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  1. Electric instrument-grade woodworking and setup skills aren’t that difficult to obtain. Any reasonable economy can produce a basic bass/guitar that is finished, put together and set up well. To think that what we call 3rd world countries means the product is worse because labour rates is cheaper is a nonsense - in fact it’s the reverse - there’s a very long history of excellent woodworking and instrument building all over the middle and Far East and Africa. There’s one reason only why bigger brands source instruments elsewhere: cost. The moment labour goes up they shift production to the next cheapest country, which is why manufacturing of all sorts of goods has moved Japan to Korea to China (where quite a lot of work stays) to Indonesia/Vietnam etc. Cheap crap instruments are usually crap because of poor raw materials or poor assembly and set up - which manifests itself across the globe in any volume manufacturer, except those who really have a lid on quality control. A new US Fender retails for £1,600-£2200, a Chinese Dingwall is in the exact same price bracket. Which one is better made?* * no idea as I haven’t played any Dingwall Combustion/NG basses but you get my point!
  2. A bass with poor balance pulls on your neck. This is pretty bad for you if you play a lot in the long term - it puts pressure on both the cervical vertebrae and the nerves in your neck. Of course, if it’s too heavy it’s too heavy, but a sensible construction with a lighter weight wood in the neck and a bit more weight in the body, plus light tuners, gives the best of both worlds. Headless is even better but I can’t really get on with the look!
  3. Speed is just accuracy and economy of motion. Tiny flaws in either get magnified the faster you go. IIRC Sing It Back isn’t a particularly fast song and has a lot of root-5-octave-9 type lines with some hammered-on 16th notes; however the bulk of it is just 8th notes. Are you struggling with the whole line or particular bits? One of the best exercises I had was from Gary Willis, which is to practice reducing the pressure on the fretting hand (just practising on one note to start with), until it starts to buzz, then a tiny bit more pressure is actually all you need to fret the notes - and it’s almost guaranteed to be less pressure than you currently use. Less pressure makes everything easier. Piano players are taught to “squeeze” the keys rather than hammer them to improve both tone and dexterity. Regarding fretting and dexterity, a well setup bass with a reasonable and consistent action is a good starting place. Then as Doddy says, make sure you’re consistent - one finger per fret is the norm but there are caveats with that in the first few frets as you may risk problems with your hands, hence some players use the more upright technique of index, middle, little finger (with ring finger supporting) as it reduces the stretch across the hand and therefore the pressure on the tendons. I’m currently recovering/rehabilitating from cervical radiculopathy, which presents similar symptoms to carpal tunnel syndrome and it makes playing quite difficult, so look after your hands
  4. Thomann has got three different Sterling 5 HHs in powder blue, vintage blue and red and I’m so tempted. The problems with carriage and reclaiming VAT if it needs to be returned put me off, but you hardly ever see this particular model in the UK. Still, I’m a bit intrigued as to what the new colours might be.
  5. Yes, it may have been that it had a maple board, or perhaps that I prefer the harder edged sound of the ceramic pickups in the Sterling. It just felt like the sound “disappeared” when playing along with a track /recording. Odd and not due to strings as I use Super Slinkies all the time. In other news, I had thought the Sterling was being discontinued but the Sterling pages now say new colours coming soon. I wonder if it’ll be a Sterling special with the SR upgrades? The Sterling could do with the lighter tuners. That would be exciting if so. Current ones for sale new are around £2000-£2200 (they’ve come down approx £200 as they were around £2400 in Thomann mid last year) but I’d be struggling if the new colours are to my taste but they’re over £3K!
  6. Overall weight is important, but for me good balance is far more critical - I’d much rather have a 4.5Kg bass with perfect balance than a 3.5Kg bass whose headstock wants to hit the deck. The problem with a 5 or 6 is that there’s a minimum amount of weight on the headstock acting as a lever and the wider neck and board make it very hard to make a light bass that doesn’t also dive badly. This is where companies that just stretch their 4 string design fail, but basses built as a 5 or 6 from the ground up are generally better in this regard. The Yamaha (425/435 etc) is a case in point. I had a 425 that was about 4.2Kg but had original massive Fender tuners that contributed 560g to the weight of the bass (yes, I weighed them) and suffered from terrible neck dive. Swapping out with some ultra light tuners would shave 250-300g but the perceived weight loss was more like 0.5Kg to 0.75kg. Hey presto, after the swap it was pretty much perfect balance.
  7. SOLD Brand new unopened Super Slinkies, delivered last week .045, .065, .080, .100”. 2 packs, £30 including mainland UK postage. Not splitting as it’s not worth posting individually,. Reason for sale: bought for 4-string that was returned and replacement is a 5
  8. Brand new and unopened, bought and delivered last week. Reason for sale: bought for a 4 string that was returned and its replacement is better with rounds. Long scale. JF344, gauges .043, .056, .070, .100”. Price is including postage to mainland UK
  9. And that’s per bass. It’s not guaranteed that two new Fenders in the same paint finish actually look identical in the flesh (assuming the same light conditions). I’ve had a few new Fenders in Olympic White and the the Pro I just got is far more aged/cream coloured than any of the previous ones - which makes the aged white pickguard look even worse as they’re basically the same colour.
  10. I wouldn’t worry too much. The 2020 Special I tried was definitely well made and finished but I just couldn’t get on the with the new electronics. Try as I might I couldn’t find the classic Stingray sound and (it was a 2 pickup model) all 5 pickup positions sounded odd - like excessive mid cut in the tone, but even boosting the mid to max failed to round out the tone. TBH I much preferred the sound from the Sterling 5 HH I owned before it (and older Stingrays I’ve tried), all of which sounded like a Stingray. The neck pickup is just too far from the bridge so very muddy and the in-between settings don’t seem to add variety from that basic odd tone. That and the lack of any decent colours and I can’t see me ever buying a new MM - unless they reissue the Big Al 5 SSS
  11. Yes, for me white/aged white/mint looks fine with a maple board or if the pickup covers are white but with a rosewood board and black pickup cover on a P bass it just looks wrong to me, e.g. the polar white Player P here (although the pau ferro board is much lighter so not as bad): https://shop.fender.com/en-GB/electric-basses/precision-bass/player-precision-bass/0149803500.html Tort on rosewood or maple and anodised gold on maple works nicely too. I’ve ordered a tort pickguard from WD as Fender doesn’t appear to offer an OEM tort guard for the Pro P Bass V model.
  12. I’ve just got a Pro 1 in Olympic White (for some reason in their infinite wisdom Fender supply it with a mint/cream pickguard that looks awful, whereas the Pro II gets the tort guard that such a bass should really come with). As has been said, in the flesh it’s definitely more cream than white, so like a white bass that’s faded over time, exactly as I’d expect Fender intended the colour to be. The pic Ikay posted is pretty much exactly the colour it appears to me in the flesh.
  13. I can’t remember many of the basses I’ve owned over the last 30 years (more like about 22-23 years as I stopped playing altogether for a while). I’d estimate around 200-250 basses, but having got about 100 I do remember down on paper and adding up the rough cost of each (almost all used) it’s very sobering. Probably £80,000-100,000 😧
  14. I don’t disagree. In fact I’d compare MM to Warwick in this regard - but with the crucial difference that (and this goes for the Fender Custom Shop too) for Masterbuilt there are a staggering array of options available - dozens of woods, neck profiles, finishes, hardware and electronics that must cost a pretty penny to design/source/keep some in stock. Having seen and played a few of the newer custom Warwick’s I do believe the standard of finish is a cut above - but still doesn’t justify the sky-high prices. The Teambuilt models come in mostly sub-£2K, which isn’t great but at least a bit more realistic. With MM it’s really no different to (for example) a std US Fender - a few set colour and fingerboard options, and that’s it. It is however also relevant to say that the prices have not gone up anywhere near as much in the US, so it may well be little to do with MM directly, but whatever the reason they’re just not worth £3K. However it seems £2K is kind of the going rate for a deluxe Fender and even a Chinese-made Dingwall is around £2K, it makes the used market even more attractive. I also question whether used prices will go up that much - maybe the later Specials, but an older model is what it always was - around £1K, maybe a bit more for a special or limited edition, so I can’t see many buyers wanting to pay more just because the latest ones have shot up in price. And there are so many used Stingrays around, it’s not as if we’re not spoiled for choice.
  15. They’re factory built instruments made to a basic design that apart from a few tweaks hasn’t really changed in 30 years, which is why people are comparing prices (and used prices are still around the £800-1000 mark for a US model). I’ve recently had a 2020 special (it was returned as I really didn’t like the changes to the tone) and it was well made but it’s no boutique custom build. The side by side comparison is valid when you compare the current std colour black models - £1999 vs £2899. It’s not a Christmas discount - Andertons even had the aqua sparkle 5 HH at the same price months ago. It’s an identical bass (aside from hardware colour) at a 45% markup. The cold hard facts are no customisation options at all, no fretless or left hand (unless they’re not advertising them on their site and are available as a custom order, because I’ve not seen one in a shop for a long time) and a reduced set of (IMHO) not very nice colours for a massive price increase. I think that fits the description of mass produced, even if they are hand finished.
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