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Does A Builder Give A Bass A "Sound"? (what makes a bass a bass pt. 2)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jul 3, 2003.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I was thinking about how people describe a "Roscoe B" or similar characteristics they feel are inherent to the company. But do you think there's something that makes a Sadowsky sound different than an Celinder?

    Say you take three buiders who have fairly similar body styles and builds: MTD, F Bass, and Roscoe. Let's give them all the same type of body, neck, and fingerboard woods, scale length, and give them all the same electronics and pickup packages. Naturally occuring differences in the tone of one piece of swamp ash compared to another and so on not withstanding, do you think they would retain a signature sound, or do you think that the sound merely comes from the sum of its parts and the basses would all sound very similar? Or do you think builders select and handle the woods differently enough so their tone would be quite different from the next? Would that Roscoe B be on the F Bass or the MTD as well?

    Ideas? Opinions?
  2. furiously funky

    furiously funky Guest

    Dec 28, 2002
    hmmm, I have thought about this. I don’t know if I could really tell the diff, maybe id be able to distinguish the f bass from the other 2, but maybe not. I really think that the differences would be so minimal that you (or me) wouldn’t notice. Maybe someone with more experience or a finer ear could. :(
  3. JP Basses

    JP Basses

    Mar 22, 2002
    Paris FRANCE
    I don't think MTD, F and Roscoe share similar designs. They all use diferent woods combos, electronic packages and pickup placement.

    I'm pretty sure that if we were going to give thme the same materials and the same templates, all three basses should sound pretty similar. Each builder could come with a different way of carving the back of the neck or slotting the nut, setting up the instrument or so but if material, scale length and pickup placement remained the same, sound should be similar. (just talking about SOUND here, not feel of the bass)

    Sound type is more in the design of the instrument than in the craft itself and each builder has a different view of instument design.

    Just my 2 cents

    Peace, JP
  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    As geshel pointed out in the slap clip quiz: despite different woods and construction techniques, the basses are most identifiable by their pickups and pickup placement.

    Of course the luthier is important... poor build quality can adversely affect tone.
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    How about this for a little abstract thinking.

    If the bass is built poorly, then the player will likely have more trouble finding that comfort zone that they need to make their bass sing.

    So, likewise good luthiery(lutherie?) That allows any player to easily play the bass comfortably and as they want to play it, will give the bass it's sound.
  6. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I meant similar body designs as in bolt-on, full-sized solid body instruments with a fairly similar look to them. I wanted each to have the same parts used (which you can order) in order to see if people would see a variance in sound.

    Good stuff so far-keep it comin'. :)
  7. From those three builders, I think the resulting sound would be very similar considering the variables you describe. If pickup placement, scale length, wood choice and electronics are the same, those three - or any pro - luthier would ensure the other parts of the design are right.

    I think it would be hard to distinguish based solely on sound.

  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    What Jeff said. F'r instance, there are many Jazz bass clones on the market. In terms of tone, the Sadowsky magic comes from his preamp.

    Sadowsky is also renowned for his build quality, finishes, and materials, but these aspects won't make a Sadowsky sound different from any other high-end Jazz clone any more than his excellent customer service will.
  9. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    The whole reason I brought this up had to do with the way I think most people buy basses-based on sound. If you know the components you want in a bass and know that these components create the sound you want, would the most important aspects when using a custom builder then be playability and price?

    As far as building goes, most of the top luthiers are trusted to produce quality instruments amongst bassists. And a lot of luthiers will build neck radius, string spacing, etc. to your specs, so unless you're looking for specialty woods or designs and whatnot, do you think it would all come down to price? This would be a hard way for me to shop for a bass, but if someone didn't have access to any high-end basses to try out and wished to have one custom-made with fairly standard specs, do you think price should be their main issue to go by?
  10. For me, having the "sound" I want is just an ante to get into the consideration set. There are many other factors beyond the sound to consider. The bass has to be comfortable for me to play. I expect flawless attention to detail in the construction. It has to have a design and a look that "connects" with me. I must be simple to get the "right" tone on stage. Finally, I want to deal with a luthier I respect and can trust will be around for awhile. I'm sure there are other factors, but those are very important to me. The price is whatever I have to pay to achieve those goals.

  11. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002

    I like that way of thinking :)
  12. To me it's really pickup choice, placement, and pre-amp. The choice of body and neck material has its effect of course but not as much as the other. Another component that is often overlooked is the bridge. A bridge can really effect tone and sustain.
  13. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    Of course, theres the aesthetics factor. Two basses using the same hardware, woods, electronics etc, both with exceptional build quality, I'd choose the one I find more visually appealing, of course.