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wintoid

Graphite (Steinberger vs Status)

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Posted (edited)

If we’re talking carbon fibre composite necks, then we can’t leave out the company that started it: Modulus Graphite. The founder (Geoff Gould) had an aerospace background, and did some experiments and concluded that sustain was a function of stiffness (Young’s modulus) than weight. One of their neck-through instruments has been on my “ship came in” list for decades now. 

Edited by bnt
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Posted (edited)

What an interesting thread! Where do I start?

The thing to remember about the Steinberger L/XL  basses is that they were not really trying to sound warm or  mellow like a traditional wooden bass. That's  a big part of what was so great about them. Inadvertently, perhaps, Ned Steinberger created a bass with a tone  that was ideal for how people were using the bass guitar in popular music at the beginning of the 1980's.  The zeitgeist of the time was that more  was  more, and more  was  usually better. Bass players wanted to stand out.  A Steinberger would give you that .

What I still value about the L/XL  basses is that they sounded modern and  aggressive , whereas a lot ( most) of hifi, hi-tech basses have a tendency to sound way too refined and polite for my taste. A  Steinberger sounds just as hefty as a Fender or Rickenbacker or any other old -school bass,  if you want it to. The L in particular could sound downright nasty. 

 I've got a Status Streamline 4 string that I bought new about four years ago and it is a great bass. It definitely sounds different to a Steinberger,- a bit warmer , I would say- but it is still the unapologetic sound of an all-graphite bass, and that's what I wanted.  The quality of the manufacturing on mine is equal to anything I have ever seen, absolutely flawless. I must admit I don't use it very often, but I am sure I will get round to it. The ergonomics are a bit unusual if you are going to it from a Fender-style bass ect, but with the right strap and a bit of experimentation it is  much easier to adjust to than the Steinberger for most folks .  I note LFalex v1.1's gripes with interest  , but a lot of them like getting pricked by strings( you can still get most regular gauges double ball end) and the custom -ordered  series/parallel switching business are not going to affect me or most other players in all likelihood.  And I think they sound pretty hefty, maybe not as aggressive  and brittle as a Steinberger but not weak or wimpy by any means. 

 

Regarding graphite- necked  Vigier basses , I remember going to the  Bass Centre  in the 1980's and early 1990s and playing a few and they were fantastic instruments, lightweight and punchy with a great sound to them. The only reason I didn't walk out of the shop with one was that the Bendetti pickups were very microphonic. You could heat the thump of your fingers  tapping on them  as you played  them through the amp . Also, the nut was cut so the strings were very close to the edge of the fingerboard, a pet peev of mine.  And Ped, you might be mildly  interested that the  beautiful white Passion Bass you have ( or had if you have sold it on )  might well  be  the one featured  for review in Guitarist magazine back in 1985. I had the copy with it in . 

Edited by Misdee
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54 minutes ago, bnt said:

One of their neck-through instruments has been on my “ship came in” list for decades now. 

TBX = through body experimental

SPi and most of the earlier models are bolt-on.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, ped said:

Annoyingly I haven’t ever played one but always think they sound great recorded.

Also annoyingly I found my ‘88 Vigier’s sister (#709 to my #711) for sale in Spain but the bugger won’t post. May find a helpful Spanish BCer to be a go between! The plan would be to turn it into a fretless to match my fretted. 

I think Stu Hamm had the same problem as me with the Kubicki, hence the Urge. I’ve always found them very ‘80s-sounding, rather back pickup-centric, if that makes sense, and burp was never my thing. 
 

Good luck with the other Vigier, hope you can sort something. 

Edited by 4000
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Misdee said:

What an interesting thread! Where do I start?

The thing to remember about the Steinberger L/XL  basses is that they were not really trying to sound warm or  mellow like a traditional wooden bass. That's  a big part of what was so great about them. Inadvertently, perhaps, Ned Steinberger created a bass with a tone  that was ideal for how people were using the bass guitar in popular music at the beginning of the 1980's.  The zeitgeist of the time was that more  was  more, and more  was  usually better. Bass players wanted to stand out.  A Steinberger would give you that .

What I still value about the L/XL  basses is that they sounded modern and  aggressive , whereas a lot ( most) of hifi, hi-tech basses have a tendency to sound way too refined and polite for my taste. A  Steinberger sounds just as hefty as a Fender or Rickenbacker or any other old -school bass,  if you want it to. The L in particular could sound downright nasty. 

 I've got a Status Streamline 4 string that I bought new about four years ago and it is a great bass. It definitely sounds different to a Steinberger,- a bit warmer , I would say- but it is still the unapologetic sound of an all-graphite bass, and that's what I wanted.  The quality of the manufacturing on mine is equal to anything I have ever seen, absolutely flawless. I must admit I don't use it very often, but I am sure I will get round to it. The ergonomics are a bit unusual if you are going to it from a Fender-style bass ect, but with the right strap and a bit of experimentation it is  much easier to adjust to than the Steinberger for most folks .  I note LFalex v1.1's gripes with interest  , but a lot of them like getting pricked by strings( you can still get most regular gauges double ball end) and the custom -ordered  series/parallel switching business are not going to affect me or most other players in all likelihood.  And I think they sound pretty hefty, maybe not as aggressive  and brittle as a Steinberger but not weak or wimpy by any means. 

 

Regarding graphite- necked  Vigier basses , I remember going to the  Bass Centre  in the 1980's and early 1990s and playing a few and they were fantastic instruments, lightweight and punchy with a great sound to them. The only reason I didn't walk out of the shop with one was that the Bendetti pickups were very microphonic. You could heat the thump of your fingers  tapping on them  as you played  them through the amp . Also, the nut was cut so the strings were very close to the edge of the fingerboard, a pet peev of mine.  And Ped, you might be mildly  interested that the  beautiful white Passion Bass you have ( or had if you have sold it on )  might well  be  the one featured  for review in Guitarist magazine back in 1985. I had the copy with it in . 

That’s my man Jaymi in the first clip, big Ric & Jaydee fan.

I actually liked the Streamline I played (a friend had one), it was quite nice, although I didn’t get to spend much time with it. The light weight and ergonomics were a big plus in my book. 
 
TBH, pretty much every truly great-sounding instrument I’ve ever played, guitar or bass, has had microphonic pickups. It doesn’t bother me at all. 

Edited by 4000
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Just back to the Kubicki for a moment, and showing my ignorance, but it's not a graphite neck is it?  It still seems to have that piano-ish sound I associate with graphite.

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19 minutes ago, wintoid said:

Just back to the Kubicki for a moment, and showing my ignorance, but it's not a graphite neck is it?  It still seems to have that piano-ish sound I associate with graphite.

No, it's wooden, but it's wooden laminates. If I remember, it's 37 laminates (maybe Google that, I remember it being more than 30, but not sure the exact number). I believe he did this to eliminate dead spots.

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9 hours ago, Misdee said:

A  Steinberger sounds just as hefty as a Fender or Rickenbacker or any other old -school bass,  if you want it to. The L in particular could sound downright nasty.

This is really good what you wrote here. I'd made a reference to this in a post earlier, but I think you captured this idea better.

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35 minutes ago, bassaussie said:

No, it's wooden, but it's wooden laminates. If I remember, it's 37 laminates (maybe Google that, I remember it being more than 30, but not sure the exact number). I believe he did this to eliminate dead spots.

I think Moses made a graphite neck for them but the idea didn’t take off but there are a few floating around 

Here’s one!

https://reverb.com/item/35148197-kubicki-nos-rare-moses-kubicki-ex-factor-neck-1998

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4 minutes ago, ped said:

I think Moses made a graphite neck for them but the idea didn’t take off but there are a few floating around 

Here’s one!

https://reverb.com/item/35148197-kubicki-nos-rare-moses-kubicki-ex-factor-neck-1998

Completely new one on me.

I always admired Kubicki and what he did with the Ex-Factor. He was one of the few manufacturers that took the headless concept, and then added to it. It was so smart the way he married the idea with a concept that had actually been around for centuries (the extension used on double basses), and ended up with something that was so elegant.

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Just now, bassaussie said:

Completely new one on me.

I always admired Kubicki and what he did with the Ex-Factor. He was one of the few manufacturers that took the headless concept, and then added to it. It was so smart the way he married the idea with a concept that had actually been around for centuries (the extension used on double basses), and ended up with something that was so elegant.

Yeah me too, and you can instantly recognise the sound. I know what @4000 means about the focused sound although it sounds quite warm played over the front pickup - although I bet it works well on a fretless. 

Clever thing about the early Vigiers is how the neck stops where the front pickup starts so you get the warmth of the wood with the consistency and even response of the graphite. Even though the two pickups are far back and next to each other you can get a wide range from P type clonk to rear pack up bark by panning the control which is really surprising. 

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57 minutes ago, bassaussie said:

No, it's wooden, but it's wooden laminates. If I remember, it's 37 laminates (maybe Google that, I remember it being more than 30, but not sure the exact number). I believe he did this to eliminate dead spots.

You remember correctly!  It is 37 laminates, so the neck is a very high resin/glue content. That, coupled to the orientation of said laminates yields a very stiff neck. Which sounds reminiscent of.. you guessed it, carbon fibre. 

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Posted (edited)

Do you think how unique the Kubicki is, the parts might be a bit of a problem in the future?  I know the Steinbergers have this issue with the string claws, but it seems like someone has solved that.  I imagine the Kubicki is less common than the Steinberger.

Terrible gas here!  I will only buy one bass, and would hope to keep it for a long time.  I really do love the sound I've heard from the Kubicki, but a nice Steinberger feels like it might be easier to maintain.  Needless to say, I've been rather put off the Status idea due to the reports of various issues. 

Edited by wintoid

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, wintoid said:

Do you think how unique the Kubicki is, the parts might be a bit of a problem in the future?  I know the Steinbergers have this issue with the string claws, but it seems like someone has solved that.  I imagine the Kubicki is less common than the Steinberger.

Terrible gas here!  I will only buy one bass, and would hope to keep it for a long time.  I really do love the sound I've heard from the Kubicki, but a nice Steinberger feels like it might be easier to maintain.

I've seen far more Steinbergers around than Kubickis on the used market.

And then there's the question - which Kubicki?!!! ;) You need to know your history a little, as Kubicki's suffer the same reputation as old Tobias basses.

At some point, Kubicki sold his company to Fender. He'd actually been with Fender for years prior to building his own basses, then did his own thing for a while, then sold his company to Fender and Fender start making Kubicki basses. Again, you can google all this to confirm the exact movements. Anyway, the original Kubickis made by his company are much more sought after than the Fender era basses. I think the preamp was changed, maybe less settings, something like that.

Just to explain my comment above about Tobias - Michael Tobias sold his company to Gibson. "Pre-Gibson" Tobias basses are really well regarded. Gibson era, not so much, so similar to what happened with Kubicki.

 

EDIT: Did some Googling of my own. He didn't sell to Fender, he formed a licensing agreement with them.

Edited by bassaussie
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I believe his son still makes them.  I have enquired, but I'm expecting it to be out of my price range.

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Wintoid, what's your main brief? Is it headless, or graphite, or both? Because there are other options about that are worth looking at. Not saying they'll be easy to find, but they're out there.

Headless, keep your eyes open for a brand called Clover. They're a German brand, appearance would be similar to a Status. And the model name is worth it's weight in gold - "Slapper". Priceless! :D

Schack is another brand that did a nice headless bass, again, it's German, and again, sort of like a Status.

Graphite wise, there's a few more traditional alternatives you might consider. Modulus used to make Fender style necks, called the BassStar. I had one for a while, and in fact, I think I sold it on here (a VERY dumb move). Sensational necks, but probably difficult to find.

Peavey had a go at the graphite neck thing for a while with a bass called the G-Bass. These were actually quite inexpensive, and very well regarded. I think these days they're a little hard to come by, as people realised how good they were.

Ped mentioned Moses above - don't have any personal experience, but have heard they're OK. And of course Status make their Fender necks as well, which people seem to rave about.

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A very good question.  This all started (20+ years ago) with wanting something really compact, and having always wanted a Steinberger.  I'd had a Warwick Thumb NT and frankly hated it.  I have kept my Hohner B2A for decades because it was cheap and compact, but I don't really like it that much.  In some ways the bass I've enjoyed the most was my old Westone (?) Rail.

I'm very much interested in stuff that works and keeps working.  Something like a Precision would appeal on the basis that you can keep those things running forever because you can always change the parts, but the Precision doesn't really sound how I like it.  The Steinberger appeals because if the neck is straight, the neck should stay straight, and if they're still working since the late 80s, they will probably keep working.  The Status appeals because the company is around to help, and is in the UK.  The Kubicki gives me the willies slightly because it's weird and might be hard to keep alive for decades.  I only really want to do this once.  I confess I am seduced by the futuristic looks of Steinberger, Status and Kubicki, and I like headless for that reason.

I do still want it compact, and I really like that sustained sound, which to me seems to come from graphite.  However, the Kubicki is the best sounding bass I've heard, at least based on the various youtube things I've found.

So I guess headless comes first, sustainy pianoish tones comes next, and graphite in third place.  Compact is a nice to have.

On the Kubicki I read that the thing to look at is whether it's 9V or 18V.  There's one available at the moment, pre-fender, but over 2k.  I guess if a nice XL2 came along for under 2k, I'd struggle to resist.

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Based on what you've said there, along with the rest of the thread, for me, that sounds like you'd want a Steinberger.

Have you seen his later basses, the Synapse? I don't know much about them, but they look pretty nice.

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I've seen the Synapse, which I think is wooden.  Also the NS Designs CR4 or 5 could be a possibility, but it's getting bulky for me.

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2 hours ago, wintoid said:

Do you think how unique the Kubicki is, the parts might be a bit of a problem in the future?  I know the Steinbergers have this issue with the string claws, but it seems like someone has solved that.  I imagine the Kubicki is less common than the Steinberger.

Terrible gas here!  I will only buy one bass, and would hope to keep it for a long time.  I really do love the sound I've heard from the Kubicki, but a nice Steinberger feels like it might be easier to maintain.  Needless to say, I've been rather put off the Status idea due to the reports of various issues. 

I think you'd be missing a trick if you didn't at least try out a Status, I'm sure there's a BC'er near you that would help you out.  Status has a diverse range of basses and I guess the Streamline is the one that polarises opinion most.  Having owned one I also know that Rob Green is more than helpful if there are any issues, even on older 2nd hand basses to the point of offering full refurb services, which would be more problematic on basses where the manufacturer is no longer in business.

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Yes, just because people have noted bad experiences with Status doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them. I’m sure there have been an awful lot of Statuses owned on this Forum; I think whatever brand you mention, unless they’re very uncommon, you’ll get horror stories. I’ve owned a few Statuses but have never owned one from new, so that could be a factor with the practical issues I’ve had. I would imagine Rob Green’s support to be pretty good, although hopefully others more experienced will chime in on that.

I think my worry with graphite is that if it warps - which it can - you’re pretty much done, unless it’s a bolt on. Having said that, if you’re buying new it may be covered. 

I do think that there’s something very right about the Steinberger though. It’s a beautiful piece of design. 
 

With regards the Frame bass, they used to have a headless 5 in the Gallery. Tremendous bass, although the neck (built in relief) wasn’t flat enough for me and the fingerboard was too flat. I’ve only ever seen 2 though, and only 1 with a graphite neck. 

 

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6 hours ago, bassaussie said:

Modulus used to make Fender style necks, called the BassStar.

Peavey had a go at the graphite neck thing for a while with a bass called the G-Bass.

Peavey bought the necks from MG.

Modulus Graphite produced necks, also headless ones, but I have never seen other than BassStar (what a name!). There are pictures in the old advertisements of the selection, but I suppose they are very rare.

Was Lane Poor Minima wooden?

Phil Kubicki and Greg Curbow both used laminates in their instruments' necks. I think laminates is better from  marketing perspective, than plywood...

Bond was a revolutionary g-word but I think the fretboard was really different. Electronics were a bit like in Vigier's Nautilus.

German Basslab has graphite instruments. The bow may be inspired from Jerry Auerswald's creations.

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Just thought I’d post some pics for no reason. Other than love graphite. Wonderful stuff when used correctly and responsibly. 

57B2347E-3688-449A-BCC8-A046498AE620.jpeg

9BE3769F-D63A-4D5F-A8ED-12F848DE6747.jpeg

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25 minutes ago, ped said:

Just thought I’d post some pics for no reason. Other than love graphite. Wonderful stuff when used correctly and responsibly. 

57B2347E-3688-449A-BCC8-A046498AE620.jpeg

9BE3769F-D63A-4D5F-A8ED-12F848DE6747.jpeg

Is that sustainable graphite?

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