ll cut through most any mix. Indeed, there’s a certain solidity and weighty focus to the Bootzilla’s sound that evokes something a bit different than more traditional tones. It’s 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.

gSubtleh is a word that I canft 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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