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advice please for my new Hot wire Vintage 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nanookanono, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. Previous title of the Thread :
    Advice please for my new Hot wire Vintage 5

    After dreaming for a long time, I am just ordering a Vintage Jazz 5 built by Hot wire.
    It would be nice of you to give your advice upon general config and such options as mandolin frets, Alder/versus/Swamp ash body, nut material?

    I like passive sound, however, what would be best electronics? Passive, Aguilar, Hardy Kurandt, J retro?

    This is sound I am looking after :
    I play classical blues ( Parker, Mingus, Monk ) and I like upright sound :
    I strain to sound clean, the more accoustic possible, for "hifi" sound, I play an used Glockenklang heartcore amp and cab.

    Fist bass experiment : jazz bass
    As beginner, I bought one of the cheapest bass in my place : Squier jazz bass from Indonesia.
    I usually play reading partitions, sitting down. So, I found this bass difficult and non ergonomic :
    1.neck dive, leverage left hand, not well balanced…
    2.neck moves when water in the air vary, sometimes some frets buzz when looking for short action.
    But I like passive sound and neck shape.

    Second bass experiment : Alembic spoiler 83
    My teacher Bruno Chaza, ( nice to know on <http://brunochaza.free.fr/homepage.htm> ) plays 2 early neckthrough Vigiers ( fretted 4 and fretless 4 métal fretboard ) which sounds are amazing.
    So I wanted to try active neckthrough bass whith mahogany body wood. I bought this one out of Scotland through ebay. I like the warm sound and versatility however the output level is weak, don't know why?.

    At the time what I plan is :
    Hot Wire Vintage Bass 5 stringed for low B;
    swamp ash body, natural finish for nice wood;
    Neck of maple PUR finish; trussrod, no graphite reinforcement
    nut : bone
    Ebony fingerboard ( because I wish to go fretless later);
    mandolin frets ( for precise intonation and low action );
    Hot Wire Pickups, passive;
    Schaller machines;
    Bridge Badass;

  2. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    Alright... I think Hotwires are great instruments. If I hadn't found a very nice bass secondhand, I would have bought one of them. They sound great...and the Funky '77 too! They play gorgeous without any doubt.

    Some advice then... since I'm no expert in this area may be a short note.

    I have had some contact with Bert Gerecht (the hotwired man himself personally sends the emails and invites you to come along to jam the whole saturday long, whithout obligatory conditions!) and asked about the electronics.
    He said he owned a Big Apple himself and played most of the time passively. It isn't a must then to buy a pre-amp (also cheaper!) and mostly you'll find yourself playing in the 'off' mode.. (he told me). Also having spoken to him in person, I think he is a very dedicated man to his 'wooden children' and it can't be that you won't find yourself very happy, after buying a Hotwire. ;)

    So in fact the advice is this: just ask him if you're not sure and I can't imagine you will not get a good answer.
  3. Thanks De Teng,
    For sure, I already got Bert's nice advices: this is what he said :

    " I play lbues and jazz myself - passive is best.
    If you do slap, active could add some variety. especially the Retro."

    " alder body rosewood neck passive is the right one. and you can always add a Retro later if needed."

    " fingerboard is always important for tone. maple is always finished as it would turn green from your finger sweat in a few months if unfinished.
    maple - crisp sound - rosewood - warm sound - ebony - slightly harder tone, best for fretless because hardest wood - but I prefer rosewood for fretless - warmer tone."

    Very interesting;
    I should make my mind on Alder for tone, but I am little hooked on nice dark Swamp ash whith nice dark lines. Alder has to be coloured because it is not so nice figured wood.
    and ebony fingerboard hooked me too.

    Anybody use mandolin frets ?: seems nice fretless like precise tone?
    Anybody's advice upon nice nut material for JB welcome.
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    My choice for a Hotwire bass would be one of their 'Double' range:


    With just the piezos engaged they get a lovely acoustic bass tone, which might be just what you're after (with the option of switching on the magnetic picksups when you want to sound more like a classic fretless bass).

  5. Going ahead for those who should enjoy those tone stories...
    This is what Bert from Hotwire recently told me :

    "On the Swamp Ash-Alder thing, just let me add: One of the first Hot
    Wire Vintage 4 basses in early 2000 was a fretless with a beautiful
    singing tone... and the body was Swamp Ash ! I played many gigs on
    the one. that quite contradicted everything I found out before, so
    we made an identical bass with an Alder body. I recorded both
    basses, even swapped necks, and this Swamp Ash fretless sounded as
    great as the alder bass!

    another thing: I traded a 1963 Fender jazz with ripped out frets in
    1983. I refinished it, worked on the neck and played it as a fretless
    for years, but never was 100 percent happy with the sound. in 1999
    or so I put frets on the bass - and then it just exploded! it was
    the best slap bass I every had - so far. the body was Ash. Also, my
    first Fender Precision I bought new in 1969 went through a lot of
    changes. After hearing Jaco in 1978 or so, I decided to go fretless
    and filed down the frets. the sound I got was not quite jaco-like,
    and I discovered I needed a Jazz bridge pickup soon. I was stupid
    enough to strip that bass in 1977 of its original candy apple red
    finish - I still could slap myself for that! - and the wood
    underneath looked quite boring as it was alder. but it sounded great
    for me all those years. in fact I still play it - I have recently put
    on the famous hot wire boat laquer on the neck and this fretless
    sings like Caruso!

    BTW the alder body also has nice slap tones".

    A suivre....
  6. BustinJustin

    BustinJustin banned

    Sep 12, 2003
    NYC, LI too

  7. Hi Wulf, Bustin Justin, Smash.
    Thanks for nice input&#8230;

    Yes HWB fretless, Sharkey and Double bass make me gas too.

    Story going on with these pieces of conversation with Bert Gerecht replies in blue.

    This week-end, we heard HWB's MP3 at my teacher's ( Bruno Chaza ) and we think best sounds are from kay Eckardt's Big Apple:
    ( Kaibig,and frigo.mp3 )
    By the way, I remember seeing live kay Eckardt with John Mc Laughlin and Trilok Gurtu in the 1980s, impressive moments.
    Could you please tell us kay Eckhardt's Big apple's config, which

    Kais bass is big apple - alder body maple neck.
    he also liked swamp body rosewood neck when he
    was here to pick the right bass. it took all day
    to find the right one among 15 HW basses.
    Hardy Kurant 3Band: bass mid high.

    Later on &#8230;

    On my side, for the moment I don't look after slapping tones,
    As I have enough to improve "walking" fingers.
    But I love those fretless singing sustains as Kay's, Jaco's, Chaza's
    Mark Egan's.
    For the moment I can't play fretless as I read parts most of the

    I see what you mean. it looks like alder is the ticket for you. also,
    go for rosewood fingerboard. this can also be converted to fretless
    later - but we could also make you a special fretless neck later on.

    Is the piezzo your cup of tea?

    Well, recording the piezo I get a very convincing Double bass tone
    mixing it with a bit of the bridge PU. Live, it really depends on
    where I stand in terms of feedback.

    Is HWB's nut material usually bone?

    Yes, but we do brass nut on request but are rarely asked for it.
    Also, plastic nut for some guys that claim it sounds "more brilliant!"
  8. Story going on with these pieces of conversation with Bert Gerecht replies in blue.

    those pics here illustrate what we discussed. alder body rosewood
    neck. remarkable allround tone which I prefer for those jazz and
    blues sounds, and it rocks and slaps great too!
    a white scratchplate looks nice if the pure alder looks a bit plain to you.

    we once made one like this but with a maple neck... and that was a
    mean slapper!
  9. Aaron J

    Aaron J

    Jul 16, 2003
    Cincinnati, OH
    I know this is a little bit of a throwback to your first post, but if you r Alembic has a low output, check in the control cavity for one or two little pots that act as gain controls for the pickup. If I recall (it's been a little while since I sold my Alembic), most Alembics have these...you can turn up the gain/output with a little screwdriver. Oh yeah, good luck with the Hotwire. They look like they are incredible basses...I am always floored by Kai Eckhardt's tone.
  10. basshead

    basshead Hotwire Basses

    hello there,

    of course we can stain alder to bring out the grain structure a bit... but alder has not much of a grain structure, so it will never look as "lively" as swamp ash. it is "tone" versus "looks" - sometimes it is hard to decide! :D :D
  11. De Teng

    De Teng

    Oct 27, 2003
    Utrecht, Holland
    I'm really curious about their Dan Glenn bass... seems to me that it has awesome fretless tone. Unfortunately I'm not that fortunated..yet!!! :eyebrow:
  12. basshead

    basshead Hotwire Basses


    The Dann Glenn model differs from our regular fretless in that it features a swamp ash body. Dann is more into the explosive attack that wood offers, also the bass is lighter. In his hands, it really comes to life!

    More on the Ash-Alder thing: I own two Fender Jazz basses from 1966, both sunburst. I both aquired them - separately- sometime in 1982. while that might not seem to be a big deal, the fact that the serial nos. are only 16 digits apart, is a rare occasion and quite fascinating. one of them is a player, quite worn, and plays itself. I gigged with it extensively. the body is ash. the other one is mint, I got it from an old player who used to play weddings. that one has an alder body. it feels like a new bass! I did never gig with it as not to put a scratch on it. apart from the bodies, both basses have the same features, but sound remarkably different when played with the same setup and strings. they might have been made the same day. obviously they both went to Germany, probably in 1966, and ended up in my hands in 1982!
  13. Thanks for your advices.
    Here is the choice at last.

    I had trouble to make my mind, so last night we made intensive brainstorming at my teacher's hearing HWB sounds, comparison between Alder and Ash body, and finally we made it!

    As Chaza said : " Ash is perfumed lady, but Alder's got pussy!! We like how the low sound growls when ending.

    I had to give up a few ideas I liked very much as :
    Magnus's " classic body shape " that is very nice;
    Neckthrough as Sharkey's
    Ash body, but rather go for better low sounds.

    I can't give up ebony fretboard desire.

    For taint, is it no more necessary, let's say as " nice natural Alder left HWB pic "
    headstock shapeflash as pic

    Best regards
  14. Hello,
    Yes this Christmas is specially nice for me. I am waking this thread to let you have a look to The bass that I picked up in Germany last month. :bassist:
    You can see it on hotwire-bass.com
    then basses then custom at the bottom of the page.
    I am very happy with it. Bert thinks it's a nice HWbass.

    My HW 5vint/flash is now my main intrument...
    The B string is very useful for me even reading Chaza's parts, for low notes in the 8's fret area. The setup action and playability is top. The neck is a pleasure, I coudn't notice any trouble going from 4 to 5.

    I specially thank Bert Gerecht for welcome in Desloch.
    I liked very much the college and HWoffice bass lessons he gave me whith some of his students, he is nice guitarist too and is a library for Blues, Jazz and Funk.

    My teacher Bruno Chaza tried it and... he loves it too.He thinks this one is even better than another student's 5er Sadowski one he knows.

    He says it's very rare for him to test a bass that could fit to his playing
    immediately, for he plays with very short action. He loves the setup that is exceptionnal, specially for ADG strings between 10 to 20 frets, where he can play his new harmonic techniques so musical in tone...

    Best regards
  15. Very nice! So you went with the ebony fingerboard after all. May be a silly question, but do you think you can you hear the ebony in the sound? In theory there should be a bit more highs and a nice snap to your attack; wonder if this applies to the sound of your bass.
  16. Hey Mahey,
    Of course, I am not quite sure to hear it. So much parameters that make bass sing...
  17. That's what I figured, guess that means the fingerboard doesn't have a dramatic impact on the overall sound. I thought the attack might be a bit special on your bass. Anyhow, let us know if you ever have a chance to compare your bass with a rosewood equipped HW.
  18. basshead

    basshead Hotwire Basses

    hello Bass Bros,

    I tested this matter some time ago. I recorded a Hot Wire with Maple Neck. Then I put on a Rosewood neck on the same body and recorded the same lick. switching from one track to the other, it sounded like two different basses to me! so the neck does have a big impact on sound... and the fingerboard? well, definitely! is there a big difference between rosewood and ebony, big enough that it is audible? probably. That is something I will be able to check soon as we have various necks in the making!

    Personally, I prefer rosewood fingerboards for both fretted and fretless. Just got a fretless rosewood neck bass ready which is hard for me to let go! Rosewood brings out the lower midrange more and sounds warmer, rounder and a bit "sweeter" to me. Ebony sounds harder, clearer and more defined. But I am used to the ol Jaco sound which was alder body, rosewood neck plus boat epoxy. (that´s why I have boat laquer on my 69 fender P-Bass with added J-pickup of course.)
    if it is going to be mainly slap, then maple is first choice.

    I have the luxury of taking another bass to rehearsals and gigs all the time to check on the sonic characteristics. as you can tweak any bass into giving you the sound you want (at least if you have a good amp) I believe in the fact that the bassic sound of the instrument should already give you the sound you want to hear without tweaking! from there, you can taylor the sound with additional active electronics and/or amp settings.

    I guess that answers the question: the neck and fingerboard really make the sound! :hyper: