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The Peavey PXD Tragic IV was announced in August of last year. The announcement marked the first time that Peavey's PXD series was made available to bass players, and I've got to say that I was pretty keen to get my hands on one.
The specs have changed a little bit since the original press release was sent out by Peavey; I would have been interested to see what the bass sounded like with an Alder body and an Ebony fretboard. As it stands, the bass has a Basswood/Maple body, and a Rosewood fretboard.
My first impression of the bass is that the neck plays really well. I actually play a short-scale Hofner bass, because for me that feels more like playing an electric guitar, but the 34'' scale neck on the Tragic IV is fast and smooth. In terms of playability, your left hand is going to have a good time of things. If you play with your fingers (which is what I usually prefer to do) then the string spacing towards the bridge feels a bit wider than the average bass guitar, but you soon get accustomed to this.
So let's talk tone, because that's probably what most people are wanting to know. The range of tones available on the Tragic IV is impressive, this is mainly down to Peavey's truly awesome VFL active pickups. The VFLs are so hot, they kick out a signal hotter than Io's volcanoes. I'm not complaining though, this is a really great feature for this bass. It really is geared towards metal heads, if you want to get involved in the frequencies of a mix usually neglected by metal guitarists, then you can do this with the beautiful mid-range of the VFLs.
I managed to get a good jazz sound, a convincing post-punk sound, funk tone, a plethora of tones for prog and metal, and even a good bit of slap bass goes down well on the Tragic IV. Of course, if you turned up to a jazz gig with this bass, you would probably be asked to leave the establishment immediately, so I'm just going to stick to metal capabilities.
There is enough bottom end on the bass to rattle people's rib cages, and this is not hyperbole. We had our combo at super quiet volumes and it was still vibrating the fixtures in our studio, you can also clearly pick out the lower mid-range, so the audience aren't going to just hear the bass as a general wall of farty mess in the mix – as is the standard for some venues. The reason I'm talking about EQ so much is because you have a 3-band EQ built into the bass, such is the glory of active pickups. You have a 10dB cut or boost on the bass, mid and treble.
Basically, it's enough cut and boost to give you a great deal of freedom. The Basswood side-wings and through-body Maple neck really compliment the whole set up in terms of frequency range. It is rare that I am so impressed by an instrument, I usually always find something to moan about... oh wait, now I remember, it looks a bit like it should be hanging in a 14-year-old's bedroom. I wouldn't be surprised if Sauron played this bass with his merry backing band of Orcs.
If you are 14, or if you want to look like a member of KISS, then this bass really is going to perfect for you. You aren't going to find many better sounding basses for the price, so if you dig the look, then by all means you should purchase it soon.
With the particular model we were reviewing, there really weren't any problems. I wouldn't recommend it to people with small hands, and I wouldn't recommend it to people who aren't in a metal band or a prog band. If you want it for recording, then it records really well, even if you are just using the DI signal.
If you add some fuzz, it sounds insane. There are enough grounds to actually get this bass sectioned while using fuzz. Other nice features are the pickup blend, along with the EQ you really are spoilt for choice in terms of tone. Generally this is a really great bass guitar, and I would expect it to cost a lot more money that it does. I would happily use it to record material for my band's next album, in that respect it really does run any other bass I own into the ground (and I do own a more expensive Peavey bass, but I won't mention which one)
Please note that you will need a decent amp for this bass, preferably with a separate input for active pickups, otherwise you might get some clipping and speaker fluff from the molten hot signal.
Available in White, Red and Black gloss finish.
£408/$499 Street price
Thanks to sE Electronics for the Voodoo VR1 Ribbon mic - sounds great.
Paul takes us through the science behind isolated speaker stands
AES67 Standard, multichannel playback, record, sync