Epiphone Jack Casady Signature Bass
Price: $699 (street)
Rock-and-roll bassists of the ’60s like Paul McCartney, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle, and Duck Dunn brought something to the game that succeeding generations continue to chase. On the West Coast, Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady was known for melodic flights thumped out on his Guild Starfire. Forty-five years later, Casady is still taken with thinner f-hole bodies, but has partnered with Epiphone to create the Jack Casady Signature Bass.
The Casady has a maple body and top and Vintage White binding, set mahogany neck with a 12″ radius and a 1.65″ nut by an unbound 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with Les Paul-style crown inlays. Nickel fittings include easy-to-grab 19:1 tuners and a three-point adjustable bridge, while electronics comprise a single JCB-1 low-impedance house-brand Electar humbucker, master Volume and Tone knobs, and a three-way VariGain tone switch. It comes in black, Silverburst, and swank goldtop, and the Volume and Tone controls are mid-’70s Gibson-style speed knobs with a chickenhead on the tone switch. A black pickguard bears a Epiphone “E” logo.
The thought that has gone into the Jack Casady Signature Bass is admirable – it blends a vintage body style and tone with modern playability and construction. This instrument is reasonably light and slender with a thin, comfortable neck perfect for guitarists who occasionally double on the four-string. The workmanship is flawless, reflecting the rigorous quality control at Epiphone’s Chinese factory.
Plugged in, the Jack Casady’s 34″-scale neck is custom-made for melodic phrases and exploratory lines. The double-cutaway body allows room to go south of the 12th fret, and the harmonics are dead-on for Jaco-esque touches. This Epi works equally well fingerstyle or with a pick – subtle, warm, interesting, and with a range of tonal possibilities (the JCB-1 pickup sports an Alnico VII magnet and has 23K ohm induction at 1KHz). The VariGain knob offers detents at 50/250/500, for a thinner, more acoustic tone on 50 and a fat, bottomy sound on 500 (or split the difference at 250). Add in the passive master tone, and there’s a bevy of textures from which to choose.
Who’s going to want the Jack Casady bass? Veteran players will admire the vintage vibe and playability, while younger players will dig the funky attitude and hipster sensibilities. Either way, the Epiphone Jack Casady Signature Bass hits home runs in looks, feel, and tone, not to mention its very attractive street price.
This article originally appeared in VG July 2013 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.