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Victor Wooten

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7/13/2011 12:00:00 AM
The Kubicki X-Factor 4 String Fretted
The Kubicki X-Factor 4 String Fretted.

If you like to "D" tune your "E" string almost instantaneously, without changing string tension and not having to transpose, then the Ex Factor is your only choice.The Ex Factor extended string bass and Factor 4 got its name from ergonomics, the study of the relationship between people and their working environment. Also known as Human Factors, this science was the foundation for the engineering parameters and the inspiration for the name.


  • 4 string fretted
  • Neck join: Bolt-On
  • Neck construction: Laminated Hard Maple
  • Fingerboard: 23 frets, 36" E/D string, 32" A,D,G strings
  • Body: Soft maple, one piece (I believe)
  • Finish: Thick coated glossy paint, polymer
  • Pickups: Kubicki humcancelling, Hybrid Passive/Active Circuit
  • Hardware: Black, tuner mechanism integrated into bridge
  • Electronics: 18v. 2-band active/passive switchable preamp


    The build quality is superb, with all component parts designed specifically for this bass and very sturdy and durable. The frets are well dressed and the ebony fingerboard very thick. Phillip Kubicki was a designer and luthier at Fender's custom shop until he struck out on his own. He now offers a variety of exotic woods as well as to standard colors. The finish is very thick and durable. My only complaint is that I don't care for the silk-screened "Factor" logo on the front, but it is relatively unobtrusive and fits well with the overall design (which is radical yet balanced looking).


    The bass is perfectly balanced and amazingly comfortable ("Ex-Factor" signifies its ergonomic design). It has absolutely no neck pull and the frets line up with where a standard 34" scale bass's would be while wearing. The tuning mechanism is easy to use, once you are used to it, and never slips out of tune (it is as stable tuning wise as my Steinberger XL2). While you have to trim the length of the A, D, and G strings a bit, it is still quicker to re-string than a bass with standard tuning keys. The controls (stacked volume/pan control, stacked bass/treble control, and 6-position rotary switch with standby, two active and three passive settings) are easy to reach and simple to use. The two 9-volt batteries are accessed through the electronics panel on the back. The neck joint is very precise and stable and the laminated maple neck is smooth and fast. It has the same profile as a P-bass, but is thinner and flatter front to back. The slightly shorter scale makes the bass fast and easy to play--ideal for everyone, but especially for those with small hands.


    Now the best part, the sound: The Kubicki designed preamp is versatile and fantastic sounding. Almost any sound can be produced from this bass, from a bright and edgy modern active sound, to a nice warm vintage passive sound. The pickup shape (two Kubicki designed humbuckers) follows the curvature of the fingerboard, so the action can be set just right while maintaining even volume across the strings. Despite the shorter scale, the sound is very clear and large, from a real hi-fi sound to an agressive rock tone. The tone of the low-D, when the clever string clasp (workable on the fly with your left thumb) is lifted, is awesome. The then 36" scale allows it to remain very tight and focused--better than any 5-string I have played, only obviously not as low. Being so versatile, this bass would be appropriate for any style of music one would use an electric bass in. Victor Wooten has used one with his slapping technique, Stu Hamm for rock, and tapping style--Roger Waters even endorsed them.


    To sum up: a world-class bass for sound quality, versatility, playability, and hand-made USA quality of construction. Phil Kubicki sells them direct through his website (, making them per order for a remarkably low price relative to other comparable basses. For the price they go for used, simply one of the best basses in the world. Although he does not have dealers, he is very responsive to emailed questions and has a repair and refurbishment service with ridiculously low prices. My advice would be to pick one up used and send it to Phil to have it gone over. It will be as fine as any bass you could find for about the price of an American P or J bass (which would not be half as good a bass). Phil Kubicki is such a nice guy, however, that I am hoping to convince you that a new one is the way to go. That way you could order it to your exact specs. (No, I only know Phil through email and he is not paying me anything!!)
    GAZZBASS.COM RATING: 8.8  out of 10
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