MARLEAUX Contra

Bass Player|July 2020

MARLEAUX Contra
A four-string beauty from Gerald Marleaux falls into the hands of Mike Brooks
Mike Brooks

We’ve seen many a Marleaux bass here over the years—and the one thing that always stands out from this German luthier is the time, effort and skill that has been employed in the design and construction of the instruments. At first sight, this semi-acoustic Contra bass seems to be no exception, with dramatic visuals that recall a classic era of German instrument construction. Needless to say, such skill and craftsmanship come at a cost—so is it worth paying?

Build Quality

The body of the Contra owes a definite tip of the hat to a violin or cello, but with a modern slant. The F-hole on the upper bout highlights its semi-acoustic properties, and the sumptuous ‘old violin aged’ finish over the flamed maple body and spruce top is a visual treat. The flamed maple through-neck gives the bass rigidity courtesy of the five-piece laminate: This incorporates two smoked oak veneers which are very much in keeping with the generally antique aesthetic. The well-sized headstock improves the overall balance and although the bass sits horizontally, this is rectified once placed on a strap. The black and gold hardware is top-notch too—a classy-looking instrument with bags of finesse.

Sounds and Playability

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July 2020