Sire Guitars’ Marcus Miller V7 5-String Bass really caught me off guard, more about that after the details. This instrument is definitely of the Fender-style design. The body and neck feel as you would expect from this approach. The Maple neck had that full rounded profile associated with J basses, and the Ash wood body felt familiar. What catches the eye is the array of knobs and switches, not your typical stock J bass equipment.
The knob set up goes as follows: stacked master volume and main tone, pickup blend, treble, stacked middle cut/boost on top of a mid frequency sweep, bass EQ and then an active/passive switch off to the side. The range of tone shaping on board is amazing. The bass EQ knob has so much low end that you will need the appropriate speaker cabinet to handle the bottom end if you like this much bottom end coming from your guitar before your amp. It’s full and THUMPIN’ FAT! It’s there if you need it, but I seriously doubt you’ll you go there, Hey, you never know. The sweep-able mid with the cut/boost is just such an awesome feature regardless of playing style, but slap players will be able to find that elusive sweet spot missing on some basses.
The solid Ash body, maple fingerboard, and bolt on neck lay the foundation for tone sweetness. Bright but not harsh on the pluck and snap with a strong warm fundamental under the thumb. That combo of construction and materials in conjunction with the EQ capabilities of this bass is a winner. You can actually get something akin to Miller’s tone without the boutique amp. That’s not to say that this is the only tone to be had – this bass can work in other styles easily. Classic J bass punch and attack is there for finger players. The 18 volt pre amp has plenty of head room and delivers one heck of strong attack.
The hardware is all quality solid construction. No stamped out steel cheapness to upgrade later. I really like the string tree that captures all 5 strings close to the nut to really give a strong angle and secure seating in the nut. The bridge had mass and was easy to adjust when needed. The action and set up was great. I liked that the outside strings were not too close to the edge of the neck and prone to being accidentally muted while doing the slap thing. This 20 fret maple fingerboard and low action was slap-a-licious. The only issue I had was some fret buzz due to some uneven fret work, which brings me back to my opening statement on the Sire review.
I knew nothing of Sire or this particular bass prior receiving it for a review. All I knew was that it was a Marcus Miller signature bass. At first glance it looked tight and clean, and with all the tone controls, the first number to pop in my mind was $1, 500 or possibly much more. Considering that it had Miller’s name on it and just the fit and finish. Electronics aside, it looked professional. Well, I flipped when I found out that it sells in the high $500 to $600 range. Seriously, this is a killer bass and at this price, the best deal I think I’ve ever seen retail. It was designed to be an entry level instrument so newbies could circumvent playing junk musical exercise equipment and hit the ground running. Sire and Miller really raised the bar, so much so, that I hesitate to use the phrase “entry level”. Check out what Miller has to say in the video below. It’s all true. So, if you buy one and you have a fret buzz… just get it fixed by the best luthier you have access to, and absorb the cost. You are still way ahead.