As far back as he can remember, Tomm Stanley has always had an obsession with both playing bass and disassembling his instruments to figure out exactly how they worked. His curiosity with pickups, hardware, wood types, and electronic configurations fueled his dream to one day become a luthier and create bold innovations in bass building. While he now resides in New Zealand, his first attempts at constructing basses occurred during his time living in Antarctica in the early ’90s. But in moving on to warmer temperatures and greener pastures, Tomm’s hand at building greatly improved, and he decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of creating his own brand of basses, thus minting Stonefield Musical Instruments.
Stanley’s goal of infusing innovation into his instruments helped spark fast attention around his initial M Series and C Series basses, thanks to his patented Tomm Stanley Tuning mechanism, back-angled necks, and floating bridges. But while the M Series and C Series basses are terrific for professional players (and those who can afford to shed the money for such a regal instrument), the requests started coming in for a Stonefield-quality bass at a lower price. This birthed the F Series. Made with the same keen attention to detail as all of Stanley’s work, the F Series has an extremely reasonable price, with all of the bells and whistles of the earlier models, plus the additional option to modify and upgrade it with Stanley’s aforementioned innovations.
The first thing you’ll notice when picking up the F Series bass is the sturdy construction that makes it feel much more durable and solid than similar basses at this price point. Weighing in at 8.6 lbs, Stanley was able to shed some mass using a cut-out section in the middle of the back of the body, which also makes the bass comfortable to play sitting down. Constructed with an alder body and maple top, this bass is immensely durable — and even when traveling with it in custom fitted gig Stonefield bag, the bass stays in tune, and you don’t have to worry about nicks or damage due to the rigors of the road or mishandling. What separates this bass from other Stonefield basses is the system of geared tuning pegs on the headstock, in place of Stanley’s patented tuning system, which is on the tail end of the body behind the bridge. But the F Series leaves nothing to be desired in the premium ebony tuning buttons on the geared pegs, which are compact, looking more like acoustic guitar tuners. Another noticeable feature is Stanley’s floating bridge, adjustable through the built-in thumbwheel resembling those on upright basses and cellos. This plays a big factor in keeping the right amount of tension on the strings and makes for some highly sustainable notes, while also allowing you to make height adjustments on the fly. The ebony fingerboard is fast and comfortable, giving the bass a pleasing aesthetic with the contrast of the lighter, natural lacquer finish of the maple top.
Another notable feature of this bass is that the neck is angled back by three degrees, which increases comfort and playability and allows you to grab notes all over the fretboard with ease. For adamant slappers, this may take a moment to get adjusted to, given the depth below the strings, but Stonefield offers an accessory called the Funk Plate to fill the gap if you prefer a more standard feel. However, the overall playability makes the acclimation easy, even without the Funk Plate. The pickups are raised high to compensate for the neck’s back angle, giving a solid thumbrest for fingerstyle playing, and also letting you dig in as hard as you want.
The F Series comes equipped with twin passive OEM humbucker pickups, and right out of the bag, the bass delivers a commanding tone that is familiar enough to lend itself to any style of playing. The lows on the E string sustain deeply, while the punch of the midrange would allow this bass to cut through any mix. When it comes to the high-to-low spectrum, it’s all covered with distinct clarity and superb depth. When you really dig in, it provides bite and growl (if that’s what you’re going for), but never to an excessive level. The F Series did not disappoint when plugged into an 8x10 cabinet with the amp cranked up high, but more impressively it retained its boom when played through a 2x10 combo. It also excels when played with a pick, and given its 16mm string spacing over 24 jumbo nickel frets (all Stonefield basses are also available with 19mm spacing), you can really shred with ease while avoiding the dreaded click-clack of overbearing treble output.
Every bit of Stanley’s engineering and designing of this bass serves a purpose, and that becomes evident the longer you spend playing it. As its aesthetic and design makes clear, this bass is not meant to mimic a classic Precision or Jazz-style blueprint, but that’s the allure of a unique instrument like this. It covers all of the range you’ll need for any style of gig, while offering a distinct tone print of its own.
In building a more affordable bass that gives players of all skill levels access to the Stonefield innovations, Stanley has succeeded in upholding all of the quality and attention to detail for which he’s become known. While the F Series bass is still light years ahead of the typical beginner or midrange bass in these respects, it’s hard to imagine that a novice player wouldn’t be inspired by the easy playability and strong durability of an instrument of this quality. Plus, in offering affordable upgrades, Stonefield gives players the ability to grow with their instruments. It’s no simple feat finding a bass at this price with this level of construction quality, which is why the F Series stands out among its competition.
Stonefield F Series Bass
Street Maple-topped, $1,100; walnut-topped, $1,200
Pros Extremely well balanced, terrific tone, great playability, sturdy construction, a lot of bang for your buck
Bottom Line Stonefield’s F Series makes Tomm Stanley’s innovative basses accessible to everyone, and in doing so, gives players high-end tone with great playability.
Top North American maple or Indian walnut
Neck Three-piece laminated maple
Bridge Free-floating ebony bridge with thumbwheel string-height adjusters
Scale length 34"
Tuners OEM geared tuners with ebony buttons
Pickups OEM humbucker
Weight 8.6 lbs
Custom gig bag $122
Made in India