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Direct Comparison Please - Sadowsky - Nordy - Lakland - Alleva-Coppolo

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by THORRR, Oct 7, 2010.


    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    Let's tell what we love/hate the most about these fine basses so that someone who's never played them can make a decent comparison. Neck Shapes, weights, feel, sound, finish, service, prices, balance.

    Assume someone has $3,000 to $5,000 to buy their "keeper" bass-of-a-lifetime and needs help narrowing down the selection.

    Have your say about your favorites here. If you can share your experiences comparing 2 or more brands, models, types, share it here. Let's explore what makes them different and can we honestly say one is "better" than another.

    Comparative reviews is what we're after here.
    Many Thanks in advance for your comments.

  2. This is gonna go South in a hurry... :bag:
  3. Joeykun

    Joeykun pronounced ジョーイくん

    Jun 22, 2007
    MA - RT. 2
    I hate when people misspell Sadowsky!!! :spit: :D
  4. Probably. I am not sure if I am putting words in the OPs mouth, but he only wants people who have hands on experience to compare the listed brands. I doubt highly any "they are overpriced", "I only played one example of one of those brands but its the best anyway" or like comments are what is intended.
  5. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    +1 Come on, it's not that complicated a name.
  6. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    I see a few problems here:

    First off, IMO there is no such thing as a bass for life. tastes, playing style, technique, musical situations, etc, all change and you never know what you'll need or want. Yes, you may find a bass that stays with you forever, but you have to wait until it finds you; in other words, you can't decide beforehand if a bass will be a keeper. life doesn't work that way.

    The other thing, and also a big IMO, is that you don't rally know if one of these super basses will float your boat until you try one, and then try it on a gig, then try it on many gigs. All the info in the world, and all the opinions, will only give you a rough guide as to which ones you should try out to make your own decision.

    There are masses of info in the existing threads here that will answer all your questions about the general attributes of various boutique and custom brands, to give you a starting point, way more than you'll get by asking people to recap their impressions in a new thread that asks for such a large amount of comparative info.

    Anyway, good luck, maybe the thread will prove me wrong...
  7. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    This is such an easy question: there simply is no best. It's all about which brand, and even which actual bass, works best for you. Each of those brands have their trends and their target goals (visually, tonally, etc), but there is absolutely no way to whittle it down to a single 'best'.

    I've owned at least one of each, and played at least one more of each make. All had strengths; as it turns out, Nordstrand is the luthier for me. Feel free to PM me as to why, but the bottom line is that they just fit best in my hands and sound exactly how I want them to sound. You'll find an army of folks on here who feel the same about Nordy, as well as about each of those other luthiers.

    I could make a case for owning each of the basses listed above. Odds are, you'll love whatever you get from any of those builders, but the only way to truly know which is best for you is to try each; as many different models as possible.
  8. west*coast*bass

    west*coast*bass Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2003
    Agoura Hills, CA
    +1. I find it disrespectful as well.
  9. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    I've owned basses from all three of those manufacturers and have soundclips available for all of them.

    Here's my impressions, I tried to break it up a little bit for you to make it easier to skim through here. I'm a fan of all these guys work but I know sometimes it's hard to find impressions or reviews like this online so maybe I can help you out a little.
    I can tell you everything based on my own personal preferences and views. I'll also let you know why I no longer own any of them so you can decide if any of those reasons would sway you one direction over another.

    I owned 2 Nordy basses - one passive and one active with an Audere 3band preamp and the Big Single pickups. The Passive Nordy bass was just IMO a true jazz bass with some modern updates. The sound was a passive jazz bass, not worlds apart from any Fender Jazz bass. I really preferred my Nordy over any stock Fender but that was more in part due to the very comfortable and fast neck and attention to detail that Carey & Co. give to those basses. The bass was light, felt great and sounded great. You can listen to soundclips between my Fender Jazz Basses and the Nordy and decide for yourself if there are major differences in sound. The Nordy had 60's spacing with a maple neck/fingerboard and to me really was the epitome of a great jazz bass. I actually ended up letting this go in order to pick up the Sadowsky MV5 even though I never really have been a 5 string player, the Sadowsky just blew me away. Two completely different basses, I wish I still had both!

    The Active Nordy had the big singles and the Audere 3band preamp. That Nordy felt every bit as good as my passive Nordy. The sound to me was very diverse and captured everything I would want out of a bass. I'm not a tone purist, if something sounds a little more modern than a 60's Fender etc. it doesn't freak me out. I could still get all the thump, whump, burp, growl etc. you want out of a jazz bass. I don't really like how the Big Singles look on a jazz style bass but that's just my preference from an aesthetic perspective and it would never stop me from purchasing another one. I thought they sounded incredible. I was actually looking for a Sadowsky 4 string but this came along and I was pleased with it enough that I saw no reason to replace it with a Sadowsky. I ended up selling it to fund a purchase for an upright. Great axe.

    I ordered the Lakland 55-94 after playing one in the shop for about 30 minutes. I already had my orange Nordy and was looking for something active and 5 string to cover another spectrum. I didn't A/B it with any other basses, I picked it up and thought it sounded great. To me the neck was perfect! I loved having the humbucker/jazz pickup combination. It got a different sound but it still captured everything I would want.
    Within a day of the bass arriving I realized I'd have issues. I didn't know it was a 35" scale and didn't even think about it. I didn't notice anything when I played it in the shop and don't know if I would have cared even if I did know it. Apparently I'm one of those guys who can't handle a 35" scale. I changed positions, adjusted my strap, gave it a few weeks but in the end the difference between my Nordy and the Lakland was so drastic, the Lakland was just really difficult for me to manage especially in 1st position. I ended up stringing it E-C and just figured I'd get used to it but I happened to play my Eshenbaugh and it was a 33" scale Tenor bass meant to be played E-C and I couldn't help but pick that up. I ended up selling the Lakland because of that 35" scale. Otherwise, incredible bass - versatile enough IMO to own right alongside any of those other basses and some guys end up preferring them over the others. I only had mine about 4 months.

    The Sadowsky I really didn't intend on picking up. I played it the same day I played my Eshenbaugh (I took a visit to Atlanta Bass Gallery) and just fell in love with it. I compared this bass directly to the Nordy and Lakland - there was no difference in quality among any of these basses. Solid necks, great finishes, incredible feels etc. Different specs, but no difference in quality. I really preferred the radius (12" I think) on the Sadowsky 5 string more than the Lakland once I had a chance to A/B them.
    I think Roger Sadowsky pretty much started his career by correcting Fender's mistakes on their instruments for professional musicians. With years of seeing what works and doesn't work plus the many hours of feedback and experimentation with pro players we now have what I think is a culmination of all that experience and collaboration in the Sadowsky instrument. Now I don't know Roger personally, this is just my impression. The Sadowsky preamp and pickups definitely sound different than Fender, but it's the same vibe - you can get all the growl, slap etc. you want out of a slap bass. Again you can hear my own soundclips and judge whether they are worlds apart in tone. The Sadowsky always sounded good to me, no matter what genre of music I used it for which is why I think we see so many professional bassists using Sadowsky basses for different genres, they just fit in wonderfully - a prime example is to just check out the bass players on late night tv!

    If I had to pick out of any of the above basses to keep today and could only have one, it would be the Sadowsky. I just loved everything about that bass and really trust everything that went into making and designing those basses before I ever came along.

    However if I had to pick an instrument to order today I would have to really play one of Carey's new vj5 basses before I could decide. I would lean towards Carey because they are working on my Eshenbaugh right now and they have been nothing short of spectacular in terms of professional customer service and competence and I'm on the West Coast so I like the idea of having them closer to me. But I've never played one of his classic basses and have no experience with his preamp! A classic jazz bass with a low B and Carey's craftmanship...you can't go wrong. However Sadowsky basses just really work for me and it would have to come down to whatever felt and sounded best in my hands and my ears at that time. I don't think there's anything wrong with owning both of those instruments though, which is another possibility, so you might just have to decide what you want/need first!
  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Excellent points.

    People change. For me, "one bass for life" disappeared the moment I switched from four strings to five. :p

    It certainly can take a lot of time to know whether a bass is right for you. I've owned a number of nice high-end basses that I wanted to like, but after many months realized they had a spec (tone, weight, playability, etc) that rubbed me the wrong way.

    What works great for someone else might not work for you. You need to figure out what you want, which can be extremely difficult. I had to go through that again to a certain extent when I switched to five string. For instance, I realized I was fussy about string spacing: my hands aren't comfy unless the nut is 1-7/8" wide and the strings are spaced 19mm apart.

    So, the best way of knowing what's right for you is to discover your own preferences, or limits as the case may be. Then you can eliminate those instruments that don't fit your criteria. If you're less fussy than I then it'll be a tougher decision... but the good news is that there's less risk that you won't like a particular bass!
  11. C'mon guys, grow some thicker skin. It was just a simple spelling error. People misspell my name all the time.
    Green Knight likes this.
  12. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    Vase Biking? :D
  13. Heh heh, not that name. :D
  14. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    THANK you MSTOTT25 !!! You seem to be the only one who "got it".

    That's what I was looking for - a personal view of these instruments based on experience.

    My apologies to those of you who were upset and offended :rollno::spit::bawl: because I spelled Sadowsky with an "i" at the end - I assure you it was an innocent mistake. Can you ever find it in your hearts to forgive me (get over it, willya !!)

    MSTOTT25 - you restored my faith in there still being intelligent beings on this planet! I really appreciate your post and will study your impressions of the different brands.
    My gratitude for your efforts. Many Thanx to you. :hyper::bassist::hyper:
  15. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    MSTOTT25 - Your soundclips were a welcome addition to your reviews and really show the versatility of the different axes (in addition to your fine playing ability).

    Can you give a little more detail on the difference in the shape and feel of the Nordy vs Sadowsky necks? which is thinner? etc.
  16. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    Well here's the problem...(thanks by the way, I'm glad the soundclips helped. That's the first thing I look for when I'm checking out basses)

    My Nordy's were both 4 string whereas the Sadowsky was a 5 string so I can't make a direct comparison to the necks. I will tell you that up to this point Sadowsky makes my favorite 5 string neck.

    The Nordys have a 9-14" compound radius which means that it felt like a traditional jazz bass in the lower positions but the higher you get up the neck, the flatter the fretboard becomes and IMO the easier to play in the upper register. The change is subtle but it’s part of what made that bass feel so much better in my hands than my Fenders. If I'm not mistaken the new Fender American Deluxe basses have this feature now as well, I’m sure someone handed them a Nordy. I think the Nordy Classic series vj5 has the same radius and I am really looking forward to playing one of his 5 strings.

    My Sadowsky was an MV5 with a 12” radius. The neck felt nice and full in my hands, not too thin and not too chunky– very comfortable. Now something I noticed on my Sadowsky right away, and I’ll try explaining this as best I can, is that while the Nordy has a 9-14” radius and the Sadowsky has the 12” radius on the fingerboard, the back of the neck on the Sadowsky gets thinner the higher you go up the neck. I don’t know how to explain that any better but my Nordy’s neck wasn’t like that. So between the back of the neck getting flatter and the 12” radius you get what up until this point is my favorite 5 string neck ever! My hand was comfortable in any register.
    Edit: I'm not *sure* if the Sadowsky neck gets thinner the higher you go in the register, or if it's just thinner than the Nordy neck and feels thinner as the width of the neck increases. I wanted to clarify that!/Edit

    Another difference: the Sadowsky had 21 frets vs the 20 frets on the Nordy. I don’t know if this is a big deal to you or not. The Nordy was a typical jazz bass in respect to having to shift your hand in order to play chords or solo up in that area past the 15th fret whereas the Sadowsky seemed much easier to get into the upper register without too much adjustment.

    Now the back of the neck finish – the Nordy’s had a very nice satin finish which is smooth and makes moving up and down the neck a breeze. No stickiness whatsoever, period. It feels like there’s nothing back there and I think I prefer that finish over the Sadowsky’s. The Sadowsky had some light finish (maybe polyurethane?) on the back of the neck and it never got sticky or annoying like I’ve experienced in some of the Japanese made Fenders I’ve tried, but it’s not as smooth as the satin finish. I heard Roger say somewhere that the finish on the back of the neck actually gets more worn in with play and gets even more comfortable with age. I like the idea of that and like I said, I never had any issues whatsoever with the finish on the back of the neck. If I had to list a preference I would say satin but I’m 100% fine with either.

    The Nordy was 1 1/2" width at the nut and the sadowsky was 1 7/8" - both pretty standard for 4/5 string jazz basses.

    Both of those basses were light as well, the Sadowsky was almost as light as the Nordy maybe a few ounces heavier (both were in the 8lb range) but weight can fluctuate among those basses and I don't really get concerned until I see something start to creep around upwards of 10.5lbs for a 5 string or 9.5lbs for a 4 string.
  17. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    MSTOTT25 - Thanks for the insightful reviews.

    Pardon the pun but it sounds like Nordys and Sadowskys are running neck-&-neck in the race. ;)

    I haven't heard directly from a Lakland fan but from other strings, they rave about them too, however I've also heard they're not as hot as these two.

    Alleva-Coppolo enthusiasts have yet to weigh in on the subject also.

    So far, from everything I've read and heard, including this post, Sadowsky appears to be the leader in overall desirability and Roger appears really genuine in his ongoing quest to produce the best instruments on a commercial level.

    And Roger Sadowsky - if you ever read this post, you have my apologies for mis-spelling your name. -really -

    I have yet to run across any of these basses for sale here in the Denver area so I can wrap my mitts around them to see how they feel and sound live, but I'll continue my search until I do. Then, I am sure to get a bad case of GAS and have to lighten my wallet.

    Otherwise, if I'm ever in Brooklyn, I'll have to spend a day at Roger's factory and showroom.

    Thanks again MSTOTT25 -

  18. Bigmouth


    Jul 16, 2010
    Denver CO
    I just listened to the sound clips by mstott25. I like the '75 Jazz sound. So, let your own taste in sound and music guide you to your dream bass.
  19. bass12

    bass12 Have you seen my tonsils lately? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It's nice that some guys are willing to go to great lengths to relay their impressions to you regarding the various basses the OP asked about but, in the end it's all kind of irrelevant (besides any points regarding build quality, customer service, etc.). Okay, I can see that some general descriptions regarding ergonomics and even sound could be helpful, so maybe "irrelevant" isn't the right word. The thing is, there are so many subtle aspects to a bass' sound and feel that nothing anyone tells you will be enough to inform you as to whether or not a bass will be suited to your needs and personal preferences. I had two Sadowskys - a Standard 4 and a Standard 5. I love the 4, but just couldn't get used to the feel of the 5. Ask pretty much anyone on the Sadowsky thread about the comfort of the Standard 5s and they'll tell you how great they feel to play. Well, not to me - even though I'm very comfortable on the 4. I loved the sound of that 5 but, in the end, had to get rid of it because I just didn't feel at home on it (the way I do on certain 5s). Anyway, good luck finding what will make you happy.
  20. sps500

    sps500 In Memoriam

    May 19, 2008
    Love em all! Hope that helps! :)
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Mar 5, 2021

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