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7/12/2011 12:00:00 AM
The JayDee Supernatural Classic Series I "Mark King" Model
This Month - The JayDee Supernatural Classic Series I "Mark King" Model

The original Supernatural design, introduced in 1978, was the first bass to be owned by Level 42's Mark King. The potential of this instrument has been portrayed by Mark's amazing playing technique, now recognized all over the world. Mark gave his consent for this bass to be named after him.


  • Fully bound neck and headstock
  • Gold/Chrome Schaller machine heads
  • Five piece laminated neck and body centre with Brazilian mahogany outriggers
  • Pronounced body contours for comfort and balance
  • Full size body - 15 ¼" wide
  • 21 fret Ebony fingerboard with pearl dot markers or Saturn/crescent inlays
  • Hard Nickel alloy frets
  • Two SN 2000 pick-ups in polished hardwood cases
  • Three band Active EQ system providing unlimited tone variation for any style of playing
  • XLR and Jack outputsGold/Chrome hardware
  • Finished in a hardwearing high gloss lacquer
  • Cherry red and Pearl finishes Active/Passive mode switching
  • EQ: bass cut/boost +/- 12db, middle cut/boost +/- 15db, treble cut/boost +/- 12db


    This bass, to me, had always been a "must have", ever since I saw Mark King play this beast in the early eighties. The most extraordinary thing about this bass was the sound Mark seemed to get out of it. Needless to say, I was enthralled.

    Unfortunately, it was many years before I finally bit the bullet and asked John Diggins to build me my dream bass... I was not disappointed!


    The first thing I noticed about the JayDee SNC was its size. It's big... its REALLY big! I knew by looking at the bass strapped around Mark King that it was big. However, I also knew that Mark is around the 5 ' 7 " height range. Maybe this made the bass look bigger than it actually was... but noooooo... not a bit of it!

    But, even given its gargantuan dimensions, it wears well, with good balance and the slim body means that the bass is not quite as cumbersome as it might first appear. However, with the copious amounts of adhesive used in its construction (glue is generally used sparingly by bass luthiers as it theoretically hinders sympathetic harmonic resonance within the wood) it sounds, acoustically at least, as if the adhesive within the body is damping the sound. However for that Mark King-type rhythm style that's probably an advantage as slapping, at loud volume, is not piercingly over bright.

    The range of sounds that can be achieved from the bass is phenomenal. From a cool, woody jazz walking bass line, to the now world-famous, thinnish yet tonally attacking and powerfully punchy sound that Mark King brought to us.

    The bass, being switchable between active and passive mode, uses 2 x 9-volt batteries to feed its active circutry. Early actives were notoriously powerful in an unrefined way, but this system works well with lighter gauge strings, avoiding unwanted boominess in the sound. There's loads of room too on the fretboard, and with the G feeling not unlike a heavy gauge guitar string it's difficult not to indulge in serious bass string bending just because you can, which actually gives some nice fretlessy overtones in the sound. Active mode obviously finds the bass at its most responsive, the passive selection now more of a failsafe than anything else, though fed into a desk it does offer traditional bass tones.

    On a personal note, I have always used 30-50-70-90 gauge strings. I have heard people here in the States refer to this as stringing the bass with "Cotton Candy" (that's candy floss in the UK!). However, in order to get the most from the bass, a light gauge string set certainly does the trick both in playability and harmonic range. This now brings me to the JayDee SNC Series 1's temperament... in other words, its prone to temper tantrums! Let me explain...

    The construction of this bass involves a glue-in neck. This makes it look like a thru-neck design, but flatters to deceive. I have found that without frequent truss rod and neck adjustment, the action of the JayDee's neck is endowed with a life of its own. It is a high-maintenance bass, for sure, but its good points FAR outweight this minor problem which, in any case, should be part of a bass players weekly maintenance routine anyway.


    "In terms of general bass playing, I'm not a perfectionist in that I'm precious about the instrument," explains Mark King, "though that's a bit of a double-edged sword for me because I like to be able to plug in and sound good. The Jaydee just suited the way that bass playing could feel comfortable for me, so that was half the battle." Though this Jaydee Supernatural Classic bass represents something of a physically daunting prospect for the majority of the bass playing sector of the population, the above comments certainly underline Mark's preference for such a wide bodied monster. Obviously there's a physical resemblance to the other King associated bass fave, the Alembic, though the two basses are otherwise dissimilar in performance and character. The gargantuan Jaydee dimensions, however, offer only 21 fret range, though this in itself is proof absolute that it's what you do with them that counts; Mark King never appeared to be unduly constricted by this facility.

    All in all, if you wish to own a truly classic bass, then the JayDee Supernatural Classic Series I certainly fits the bill. From its hand-made craftsmanship and tonal range to its overall balance, it is a bass for the ages. 
    GAZZBASS.COM RATING: 9  out of 10
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