We get up close and personal with this rather unusual bass design from Italy.
Wood & Tronics (the brand name comes from wood and (elec)tronics) was founded in 2006, after bassist Enrico Pasini and luthier Erik Furlan decided to branch out into making fully-fledged custom instruments. ‘We started the company eight years ago,’ explains Enrico. ‘We’d already spent much of our lives as bass players, local repairers, builders and massive bass geeks!’ Situated north of Venice near the Italian town of Belluno, the company currently boasts four production models: the Chronos, Zoid, Ergon and EJ, each of which can be fully customised with a huge range of wood, finish and hardware options, not to mention four, five or six strings.
The curvaceous body outline is coupled with some rather specific features, including a Gary Willis-style finger ramp, a distinctive cut-in feature on the top bout and a large curved recessed area around the neck join that’s been designed to offer maximum access to the upper regions of the fretless fingerboard, an area that you may be drawn towards due to the melodic tone of a fretless bass. The three-piece ash neck is securely attached via five bolts and features a player-friendly profile with well-rounded edges. Two sections of alder are attached either side of a central strip of mahogany to form the body, which is solidly built with an impressive core design. ‘Before we build any bass we always try to understand what it is that bass players need,’ says Enrico. ‘For us, good is never good enough.’ The ebony finger ramp marks another of the Zoid’s player-friendly features, and the controls comprise bass and treble EQ and a master volume push/pull knob that also acts as an active bypass. We had some initial reservations in terms of its looks and some of the more quirky features, but the Zoid remains a great bass to play.
Love or hate the look, auditioning any Wood & Tronics bass will certainly be an experience you’ll remember, and our review model goes straight to the heart of what makes a great fretless. The bass community love to discuss the ‘mwah’ factor when it comes to fretless instruments, and this bass has it in spades. It’s articulate and dynamic, particularly in the mid range, and will be relevant in any situation where you’re required to play more melodically or venture further up the neck without losing definition in the lower register. The ebony board is ideal for executing glissando slides, and using the finger ramp you can easily manoeuvre your playing hand to uncover a range of different tones. The ramp also prevents you from ‘digging in’ too hard, so you can play with a softer attack and crank your amp a little more. The low-B and high-C strings perform very well, especially considering that this is a 34-inch scale instrument compared to the 35-inch scale usually favoured on extended range basses. Fretless basses can be extremely individualistic, particularly in terms of response and tone, but we were very impressed.
Built in: Italy
Scale length: 876mm (34 inches)
Neck: 3-piece ash, bolt-on
Body: Mahogany with alder body wings
Pickups:1 x Haeussel custom dual-coil
Controls: 1 x push/pull active/passive volume, 2-band active EQ with internal frequency presets
Machine heads: Gotoh, GBS 510
Bridge: Wood & Tronics
Finish: Catalysed oil