Music Man Bongo

The Bongo is a model of bass guitar manufactured by Music Man, a division of Ernie Ball. It was first introduced at the NAMM Show on March 21, 2003. Ernie Ball president Sterling Ball designed the instrument in conjunction with the Music Man Research and Development department and BMW's Designworks team. It is equipped with an 18-volt 4-band preamp (except on the single-pickup model, which has a 3-band preamp; single-pickup models with piezo bridges have a 4-band preamp) designed by Dudley Gimpel with help from Cliff Hugo and other Music Man artists. It also sports a sleek, carved basswood body with high-gloss polyester finish and a satin-finish painted 34" scale maple neck with rosewood fingerboard (pau ferro on lined or unlined fretless, ebony on both fretted and fretless "stealth" basses) featuring 24 high-profile wide frets and crescent moon-shaped position inlays. These basses are generally known for their dual humbucking pickup configuration, as they are the first twin humbucker-equipped models released by Music Man since the introduction of their Sabre and Cutlass bass guitars in the late 1970s.

John Myung3 (H.I.).jpg
John Myung of Dream Theater playing a Music Man Bongo 5 HS.
ManufacturerMusic Man
Body typeSolid
Neck jointBolt-on
NeckSelect maple neck
FretboardFretted: Rosewood
Fretless: Pau Ferro with or without inlaid fretlines
Stealth (optional): Ebony
BridgeStandard: Music Man chrome-plated, hardened steel bridge plate with stainless steel saddles
Optional: Piezo bridge with nickel-plated brass saddles
Pickup(s)Standard: Single Humbucking with Neodymium magnets
Optional: Dual Humbucking with Neodymium magnets
Optional: Humbucking/Single coil with Neodymium magnets
Colors available
Black, Stealth Black, Tangerine Pearl & Sky Blue

The Bongo is available with four, five, and since 2008, six strings, fretted and fretless lined or unlined, with neodymium H (single humbucker), HS (bridge humbucker/neck single-coil) and HH (dual humbuckers) pickup configurations. A bridge with piezoelectric pickups is available on all models except left-handed and six-string versions. On all multiple-pickup models there is a blend control rather than the selection switch found on other Music Man basses (piezo models have an additional blend control for the piezo bridge).

The pickup placement on the H model is in the "sweet spot" that is characteristic of Music Man basses. The placement on the multiple-pickup models, however, differs from all of the company's other basses. Both the bridge and neck pickups are set closer to the bridge, probably in part because of space constraints due to the Bongo's 24-fret neck.

The combination of a relatively lightweight, resonant basswood body, neodymium pickups and 18-volt preamp give the Bongo a distinctive tonal character that is markedly different from other Music Man basses, which have none of these features.

Notable users include Dave LaRue, Cliff Hugo, Tony Levin, John Myung, Colin Edwin, Jari Kainulainen, Philip Bynoe, Greg Christian, Phil Chen, John Pierce, Will Turpin, Jason James, Marcin Novak,[1] Gail Ann Dorsey and Squarepusher.


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