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Veillette Mark IV Bass
By Scott Shiraki. Reprinted from Bass Player Magazine, August 2001

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Veillette Guitars' Mark IV falls into the category of electric-acoustic bass guitars made to sound like an upright. Still considered a specialty instrument, the acoustic-electric is is built by only a small group of luthiers, each with their own recipe. Inspired by the punch and low end of his Mk III Baritone guitar, Joe Veillette built the Mark IV using many of the same features.

The graceful and compact single-cutaway design, thick non-contoured body, and unique shape of the angled headstock all contribute to the Mark IV's original and appealing appearance. The amber stain - protected by a thin coat of satin polyurethane - highlights the neck and body's maple figuring. The thin maple top hides a braced channel running from the controls to the output jack and a round chamber in the upper bout. The one-piece flattened-oval neck is carved out of hard rock maple with two thin graphite bars inlaid for extra stability. I found a gap between the bottom of the neck heel and the neck pocket. I removed the neck (via the one neck bolt screwed into a steel insert) and found two shims, which were most likely the culprits. Veillette responds, "When a neck is firmly anchored, the shims are under complete compression and in no way compromise the instruments' structural soundness or tone. Because changing action at the bridge can affect the volume balance between the strings, shims are the only way to provide height adjustment." Aside from this, I had no construction complaints.

The graceful and compact single-cutaway design, thick non-contoured body, and unique shape of the angled headstock all contribute to the Mark IV's original and appealing appearance.
The Alvarez 500B preamp is side-mounted for easy accessibility; this also keeps the face of the instrument clean and uncluttered. The active 3-band EQ with midrange control is powerful - I was able to get a variety of tones. The sweepable midrange contour control allows for precise center-frequency adjustment. Even with the highs boosted, the system stays quiet.

How does the Mark IV sound and play? Acoustically, the Mark IV is loud and punchy. Plugged in, I heard that same tone coming through an amp with the EQ controls set flat, attesting to the clarity of the piezos. One pro-level fretless player remarked, "Nice growl, with an upright-like woofy tone," as he plucked near the end of the neck with highs cut and the bass and mids set flat. The lower-register notes remained full and punchy with the different EQ settings. (I leaned toward keeping the treble rolled off to avoid upper-register clackiness.)

The Mark IV is a beautiful-looking, sounding, and playing instrument.
Our Mark IV's dream date was with a mid-'60s B-15N; the amps warm tube fuzziness yielded notes with a velvety mwah. The black tapewound strings - easy on fingers and fingerboards - boosted the instruments acoustic thud factor and smoothed out some of the squeaky string noise enhanced by the piezos. The Mark IV sounded good at high volumes as well, with no feedback problems, as I found out on a gig using an Aguilar 680 preamp powered by a Stewart 2.1 power amp running two Eden 210XLT's. Ballads, blues, and gospel numbers found ample bottom-end support from the Mark IV - which I kept playing, not only because it sounded, but because it balanced great and was a lot lighter than my backup bass.

The Mark IV is a beautiful-looking, sounding, and playing instrument. At $2,095, it's a good value for a handcrafted bass with unique construction, electronics, and design.


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