Product Review: B&G Guitars Big Sister Bass

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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine, Issue 8

Authored by Platinum Viking

So the first thing I noticed about this bass was just how good-looking and wonderfully vintage it was! I knew almost nothing about B&G basses before I was handed the Big Sister Bass to try out and boy, was I in for a treat! Starting from the stylish classic hard-shell case to the posh honey burst figured maple top to the all custom elegant brass hardware, this bass makes quite the statement. This bass makes you want to play it, and so I immediately plugged it in and soon found myself in “the zone” resulting in an all-night creative songwriting session before I knew it.

I hadn’t played that many hollow bodied basses but this one made me reconsider this as a very viable addition to my regular rotation of roadworthy basses. This hand-crafted bass employs traditional build techniques, exquisite tonewoods, and traditional fine finishes like Nitrocellulose that give it a snazzy vintage look, solid feel, and classically balanced warm sound. The African Mahogany body has a refined, sophisticated shape with two elegant f-holes, a favorable cutaway design for high end soloing, and is quite comfortable to play. It’s remarkably lightweight compared to a lot of the other hollow bodied basses I’ve tried, which for those who have a bass strapped to their backs for hours a day every day, that’s a winner.

The Honduran Mahogany neck with Indian Rosewood standard 34” fingerboard plays fairly fast and is just naturally comfortable to play. Any player would instantly feel right at home on it (especially if you’re used to smaller, more compact basses). The neck fits snugly and securely onto the body, and with its carved chambered body, the Big Sister has a very nice natural resonance and warm organic tone. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It also has enough of an innate acoustic sound that you can continue your quiet late-night practices without even having to plug it in. Once plugged in, it definitely lives up to its good looks. The model I reviewed featured the notable Aguilar Humbucking Pickups. The matching brass covered double humbuckers are from a company known for delivering top quality bass gear and tone, so I was more than happy with the nice punchy and responsive sound I got right out of the box. Experimenting with the onboard tonal controls (Neck Volume-Bridge Volume-Tone), I was easily able to get everything from a bright, punchy sound to a rich, mellow tone through some knob adjustments and playing style changes. However, I did seem to always go back to maxing out the neck pickup and the tone and then adding in some of the bridge to get a deeper, broader sound with better sustain and more low-mids while still keeping some of that upper punch.

While this Big Sister Bass is an impressive, beautifully handcrafted instrument and given the base price set at $3,950, this puts it easily into the top pro-level class of basses that may be out of reach for many players but in the custom-built instruments’ realm, it sits reasonably well in it, especially given everything you get with the Big Sister. It’s plenty versatile enough for at-home playing all the way to the big stage, for the traditional to the progressive bassist, and for playing everything from rock to jazz to country. However, I think it would take more external effects and amp tweaking to be able to get more of the bigger, darker tones often used in more extreme genres like metal. I’ve also been informed that B&G will be coming out with their Crossroads version of the Big Sister later this year which they say will be based on the same classic design of the Big Sister but at a more affordable price range of $1,499.00.

On balance, the Big Sister gives the player everything they would expect and more from the top-notch build quality with prime tonewoods and quality hardware, responsive pickups with a well-balanced sound across the fingerboard, and the very much sought-after vintage look and feel in a very good looking, playable bass. Ultimately, this will be a bass you’ll want to keep for a lifetime as it just gets better and better with age and, undoubtedly, you will find yourself passing this down to the next generation as a treasured keepsake.

Price:  $3,950.00
BNGGuitars.com

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