Eastwood Hi-Flyer 4string Bass
In the 1970’s many American guitars were copied by Japanese makers under various brand names such as Aria, Tokai and Univox. Often they were copies of Fender and Gibson models with quality varying from mediocre to astoundingly good.
The Univox corporation of Westbury, York, a maker of musical instruments and electronics, started having guitars made at the Japanese Matsumoku plant in 1975 under the Univox name. Due to the Ventures popularity it Japan it was natural to make runs of the Ventures’-endorsed Mosrite guitars and basses. The Hi-Flyer was the Univox model name for their copies of the Mosrite Ventures models. Vintage Hi-Flyer market value has spiked in the past decade as the guitar version was favored by late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
Eastwood has reissued both the guitar and bass versions of the Hi-Flyer. Using better woods (basswood, maple), hardware and a set neck the Eastwood is a step up from the Univox and at an affordable price that has none of the artificially inflated cache of being the favored instrument of a deceased “voice of a generation”. Stock colors are white and sunburst and there is a left-handed model available as well.
The Hi-Flyer also sports a Fender style bass bridge with a period-correct chrome cover to be removed immediately and discarded or lost. The 30″ scale allows for a rubbery low end that is boomy and rich and perfect for retro rock, indie rock, power pop or reggae. Not the bass for slapping out the funk or molten thrash metal. The neck is rotund but fast and the frets are nice and beefy. The bass p-90’s are nicely balanced and the neck pickup helps bring out some mids and even some high frequencies that are often in short supply on a short scale bass.
The old Eastwood/Chinese quality control issues rear their ugly heads again with the review instrument. The neck had a slight twist and there was a badly seated fret on the 8th fret that made the bass “fret out” (play the same note in two positions) in the center of the neck.
At $399, the Hi-Flyer is a swell bass for the money (if you get a good one) and can be a nice short scale addition to an arsenal of otherwise conventional basses. The sound, playability and features as well as the hipster cache is all on display here.