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Al Krow

Your best (and worst!) bass gear purchases of 2018?

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The CR models come with or without the magnetic EMG circular pickups. The EMG units lean towards an "electric bass" sound. That's not the reason I wanted an electric upright, so I opted for the bridge pickup only (which has a blend pot to change between the plucked "pizz", and bowed "arco" modes. 

The standard D'addario NS Contemporary flatwound strings actually have a modern mwaah sound (think Tony Levin on Peter Gabriel's "Secret World Live" album - especially on "Come Talk To Me", or "Shaking The Tree" - that's the sound you get from the bridge pickup!!) 

I'm loving using it. 

http://www.basscentre.com/ns-design-double-bass/ns-design-cr5-double-bass.html

 

Edited by kevin_lindsay
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2 hours ago, LeftyJ said:

Do these no longer come with magnetic pickups? The CR used to have single-string EMG pickups in addition to the Polar piezos.

They have the suffix "M" if they have the magnetic pickups, so that would be (but isn't) a CR5M.

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My only significant purchase this year and undoubtedly the best - I've had one of these before so it's like coming home! 

image.jpeg

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On 22 December 2018 at 11:59, Leonard Smalls said:

Only bass related purchases were amp stuff...

I got a Crown 1502 power amp with 6u rack and rack power distribution to replace my 28 year old Marshall.

It weighs about 1/2 of the Marshall, puts out 1500W against the Marshall's 300W.

And the difference is that I get much more bass weight, even when using sub octaves - the whole thing is clean right down to 20Hz rather than the slightly indistinct bass-amp tone I used to get.

Now I dial tones/effects in via pedalboard and rack BBE pre and know that I'm getting exactly the same sound from my Precision Devices/Markbass speakers as I'm sending to the desk.

Anyone want to buy a Marshall Jubilee?

Is that the 3035 Marshall Silver Jubliee model?  That's been my back-up amp for a few years now - rather underpowered for its claimed 300W, but a really nice core tone and it says something that they're still going strong at 30 years old.   Don't flog it too cheap, as they're pretty rare and have their admirers (I think the bassist from Nomeansno used one?)

Hell of a power upgrade to the 1.5 kW Crown! O.o

 

 

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Best purchase : Darkglass Vintage Deluxe . Awesome preamp section . I use the drive on it very discreetly, but I use it for all my passive basses as the primary preamp. Clear, concise and very authorative. 

Worst purchase : Lakland Skyline 55-02. I'm not trying to be contrary here btw, zranyard lol. They're really good basses if they're your thing, but I don't find the 5502 tonal pallette to suit my preference. I used to own a 4402 many,many years ago and I remembered loving it, but it sounded different to the 5502. In the meantime I've bought lots of Fender passive basses and a couple of Maruszczyk custum builds between owning the 4402 and the 5502. That's where my idea of tone lies. In the passive P and J echelons.

Bought the 5502 second hand on whim around April time and really regret it now. I've had it up for sale on different platforms to Basschat for a few months. 

Edited by Smythe
Grammar, spelling
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1 hour ago, Smythe said:

Bought the 5502 second hand on whim around April time and really regret it now.

For many years I had a great sounding 55-94, with the original Bartolini pickups and pre amp. You could dramatically improve the tone of your 55-02 by upgrading the pickups and/or preamp.

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7 minutes ago, chris_b said:

For many years I had a great sounding 55-94, with the original Bartolini pickups and pre amp. You could dramatically improve the tone of your 55-02 by upgrading the pickups and/or preamp.

For me the pups and preamp together define at least half the "sound" of the bass. Change them both and you might as well have got a different bass. And it's also not cheap (particularly if you're getting them fitted rather than doing yourself). 

And because you now have a "modded" bass you're very unlikely to recoup your investment if you move it on. 

It's why I would always recommend folk getting the Ibanez SR Premium range, from the outset, with big single Nords already fitted, rather than upgrading the pups on the Ibby Standard, which can cost several £hundred to do. 

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6 minutes ago, chris_b said:

For many years I had a great sounding 55-94, with the original Bartolini pickups and pre amp. You could dramatically improve the tone of your 55-02 by upgrading the pickups and/or preamp.

Thanks for the feedback, chris_b.

 

The 5502 I have is one of the earlier Korean models, most likely made in the Ibanez factory. It feels and sounds different to the later Plek'd models made in the Cort factory. It has the same Hanson pickups and LH3 preamp, but the overall tone sounds much fatter/meatier and more overpowering in the lower frequency end even when cutting the bass EQ. It doesn't have much high mids or treble end shine that the later Indonesian made models have. I've tried tweaking the internal pots to find a better mid attenuation but I just can't find a sweet spot that I like. Its a perfect instrument for someone into reggae/dub or Ska etc. The low end is off the richter scale and the  low B  is the best one I've ever experienced. 

I'm reluctant to switch the electronics out on the bass as it's the same electronics that go into the £3.5k+ American counterpart models so they shouldn't be an issue. It's going to get sold at some point this year, unfortunately. I'm after a Maruszczyk Elwood or Sandberg California 5 string with a  similar J-MM config. 

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On 21/12/2018 at 11:53, Al Krow said:

Without doubt, the SB 1000 set the bar in the early 80s and there will be a number of BC Aria lovers who will be a tinge envious that you have managed to land yourself one of these! 

Obligatory pic please! :) 

Oh, ok 🙂 ...

016C5CC3-3085-4632-B0F1-89CA10AF5C7C.thumb.jpeg.980cc70ce0db1869368eb070c7de99e7.jpeg

 

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On 24/12/2018 at 09:45, Al Krow said:

For me the pups and preamp together define at least half the "sound" of the bass. Change them both and you might as well have got a different bass. And it's also not cheap (particularly if you're getting them fitted rather than doing yourself). 

And because you now have a "modded" bass you're very unlikely to recoup your investment if you move it on. 

It's why I would always recommend folk getting the Ibanez SR Premium range, from the outset, with big single Nords already fitted, rather than upgrading the pups on the Ibby Standard, which can cost several £hundred to do. 

 

But the 55-02 just *feels* fantastic and it's extremely well made. It makes sense to me to apply a simple mod like that to get it just right.

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23 minutes ago, mcnach said:

But the 55-02 just *feels* fantastic and it's extremely well made. It makes sense to me to apply a simple mod like that to get it just right.

Happy Christmas BTW!

I'm a little bit intrigued here. I'd heard a lot of good things about Lakland from fellow BCers but when I got hold of the cheaper Skyline range my reaction was pretty similar to Smythe's ie all a bit 'meh'. Interested that the recommended "fix" here is a different pup / preamp. Now I'm probably missing something very obvious, but the body shape of the Lakland looks pretty close to Sandberg and has the same J/MM config as the Berg TM series. Why not get something that simply "works" as a package like a used Berg rather than mod a Lakland?

Edited by Al Krow
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2 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Happy Christmas BTW!

I'm a little bit intrigued here. I'd heard a lot of good things about Lakland from fellow BCers but when I got hold of the cheaper Skyline range my reaction was pretty similar to Smythe's ie all a bit 'meh'. Interested that the recommended "fix" here is a different pup / preamp. Now I'm probably missing something very obvious, but the body shape of the Lakland looks pretty close to Sandberg and has the same J/MM config as the Berg TM series. Why not get something that simply "works" as a package like a used Berg rather than mod a Lakland?

 

If I had a 55-02 that I liked, I really would not spend time trying other basses. To me the electrics are 'consumables'... you can change, modify, replace. You can restore to original if you wish too. I used to own a 55-02, and I thought the electrics let it down a little. A little. That thing felt great in my hands, it was beautiful, one of those rare instruments that feel just right. Had I kept it (not really into 5 strings after all) I might have replaced pickups and preamp: for me 1st the bass must feel physically right, then I'll deal with the electrics. That's just me.

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Gotcha and well put.

Whereas for me a great bass is an integrated "whole" and the pups and preamp are critical components of the sound; the body shape, weight balance, neck all critical to the "feel" and playability of the bass.

I guess that's why the Yamaha BBNE2 got my "best gear accolade", it just seems to tick every box but, for sure, that comes with a hefty price-tag.

Edited by Al Krow

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I also like a bass to come as a package. I wouldn't buy a bass that feels good but doesn't have the sound i'm looking for.

On that subject i've bought basses that at the time of buying sounded great but my taste in tone has changed over time and i might then look at changing pick ups or / and preamp like my Overwater J4 i love the bass overall feel, good neck and well built (mine was a one off made by the guys from various parts before they went with Tanglewood) but my love for that particular tone has changed and i'm looking at changing the pick-ups and preamp to something more passive like a Jazz with switchable pre-amp. Might discuss with Chris from McIntyre guitars who did a fantastic job on my Warwick Thumb few yrs ago.

That's a job for 2019 tho

PS Those Sandberg basses are simply unbelievable basses for the money IMO. Now tried a couple of them and they both just felt right.

Dave 

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On 24/12/2018 at 09:45, Al Krow said:

For me the pups and preamp together define at least half the "sound" of the bass. Change them both and you might as well have got a different bass. And it's also not cheap (particularly if you're getting them fitted rather than doing yourself). 

The preamp shouldn't define the sound of the bass unless it is defective. With a perfect preamp should sound identical between passive and active going through a very short cable to a high impedance amplifier. Obviously it won't sound the same because you don't generally use a really short cable or a perfect high impedance amplifier (although a valve preamp is often better for this). Most people use a cable that is quite long, so there are capacitive and resistant losses in the cable, giving a softer tone which is what I think people often define as a passive sound. 

However, you can turn bass and treble up on the preamp, but that shouldn't change the sound.

Pickups on the other hand do make a fair bit of a difference. But then they don't have to cost the earth, although the nords are nice. 

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pic at last here is the the squier, which for me personally as a gigging bass, has outshone the US deluxe J i bought earlier in the year

new gotoh 201 bridge, wizard thumper , new cts pots and an orange drop , last little remaining job to be done is a trip to the local luthier https://www.81guitarworks.co.uk (thoroughly recommend for anybody in the maidstone area) to get the nut slots sorted out which are a bit high - looks great for gigs too as our guitarist has a late 70s strat in same colour config (except rosewood board) so they make a good pair

IMG_0643.thumb.jpg.5fe9976a49d06e287c50dbc7080f8b3f.jpg

 

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39 minutes ago, steve-bbb said:

pic at last here is the the squier, which for me personally as a gigging bass, has outshone the US deluxe J i bought earlier in the yearIMG_0643.thumb.jpg.5fe9976a49d06e287c50dbc7080f8b3f.jpg

 

I hear you man. I bought a Squier VM Jazz this year too, because it completely outshone (in every way) the Mexican Fender equivalent that I directly compared it to. I played an American Standard on that day too, and although it felt more ‘robust’, I didn’t perceive the tone to possess any radically greater quality. The difference in price between those instruments is far from relative to the difference in quality.

Edited by Fionn
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It's been a tough call for me to name my best purchase. I went a bit mad and bought six basses this year. I've done my bit to keep the Basschat marketplace moving.

My just about best purchase was a Fender Japan '75 Jazz RI, but it was a close run thing with the American Pro Precision which I also picked up here from the classifieds.

 

IMG_3207.thumb.JPG.b2a0127c9f4f6158fd8a0f0a364dc017.JPG

Not being a fan of the Mexican 70's version, the rosewood/pearloid block combo is rare (harder to find than the maple version), and to find that married to a black body (as opposed to 3TSB) was very unusual. To find it with a matching black headstock takes it into hens teeth territory. It's almost a ringer for my first decent bass, which I had to sell over twenty years ago, and it feels very familiar in my hands. The icing on the cake was the throaty Hepcat '62 pickups that came with it. I treated it to a nice Ki0gon S/P loom and some TI Jazz flats. Lovely.

The worst purchase was a Hercules multi-guitar stand. I correctly assumed that I needed to save on space, and it does that job superbly, but what I didn't realise was that only one edge of my collection would be on display. I mean, I did realise but, I didn't know how much I'd miss looking at my instruments face on! I bought one tripod stand, (to replace the three that I gave away when I bought the Hercules), and rotate the bass it holds as and when I feel like. I mean, you can only play one bass at a time, right? The multi stand now sits redundant, propped up next to my desk and taking up yet more space. Stupid.

 

Edited by Shambo
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On 24/12/2018 at 09:55, Fionn said:

Oh, ok 🙂 ...

016C5CC3-3085-4632-B0F1-89CA10AF5C7C.thumb.jpeg.980cc70ce0db1869368eb070c7de99e7.jpeg

 

 

On 24/12/2018 at 10:00, AndyTravis said:

Makes me miss my sb700 in the same finish.

Makes me feel a bit funny in the underpant area. Ooh missus. ❤😋

Edited by Rich
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Guest Marcoelwray

Aguilar Tone Hammer 500. So Disappointed compared to all I've heard about it... Swapped for a Glockenklang Blue Soul and my world has changed...

Now I'm on valves...

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1 hour ago, steve-bbb said:

last little remaining job to be done is a trip to the local luthier https://www.81guitarworks.co.uk (thoroughly recommend for anybody in the maidstone area)

Well thanks very much for that. I'm living in Maidstone and was looking for a local guitar tech. I shall be trying them out in the new year for sure.

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Guest oZZma

Best: too many. I'm a newbie so I just started making serious choices about my sound... 2018 was intense for me. It started with an aluminum neck and ended with bi-amping 😁

Worst: Sovtek Midget head. I bought this for the "dirt" signal. I didn't like it, too smooth and vintage-y. I changed it after a month or so for an Engl Screamer, much closer to my intentions :)

I'm not a "GAS" person so with the job I did this year I think I'm almost done with my rig/pedalboard setup. I'll probably get only a Rusty Box in 2019. 

 

 

Edited by oZZma

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3 hours ago, steve-bbb said:

pic at last here is the the squier, which for me personally as a gigging bass, has outshone the US deluxe J i bought earlier in the year

new gotoh 201 bridge, wizard thumper , new cts pots and an orange drop , last little remaining job to be done is a trip to the local luthier https://www.81guitarworks.co.uk (thoroughly recommend for anybody in the maidstone area) to get the nut slots sorted out which are a bit high - looks great for gigs too as our guitarist has a late 70s strat in same colour config (except rosewood board) so they make a good pair

IMG_0643.thumb.jpg.5fe9976a49d06e287c50dbc7080f8b3f.jpg

 

That's a cool looking bass, and you've gone down a very similar route to me. I had a VM Precision and upgraded it with a Gotoh 201 initially, and then a 203 for a more 'vintage' look. I also had a 'Thumper', CTS pots, Switchcraft jack, Orange Drop cap, cloth-covered wiring, full 3M copper shielding to all cavities and back of pickguard and a set of silky-smooth Grover 142 tuners. It was a lovely bass and sounded great but I wanted to try something else so built a Mk II. This has a Squier VM Jaguar neck on a Westfield P-copy body and is fitted with a Bare Knuckle '58 pattern pickup and a Tusq nut. Otherwise all the hardware and electrics were transplanted from the Mk I. The body and neck were stripped down and refinished in genuine nitrocellulose lacquer, and I fitted Fender reissue bridge and pickup covers and a 'tug bar' for a totally vintage vibe. I modelled it on a Fender Custom Shop '62 reissue (photo 1) and it represents five years of teaching myself guitar building on possibly a dozen different instruments. It plays as good as any bass I've ever tried (including Custom Shops) and for a total cost of about £400!

With regard to your too-high nut (they all have them) my solution was to gently tap the nut out sideways and then run the bottom face across some #400 wet & dry, being careful to keep it level and apply even pressure. I just did a bit at a time and checked progress by slipping the nut back into the slot and retuning until it was just right. A couple of drops of superglue to finish and the playability was transformed, more so than by fret-levelling or any other mod I've made. It's an easy DIY job and if you fit a new nut and f*** it up you can always try again with another one or revert to the original... they're cheap as chips. You may find my FB page useful: https://www.facebook.com/howtoruinaperfectlygoodguitar/

 

Custom Shop '62.png

PJ Custom (1).png

Edited by CMSbass67
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22 hours ago, Marcoelwray said:

Aguilar Tone Hammer 500. So Disappointed compared to all I've heard about it... Swapped for a Glockenklang Blue Soul and my world has changed...

Now I'm on valves...

i had an amp thing too - tried out a hartke 600 classD - was ok ish  but tried it gigging and rehearsing a couple of times and went back to using the LH500 classA goodness

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