Meridian basses are complety handmade in Avezzano, Italy, by luthier Davide Cardone.
These are basses that have been designed from scratch following some really artistical lines. Davide studied arts in Italy and you can tell that just by looking at the perfect proportions of his insttruments. We also love the fact that these are original designs and not just another copy of famous "boutique" basses, if you know what we mean.
As you can see there's a certain modern design to these basses but the use of quality tonewoods anchors them within the fine tradition of Italian lutherie. We love this perfect blend of form and function.
We love the fact that all Meridian basses include some information about the year that the wood for the body and/or neck was cut. This averages 35 years and of course the wood has been drying ever since so as you can expect this makes for exceptionally stable instruments. Davide is also a firm believer in thin finish. If the finish is too thick or if it is thin but too many layers are applied, he feels that the wood cannot vibrate freely, resulting in a slightly muffled tone.
The combination of light woods that have been drying for years plus just the right amount of layers of thin coat plus light hardware make for basses that feel strong, are vibrant and of course can be played for hours with no fatigue.
The icing on the cake is the neck which is slim and ultra comfortable.
This model is named Aural II and it is a Meridian original design.
The mahogany body is just 38mm thick. A hard rock maple neck that was cut back in 1986 is safely bolted to the body with 5 bolts. Access up to the 24th fret is surprisingly easy. We love the truss rod access at the body that also shows the brand in a very smart and delicate way. Oh, and we love details such as the carbon fiber nut and zero fret.
The top and the fingerboard are made from Macassar ebony. Just gorgeous. You may think that this is a heavy bass because of so much ebony but it is not. It weighs in at just 4.3kg.
Electronics are top notch too: a set of German made Delano Times Square pickups are used. These can be selected for Single or Humbuckin operation at the flick or a swtich (one per pickup) so the sounds on tap are a lot. We find two Volumen pots (instead of Volume + Balance). The third mini switch activates a Delano Sonar 3 preamp giving you control over three very well selected frequencies for Bass, Mid and Treble. Operation is completely noise free both in active and passive modes. Amazing.
Regarding the hardware, the bridge is a Hipshot Style B unit with 19mm spacing. Tuners are Hipshot Ultralite, helping keep the weight of the bass controlled as well as reducing neck diving. We just love the neck and overall playability. The combination of a narrow nut (45mm) with a wide spacing bridge (19mm) is probably one of the best recipes for comfort in both hands. Some 5 string basses feel a bit intimidating but in this case the slim neck and perfect dimensions make playing the Aural II a breeze.
By the way, scale lenght is the traditional 34" but the low B here is phenomenal. It sounds full, clear and every note sounds the way it should.
To sum up: an incredibly affordable high end handmade bass that sports really stable tonewoods, top notch hardware and electronics and is a pure work of art to look for as well as an instrument that will give you years of service and pleasure.
By the way, the included gigbag matches some costing 300€ and completes a simply gorgeous instrument.
Meridian Aural 5 Macassar