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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Chili Custom Guitars 5S Five String Electric Bass Guitar, ... (Review)

Reviewed By: Kevin McAleer
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $5,695 USD with case + shipping 

Chili Custom Guitars is a manufacturer of handcrafted, custom boutique electric guitars and bass guitars by master luthier Horst Weinelt, in Austria.

This 5S (5 string) bass has a one-piece mahogany through body neck that features a makassar 24 fret fingerboard dressed in alu strip inlays that meets a solid mahogany body topped with a one piece walnut cap.

Gold-tone Wilkinson bass tuners 3R/2L,  gold-tone Hipshot bridge, dual action trusrod with (2) gold-tone Axetec dome knobs.  

Viking Pounder "J-style" (N), Axesrus of England MM 5 bass humbucker (B) controlled by (1) volume, (1) tone knob on a 3-way blade. 


Amp used:
MarkBass Combo 121 Lite  

MarkBass Compressore
TC Electronics Corona Chorus

Strings used:
Dark Horse 45 -125

Selector position 1: Just Neck
"J -style" with a fatter bottom end -- great for rock, pop, funk and blues. 

Selector position 2: Neck & Bridge 
In phase and an even balance between the neck and bridge -- a very usable middle.

Selector position 3:  Just Bridge 
Heavy bucker with clear highs -- excellent for rock to metal or when you just need more power. 

Action, Fit & Finish:
This is a stunning instrument. The deep natural wood finish would be just as fitting on fine furniture as this bass, and the smooth polished finish positively glows. The strip inlays are fun, sometimes making the observer mistake them for extra frets -- but perfectly clear to the player. The action was low without any fret buzz and the intonation was dead on.

Reliability & Durability:
The guitar seems to be well made. It is solid through and through. There was no hum or crackles from the electronics and all knobs and hardware were installed snug and proper.

This is not a bass for the faint of heart ... or shoulder. The solid one-piece mahogany neck running clear through the mahogany body, makes for a heavier instrument.  The body is a full 1 and 3/4 inch thick -- but is perfectly balanced. The extra weight/mass results to one thing... TONE! This baby's got it. Warm growling lows, smooth mids and distinct highs -- making this bass sounds amazing. More than once, I had to just stand there hitting the open E, and thinking to myself "That is what an E-string should sound like!"  The action and neck are silky-smooth and very fun to play. The Chili 5S also has among the best action I have found on a low-B string.

The electronics are passive, as they should be (wood this lovely needs to be heard!), and are in a simple configuration of a Viking Pounder (J-style) pickup in the neck and an Axesrus of England MM 5 humbucker in the bridge, that is controllable via a 3-way blade.

What is truly remarkable about this bass is how versatile the tones are.  From just the 3-way blade and the tone knob, I was able to dial in blues, rock and funk tones in seconds, and with minimal effort. It truly is one of the most responsive basses I've come across.

What I would change: 
The only slight negative I can find is that the extra thickness of the body does feel a little awkward. I can notice that the strings are further from my body than I am used to and it effects my hand and wrist position. So I would like a slightly thinner body, but I'm certain I could adjust to it over time.

My advice: 
The Chili 5S is probably more suited for studio playing than gigging, not due to any lack of durability (this baby's plenty sturdy).  But more for the extra weight. That and, as beautiful as this wood is ,I wouldn't want it in range of a careless drunk. This bass looks and sounds amazing.  As you hold it and look at it, you realize you have something special. So my advice about this Chili Custom Guitars 5S is, that you should play one and if you are collector you should own one.

This guitar is enrolled in the Local Music Gear lend program, and is for sale at Allstar Music Empire in Flemington NJ. 

Allstar Music Empire
17 Minneakoning Rd, 
Flemington, NJ 08822
(908) 788-9800

Chili Custom Guitars
5071 Wals Siezenheim
+43 664 223 72 77

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Posted 3/2014
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