Conklin Owners

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jeremy_X, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    I am interested in buying a Conklin bass, particularly an extended range one but I am not set on that. I live in the middle of nowhere, so I am not going to be able to go to a music store and pick up anything that may come close to one. So I have a few questions for all the Conklin owners here.
    1) What are the necks like? By this I mean are they skinny and thin or fat and wide or some kind of happy medium? I have smaller hands so I am not going to be able to wrap my fingers around a seven and just play, I would have to move my arm to play the top string.
    2) What is the usual weight on a Conklin?
    3) What’s the sound like? I am an all around player, I will use whatever technique I need to use to get the sound I want, so how would these basses handle that or are they really meant for one type of playing over any other?
    4) How quickly can you move around on one? The finish on the stock neck of my Squier had a sticky feel to it, like it was trying to grab my hand when I would slide down the neck. Do Conklin’s have this problem?
    Those are all the questions I can think of right now, but should I come up with more I will post them.
    Oh and I have requested a catalog or some brochures from them.... Those should be here soon.
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I am not a Conklin expert, but if you can answer a couple of questions, it would be easier to answer yours. Do you mean the USA Custom Shop Conklins, or the Conklin Groove Tools models? And are you interested in a 5 string, or the 7 string(or 6, if you're talking USA).

    Based on my experience with the Groove Tools 7 and the Bill Dickens 7, I can answer a little bit.

    1. The necks are wide, but have a pretty shallow profile, which makes them very comfortable. The GT 7 has a little wider string spacing, so of course the neck is a little wider than the BD7.

    2. The Groove Tools models are pretty light considering their size. I don't know the exact weight, but I would guess that a GT 7 weighs between 9 and 10 pounds.

    3. The GT7 has pretty versatile electronics. The Bartolini pickups sound like Barts, it can get a good approximation of the P bass and Jazz bass tones, and of course has an active preamp to tweak the tone. The BD7 has different pickups, and a different preamp. I haven't played that one as much, but my impression is that it is more modern sounding than the GT7 is.

    4. The GT7 has an unfinished wenge/purpleheart neck, which some love the feel of(I do) and some hate. If you have ever played a Warwick, the texture of the GT7 neck is similar to that. It is not sticky at all. The BD7 has a painted neck, and can feel a bit sticky, but not like a really heavy cheap finish like a Squier or Fender.

    The only thing about the GT7 neck that I don't like is that it is a bolt on(which is fine) but for stability the neck joint starts around the 13th fret, and is kind of a ramp, getting thicker as you go towards the bridge. I have small hands, and the neck is unplayable for me above the 15th fret on all except the highest 2 strings, which kind of defeats the appeal of having a bass with such an extended range. That is primarily the reason that I have never bought a GT7. I have come close to plopping down the $$$ when I've seen them for $900 at GC, but I spend a lot of time in the 9-15 fret area, and not having access to the B and E strings that high up is a big negative for me. The BD7 is a neck through, and does not have this access problem, but it costs quite a bit more than the GT7, and the string spacing is way too narrow for my clumsy hamfingers.
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    all this is very good info - good job jeff - except for the finish on the neck. the back of the neck is finished, it's a satin finish, which gives a good approx of an unfinished neck - very smooth and fast. the BD should have the same finish on the necks - that's peculiar that you found that it didn't jeff - they're supposed to be the same. in fact, iirc, it's the same finish that the customs use.

    otherwise, this is good info for the groove tools instruments. the custom instruments, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game - pretty much anything goes. :D
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    John, the GT7s that I have played felt like a Warwick neck, like bare, unfinished wenge. The BD7 did feel finished, but not near as sticky as a Fender or other bass with a thick finish on the back of the neck.

    Maybe the characteristic feel of wenge makes the neck feel unfinished.
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    hmm, possibly.

    the bd7 has a very similar set up to the customs, although probably not quite as well executed. bill finishes the whole bass (except the fingerboard, unless you want it finished) with the same material, but doesn't polish the back of the neck as much as he does the body (if you ordered a gloss finish on the body).

    if you ever pick up a bd7, take a look at the back - there's an edge to the satin finish, right where the contour is. that's just where they stopped the final polish of the finish. -ish -ish -ish (;) )

    i'm almost certain that the Gt7's have the same finish on the necks. i'll ask bill, just to be certain.

    there's sometimes a variance in the groove tools on certain aspects, such as fret leveling, nut cutting, and finish. i've seen some with perfect finishes, and i've seen a few - very few, thankfully - with a some problems, like shoddy finishes.

    just like anything else made by machine, i guess, there's a few clams in the sauce, so to speak. :D
  6. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    My thanks to the both of you!
    Embellisher, I am looking at something along the lines of a six or seven string bass, though having smallish hands I may have to give up on the seven string. I think that I want to get a custom, but I am not going to rule out the Groove Tool series. Again my thanks for the information.

    Mr. Turner, I understand that you have had extensive dealings with the Conklin Company. You seem to be pleased with the quality of these basses, if the family portrait on your web site is to be believed. Are there any problems with them? Any weak spots at all? I would like even the most nit pickiest stuff. This won't sway me one way or another; I just would like to be informed. I don't really care if, for some reason, the finish that gets used has some weird power to attract dust or something of that nature I just look at all the details I can when I buy something (especially when it is in this price range) so I am prepared to take the best care of everything I buy, and since I would have to buy one of these basses without ever touching a Conklin product, I need to know these things. Any information you can provide is very appreciated
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    no nits to pick, in my opinion. that's why i have so many - i wouldn't have bought them all if there were any problems at all.

    i mean, there's enough variety available now in custom instruments that nobody needs to deal with anyone unless they are totally happy and satisfied. if i felt bill's basses were just _good_ then i'd probably have gotten one, or maybe even 2, and then got some other manufacturer's instruments as well. i didn't need to.

    i'm totally happy and satisfied, that's why i bought 9 of his custom instruments, with #10 being made (white hollowbody fretless 7).

    i hear ya about not having had an opportunity to play the bass before buying it - i never played a conklin before i ordered my first on in '93.

    make sure you have every spec that you want _clearly_ and _concisely_ determined before you order your instrument - explore all the possibilities that bill offers, and make sure that you pick the specs you want, and don't miss any - bill offers a lot of options.

    if you would like to take this to email, i would be glad to help you through it, or you can post questions for me here.
  8. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    John? experience with Conklin? - nah!!!!
    i would be surprised if John knew how to make them as well as Bill by now!!
    now , THATs an enodorsement!!- i thought i was bad with MTDs- but i actually only own one- right now, and its not even here yet!
    Bill Conklin is great- really a cool person- his basses rock! i had a Bill Dickens for a minute -great bass! but seven strings? ill be out of a gig! works for John, though!!! :D
    how did you put it? say-ven strangs? what the hell for, Vern?
  9. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    My thanks to you Mr. Turner. I would greatly enjoy designing a bass with you. I can tell you are the right person to ask about Conklin basses. Email or the boards, it doesn't really matter to me. If we leave it on the boards, someone else may be able to take advantage of the discussion, of course should a debate start over, say, which pick up brand or which bridge type is better, we can always move it to email. I guess this puts the ball in your court, I am willing to do either. Whichever is best for you.
    Again my thanks to you and to all who have posted.
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    cool, just post away. i think this would actually be a good thing to have on the boards, to let other folks see what's entailed in the process.

    yeah, adrian, they come out of the woodwork at the nashville shows, i tell ya :D.
  11. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Palm Bay, FL
    i just love throwing my back porch, coutry hick, red neck, southern drawl around here in's great ;) and the grrlies kinda like it too :eek:
  12. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia In Memoriam

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    huh? i was doing my Taliban accent!!!
  13. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    Palm Bay, FL

    uhhhhhhhhhh.........oh yeah....i knew that :D
  14. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    Hmm how to do this........
    I guess I need some questions answered.
    I play with a group of very eclectic musicians. The guitarist is heavy in to blues jazz and classic rock, the rhythm guitarist is into metal and emo type stuff, drummer is in to classical (of all things), the vocalist is into techno and metal. I have to be able to play all of these types of music and be able to mix them up quick. I need an amazing amount of tone from the wood. I need a bass that can boom out the low end then go up to glass shattering highs. How much of this is wood and how much is pick-ups, I am not too sure, so I guess that is the place to start. What do you think would work best for this?
    (If this is the wrong place or a bad place to start, tell me)
    [This thing needs a spell checker]
  15. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, for starters, what's your price range? what are the main instrument characteristics you want? fretted or fretless? how many strings? what kind of string spacing at the nut? (i like bill's tighter spacing, but his main options are more comparable to a p-bass). neck through or bolt on? painted, natural, or melted top? piezos? magnetic pickups only? light wave? RMC synth? you've got a huge number of options available to you.

    start off here. what instruments' tones do you like? what players' sounds do you like?
  16. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    Okay, players that I like (in no particular order): Geddy Lee, Victor Wooten, The bassist for Steely Dan on the Aja album (can't remember his name, I think it is Chuck Rainey, but I am not sure), Les Claypool, Yes' bassist (Chris Squire?), Roger Waters, John Paul Jones, Geezer Butler.... the list could go on for some time. Basically this is it for bass players.
    Songs that have tones I like: Led Zeppelin "Bring it on Home" "Whole Lotta Love" "Wanton Song" "The Crunge", Rush "YYZ", "Cygnus X-1", Yes "Close to the Edge", Primus "Kalamazoo" "Shake Hands With Beef" "Jerry was a Racecar Driver, All of the Aja album by Steely Dan, Pink Floyd "Have a Cigar" "Wish You Where Here" "Money", Black Sabbath "Bassically" "NIB" "War Pigs" "Johnny Blade"
    Ideally I would like a bass that can produce a whole host of sounds, be that smooth clean almost sterile or that very nice slap/pop sound that defies my abilities to describe. A bass that could aid in the creation of those sounds and be able to growl like a rabid bear when I want it to would be in my opinion, perfect.
    Price range: $900-7000 U.S.
  17. Jeremy_X


    Jan 29, 2002
    Instrument Characteristics: Light, I don't want a 50-pound monster around my neck. Smaller neck. Body shape, something comfortable to sit and stand with (sounds strange, but the last time I tried to sit with a Fender Jazz it bugged me but it hung much more comfortably than the P) I like the way the Sidewinder style looks so I would go with that one.

    Fretted or Fretless (...that is the question): I have yet to play a fretless, so I have no idea if I would like that. I am going to say fretted for now, though this may change after my trip to Portland at the end of next month. This, of course, will be decided before I order the bass.

    String number: I know I can handle a six, but I have not had the chance to play a seven. Six for now, same situation with this as with the fretted or fretless question.

    Spacing: Tighter the better. Not tight to the point that I can't slap, but I don't want to have to get my fingers stretched either

    Neck through

    Natural or Melted, I am torn here. I like both.... tough choice.... might as well go for broke and go melted

    The pickups. I have been afraid of this. I like the idea behind the lightwaves, but I don't know if there is a way to, say, turn them off. If there is then I need to know how they sound. I know that I defiantly want piezos (can you mix these with the lightwaves or are they the same thing?) and magnetics.
    I think that does it. My thanks to you for putting up with this :)
  18. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    I don't think you can have piezo and lightwave on the same bass. But I may be wrong.
  19. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    The Lightwave system actually has piezos built-in as well (they call it Ice-Tone or something). You can mix the output of the optical and piezo pickups.
  20. ChenNuts44


    Nov 18, 2001
    Davenport, IA
    If you're going with a custom bass, why not go with custom pickups?
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