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Disappointed with my Bongo

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kaspar Vadsholt, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. I'm on thin ice here, since a lot of you guys love the Bongo, but I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed with mine, a HH 5.
    I think the B string lacks definition, and that it doesn't really cut through the mix. I have a grim suspicion that the electronics are a cover-up for an essential bland sound..... :bag:
    Perhaps it's the strings I'm currently using, which are TI Jazz Rounds.
    Could I get more low-end definition with, say Elixirs?
    Have anybody here A/B'ed the Bongo with oyher fivers, such as Lakland, MTD etc., and what DO you like about the Bongo, compared to other basses?


    A frustrated tone seeker
  2. I only played a Bongo once and I wasn't crazy about it either. Maybe I just need more time to get acqainted with it.
    I think the body had a lot to do with it, I couldn't find a comfortable position for it when I was sitting down.
  3. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Jazz rounds are extremely light, low tension strings, and I can see where that could contribute to a indistinct B. They are also not bright at all. I'd try a different set of heavier strings before giving up on the Bongo.
  4. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    I own both a Bongo 5HH and a Lakland DJ5. To me, the B string on the Bongo is very tight, and cuts through nicely. It's one of the primary things that sold me on the bass. It has nice tension, and a thunderous tone that in terms of power, surpasses the Lakland in some respects (though the sound of the DJ has a different tone which I like better in other ways, due to the amazing Jazz growl of the Aero pickups).

    I strongly suspect a string change would improve things dramatically. I'm using Slinkys on mine, and it sounds amazing. Thicker strings often entail higher tension, making for a thicker sounding B string. I also noticed that on my Lakland, when I switched to different strings, it felt like all the mojo and definition was lost. I switched back to Lakland steels, and the mojo came right back. :)

    Strings make a heck of a lot of difference on a bass. I suspect many people's impressions of various basses (particularly those in stores like GC, etc.) would be dramatically changed if the right set of strings were put on a bass.
  5. ceremony74


    Sep 27, 2004
    try it with the same strings you used with your previous bass..
  6. I've got some Elite Stadiums on mine. If you move the PU selector halfway towards the bridge (so three quarters of the sound is coming from there), boost the bass just a tiny bit and boost the treble about 2/3rds of the way up, you start to see some balls on the thing.

    I personally don't think it sounds brilliant flat (I used to before I started playing in bands but I've recently come to the realisation that it's a little muddy in a situation with drums, keys, guitar and horns). I think the kind of tone I outlined above and the massive amounts of low end at your disposal are the main selling points of this bass.

    TBH, where my head's at right now I'm not even sure I'd buy my bongo again if I had another chance. For example, I don't really like the sound of either pickup soloed, it's all in the blend for me. I'd go as far as to say I don't like the neck P/U at all anymore, it sounds way too artificial.

    It's a massively powerful bass for sure, and the tone's there, you just have to work for it a little bit. Thing is though, you could probably say the same of some MIM fenders that sell for half the price. I don't know, I used to love this bass like a child, but since I've started using it practically I've developed other opinions of it.

    YMMV of course, I know there are many people who use these basses everyday with no complaints (and no-one's gonna tell Dave Larue his basses aren't up scratch!). However I'm starting to think the sound is quite generic at times.
  7. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Another plus for Slinkys. I just put a set of TI jazz rounds in one of my basses, and yes, they have very low tension and tame highs. Although the mids are very nice, I would think that regular hex core strings will be better and more cutting.

    The G string in the TIs is extremely thin, and thin sounding. I like the TIs for solo work, for slapping and chording, for I wound't gig with a basses setup with them.
    If you are looking for low tension, then just go with the light Slinkys (E= 0.95).

    Elixirs are nice strings too.

    Also, many people say that EBMM 34"-scale 5-string have a good B-string, but none of the 3 Stingray 5s I had had a good, usable B-string.
  8. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Definately try some slinkys (which are the stock strings) and get a pro setup before you give up on it.

    Every stingray 5 I've ever played had a good low B.
  9. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I am a huge Music Man fanatic and I too was totally underwhelmed by the Bongo's inability to cut through on stage for the type of music I play. I tried mine with stock strings and DR's and it did not cut it for me. I too think it is more preamp than anything. I don't like to beat a dead horse but I think if the bass were able to have an ash or alder body, there could be more sonic definition to the Bongo's tone.
  10. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    What sort of rig are you playing through? I have not often heard of a Bongo that had any trouble cutting through the mix, especially with those pickups.... Just my two cents.
  11. Smallequestrian

    Smallequestrian Rock and/or Roll

    Jul 6, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Beta Tester: Source Audio
    I have played all sorts of strings on Bongos before. I echo the comments above about the Jazz rounds. IMO, Jazz rounds would be about my last choice for a 5 string fretted Bongo, and I love Jazz rounds. My fretless Bongo has Jazz rounds on it, and everybody who has played it has one to take it home with them. Slinkys are fine, DR Sunbeams were perhaps my favorite on the Bongo 5 I had.
  12. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    EBMM Group I flats *kill* on my Bongo 5H!
  13. bovinehost

    bovinehost Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Ernie Ball Music Man/Sterling By Music Man
    Don't make me kill you.

    (JK, lads, BarmyAss and I go way back and he knows I would not kill him, although a maiming injury is permissible between friends.)

    Everyone will hear different things from a given bass and we all have slightly different expectations from our instruments. I don't expect that the Bongo is for everyone, anymore than I would expect that the Sadowsky is for everyone.

    Now Ibanez, well, Ibanez is for everyone.

    But I digress.

    I could not possibly ask for more than what I get from my newest Bongo, a four banger with a single humbucker and strung with Slinkys. Yes! Roundwounds! And I have even played it on stage! Shocking, yet true. I don't believe, Scott, that ash or alder would have any real impact on this bass, and remember that basswood was chosen for the Bongos based not only on weight and cost - but overall tone.

    Which is not to say that the 'overall tone' meshes with what you want from YOUR tone. I know you and I know you love EBMM basses, but ***, if you don't like Bongos, it isn't like I have to mark you off my Valentines Day list or anything.

    In my current band, if you can call it that, we play a little of everything from rockabilly to you name it ("Fernando", anyone?) and I have so far used nothing but Bongos, much to my bandmate's dismay....he LOVES the Bongo tone, but wishes it were more, um, 'authentic looking', heh heh.

    I can only say this. Whether I'm using one of the Bongos with flats (TIs, if you must know) or the one with rounds, if that bass failed to deliver the punch in the guts I require, I'd start looking around at my amp or my cabs or my fingers or something, because I'd know it wasn't the bass.

    Just IMHO, of course.

  14. Whew, a lot of replies since I went to bed here somewhere in Europe, thanks!
    I'm glad, I'm not the only one, who has the same feeling towards the tone of the Bongo, but it's a bit sad at the same time...
    I will definetely try to put on the Elixirs, I had on it before. They had a nice low B.
    Bovinehost, I tried TI flats at one point, and there was NO sound from the B-string. Obviously, You don't have that problem since you use 'em.
    Our ears must perceive things very differently.
    BTW I use a Walter Woods head through a 2X12" cab, a rig I know and trust.

  15. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    Kaspar, is this your first experience at owning a 5 string? Reason I ask is this. I'm not a huge fan of 5 string basses myself, but whenever I've owned one, I've found I needed to try a few different sets of strings to find the right strings for any given bass. Also, I tend to think that, especially on the B, it really helps to go as high in gauge as possible, just to tighten that string up.

    Just as a suggestion, but when I owned a Stingray 5, I ended up using Everly Bros B52s on it, with a 135 B string. Sounded great, and felt really good. You can get them here

  16. Bassaussie, I've had a Tobias Basic 6, who had an excellent low B.
    I do prefer my 4 string '77 Jazz Bass, but need a fiver in my present gig, thats why!
    However, I follow you some of the way regarding the size of the B-string, although I find that a tapered string (such as the elixir) has more definition, and that is more important than thickness in itself.

  17. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001

    Fair enough - I guess it'll just come down to experimenting with a few different strings to try and find the right one.
  18. r05c03


    Jul 21, 2005
    Lafayette, IN
    Right now I have DR half rounds on my Bongo 4 string HH (105-50). I think the tone is amazing, very articulate even with the low end maxed. The notes ring. I have had other active basses type, like a Schecter C-4 which sounded souless to me. The Bongo does not fit in the the souless category.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Listen, if you can't use your favorite strings on a bass, what's the poitn of owning it? I would no sooner change my brand of strings to suit a bass than I would change my playing style. If a bass can't accomodate me the way I want it setup, I would never buy it.
  20. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I have played a couple of Bongo's and agree with a few posts above... I kind of felt I was 'playing the preamp'.... i.e., I kept thinking 'wow, this preamp is very powerful', and 'wow, there are a lot of sounds in there'... but I never could quite get a feeling for the sound of the bass itself. I greatly prefer the Stingray line, especially now that they offer a two pickup version.... those are VERY nice IMO.

    That being said, I too would try some different strings. It's amazing how a different brand of strings can make a bass sound totally different, and also feel totally different. Also, your 'favorite' set might not work on that particular bass. A higher tension set like DR Low Riders or even the MTD strings might really 'fix' your B string issue. Good luck.... there are so many good sounds in the Bongo, that I would be surprised if you couldn't find something you like... and again, I find most 'B string problems' to be more related to the strings than the bass itself.

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