Cleveland New Standard-Why?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by phippsyg, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. phippsyg


    May 28, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Optima Strings
    I have read a few posts about these basses and people seem to really like them.

    What is it that you like (or don't) about yours?

    It seems like a lot of money for a plywood bass. I had an opportunity to briefly play one a few days ago but didn't get long enough with the instrument to form an opinion. I am trying to decide whether to put the money into a solid top bass for around the same price. I was surprised at how large the New Standard was and the neck felt really thick compared to my old bass. Am going to have another look this week but am interested to hear what people like and don't like about these basses.

    The neck -it's very comfortable compared to my Christopher. I find the thick neck to be less fatiguing.

    The Setup- Easy to play straight out of the box.

    The sound- big everywhere, it sounds like it's got a subwoofer attached compared to my Christopher. It booms!

    The build- Built light but tough. First gig I did with my Cleveland: it fell from an upright position onto the concrete floor of a carpark and nothing happened!

    Dislike- Nothing really. It does just what it says on the packet: a brawny bruiser of a bass. Oh yeah, it doesn't fit into my polystyrene flight case (that's why I keep my Christopher).
  3. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I played a lot of basses in this price range both carved and ply when I was looking to replace my 1/2 sized German ply and I don't think anything is close. Unless you luck into a nice old carved bass I don't think you can buy a newer bass as nice. The only bass I've liked as much was a carved 1960's Kolstein but the seller was asking $6K. I've had a chance to play a couple of nice higher end basses since I bought the Cleveland but they're all way out of my league/price range.

    The bass looks bigger than it feels and I really like the feel of the neck, especially on long gigs.

    When you try it out again have someone else play it and all of the other basses around so you have a chance to hear how it compares.

    my $.02

  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Not all Plywood Basses have to be made on the cheap you know. Not all carved Basses are made to higher standards either.

    If the top modern handmade Basses are running from 20k and up today, what can't a great plywood Bass start at only 20% of that? You know, real good top grade old Basses have hit in the 100k-400k+ range recently.

    Old Plywoods that used to cost $100-$300 when new are now fetching $2,000 - $4,000 depending on the Bass and the condition as well as who you buy it from. Also, an old Plywood Bass may not be worth making the correct modifications for todays playing. Instruments that ARE made right to begin with and having all corrections made using better tonal and structural materials than the old ones for around the same price I think it's a great idea.

    I have played these Basses and they are the bomb in the Plywood biz. Few carved Basses percentage wise in the 4-5k range (and higher in many cases) can compete with them.

    I think the NS Basses set a new Bar for carved Basses to compete with in the under 5k range.
  5. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    Not after the first date.:)

    You just had coffee. You need to go for dinner.
  6. phippsyg


    May 28, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification, Optima Strings
    Yes we only had coffee, nice analogy :). Am looking forward to the second impression, now that I have played a few others in the meantime. I played some carved basses that were around the same price that I also liked so it will be interesting to compare. One point of interest is that a teacher told me he didn't like ply basses because they didn't have the strength to handle the tension etc on a double bass and that eventually they would falter. I guess this comes back to the point of being made well in the first place.
    One point made was that the neck causes less fatigue. For me, compared to my other bass it felt so big that I would have to spend more time with it to see this benefit. Will keep you posted, thanks!
  7. Uncletoad


    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    That's rediculous. He's not seen the New Standard basses. He's thinking about cheap junk plywood. I've put Spirocore Starks on my Cleveland and it sounded big as hell and didn't complain one bit. I have no reason to believe it won't stay that way indefinitely. They are built like oxes.

    I've discovered that not everyone "gets" the well built plywood thing. I got it immediately and was knocked out by how great it sounded. They are super durable basses. I've beat the crap out of mine and it has needed zero maintenance over the last 2.5 years.

    Really if you are primarily an orchestral player or at least arco oriented the plys don't roar like a well made carved bass under the bow. They do sound surprisingly good under the bow for being plywood but I will say that at some point in the future I'll be getting a roaring arco bass in addition to my Ply.

    These NS plywood top basses have very thin and light tops. That makes them move very quickly. A strong asset when playing pizz. Also makes arco nice when switching back and forth from pizz quickly because it doesn't take as much energy to get it moving. They are balanced and even up and down the fingerboard.

    Their lightness makes them very easy to transport (for a DB). The ply really holds up to abuse and extremes of humidity and heat. They amplify very well and sound great with a mic.

    It's a journeyman's bass. It's a great tool for the working bassist. I'll take it into every dump across town or every country club. I play inside with a tux or outside in my bare feet in the rain. I'm never embarrassed by it and never worried about it. No matter where I am or what it's strung up with it sounds great and nobody ever complains.

    If I was playing in an Orchestra I'd use something else, but I'd need to take out a loan to get it. That's not my life though.

    Trying to play Jazz on a $30k+ 100 year old beauty where they are asking for you to play Margaritaville one more time or they'll throw a beer at you is really silly. That's my life.
  8. Go Team Cleveland!

    All good points here. Especially Ken and Toad. Let's elaborate on Ken's scenario:

    Let's say you are a Kay guy. You love the Kay mojo. Just something about that old US made thumper. You shopped all around and found 20 different Kays, all in different colors, sizes, shapes, prices, and with different types of fingerboards. You found that they are not all made equally, and they all sound vastly different. Some are great, some are just plain awful (that has been my experience with them). But you find one that really suits you. It has a big boomy sound, and nice finish, and the problems it has can be fixed. Let's say you pay $3000. After a month or so of playing it, you find that the thinned out rosewood fingerboard maybe doesn't feel very smooth. The notes are not all equal volume-wise. You have a few wolf tones and a few dead spots. So you have a new fingerboard installed. You also decide that the 60 year old endpin ain't cuttin it. You need one with a rubber stopper and finer detents. And of course the bridge is solid and cannot be adjusted. It's a little low for you.

    So you have all this work done, and the bass is as close to perfect as you can get her. There are still a few dead notes in certain areas but overall it's good.

    Now you're into that Kay for almost $5000.

    Granted, you can get a Kay for less than $3000 but not one of the good ones, not unless you're really lucky. Buying a NS gives you the peace of mind that all those things come with it out of the box. OK, you get no "vintage mojo" but really we're talking about plywood here. Age certainly gives it character but it's a trade-off I can easily live with.'s also worth pointing out, like Toad did, that this bass responds better to and sounds better under the bow than almost any plywood bass I've tried.


    Now as far as carved vs ply -- I think I may have read a thread on this board about that, if I could only find it..... ;)

    The plywood bass, particularly the New Standard, is built to survive punishment. As Uncle Toad said, if you play in an orchestra, you're better off with a carved bass. But a $4000 dollar carved bass is going to have it's compromises too. If you put a bass through any kind of day to day abuse -- bumping, dragging in and out of cars, playing outdoors, in hot sun, in cold drizzle, in rowdy bars, in small restaurants.... you will really appreciate a sturdy laminated bass.
  9. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    +1. I really think a thinner neck is bad for your hand. My last bass had a pretty thin neck and FB. When I got my Lascala, I could instantly play longer without pain.

    Regarding the OT -
    I once had an old German ply that the top collapsed on. The repair ran a few hundred bucks and I was good to go for probably another decade or two. I did by a hybrid New Standard, but I would not have hesitated to buy a ply. Arnold and Wil's bass has impressed every player I've showed it to.

    From a financial perspective, I'd be more concerned about resale value than initial cost (it's only expensive if you can't get it back). Second, I'd be concerned about the likelyhood of repairs. The reputation of NS basses is undisputable. Some heavy players are buying these things. Everyone says they are well made. Regarding repairs, an old carved bass cracking can get pretty expensive - not to mention the time you'll be without a bass while it's in the shop.

    I was prepared to spend way more on a bass than what my Lascala cost me. I'm very happy with my decision.
  10. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2001
    Brooklyn, NY
    The first time I tried a Cleveland I had 10,000 in my pocket and I was dying to get an old carved bass so I wasn't that impressed. The second time I went to Arnold's shop looking for a really good sounding plywood and I was not disappointed. Plus the workmanship was just astounding for a plywood bass. Everything felt right and the bass was functioning very well "as a whole". You don't get the very often. When I left I thought, "Wow, with a personal set up and my own strings, I could almost play that bass 90% of the time and leave my expensive bass at home for living room concerts and recording sessions....". Also, what I found in the bass was music, it just "wanted to play."
  11. Hey Now Busta .... you better knock off that kinda trashtalk :D ..... I resemble those remarks .... besides it's more like $3500 :p . You don't have to convince me, by this time next year I will probably have a Cleve (or maybe a lascala). Plenty of mojo to go around.
  12. Hehhehh...
    I know you know this but I am not picking on Kays. I have a soft spot for them. When I was in school I always borrowed basses from there rather than lugging mine around... and the best one by far was an old Kay gamba. I would check it out and then hide it in different rooms throughout the day so nobody else could get it... except one time, The Famous Carlos Henriquez found it and wouldn't give it back (and then HE went and bought a Cleveland! What's up, Carlitos?)....
    With the Cleveland you get everything that's good about a GOOD Kay (or more accurately, American Standard), without the gamble of those other variables.
  13. Speaking of American Standard, which came first:
    the toilet or the bass?
  14. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    You got me to wondering about that Mingus. From the American Standard website.

    " That same year (1929), the Standard Sanitary Corporation merged with American Radiator Company to form the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation. The corporation adopted the name "American Standard" in 1967. "

    So the bass came first. :)
  15. Toad .... Thanks a lot for bringing up a painful memory from last summer :eyebrow: . Dressed up like a pirate ..... playing my Kay on a cheezey float with palm trees and girls in halter tops (the only positive aspect) .... 4th of July Rodeo Parade .... 98°F and sunny .... sweatin' my buut off .... winding thru the streets of Livingston Montana ..... Margaritaville, Jamaica Farewell, What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor ..... over and over and over again :rollno:.
  16. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Ok-i need to leave in 8 mins for my jazz jury [woohoo-playing in front of Scott Mason, Rob Amster, and other assorted characters].

    My Cleveland ply is my very first bass. I had been playing on an old Kay throughout high school. Action sky high, strings at least 5 years old [i say this because we never changed them and i figure they had been on awhile before i got it]. I achieved great hand strength from playing that bass. The sound it had was killer-really loud and thumpy.

    However, after 3.5 years with that bass [school kay], my Dad ordered my Cleveland as a graduation/birthday/christmas present so that i could have it in time for auditions. I forget if we ordered it in October and got it in December or ordered it in June and got it in October-i really don't remember for sure.

    The bass sounded good when i got it back in Lafayette-i had 3 of my teachers take a look at it so that i could get a better idea of what i actually had. Scott Pazera-liked it and suggested i get a realist, Lynn Colwell-liked it enough to when his bass went in the shop-he asked if he could borrow the bass, Jeff Boswell-liked it and thought that i made a great decision.

    Now that was in late 2004/early 2005. Now-late 2007, i love this bass more than ever.

    The sound-it's huge and when recorded with a nice mic-it's exactly what i hear in my head. I am able to get a Ray Brown-esque sound out of it for walking yet i can also get a sweeter tone [heavily influenced by Paulie Danieliison {i know i can't spell his last name}]. I am actually going to be playing Paulie's solo off of 'Country' by Keith Jarret here today for my jury/transcription.

    The playability is great. The adjustable bridge let me dial it in. Compared to some of the other guys at school-i like my action on the higher side. [I consider it med. high]. I don't do a whole lot of thumb position acrobatics, but it's low enough where i can still get around up there without pain, yet it's high enough where the bass is still a cannon unplugged.

    The size works well for me. I'm a pretty big guy [6ft 230lbs] and when i play it-it doesn't feel big at all, yet when i see video/pictures of me playing it-i think "wow, my bass is huge". Better yet-i had a former bassist [now harpist] friend of mine play it. She's 5ftish and tiny. That made me smile.

    I'm up for answering any questions-cept i need to take off. I'll post more once i'm done at school for the day.
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I guessing that you're referring to lesser-made fully-carved basses. I'm curious. Do you prefer the sound of the fully-carved carved and hybrid basses that you sell in this price range to the NS plys? I'm referring to your Amati, Corsini, and Panormo basses. Yes, I understand that the NS basses are great plywoods-- but better than quality carved basses? As you may recall, I've played basses from the "Wultur" shops and I think they can be great values for the money. Do you find the ply NS basses to sound/play/be built better than those?
  18. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    NS Cleveland likes:
    --LOUD and FAT sound;
    --best-sounding amplified bass I've ever owned (and one of the best I've ever heard);
    --even response and high-quality construction one expects from a carved bass, but in a plywood.

    --The arco response on the bottom strings made people seriously question whether the bass could really be plywood, but on the top two strings the listener went "oh yeah, now it sounds like a ply." Kind of boxy and stuck-inside-the-bass (just like every other plywood I've played);
    --This boxiness carried over into the recording studio for me, and I tried to remedy it with lots of different strings. My engineer finally said "stop trying to record with that bass."
    --The open G had a strange flaw--it would shake and wobble and didn't produce a clear pitch, but when bowed it sounded OK. Kind of like a reverse-wolf tone, and considering how much one is likely to play an open G in the course of the night this drove me insane.

    The positive qualities of the bass are everything advertised: I've never been able to play in such big halls without amplification as I was with this axe. And when going through an amp (with gut strings), for some reason this thing just sounded perfect--more than one bassist independently commented on how the bass sound was clear and full all the way at the back of the room in this one particularly bad-sounding club.
    I actually had the opposite experience with this bass as I have had with nice carved basses: with the carved, I often find that I am able to get a nice acoustic sound which then cannot be translated through an amp; whereas with the Cleveland, I couldn't get the ideal sound when just playing in my living room but on the gig (unplugged or plugged in) it was great. A true gigging machine.
  19. That's the stupidest thing I've heard on here in a while. Strength is a primary reason why plywood is used in any situation, building houses or building basses. Plywood is stronger than solid wood of the same dimension, because of variation in grain and glue joints. Both these things give it much greater strength and make it much much less likely to crack or split.

    And yes plywood is also generally cheaper than solid woods of similar dimensions.

    viva de la plywood

  20. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Inactive Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    I have not tried any NS Plys with Orchestra strings that I can recall. All of the Basses I have for stock have Orchestra type bowing strings. For bowing, I prefer my carved models. I have played many carved basses with less sound and the NS especially for Pizz would easily compete with them.