The JB4 gradually faded from view as trends moved toward flashier, brighter sounding basses, however bass players continued to use their trusty old JB4 in the studio and on those occasions when they wanted that earthy, solid tone only this bass could provide.
Over the years the requests to re-release this classic bass became stronger and stronger and finally, in 2010, Maton responded with a re- issue that was as close to the original as possible. Several original basses were borrowed from collectors and measured and analysed from strap pin to headstock. Meanwhile the search was on for a supply of Sassafras, the tonewood identified by Bill May as the very best wood for electric basses all those years ago. This is not the striped, heavy Sassafras from Tasmania but a much lighter, plain looking timber that grows in the sub tropical regions of Queensland. It is hard to find and even harder to manage (it tends to misbehave during drying) but once tamed is a beautifully stable, great sounding tonewood, rich in harmonic overtones with a very strong lower mid range response.
The design brief was to reproduce the original but it was decided to improve a few aspects of the original. The Baddass bridge was replaced with a high quality Hipshot model resulting in improved intonation and a slightly reduced neck angle. The original brass nut (all the rage in the 70s but now regarded as a tone sink ) was replaced with a black Corian nut which facilitates string movement through the nut and improves treble response on the open strings. The original Grover tuning heads were no longer available in the size that would fit the small headstock of the JB4 so high quality Schaller machine head was fitted instead. Finally the pickup positions were moved forward slightly so as to allow the bridge pickup to produce a fuller bass sound when selected individually.
The finish is Maton’s own satin formula designed to enhance the acoustic properties of an instrument while the brown mahogany stain on the body is a reproduction of the original colour. Player feedback suggests that Maton has hit the mark in terms of reproducing a classic bass. Comments like “This neck feels exactly the same as my old one” and “It’s just like meeting an old friend” are testament to a job well done. It seems like it is just a matter of time before the JB4 is again featuring as the bass of choice for a whole new generation of musicians.