Review of Vigier Excess Original 4 String Bass Guitar
We make no secret here at GI that we're huge fans of France's
Patrice Vigier. We think he and his team produce some of the
world's finest instruments. Fortunately, we're not alone in that
opinion with players like Guthrie Govan, Ron Thal, Geezer Butler
and Roger Glover agreeing with us! And speaking of Roger Glover -
he's into Excess - Vigier's classic bass. We gave one to
Dungeonmeister Dan Veall to see if it would rock his world.
The Vigier Excess Original basses from Patrice Vigier's
workshops are a more classic design for those who prefer something
a little more traditional. Don't be fooled though - we aren't
talking Fender Precisions here! This bass design takes classic
styles and melds them with modern ideas, materials and
manufacturing techniques, the adds with custom electronics to
deliver a truly great sounding, thoroughly modern bass.
Vigier makes it clear that the company's instruments are all
about the small details. You only have to look at the individual
descriptions online to see that they mean business, using very
accurate tolerances for the instrument measurements and
specifications. The may look very seek and sexy, but they are made
with really precise engineering at the heart and serious - nay
fanatical - attention to materials quality. The maple neck wood on
this instrument, for example, has been naturally dried for three
years. Whilst on the subject of the neck, Vigier has employed
Patrice's '10/90' system on bass necks for the past 18 years or so.
This method completely negates the need for a truss rod by adding
ten per cent carbon fibre to the wood component and provides the
stability needed under the tension of the strings and in changing
climate conditions day to day. The success of that system is one of
the reasons so many top line professionals are using Vigier's
instruments. Not only do they tick the appearance, sound and
playablity boxes, but you can fly from Singapore to Helsinki and
the neck won't move!
Fretboard options come in the form of rosewood, maple and Delta
Metal. Yes indeed, a fretless metal fretboard is available too!
I've played a couple of Vigier fretless basses with the metal
fretboard and they sound really good. Still, our review sample
comes complete with a rosewood board, which I understand is shaped
to within 100th of a millimetre - pretty impressive stuff! The 24
stainless steel, medium sized frets were perfectly fitted to the
modern 300mm radiused board.
Moving along to the body, the Excess models feature naturally
dried solid alder. Two pieces are joined down the centre. Expertly
I must add! There's a whole array of finishes available for Vigier
basses. All of the models get a five week drying time for the
varnish finishes before they are completed.
Vigier turns to Schaller for tuning keys and as always, the
hardware from the German manufacturer is of top quality. There's a
really nice 'quick release' bridge on this bass too. Yes, you
guessed it, I get to mention it being a 'high-mass' type too,
something I really like on a bass. The saddles on this bridge lock
in position further aiding tuning stability and sustain.
Underneath the strings are a pair of Vigier soapbar pickups.
There are two 'Alnico 8' magnets per string and pure copper and
silver alloy wire is used for the coils. The whole unit is then wax
potted in to the outer shell that features four screws to attach to
the bass body. It;s interesting to see what Vigier says about
these: "Active hum-cancelling circuit eliminates the hum usually
associated with single-coil pickups to create a true studio-quiet
performance: single-coil tone without the hum." In use, I agree,
the single pickup sounds were crisp and open like a single coil
pickup tone. In the spirit of keeping things quiet at high volumes,
Vigier also uses a conductive coating inside the control cavity to
keep electronic noise to a minimum too.
To finish off, the output jack, a Switchcraft type, is recessed
in to the body for a more secure physical connection.
Tonally, there's a good amount of options available when
sweeping the pan control back and forth. A sweet front pickup tone
mixes effortlessly with the back pickup to provide a modern
recording tone. The back pickup has a good rasp to it that with
boosted lows from the two band EQ can cut through a mix with ease.
I really liked the 'both on' setting with just a small amount of
boost from both the treble and bass controls. The active
pre-amplifier on board is silent and certainly there were no issues
with hiss from our studio system. Check out the video for
The Excess Original bass feels good and at 3.8Kg isn't too
unwieldy, so will be fine for those long club night stints!
Finally, this bass comes complete with a hard case and a 2 year
warranty from Vigier.
As you'd imagine, an instrument of such quality, built to the
highest standards and incorporating advanced technology, isn't
exactly cheap. Then again, at under $4,000 (less at street prices)
or £2,000 you have to start wondering about the prices being
charged for some far less advanced instruments from certain well
known 'heritage' brands! Judged like that, the Excess doesn't seem
expensive at all. This is a thoroughly professional instrument
built to the very highest standards. If you're looking for that
class of four string bass, you owe it to yourself to check it
Check out the full review inc. video of the Vigier
Excess Original 4 String Bass vy Dan Veall featured
in Issue 15 of
Guitar Interactive Magazine.