Skjold Slayer SS4 four string bass guitar (list price £3650)

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  3. We would like to present a new, hand built Skjold SS4 bass made from lightweight swamp ash with flame maple top, a maple one piece neck with wenge fingerboard and custom wound Skjold pickups and 3 band  preamp. This lightweight bass has a lightening fast, slim neck and covers a huge range of tones effortlessly.

Actual instrument shown, click on images to enlarge:

  1. Specifications

  2. Flame Maple top

  3. Matching headstock

  4. One piece maple neck

  5. Wenge fingerboard

  6. Nuvogold alloy frets

  7. Swamp Ash Body

  8. Pickups Skjold Dual Coils

  9. Skjold strings

  10. SPM 3 band preamp with adjustable centre frequencies, volume, pan

  11. Black custom Hipshot A style bridge, 19mm string spacing

  12. Black Hipshot ultralight tuners

  13. Skjold dual coil pickups

  14. New custom Skjold Knobs

  15. Weight: 7ib 14oz

  16. Deluxe soft case

  1. Pete Skjold is fast becoming one of the most sought after luthiers in the USA, his custom, hand built basses epitomise the extent to which the electric bass guitar has traveled from the 1950s to the 21st Century. Advanced pickups and electronics mated to individually selected tone woods and crafted using the latest in construction methods, each Skjold instrument is a masterpiece in engineering and a wonderful tool for the modern bass player. The current order time for a custom model is around 9 - 12 months.

Hand made strings from the USA - designed by top USA luthier Pete Skjold, they come in Stainless steel or Hybrid Stainless/Nickel mix.

Skjold Lion’s Pride ‘B’ Style

5-String Bass

Lion-tamer Stuart Clayton gets his whip out. Can he conquer this beast?

T he Lion’s Pride ‘B’ Style is one of the more traditional looking basses on offer from Skjold, the US-based company headed up by master luthier Pete Skjold. Eschewing the radical shaping seen on many other Skjold basses, the Lion’s Pride is a relatively simple looking instrument in comparison, but as we discovered, has a roar equal to the rest of the pack. Pete Skjold has been hand-building instruments in his workshop in Ohio for over 20 years, and has garnered an enviable reputation in the industry during that time. With each instrument offering only the highest standards of build quality, only 50 instruments are produced each year by Pete, with a 12-month waiting list for new builds. The popularity of Skjold is reflected in an impressive endorsee list, which includes virtuoso bassists Damian Erskine and David Dyson.

Build Quality

It came as no surprise to me that the build quality demonstrated here was exemplary. The gorgeous primavera body was beautifully finished, with the amberburst high gloss finish looking really quite stunning close up. The quality of the woodworking is more evident on the rear of the bass, with four beautifully-cut deep recesses for the neck bolts as the standout feature. A flip-up battery cover provides quick and easy access for changing the battery, and a plastic control cavity cover with the Skjold logo is accessed using small Allen keys. The Allen screws fit into brass ferrules (always a nice touch, and to be expected in on a bass in this price range), and the rear of the plate was well covered with copper shielding. The inside of the cavity itself was thoroughly screen painted and the wiring and organisation of the cables was superb, with small cable ties were used to keep everything neat. The Redeemer circuit box was well-secured and neatly labelled. The slim maple neck had a satin finish and was smooth and very quick to navigate. Fretwork was excellent across the morado fingerboard, and despite the large headstock mass, the balance of the instrument was excellent whether seated or standing. This is largely thanks to the use of lightweight, chrome Hipshot tuning pegs. Hipshot hardware is used throughout the instrument, with the substantial chrome A-style bridge acting as the perfect complement to the large Skjold SC4 pickup. My only criticism of the build quality are the controls, two of which felt quite lightweight and insubstantial.

Sounds And Playability

In use the bass was quick and easy to get around, and weighing in at 4.5kg, was no hardship to play for extended periods. The body contouring was comfortable, although I would personally have liked a deeper-angled chamfer at the top rear of the body, where the forearm typically crosses the instrument. Plugging in, I discovered that the jack socket sits in a neat recessed area, and I initially wondered whether it would accept a right-angled jack lead: fortunately it does. The Lion’s Pride features a unique pickup, the Skjold SC4, which enables both forward and reverse P-bass pickup setups, while also allowing for series or parallel switching. This is combined with the Creation Audio Labs Redeemer circuit, which according to its makers is ‘a buffer circuit that is designed to eliminate tone loss caused by the interaction of instrument electronics and the loading effect of the cable, effects units and amplifier. The instrument is effectively insulated from the rest of the signal chain, providing improved note clarity and quicker transient attack. The circuit has three controls: a master volume, a pickup selector switch, and a passive tone control. The pickup selector switch has four positions: forward P, parallel, series, and reverse P. With the selector in the forward P position, the tone was extremely versatile, with a wide spectrum of tones available from a tweak of the tone control. At one end the tone was deep, rumbling sub-bass, perfect for soul and Motown tunes, while a quick sweep of the tone control yielded a very glassy, treble-heavy tone that would be far too brash for most situations. Backing the treble off slightly resulted in a great slap tone, however, and from this first tweak of the controls it was evident that the Lion’s Pride is a very versatile beast. In the parallel position, the sound was very different, yet equally impressive. Again, rolling the tone control around resulted in several highly workable tones that ranged from thunderous lowend to a muscular, well rounded slap tone that was actually very enjoyable to work with. In series position, similar results were achieved, although the overall tone was slightly thinner. We found that a great fingerstyle tone with plenty of bite was the highlight of this option. Finally, with the pickup selector in reverse P position, a P-bass-like fingerstyle tone was on offer, which we found sounded great when using a pick.

We quickly realised that in order to get the best from the Lion’s Pride bass, a certain amount of experimentation was needed. There are a lot of great tones on offer, and it’s really a case of working with the instrument for a few hours, preferably in a band situation, to find the tones that work best for you. Although it’s simple in appearance, this bass is sonically extremely versatile and was able to cover everything we could think of on a standard covers gig.


We’ve seen many beautiful high-end basses here at BGM, and the Lion’s Pride is a great addition to the list of highly desirable instruments that we’d all buy if we could. The craftsmanship on offer here is superb, and the playability is equally excellent. There’s also no faulting the range of sounds on offer, and it should be evident from the review that the Lion’s Pride is an impressively versatile instrument.

As with any high-end bass, it faces the same problems: in this price range there are a lot of alternatives, and most bassists will think long and hard before spending this kind of cash on an instrument. That said, many instruments in this upper end of the market are less versatile. The Lion’s Pride comes highly recommended for a test drive if you get the opportunity, but we’d advise spending as much time with it as possible in order to fully appreciate all it has to offer.

Technical Specification

Skjold Lion’s Pride ‘B’ Style 5-String Bass

Price £2800

Body Primavera

Neck Maple

Fingerboard Morado

Tuners Hipshot ultralight tuners

Bridge Hipshot A-style bridge

Pickups Skjold SC4 pickup with Creation Audio Labs Redeemer circuit

Controls Master volume, pickup selector, passive tone

Hardware Hipshot

Scale Length 34”

Weight 4.5kg/1l0b

Plus A very versatile instrument with a great tonal palette. Well balanced and enjoyable to play

Minus Very little!

Overall A great instrument

What We Think

Build Quality 5/5

Sound Quality 5/5

Skjold Standard ‘92

Nick Wells checks out the latest version of Skjold’s classic Standard ’92 design.


As a player back in the early 90s, Pete Skjold was in need of a lightweight, tonally versatile bass, and having toyed with a few of his own designs was ‘bitten by the luthier bug’ – and so began Skjold Design Guitars, with the Standard ’92 as its flagship model. The Standard ’92 remains a mainstay in the current Skjold catalogue, sporting the same compact, lightweight body style, and interestingly enough, 2011 has seen Pete ‘standardise’ his entire range, offering each model as a standard spec instrument that can be fine tuned with optional body and neck woods, different tops, custom preamps and pickups … you name it. It goes without saying that each custom addition will be reflected in the final price, but customers will be able to see precisely what they’re paying extra for. ‘  e idea is to demonstrate that you don’t have to have a fl ash preamp or a fancy top to have a great-playing, great sounding bass,’ explains Pete. ‘And the Standard ’92 model is representative of what I make for the professional players I work with, who typically need less in the way of adornments but want to focus on playability and tone.’

Body and Neck

What’s instantly noticeable about the Standard ’92 is its light weight and how well it balances. If you suffer from back pain onstage, or struggle with more ‘slab-like’ body shapes, this is without doubt the bass for you.   e body is made from premium ash, with an elongated upper horn that keeps the neck from pulling down on the strap; and with the rear strap button positioned much higher, level with the top of the bridge, the overall weight is distributed far more evenly across your back.   e body itself is finished in satin aqua burst, which is a light finish that feels great and doesn’t detract from the organic feel of the wood itself.

The neck is maple with a slim profile and is bolted deep onto the body via five recessed bolts. ‘I use bolt-on necks because they don’t give you the prominent mid range you get from a neck-through,’ says Pete. ‘With a neck-through you get a real punch and focus in the mid range, which is great for fingerstyle and fretless playing, but it doesn’t work very well for slapping and popping. If you make a bolt-on instrument in the right way, with a nice deep-set neck, you can actually get very close to what a neck through gives you anyway, but with more versatility. So I made that conscious choice early on. It allows me to control aspects of the neck away from the body. The morado (also known as pao ferro) fingerboard has a two octave range and is similar to rosewood in its looks, though feels a little harder. The 34-inch scale length, alongside other tweaks and refinements, is the main difference between this model and Pete’s original Standard ’92. ‘Up until 2008 all my basses had 35-inch scales,’ Pete tells us. ‘And that does work well on 4-strings for those who like a piano-type tone and like to detune. With a bass that has a 34-inch scale, it’s a different, more familiar tone that really works well on any of my basses, even on my 5-strings and 6s.’ Pete designed the distinctive, Nordic-inspired headstock back in 1992, and along with the body style it’s instantly recognisable. It may initially turn some people off but it’s an established trademark, for better or worse, with the same aqua burst finish

to match the body.


Developed alongside Sheldon Dingwall, Skjold’s SC-1 neodymium pickups feature a custom design utilising split single-coils to deliver a wide frequency range. Pete’s approach of starting with the woods and tone woods and then moving onto the pickups and electronics is deliberate and intended to let the inherent tone of the body wood come through uncoloured. A simple control layout comprises volume, pickup pan and passive tone, and in this case is wired to a Redeemer circuit (Pete will be stocking custom John East circuits in future). The Redeemer is a buffer circuit designed to eliminate tone loss caused by the loading effect of instrument cable, effects and amplifiers. It’s powered by a single 9 V battery and is engaged the moment you plug in with your jack lead. The headstock features a set of Hipshot Ultralite custom tuners, and the bridge is also a custom Hipshot design A-style bridge with a locking top load.


Our Standard ’92 came set up with a low action, and you can go as low as you want to without any issues.   e neck is really fast and easy to get around, and those two factors, combined with the instrument’s light weight, make for a bass that’s effortlessly playable. ‘I have very specific ways that I make the necks,’ says Pete. ‘I true the fingerboard completely by hand, it’s radiused on a radius machine, and I have a table that I do all the fretwork on that keeps everything completely flat. Those are the things that are really important to me. Neck, or highs, and there’s no loss of frequency even at low volumes.

Thee SC-1 pickups, with their neodymium magnets, are superbly balanced, with a broad, modern sound, but you can easily thicken things up by rolling off the passive tone control for a more old school feel. Whatever changes you make via the tone or pan control, they are gentle in the way they are applied to your sound, refining what’s already there rather than making any major changes. The morado fingerboard is responsive to your playing, and individual notes ring out with a very natural sustain and clarity. It’s pretty rare to find a handmade custom bass that doesn’t boast powerful, active electronics or exotic top woods, but the Standard ’92 is proof that by concentrating on the fundamentals, you can still have a great-sounding and incredibly playable bass regardless.


The Standard ’92 hasn’t really changed since its inception, only evolved. And with Skjold Design Guitars being a one-man operation, Pete has been able to make constant refinements to the design while maintaining the quality of each level of production, and it really shows.   is bass serves as a fine reminder that you don’t need all the bells and whistles usually associated with a custom instrument in order to have a first-rate bass, while also giving you another option in terms of price. Still, with each bass made entirely by hand there’s no escaping the four-figure price tag, which in our opinion is fully justified.




PRICE: £2,000

Made in: USA

Scale length: 863 mm (34 inches)

Frets: 24

Neck: 3-piece maple hard rock

Fingerboard: Morado

Body: Premium-grade ash

Pickups: 2 x SC1, split single-coil custom design

Electronics: Redeemer circuit

Tuners: Hipshot Ultralite

Controls: Volume, pan, passive tone

Bridge: Hipshot A-style bridge

Finish: Aqua burst, satin

Weight: 3.3 kg (7lb 5oz)



Plus: A lightweight, playable bass

that’s capable of quality tones.

Minus: None.

Overall: A first-rate, hand made instrument built with the professional bassist in mind.

Skjold ’92 Custom

Review in Bass Guitar Magazine 2009

Bass Guitar Magazine

Custom basses usually command high price tags due to their eye catching looks, superior build quality and top-notch electronics. Can this top-line model from the US tick all of the necessary boxes?

The boutique bass market continues to grow even in these recession-hit times, with most luthiers confirming that orders are actually on the up. With only around fifty handmade instruments leaving the Skjold production line every year, it’s no surprise that these basses are in high demand particularly when you consider that each bass is a one of a kind, built specifically to customer and dealer requests. The custom bass route has its own

benefits and pitfalls and opens up a vast array of possibilities. The Skjold ’92 5-string model that we have here features several optional extras that have obviously contributed to its considerable price tag. So what exactly does £3,000 buy you in the current market?

Body and Neck

The Skjold ’92 custom features a mahogany body and flame maple top. We’ve seen many a flame maple top over the years here at BGM, but this model harbours a truly exceptional timber, classed as AAAA quality, so it’s not surprising that this upgrade incurs an additional £300 to the overall cost. Not only does the undulating ‘flame’ run across the body, an additional ripple can be seen running vertically through the grain, a stunning top-wood that is sumptuous in the extreme. A lightweight mahogany body core has been used, the darker shades of which contrast very well with the honey-coloured maple top, while the high-gloss finish brings the best out of this combination of body woods. The compact body shape is comfortable and works very well visually and although the depth is consistently chunky and substantial around the entire body, the overall weight of the= instrument is well distributed. The extended top-horn also helps to alleviate any headstock and neck bias in the balance department.

The neck attaches to the body via 5 recessed bolts with the neck pocket extending deep into the body. An extensive lower cutaway allows for excellent access to the upper frets. A matching timber facing has been used to cover the heel in an effort to maintain the instruments aesthetic qualities. The unique headstock design, with its matching flame maple top and omega cut-outs, offers a ‘two-over-three’ machine head arrangement and is finished off rather elegantly with a natural abalone and mother of pearl Skjold logo. Unlike the body and headstock facing, the neck has  satin finish that some players may prefer, but in this case, we found that it slightly detracts from the overall visual appeal as the rest of the bass has been finished in gloss. The rigidity of the neck is not in question however, the 5-piece maple and purpleheart laminated neck is reinforced with a dual action truss-rod and custom made graphite inserts. Such stability should improve the resonance and harmonic responsiveness of the instrument, which on a 5-string bass is a definite plus-point.

The slim neck profile works well given the broadness of the almost flat fingerboard and is very comfortable to get to grips with. This in turn accommodates the 18mm string spacing that makes for a comfortable 5-string playing experience. The positioning of the frets is not at odds with the string-spacing and it doesn’t feel as

though the neck is ‘cramped’, which can sometimes be a problem on 5-string basses with reduced string spacing. As a result, the player is able to make the most of playing in one position without feeling that their hands are confined to a tight space. Th e lightness of the morado fingerboard balances perfectly with the honey tones of the maple top and coming from the same species as pau ferro and selected rosewoods, it should also fit in very well tonally with the maple, mahogany and purpleheart timbers.


Custom-made black Hipshot Ultralight tuners and an A-style aluminium bridge have been used with good effect although the body has not been routed to allow through-body stringing even though the bridge has been machined to allow it. The hardware is black across the board, including the pickups, but wooden controls and pickup facings are available as additional options along with colour combination tuners and bridge saddles. The Hipshot tuners are very smooth to use, as one would expect, and ensured the strings remained in tune throughout, perhaps aided by the use of a graphite nut. The Skjold Custom SC-1 soapbar pickups are custom wound and designed to combine the inherent tonal qualities of split-coil pickups with the presence and character of single-coils. Extra top-end bite and improved bass frequency response have also been incorporated making for a seriously responsive and articulate pickup. Skjold have chosen these pickups so that they can uniquely tailor the sound of each bass through the combination of timbers used. A locking Neutrik jack socket has been requested here, a godsend for those prone to standing on their leads. Access to the truss rod is relatively easy from the end of the fingerboard using the supplied Allen key whilst accessing the battery is straightforward via a flip-top battery cover.


Plugging in the Skjold ‘92 Custom, we were greeted with a vibrant, woody tone and a considerably throaty character. With the EQ controls set fl at, it was easy to pick out a natural ‘bounce’ in the fundamental sound of the bass that lends it a resonant punch that really helped to project the low notes of the B-string with power and clarity. Adding in some bass and treble sharpened the tone and rounded out the bottom-end while boosting the mids added a certain ‘honkiness’ to the overall bass sound, which was ideal for staccato fingerstyle funk lines, but due to the natural vibrancy of the bass, we found the mid-EQ needed little adjustment from its flat position. Panning between both pickups, it’s quite clear that the Skjold ’92 Custom is a very versatile bass and coupled with the power of the EQ circuitry, a wealth of sounds and tones are at the players’ disposal. Small changes to the pickup balance or EQ controls make a significant difference so we would recommend experimenting with the EQ to establish how the different frequencies can work with and against each other. Should you decide that the centre frequency of each EQ control is not to your liking, remove the rear control plate and with a flat blade screwdriver, adjust the trim pots. With both switches set to ‘on’ the range is set at 100Hz to 1kHz and with both ‘off ’ it’s set at 250Hz -2.5kHz. Having tinkered with these for some time, we were able to significantly alter the tones on offer creating a truly diverse selection of versatile bass sounds. A low-cut filter has been included on the Skjold- East designed circuit that filters out frequencies below 30Hz, tightening up the bottom-end and improving the quality of the low-B response. Two dip-switches activate this feature although its effects will only be highlighted in a recording situation or on a gig with a comprehensive rig covering a full spectrum of frequencies.


There is no denying that this is a well-presented bass with an extensive range of tones on offer. Pete Skjold has tried to give the player every option they may need and with the adjustable EQ, there really is no excuse to shy away from making this bass sound just how you want it to. The stunning looks are backed up by excellent playability, a comfortable string spacing and a neck that requires little effort to play. The low-B string is responsive with enough clarity and bottom-end to place it alongside some of the best 5-string basses we have reviewed at BGM.

Skjold ’92 Custom

Price: £3,050 (gigcase included)

Made In: USA

Finish: Natural

Body: Mahogany with AAAA flame

maple top

Neck: 5-piece maple with

purpleheart laminate

Fingerboard: Morado

Pickups: 2 x Skjold Custom SC-1


Electronics: SPM Skjold/East

3-band EQ circuit with internal

frequency adjustment and high

pass/low cut filter (dip-switch


Controls: Master volume, pickup

pan, treble, middle, bass

Nut Width: 48mm (1.8 inches)

Neck Join: Bolt-on, fi ve-bolt


Scale Length: 889mm (35-inches)

Frets: 24

Weight: 3.8kg (8lb 6oz)

What We Think

Plus: Looks to die for, well balanced and enough tone shaping options to keep even the keenest tone-head happy.

Minus: Not cheap

Overall: Quality costs but this is an expertly crafted instrument featuring some fantastic timbers, backed up by a fantastic pickup and electronics package.

Contact Details

Bass Direct Ltd.

Tel: 01926 886433



Skjold Bass Guitars, Skjold Slayer 4, Ash body, Quilt maple top, East preamp, Skjold pickups :: For sale, UK, EU, On offer, Custom Bass Guitars ,four string, warwick Bass Direct:: USA

Tel: 01926 886433

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