Are Warwicks Any Good??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickreyn, Oct 18, 2000.

  1. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    As I prepare to receive my new Corvette Standard 5-String I bought from a music store in Knoxville (inventory clearance sale), I was filling the time trying to stave off the typical cognitive dissonance that comes from finally making a decision after weeks of pondering. I was reading a 1997 Bass Player 5-string Shootout and noted that of all the quality basses tested, none were Warwicks! I had to ask why? Then I stopped to think. At my local Mars, the Warwicks seem to grow moss on the walls. Why? Another local music store that carried Warwicks had to run a fire sale to ultimately get rid of them. Why? What I have noticed in my limited travels is that when Warwicks are "pushed out the door" after growing moss, they get lapped up. Why? In the CD reviews in Bass Player, rarely are the players' main axes Warwicks. Why? Looking at many of the very best bass players in the world, very few apparently play Warwicks. Why? I asked a small local guitar store owner about them and he replied that they are “one trick ponies” and the bolt-ons are cheap “knockoffs.” However, he was beginning to carry the Corvette Standards!? What’s up with that? One bass player in a store said he had one but got rid of it because it had “no bottom.” Another guy liked the bottom and top ends, but complained about the lack of mids. And on Talk Bass, many swear by them (even drool thinking about them) and praise the characteristic “sound.” I am confused. Are these basses overpriced, or are they just so esoteric that only a few desire them? While I might be confused, before I bought, I played the bass locally many times and I decided it would be perfect for my style of play, and oh yes, I liked the sound! Help put my fears to rest!
  2. I think you got it right when you said they are esoteric. Warwicks are an acquired taste. As with any other bass, it's subjective.. many people love them, others don't. They have a very woody sound and feel which doesn't appeal to everyone. I used to own a neck-through Thumb Bass. The cons ended up outweighing the pros and I sold it. But that's my experience.. YMMV, as they say.
    I think that when it comes right down to it, if you played the bass and decided it would be perfect for you, that's all that matters. You'll always hear opinions that run counter to yours, but on such a subjective topic, you have to trust yourself, and it sounds like you do.. so good luck with the bass and congrats!
  3. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    Hey Ricryen,
    does this mean you will have to throw out the Carvin and the Ibanez?
    I don't think you should feel sorry for them, I'll put any Warwick against any Ibanez (except for the custom neckthru models...I think the Streamer Std. can't beat them ;-))everyday and I heard some of the Carvins are made with not much attention and many flaws.
    I also don't think that a way to judge a bass is if it appeared in BP shootout or whatever.
    also many people play fenders, much more than those who play Warwick.
    is Fender better than warwick? I think's quite the opposite for me.
    but thats a matter of taste, really there are people who don't like the Warwick wood, sound, feel, logo,T-shirts whatever reason they found for not liking it, but if you like it than who gives a damn? not me, I have a Streamer LX5 on order, I don't belive I will ever regret it and I actually don't think that not going with the pack (fender, Ibanez, MM)is a minus...actually the understated image of Warwick is what got me this bass for real cheap, and anyway, everyone you ask will tell you Warwick makes quality stuff, it may not be for everyone but everyone knows they make good stuff (like Germans ussually do).

    anyway, I hope you will like your bass, and if not you can always return it and get whatever run of the mil bass you desire.

    *no pun intended for all the Non-Warwick guys.

    [Edited by air_leech on 10-18-2000 at 06:46 PM]
  4. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Ten years ago, Warwick might have qualified as an esoteric brand in the United States. Given the regular ads in BP and the increasing number of endorsement artists, I don't think that's the case any more. As to why they don't sell all that well, I'm guessing that the extreme variablility of their product prevents them from establishing a coherent reputation amongst players. For one thing, they don't seem to have a flagship product or a signature design; the Streamer is a Spector design, and the Fortress, Thumb and Dolphin are something of an acquired taste. For another, consistency isn't all that apparent even within product lines. Example: of the two Thumbs I've tried, one weighed a ton and had a very burpy J-like tone while the other was closer to standard weight and had a scooped slap sound with lots of treble. Thus, while Sadowsky = "jazz bass on steroids," Carvin = "conservative McJazz," and Lakland = "versatile Musicman with upscale looks," Warwick = ??? There's no conventional wisdom surrounding Warwicks.

  5. grooveguru


    Sep 14, 2000
    Central PA
    I recently purchased a Warwick Thumb 4 bolt-on through Music123 and after receiving it I noticed alot of cosmetic flaws in the finish. I returned it for a replacement which they didn't have in stock so they pulled one from their brick and mortar store, Zapf's music in Philly. First thing I noticed was the gigbag was different. When I first picked up this bass I noticed a difference in the weight (The replacement was slightly lighter in weight). The next thing I noticed was it has a Wenge neck instead of Ovankol. It also has the brass Just-A-Nut I instead of the black Just-A-Nut II. I found out that this bass was made mid 1999. Which explains some of the differences. There are some differences tonewise as well. Not better or worse just different. I use a Fender P-bass as well as the Warwick and there is a big difference soundwise. I have to agree that the Warwick's tone is quite unique and cuts through any type of music (Sort of the way a Rickenbacker sounds although not exactly the same???). The controls are very, very resposive and the slightest turn changes the character of the bass. The feel of a Warwick is quite unique as well and takes some getting used too, but boy is it worth it.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think that as others have mentioned, there is now no characterstic Warwick sound as they have diversified their range so far and have introduced more an more cheaper models.

    When they started out with Thumbs and Streamers, there seemed to be a real character and ethic about the "sound of wood" idea. But some of the recent models I have picked up are definitely "cheap knockoffs" - as your dealer says and they now seem to be poorer quality, than say a MIM Jazz Bass.

    On the more expensive, top of the range models - I really liked the sound of some of these and the "natural" woody sound was something different. But I couldn't find a model (despite trying many of these in shops) that had a comfortable neck - they were all too thick and made my wrist ache after only a few minutes of playing them. I don't know if this experience is typical, but I can imagine a lot of people looking at the catalogues and advertising and thinking "wow I must get one of those" - I know I did. But then, when you actually try one in a shop, find that that natural finish, thick plain wooden neck doesn't feel that good in your hands.
  7. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I think Corvettes are becoming the standard Warwicks.
    Afterall they are available from 'inexpensive'
    Corvette Standard to more high quality and versatile
    Corvette FNA Jazzmans. And with a price around 1200 bucks,
    FNA Jazzman competes with better known basses such as
  8. Interesting - I have a Thumb 5 FL (which I admit feels like a base-ball bat) BUT I also have a Thumb 4 FL and the neck on that that feels more like that of a Rickenbacker - the difference is like night and day! The 4 is just over a pound lighter than the 5, BTW...

    - Wil
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I don't like Rickenbackers either! ;)

    My main gripes with Warwick necks - I don't like the unfinished wood on the back of the neck, it feels uncomfortable to me. More importantly, the necks are too thick (front to back)for me and this is what makes my wrist ache - especially when playing close to the nut - the weight is irrelevant to me, I have played far heavier basses with no problems.
  10. TonyS


    Dec 13, 1999
    FWIW the shape and finish of Warwick necks are a problem for me also.

    Regardless ... Good luck with your purchase.
  11. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    i've never played a bass that feels as good as my warwick (Thumb 5 neckthru). and i've played a ton of stuff. but yeah, the sound is definitely unique, but it can become YOUR sound. i get gigs just cos i have the best TONE out of almost any bassist in madison. it sounds very growly, but mine has a ton of low end too. the notes cut through big time. but i know at least MY bass is very, very heavy, and the neck is wide, but not too wide. i have pretty big hands so it's not really a problem for me.

    and there are major players playing them (P-nut, stuart zender, stefan lessard, bakithi kumalo, etc.) just listen to stefan and stu's tone, if you like that, you'll like warwicks.

  12. Cool, another Madison bassist on the board! I'm a freshman living in Chadbourne.

    Btw, you wouldn't happen to know of any shops around here that carry Warwicks (new or used) would you? I've been to Good Music, but they didn't any Warwicks. :( Great store though. A big step up from what I'm used to in central WI.

    I'm looking to go fretless... there's a very fine looking fretless Thumb BO 4 on BassNW that I may just buy. Odds are that I'll either get a Warwick or a Musicman. Good Music has an unlined fretless Sterling that's absolutely immaculate.
  13. I was just reading your profile.. Richard Davis is a fellow at Chadbourne. I have yet to meet him though.
  14. rocketman


    Oct 19, 2000
    I have found in my experience that the Warwicks are excellent guitars for a certain range of sounds. I really like them for slapping and playing anything that requires extra punch. However the con for me is the versatility. A Warwick is pretty much always gonna sound like a warwick. I personally play a Yamaha TRB6II as my main axe, because I use the 6 strings to their fullest, the price was really good, and the versatility is unbelievable. But I am strongly considering picking up a Warwick FNA as a third bass to play funk and slap. They have the most incredible punch from the low end all the way to the highest fret. The longer scale of the warwicks keeps the lowest string (B or E) extra tight and gives you great definition on the lower register. I personally am not a huge fan of the necks on the warwicks. They seem to run really fat and coarse (of course this probably also is because I have EXTREMELY small hands). Bottom line though is to play everything you can get your hands on and find the bass that is right for YOU. Certain basses lend themselves to certain styles and certain players. Just go crazy and play everything. I like to go to Mars or Guitar center and play 15 different guitars through the same amp with the same settings. That way I get a fair comparison of tones and playability. Hope this helps.
  15. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I'll have say that in my experince, most are right. Warwicks are aquired. I didn't like the unfinished neck, but I didn't find it to thick at all. The bodies are fine, I prefer the Thumb bolt on, but I just can't get past the neck! It's kinda uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. I think if I knew what it was that bugged me about the necks then I could enjoy them more. I DO dig the sound however. My biggest complaint is the neck, but I love the scooped bodies (fit the ol' gut like a glove!) and love the woods. Also, like some said, there is a goodly difference in weight, but that doesn't bother me. It boild down to this: you either playing one, or not. Why is up to the person.
  16. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Warwick basses, especially the Thumb, are the first new basses that really grabbed me. Yes, the necks are bit odd, but for me they work. I wish I had one! And, if you're looking for a testimony, I can say it in two words - Jack Bruce.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was very careful to say that it wasn't how "wide" the necks are - I've played a Yamaha TRB6P which is far wider, but much more comfortable and it wasn't how heavy either. It is the thickness - back to front - of the necks and how rough they feel that is the problem. I have found that playing a Warwick makes my wrist ache very quickly, whereas I could play the TRB6P with it's very wide neck for hours with no problems like this. The Yamaha has a very flat neck, thin from front to back, which feels more comfortable to me.
  18. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I am now in receipt of the Corvette Standard 5. My compliments to Rik's Music in Knoxville for a smooth "Internet" transaction. Some initial thoughts after playing the bass at home without the guitar gymnastics on the other isle. Wood-have to wonder why we paint guitars! Workmanship-very good, no apparent flaws. Neck-yes it's thicker than my Carvin, but it's smoother than I was led to believe, and smoother than the neck on the Corvette FNA 4 I had briefly. I'll have to place my thumb further towards the middle of the neck now. If this was a baseball bat, I'd be a better hitter. Weight-it is heavy(ier), but I play on a stool most of the time. At my age, you need a little exercise. Gig bag-plush as far as gig bags go. Setup-action way to high! Got to go a mile to the frets. I've already lined up a local guitar maker to set it up. And oh yes, sound-it's what I was looking for. Thick, resonant, etc. Excellent sustain. Good B string. Overall I am pleased, but will be more pleased when I get the action lowered and a new set of strings. It is interesting to hear the wide range of opinions on this brand in this thread and another current thread.
  19. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    don't even get me started about how crappy the gig bag is.

    but when it falls apart in less than a year, get a new one, its warranteed.

  20. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000

    I think what makes people think the wood on the neck is not so nice is beacuse they played the all-Wenge necks.
    the Ovangkol necks are much smoother, though I didn't feel uncomfortable with either of the two.

    as to the neck shape- yeah they don't seem good at first with that chunky D like shape but when you play it feels right and anyway I like Warwick necks because all these thin round necks (7.25 radius, C profile)cause aches at my fretting hand (had a Jazz style tapered neck on my G&L...very small!).