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 Horizon Fretless and it is Meridian's take on the Single Cutaway concept. We love the design as it doesn't look as bulky as some other singlecuts. The advantage of this sytems consists of the added sustain that comes from joining the body and the neck in the upper horn. This is especially interesting on a fretless and in this case the luthier has managed to come up with a more delicate and smart shape.
The ash 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 end of the fingerboard is surprisingly easy. Using this selection of wood that was cut decades ago ensures stability. Great job!
Instead of tye usual dots, the phenolic fingerboard sports side and front aluminium strips. Elegant and different.That's all you need for playing in tune while the fingerboard looks nice and clean. Phenolic is a synthetic material that has been used for instruments fingerboards for decades. It is extremely strong and combines the warmth of wood with the precision of carbon fiber as well as a very nice and organic feel. It will cope with the wear of the strings for many years to come, even roundwounds.
The top is a jaw dropping piece of stabilized poplar burl that we personally chose. Simply incredible. Poplar is particularly hard to work and actually many luthiers and brands prefer not to deal with it but Davide just made a perfect work on this one. Impressive.
A single Delano Dual Coil pickup is mounted in the sweet spot of the bass. We love the fretless/1 pickup concept. Most bassists spend years looking for a great sounding fretless bass that has that almost vocal quality to it. In our opinion you only need the right pickup in the right location (the sweet spot) to capture the famous growl and mwah. Well, this bass all that in spades as well as a beautiful natural long sustain.
There's a switch that changes from Dual Coil to Single Coil so depending on the type of sound you need you can just use that. There's a 3 band preamp made by Delano too (Sonar model). All 3 bands are extremely musical: Deep lows and no muddiness at all from the Bass Control, incredible note definition from the Midrange and super versatile control of the high frequencies using the Treble pot. You can add Treble to bring more of the sound of the string in a beautiful way or you can just cut it and actually get a very similar result as if you had a Passive Tone.
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 J-24 a breeze. The nut, buy the way, is made from carbon fiber, excellent choice and again proof that Meridian basses are all about details.
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. If you are looking for a serious fretless but don't want to spend a fortune, this is your bass.
By the way, the included gigbag matches some costing 300€ and completes a simply gorgeous instrument.
Meridian Horizon 5 Fretless stabilized poplar top