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When a player starts a company, they’re drawing on years of practical experiences. Neil Jason is a session bassist with some serious cred, and he started Manhattan Prestige Basses to share what he learned with other players. His Session One bass is a perfect blend of the classic and the boutique.
Starting off with the offset waist design, the ash body feels very familiar. Our test instrument was finished in a poly gloss burgundy-like mist, a pinkish/light purplish color that shined like a custom car. With no pickguard and no control plate it brings a sleek and modern aesthetic. The bolt-on satin neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard, which had rolled edges, giving the feel of being well worn in. Luminlay side markers glow in the dark, a Tusq nut add modern touches, and the open back Wilkinson tuners were smooth as silk. The back of the headstock is painted red (a feature on Neil’s original bass), which might initially feel out of place, but is a unique identifier. The four neck attachment bolts are well recessed in the body, and complement the smooth contoured joint area, bringing excellent playability in the upper ranges.
The instrument features a top-loader string configuration, and the bridge is by Wilkinson, who also does the pickups. Looking under the hood is a breeze, as the backplate is held in place by magnets. This is a great feature for troubleshooting any issues that may arise during a gig. The cavity has plenty of room for modifications, even with standard full-size Alpha pots running a Volume/Volume/Tone configuration. Players who like to tweak and tinker will find plenty of room for any addons like preamps, and the two slots that are just the right size for 9-volt batteries will keep any mods clean and easy to service. The side mounted jack also adds great modern touch. The fit and finish overall are excellent and the naked no-pickguard look is quite modern and has a neutral appearance.▼ Article continues below ▼
Feel wise, this neck is joyous. With a 9.5” radius there is plenty to grab on to, especially in the middle of the neck. The shape near the nut is ultra slim, and extremely fast to maneuver on. It’s not fighting the player, and the taper isn’t flimsy or too thin. Aggressive players who want a neck that doesn’t get in the way; take notice.
Tone wise it sits in the perfect J-bass zone, with plenty of warmth in the midrange that keeps things sounding smooth overall. The neck pickup on its own is pretty big sounding for a J-bass, while the bridge pickup has gobs of attack and clarity. The twin volume knobs really help balance things out, and for added adjustment the tone control is quite flexible. Slap and pop approaches kept the attack sharp, while maintaining the low end needed to fill out the mix. J-style basses often let the player’s color shine through, and this is the case here. Hard rock players running through an SVT would appreciate the tight response, and funk players running through large diameter drivers will fill things out nicely with clarity and thump.
The design, hardware and upgradability with the large electronics cavity make this a bass that’s somewhere between a production level instrument and a boutique one. Players who want to scale up on their own terms will appreciate the feel, and the price is well beyond reasonable for what’s being offered. Highly recommended.
Well thought-out details, great playability, excellent J-bass tones.