Review of Overwater by Tanglewood Standard and Standard
Plus Bass -
Overwater is one of the UK's longest established and most highly
regarded custom bass manufacturers. Its Tanglewood volume-produced
models have impressed us before - and now there are two newcomers
to the range at even better prices! Can the newcomers really
justify wearing the prestigious Overwater badge? Dan Veall finds
Back in issue five, we looked at something unusual - a volume
produced Overwater bass. Overwater has an illustrious history of
offering handmade basses of the very highest quality, stretching
back to the 1970s, but commissioning a range of instruments to be
made in the Far East is always a gamble and some illustrious brands
have come horribly unstuck when they've tried it. Not, we
found, Overwater, whose strategy of teaming-up with the highly
regarded Tanglewood acoustic company gave it access to the best
factories and a company highly experienced at handling this sort of
operation. The Aspiration Deluxe (
) got a top score - but what happens when Overwater and Tanglewood
try to reach towards the entry-level? Let's find out!
From the start, the two newcomers looked impressive as we took
them from the packaging and a closer inspection certainly didn't
disappoint. I had the Standard (passive) model on my lap first and
was impressed with both the set-up and the finish. I accept that in
order to keep the price down, the bass cannot feature the premium
hardware of its boutique brethren, but the hardware that is
included is certainly functional and rewards us with a usable tone
with no undue buzzes or rattles.
Speaking of tone, I spoke to Overwater's founder, Chris May, who
told me that even on this entry level instrument, the passive 'J
style' single coil pickups are custom wound specifically for this
model. A nice touch.
The passive electronics, featuring volume, pan control and
'treble roll-off' tone control all work as expected, with a smooth
response throughout each of their travels. Check out the video for
examples of the sounds available from the bass. Plugged in the bass
has a great passive tone to it. Quite organic!
The metallic red finish is blemish free and coats a poplar body
on to which a one piece maple neck is bolted. There's a neat set of
mini Gotoh tuning keys and I love the attention to detail which
means that even a budget Overwater bass has a matching coloured
We're also treated to a full 24 fret neck with a 19mm spacing
and a 40mm nut width that feels nice and slim and quick to
navigate. - Incidentally, both basses come fitted as standard with
Overwater's own light gauge nickel strings.
The 'Standard' model has some great features, but Overwater felt
that there was an opportunity for another variant of the Standard
model to fit in before you get to the Aspiration Elite, Deluxe,
Artist, Classic J and Contemporary models. That's right! There
really is something for every four or five string player in the
So next up in the Aspiration range is the very tasteful metallic
white 'Standard Plus'. This model features better components and a
totally different voice to that of the 'Standard' model - and for
not a lot more money! First of all we have the same poplar body
with a bolt on maple neck the main differences being hardware
related as the electronics feature a John East 'Aspiration' active
circuit paired up with the same Aspiration passive soap bars that
you'd find in the company's Deluxe series basses. The active
circuit is a two-band model featuring bass and treble cut and boost
as well as a 'pull up' bright switch on the volume control should
you need it. The neck has a rosewood fret board again and we are
treated to 24 high nickel silver frets that are much harder than
you will find on cheaper mass produced basses. Chris May wanted to
make clear that even with a price conscious instrument, he wants to
see these models, just like the premium counterparts, enjoying a
long service life. Good for him!
Out of the two instruments, the Standard model with the J
pickups was a joy, but plugging in the Standard Plus unleashed a
fantastic vibrant, modern and characteristic tone. The Overwater
Standard Plus certainly does a good job of showing up weaknesses of
other mass produced instruments at the same price point! I also
really like that metallic white finish too. It's not a bright
white, more of a 'hint of vintage' in there. Looks great under the
studio lights. Think I might like a white bass next purchase!
It's clear that the combination of Overwater's experience making
handmade basses for professionals and Tanglewood's ability to make
mass produced instruments to an uncommonly high standard has been a
success. We are firmly in mainstream bass territory here where
there may be bass beginners who simply haven't heard of Overwater
and may not realise that what they are being offered is like
finding a Bentley for Ford money. We can only hope that retailers
take them aside and explain why these basses shouldn't be confused
with run of the mill mass market instruments. Price
notwithstanding, they are in a different class - particularly the
Check out the full review inc. video of the Overwater by
Tanglewood Standard and Standard Plus Bass review by Dan Veall
in Issue 12 of
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