WITH BRANCHES SUPPORTING amps, guitars, mandolins, banjos, and basses, the Fender family tree is a pretty formidable one. Of course, most of us are familiar with the company’s Precision and Jazz Basses, two instruments that have become sonic and stylistic benchmarks for electric bass. Fender’s acoustic origins are almost as deep as its electric roots—since 1963, the company has offered a wide range of acoustic guitars, branching out in recent years to offer acoustic bass guitars. Fender’s Kingman Bass SCE is the newest bud from that bough.
Like a Jazz Bass’s brother from another mother, the Kingman’s most striking feature is its slim, Jazz-like neck, replete with block inlays and inline tuners. Though I initially bristled at the incongruous match of an electric-style neck on an acoustic instrument, I quickly warmed to the Kingman’s quirky appearance, due largely to the bass’s familiar feel and rich voice.
Relative to other ABGs, the Kingman has a slim body profile, just 4" deep at the upper bout, deepening towards the tail. While its smaller body limits the Kingman’s acoustic output, I found it to be a worthy compromise; the bass had ample volume to keep up at an unplugged jam session, and its smaller size made it much more comfortable to play. With its satin finish and Jazz-like width, the Kingman’s neck really made it feel as if I were playing a solidbody bass.
The Kingman’s Fishman preamp, which niftily incorporates an onboard tuner, offered all the control I expect from an onboard preamp, from volume and EQ controls to a feedback-foiling PHASE button. The bass’s electric voice was balanced, delivering both solid fundamental and crispy—not brittle—top end. Similarly, the bass’s fit and finish were as I’ve come to expect from Fender, with smooth fret edges, solid hardware, and a lovely finish. I wasn’t wild about the bass’s plastic bridge pins, but given the Kingman’s low price, that’s an easy upgrade I would have no problem springing for.
For electric players looking to get into the acoustic bass guitar game—and for those turned off by the large size of so many other ABGs—the Kingman is a good option. With its comfortable feel, big acoustic voice, and reasonable price, the Kingman Bass SCE is certainly worthy of an Editor Award.
FENDER KINGMAN BASS SCE
Pros Slim profile, deep voice
Weight 5.5 lbs
Made in China
Warranty Lifetime limited