Building a USACG --> Sadowsky clone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by toniwonkanobi, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Hey everyone,
    I plan to build a "poor man's Sadowsky" out of USACG-sourced woods and all Sad. electronics. I've heard some good and some bad reviews of "parts" basses, but it seems everyone's anecdotal negative reviews are usually some kind of misunderstanding between Warmoth-type businesses and customers.

    That very well may be the outcome of my own USACG build, but i'm curious if anyone else has tried what i am, that is, a sadowsky clone through USACG (Warmoth is out of my reach because they don't offer the lam top i'm interested in their Dinky J, while USACG offers the lam top option i'm interested in...spalted...with their Jay Jr.)

    In starting this thread, I hope to receive correspondence, reviews, and otherwise advise from people who have used USACG parts toward a Sadowsky style bass.

    Thank you all for your time and consideration... :)
  2. I looked into doing this at one point, and once I had priced everything out, I decided that Nino Valenti wasn't all that expensive -- in other words -- I'd just get him to build me one, and it wouldn't be that much more than the cost of the parts. Plus, I'd have the knowledge that it was put together by someone who worked for Sadowsky at one point and really knew what he was doing.

    Valenti offers great work at great prices. If I were looking to get a well-made Sadowsky-type bass at a discount, I'd be looking his way.

    You could do it yourself, but it would be REALLY, REALLY tough to do it as well as Nino, and I think his expertise would be most definitely worth the extra bucks. You'd also have a little better resale down the road.
  3. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    +1 Valenti all the way, unless you just want the fun of building it yourself.
  4. Yeah, the fun of building myself is part of it. Basically, i'm just scared that it will somehow just "not sound like a sadowsky" even though the woods/electronics will be almost identical (there are variances in swamp ash, etc.). I've heard that sometimes ppl try to build a parts bass expecting it to be a cheap Sadowsky and it ends up not being the case.

    BTW, Nino's route is about 2-3 hundred more, and that makes a lil difference, and his headstock is not my fav, etc. But he does build great stuff. Just looking for my more specific sadowsky-clone thing.

    Thanks for the posts. Keep em coming!
  5. cigi


    Aug 22, 2006
    will you make it chambered like the sads?
  6. I'm afraid that USACG doesn't have a CNC program for that (which seems silly, since i'm sure they would get some work out of it). I'm having to opt for a featherweight body, which should put me at most 8 lbs. Not a 7.35 lb Sadowsky NYC, but better than a 10 lb. Fndr. Marcus miller i suppose!

    But yeah, that's one thing i won't be able to emulate (without spending enough money for a CNC reprogam..which would be just as much as buying a used NYC :))
  7. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    IMO, you will end up with a great bass that sounds awesome. I've built a bunch of basses with Sadowsky pu's and electronics and my customers love their basses.

    Will the bass sound like a Sadowsky? IMO, yes.

    On the other hand, I have 2 Sadowsky basses that I will probaby never get rid of.
  8. USACG does chambering, but not like Sadowsky. Warmoth chambers more like Sadowsky.
  9. basslinejam


    Mar 21, 2005
    New York City
    If you haven't seen them yet, Check out the videos from Sadowsky's shop on the Dimarzio website:

    There are a couple clues there about his build techniques, including the labor intensive neck pocket fitting process. A number of subtle things like that can have a great multiplier effect on the finished product and would explain why a self-built parts bass with dimarzios and a sadowsky pre might not sound quite like a sadowsky.

    Of course after I've said all that I say go for it. You will gain a ton of experience. Just go slow and have a good backup plan if you need someone to finish it for you:) Definitely a bummer when you can't play the thing cause you wired the preamp wrong or whatever (I speak from experience:D)

    Good luck and be sure to show us the finished product.
  10. Nino, this is a strange question maybe, but...It seems like your "niche" in the boutique market is EXACTLY like a poorman's sadowsky. Do you feel this is good explanation of your business, or instead, are you offering a sadowsky-like alternative?
  11. spc


    Apr 10, 2004
    South of Boston
    As a quick aside, Nino, do you prefer the chambered body?
    Why or why not? I'm planning a fretless j bass build, and I'm just wondering...


  12. JimS

    JimS Gold Supporting Member

    + 2 and fixed

    I've played Nino's basses years ago. They were damn good then so I assume his acquired experience makes them a smokin' bass now, regardless of price.
  13. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I started just building basses from various parts for myself (Warmoth, AllParts, Mighty Mite) and selling them to fund the next project. People liked the basses I was building so I decided to try and build a bass. I guess I am the Poor man's Sadowsky (even though my basses average at about $1900) because I consider myself a Sadowsky nut.
  14. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Nino's basses kill!! That being said, I'm sure after buying all the parts you'll almost spend the same amount you would if you found a nice used Sadowsky Metro. Also, your bass will have nearly no resale. The metro will. I built one myself about 5 years ago. Took a bath and the woods were less than resonant. My 2 cents and good luck

  15. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I don't offer chambering. When I used to use Warmoth, I believe I built one chambered bass and not that I'm using USACG, they off 2 hollow chambers. I have not used the USACG body yet so I have an opinion on the sound.

    As for the chambering that Sadowsky offers (which is similar to Warmoth;s chambering), I'm not a fan, personally. I like the sound of a solid body better. The solid body is brighter with a faster attack. The chambered is fuller, warmer, mellower (to me) when compared to a solid body. Both of my Sadowsky basses have solid Swamp Ash Bodies.
  16. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    I had tried one of Nino's basses, and I have to say it was very close to a NYC Sadowsky in terms of sound and quality. Although this particular bass that I tried had EMG/Aguilar, which are not exactly the current Sadowsky formula, it had much of the clarity and punch Sadowskys are known for. The neck profile was quite difference, though.

    So, I think you are definitely on the right track if that's the vibe you are looking for.

    Oh, BTW, regarding chambering, I'm not a fan either. It kinda kills the attack of the bass, more noticeable when slapping. I wouldn't lose sleep over not having that option.
  17. So the moisture somehow seeped passed the finish or something like that? and Then the bass wasn't resonant anymore?
  18. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    When I sold it I lost alot of money. Not to mention the bass was acoustically sorta dead compared to any of the 20 Sadowsky's Ive owned, wisea$$

  19. Hey Rob,
    Did you use USACG for the body and finishing options? did you do the same thing i'm planning: swamp ash with a lam top? What do you think made it dead acoustically?
  20. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Used Warmoth. Best stuff they had at that time. No Lam. top. Had it painted a vintage Fender color. Neck was maple with maple board. Didnt think it sounded dead, it did sound dead! LOL. Used Rogers pre and pickups, too

    Ever wonder why these builders charge big money for their product? They spend big money on their bodies and necks from their suppliers. Lightweight, resonant wood isnt cheap. Also, tough to put a price on someones 20 or 30 years of expertise.

    That being said, was pretty fun putting together my own bass. If I wasnt comparing it to a couple of Sadowsky's I owned at the time, might have made the cut. I hope you get some good wood and the build goes well. Post pics