August 9, 2009

Mad Catz Wireless Bass Review

I recently broke down and purchased one of the new second generation Mad Catz Wireless Fender Precision Bass Guitar Replicas. (Yep, this was the other part of the package deal with the guitar pedal.)

The first version of the bass was wired and … frankly, a little buggy, based on player feedback. But the general design, shape, and functionality of this new bass is the same as the older model, so this promotional video for the original wired bass can give an idea of what the Mad Catz Precision Bass Guitar is all about:

I love the idea of a fake plastic bass guitar, rather than the generic “guitars” included with every game to date. So when the wired model came out, I was sorely tempted! But once I saw the so-so expert bass player feedback on the first wired Bass model, I decided to pass.

The second version of the Bass addresses all the major complaints with the first model. I finally felt comfortable adding the new, revised model to my stable of fake plastic axes. Oh, and it’s wireless, the way it should have been originally. And it’s a great looking fake plastic bass, in my opinion:




It’s available in White and Hot Rod Red, but I went with Sea Foam Green because, well, it’s an awesome color.

It’s hard to tell from my pictures, but it is also quite large at 84% scale. A real bass guitar would only be about 15% bigger than what you see here.

I scanned in the manual so you can get an idea of the features.


I’ve had it for two days and run it through its paces in both Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour (gotta love that open bass note!).

Most importantly, I can personally confirm that this new model is eminently playable on Expert. I am a decent Expert guitarist, and I did not feel at any time that the Mad Catz Bass was significantly impeding my performance; I was able to 5-star songs I can normally 5-star. Now, if unlike me you’re a 100%-every-freaking-song kind of expert guitarist, you’re in a different performance class altogether and you might feel differently about any slight change to your guitar of choice.

A few review notes:

  • A fairly nice strap is included. I usually get custom straps for my guitars, but the Fender strap that’s bundled with the Bass is quite nice. It’s wide, soft, and has a cool metallic silver Fender logo pattern.
  • This is definitely a Rock Band 2 style guitar. Meaning, it has a softer and less clicky strum, and the fret buttons on the neck are flat. I’m assuming most people reading this have tried both the classic Guitar Hero style guitars (Les Paul or newer) and Rock Band 2 style guitars by now. If you have strong feelings about which style is better, consider yourself warned. Note that I’m referring to the good updated RB2 guitars, not the godawful RB1 guitars.
  • It is larger than most guitars. Specifically, the neck and buttons may take more reaching than what you’re used to. My wife and I had no trouble adapting to it, but if you’re looking for a guitar for younger kids, this might not be a good choice.
  • The split strum. One of the attractions of the bass is the split strum so you can play “authentically” as a bassist, by plucking up with both fingers. This does work, and is fun as a diversion, but it’s a rather different strumming style that I had trouble adapting to. The good news is that you can ignore the split strum entirely and play with either ‘half’ of the strum no problem. So consider it an optional feature, something to experiment with. On some of the more boring and repetitive bass songs, this is a plus!
  • The lack of whammy bar. The whammy bar has become a “whammy knob”. As you can see in the manual scan, above, it’s below and to the left of the strum. This makes it really hard to use except on exceptionally long hold notes, since you have to take your hand off the strum to use it! It’s workable, barely, but if whammy is a big part of your regular guitar/bass play style, you will hate this. I consider the weird positioning of the whammy the only true negative of the P-Bass.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with my Mad Catz Wireless Precision Bass Replica. I can definitely recommend it — as long as you’re generally cool with the Rock Band 2 style of guitar, and the unusual positioning of the whammy.

(The only mod I performed on the P-Bass was to add weights to it; it’s almost a modded guitar by definition. I can’t stand weightless fake plastic axes any more, the lack of ‘heft’ somehow makes them feel even more insubstantial than they already are.)

As far as I’m concerned, having a purpose-built Bass fake plastic axe makes Bass that much more interesting to play. And anything that makes Bass more fun … well, that’s worth exploring!

Hello Jeff, could you give us your opinion on the “Rock Band 2 Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit”? I’m thinking about a buy-it-together purchase along with the Fender Precision Bass, do you think it’s worthy?

August 12, 2009 at 4:23 am

Hi Roger,

Sure, I have covered the triple cymbal expansion in a few posts:

Jeff Atwood
August 12, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Thank you so much for the links. Your blog is just amazing! Do you have any news (rumours are ok!!) about the Rock Band 3 drumset? I have only RB1 drums, so after reading your posts I realized I would also have to buy the wirelles RB2 drumset… Guess I’ll need to go straight to the ION Rocker?

August 13, 2009 at 3:51 am

Now that Rock Band 3 is out, is this compatible? Or is there a new P-bass controller or that?

July 19, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Yes, it is fully compatible with Rock Band 3.

Jeff Atwood
July 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Do you have any issues with the bass dropping out during songs? Mostly with DLC content? I have two basses and each has the issue.

January 7, 2013 at 7:26 am

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