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Marcus Miller by Sire V7 and M3

Marcus Miller by Sire V7

Celebrated bassist Marcus Miller has partnered with Sire Guitars in developing a new J-Style bass.  The goal from the onset was to develop a well made, great playing and sounding bass at an affordable price.

Generally, the balance between high quality, affordability, great sound and playability seems like an out-of-reach goal.   If a bass is affordable, it often needs some additional work and modification to make it playable or to make it sound good.  Conversely, if a bass plays well, and sounds good, the price usually puts the instrument out of reach of many players.  The Marcus Miller by Sire V7 manages to hit the trifecta of affordability, quality workmanship, and great sound.

Unlike other companies, Sire Guitars owns its own factory where they make every part of the bass.  This means that they have the ability to establish very tight controls on quality throughout the manufacturing and build process.  Sire Guitars also sells their instruments directly to consumers, which also goes a long way to saving the buyer a significant amount of money.

I have had the opportunity of playing three Sire basses so far – two Marcus Miller by Sire V7 five string j-style basses and a Marcus Miller by Sire M3 four string bass.   The quality has been remarkably consistent across all three basses.  Since I’ve had my Sire V7 five string j-style bass for two weeks, I’ll base this review on it.

The Sire V7 j-style comes in two models – Ash body with a Maple fingerboard, or Alder body with a Rosewood fingerboard.  These models are available with four or five strings.

V7 BASS GUITAR 5ST (ASH) WHITE BLONDE

 

Workmanship/Quality:
My inspection of the finish on each of the Sire basses I’ve played revealed no detectable flaws.  The basses looked very good!  The strap buttons were fitted with felt bumpers between the body of the bass and the strap buttons.  The neck pocket looks very snug.  The fret job was surprisingly good, and the neck was dead straight. The Sire V7 exceeded my expectations by a long shot!

The pickguard is a beautiful pearloid pickguard on the Ash body/Maple  fingerboard model.  The Alder body/Rosewood fingerboard model comes with a great looking tortoise shell pickguard.  The pickguard fits well and doesn’t look cheap at all.

The hardware only comes in chrome.  It looks good, and the tuning machines work smoothly without binding.  The bridge is a high mass bridge.  Potentiometers on the preamp feel good when turned, and they are incredibly sensitive.  The Sire V7 and M3 basses come with the option of stringing through the body or through the bridge.

The 20-fret neck is bound and blocked beautifully!  The neck profile has a C-shape that makes this bass feel like an old friend.   The neck on the 5 string basses has two graphite rods that add more stability and rigidity to the neck.  The Sire V7 tips the scale at just under 9.5 pounds for the five string, which is not too bad in my estimation.

M3 BASS GUITAR TBK

Electronics:
The Sire V7 j-style bass has single coil pickups with exposed pole pieces.  Even though they are single coil, the pickups are remarkably quiet, even when the pickups are soloed.  The magnet that the pickups are built on is an Alnico magnet.  The pickups are placed in the ‘60’s position.

The Marcus Miller By Sire M3 has a pair of great sounding humbucker pickups.   They sound big, fat and are articulate.  Both  the Sire V7 and the M3 share the same preamp, which is a very good thing!

The preamp is one of the best pre-amps I’ve used on a bass.  It is an active/passive preamp that has an incredibly versatile three band EQ.  The layout of the preamp is as follows:  Stacked Volume/Tone, Blend, High, Stacked Mid/Mid Sweep, Bass with an active/passive toggle switch.  The preamp is powered by 18 volts, and is very quiet.  The two quick release 9-volt battery compartments are neatly fitted on the back of the body.

Playability/Sound:
The Sire V7 is very well balanced whether it’s on a strap or on a player’s knee.  Out of the box, the bass was very playable.  Although it needed to be slightly set up to my preference, I could have taken it straight to a gig.  It is clear that Sire Guitars does a good job setting up the new basses.

In passive mode, the Sire V7 sounded really, really good!  In my experience, most active/passive basses tend to be strong in active mode and weak in passive mode.  The volume difference between active and passive modes is relatively flat.  This bass not only has a great tone in passive mode, but it has a very pleasing percussive sound when slapped in passive mode.   The tone knob does a great job of dialing in good usable sounds in passive mode.

In active mode, the three-band EQ comes into play, and to my pleasant surprise, the tone knob does a great job of fine-tuning the sound of the bass.  The bass can sound incredibly percussive and has a very musical high end.  The mid range is useable over a very wide range.  In addition, there is more bass available than most players will ever use.

Marcus Miller has promised to post a video giving instruction on how to use the preamp on the Sire V7 and M3.  This would be for those players who may not feel comfortable with 3-band EQ’s with a mid sweep.  I typically leave the EQ flat, and I start to adjust the tone potentiometer.  If it doesn’t give me what I’m looking for, I then start to boost or cut some EQ.  Once I have it dialed in, I then fine-tune the quality of the mid range by adjusting the mid sweep potentiometer.

This bass is capable of having a great vintage jazz bass sound, or a fantastic modern active jazz bass sound.  The incredible variety of tones that can be dialed in with the EQ mean that this bass could easily be at home on a Reggae, Country, R&B, Contemporary Jazz, Gospel or Rock gig.

Bonus:
The Marcus Miller by Sire V7 bass comes with a high quality gig bag.  The bag has a neck pillow with a Velcro restraint to keep the bass from being jostled while in transit.  There is enough padding to keep the bass well protected.  In addition, there are two pockets, the larger is big enough to carry a laptop, iPad, music or instrument cables.  The smaller pocket is big enough to carry a tuner, instrument cables, a cell phone and some keys.  The bag also comes with the necessary Allen wrenches to allow for truss rod adjustment or bridge saddle adjustment.

Price:
The Sire M3 is priced at $299.00.  The four string Alder body/Rosewood fingerboard Sire V7 is priced at $399.00, while the five string is pried at $499.00.  The Ash body/Maple fingerboard four string bass is priced at $499.00, and the five string is $599.00.

Conclusion:
The Sire V7 and M3 both have great aesthetic appeal.  These are by no means entry-level instruments. The workmanship and quality of the Sire V7 puts it in competition with basses that cost three times the price of a Sire V7.   Beginners and professionals will find that this bass is a very capable workhorse.

The Sire V7 is built well enough and sounds good enough that it doesn’t need to be modified.  Once a set up is done, the Sire V7 is ready to gig on any stage, and it will hold it’s own very well.  I would have been happy with the quality and performance of the Sire V7 even if I’d paid three times its retail price.  Sire Guitars has done a truly remarkable job of bringing quality, playability, good sound and affordability in their line of basses.

Specifications:
Body Material            Swamp Ash/North American Alder

Body Shape               New Marcus Miller Jazz Type

Neck Material            1 Piece Hard Maple

Neck Shape               C-Shape

Scale                          34”

Fingerboard               Hard Maple (Swamp Ash)/Rosewood (Alder)

Fingerboard Radius   7’25”

Frets                          Medium Small, 20 Frets

String Nut                  4 String: Natural Bone @ 38mm width/5 String: Natural Bone @ 46mm width

Binding                      1 Ply Ivory

Inlay                           White Pearloid Block

Neck Joint                  4 Bolt Steel Square Plate

Pickups                      Marcus Miller Super Jazz Single Coil

Electronics                 Marcus Heritage -3 With Middle Frequency Control

Controls                     Volume/Tone (Stacked Pot)

                                  Pickup Blend

                                  Treble

                                  Mid/Mid Frequency (Stacked Pot)

                                  Bass, Mini Toggle (Active/Passive)

Bridge                        Marcus Big Mass – 1

                                  String Spacing @ Bridge – 5 String: 18mm; 4 String: 20mm

Hardware Finish        Chrome

Pickguard                  Ivory Pearloid (Swamp Ash)/Tortoise (Alder)

 Vuyani Wakaba is a South African bassist that is based in Chicago.  He works as a freelance bassist and leads his own band, Vuyani Wakaba & Friends.  Vuyani can be reached on his website, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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