IT’S JUST NOT FAIR. WHILE
MOST OF US WOULD happily pick or pluck away on an acoustic bass
guitar in our bedrooms, at barbecues, and even on gigs, with just a few notable
exceptions—Steve Swallow and Brian Richie among them—the
ABG is rarely employed as a player’s full-time axe. It’s a
darn shame, as the acoustic nature of the instrument imparts a dynamic,
colorful personality that can fit in settings far beyond mere down-home
hoedowns and hootenannies. Back in March 2012, we did a roundup of four
acoustic bass guitars, each with a street price under $1,000. This month we
target the more discriminating tone hounds among us by checking out fretted and
fretless 4-string Flyer Bass, the latest from Woodsdock, New York-based lutier
| Flyer Bass
| Flyer Bass (Fretless)
We’ve reviewed a number of Veillette basses through the
years, most with a hollow or semi-hollow construction and a blend of magnetic
and piezoelectric pickups. With the new Flyer, Veillette has ditched magnetic
side and gone simply with an undersaddle piezo pickup and preamp from
K&K Sound and D-Tar.
Picking up the Flyer, it’s easy to spot the characteristics
that put the bass in a category of its own. First off , at under five pounds,
the bass is remarkably light. Yet, the Flyer’s T-bolt neck joint and
radiused top make it feel nearly as sturdy as a solidbody. Given the cost of the
bass, I’d be reluctant to travel much with merely its included gig
bag for protection, but the basses certainly felt sturdier than others of their
| Two tiny thumbwheels control volume and tone at the soundhole.
The larger bodies of some ABGs can make technique transitions from
electric bass a bit cumbersome. Not so with the Flyer. The bass’
compact dimensions and 34" scale length are extremely comfy. Owing to the
body’s light weight, the bass is subject to some neck dive, but no
more than I could fairly expect. Similarly, the contour of the lower bout of
the body helps position the bass comfortably while seated.
The Flyer may be on the small size in terms of dimensions, but
acoustically, the bass is surprisingly loud. I’ve grown accustomed to
Veillette basses strung with Joe’s preferred La Bella Nylon
tapewounds, which do a lot to lend his basses a mellow, upright-like thump.
Arriving with nickel roundwounds, the fretted Flyer had a much brighter
disposition. I liked it. A lot. I definitely dug the tape-wounds on the fretless
Flyer (more on that in a minute), but the roundwounds worked beautifully, as
With simple volume and tone controls elegantly hidden on the upper
curve of the soundhole and a range of playing techinques, the Flyer was
versatile as can be. Though the control placement makes on-the-fly adjustments
a bit tricky, it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make, given
the aesthetic effect.
The fretted Flyer speaks with authority, its articulate, midrange-rich
response buoyed by a 18-volt K&K/D-Tar piezo pickup and preamp. In
order to mitigate the amplification of string noise, I generally rolled back
the tone knob a bit, especially with the roundwounds. But with clean technique
and the tone on full, the Flyer had a full frequency response, with plenty of
low end and little in the way of the brittle highs so common with piezo
| The Flyer Bass’ body graduates from 2" deep at the sides to 3" deep at the center.
Turning to the fretless (and turning down to spare my neighbors my
pitch-challenged floundering), I was surprised to find that the La Bella
tapewounds were just as loud acoustically as the roundwounds. Fittingly, the
fretless spoke with a softer, more rounded attack, with well-endowed lows.
Plugged in, the bass’ tapewounds were much more forgiving of to string
noise from my fingers.
Whether the next Ritchie or Swallow is ready to take the ABG to the
next level of cred is hard to say. What is clear is that the Veillette Flyer is
an instrument capable of getting them there.
VEILLETTE FLYER BASS
Pros Loud, articulate acoustic voice; ergonomics
Bottom Line As a top-tier acoustic bass guitar,
the Veillette Flyer Bass is hard to fault, whether in terms of style, sound, or
ergonomics. Superior volume, clarity, and sustain.
VEILLETTE FLYER BASS
Top Spruce (radiused)
Sides and back Maple
Fingerboard Pau ferro
Scale length 34"
Pickup K&K undersaddle piezo
Preamp D-Tar Wavelength
Weight 4.9 lbs
Made in U.S.A.