Exotic basses that do not look exotic...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TestForEcho, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. TestForEcho


    Jun 17, 2004

    I'm going to buy my first 'exotic' bass.

    I've played some very expensive basses at Bass Central - And they were amazing, but I find the quilted, flamed, or spalted tops and gold hardware of most 'exotic' basses to be a little bit too flashy for my tastes.

    I've always preferred the look of plain vintage basses. To me, a plain Fender Jazz is far more beautiful than any $6000 Fodera. Are here any other people out there that agree with me? I don't have the chops of Anthony Jackson, and I play classic rock and roll, so I probably don't need a $6000 Fodera anyway....

    So...I've been searching for a bass that is the ultimate in tone, quality, and craftsmanship...but is very plain and doesn't look overly flashy. Some of the more obvious choices are the Sadowsky Vintage series, the Mike Lull Vintage Series...but I'm probably most interested in the Read Custom Model J (and his new pre-amps as well!).

    I'm familiar with most of the brands out there, but I wanted to get some other opinions. Maybe there are some smaller luthiers out there that I'm not familiar with? So...if you have any input on what else I should check out, let me know.

  2. sargebaker

    sargebaker Commercial User

    May 2, 2004
    Montreal QC CA
    owner/builder, ISLAND Instrument Mfg.
    Maybe you cold check out Valenti, or Lakland.
  3. I would try a USA Lakland Joe Osborn. I played one at Bass Central and I couldn't put it down.
  4. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
  5. niomosy


    Nov 9, 2002
    Remember, these are just options that are popular these days so the stores are stocking them. You can get whatever top you want with most of these exotic builders. It's really up to you. You just need to specify what you want.

    Find the bass that feels and sounds best to you. Then see if the builder can do what you want. Even a company like Fodera will give you a nice, painted top complete with pickguard if that's what you're looking for. You're the customer, don't be afraid to ask.

    Just to add something about Foderas, the $6000 Foderas are really only if you're getting a lot of options with an exotic top or one of the artist models. You could probably get a nice bolt-on Emperor with Jazz style picks and a more traditional painted top for far less than one of the all-out elite models with wood pickup covers, Aero or Duncan dual coils, special tops, block fretboard inlays, etc. etc.
  6. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Yeah, them laklands are really great, eh?

    Just kidding man :p, I've really loved watching the evolution of the valenti bass for the past few months, nice work!
  7. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Sadowsky, Lakland, Plain looking Fodera's, Suhr guitty's, etc.
  8. that sir is a beautiful instument!
  9. dragonbass

    dragonbass Commercial User

    Feb 17, 2003
    Owner/Builder of LoPrinzi Basses.........................................EX-Sadowsky Guitars Builder
    I would say try either a Ken Smith bass (USA), or if you want a custom bass with your options.....I highly recommend Nordstrand Guitars!

    These are the only two basses I own and I couldn't be happier with the sound, Workmanship, and the Beauty of the basses!

    There are plenty of choices out there, so it really comes down to finding one that "FITS" you perfect!
  10. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    Completely off the subject: Nino, you put together some gorgeous instruments. Your site should echo that. On behalf of people all over the world that like looking at pretty things, I beg you not to use "Papyrus" as a font on your website.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread. :D
  11. vacman


    Mar 8, 2004
    portland, or
    Call Roger.... :bassist:
  12. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
  13. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Sadowsky, Or Valenti! Good Choices!
  14. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.

    >>>> Have you played a Vigier? Fairly exotic as they
    are Made in France and rare in the US, they use
    the very powerful Benedetti pickups and have no
    truss rod. They are very unique instruments, and the
    sound, playability, attention to detail, and customer
    service are second to none. New, the Excess sells
    for less than $1800 and a good used one goes for
    around a grand on Ebay. The US distributor is
    www.salwender.com The Vigier website is

  15. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I thought that white 51 style with the red guard had a Hipshot bridge. *shrug*

    I'd toss in another reccomendation for a Zon. Greeaaaaaaaaaaaat basses, and very unassuming looking.
  16. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    nope, never did.... it's a heavyweight standard vintage type strung through the body. My 6 has the Hipshot
  17. TestForEcho


    Jun 17, 2004
    Thanks for the responses so far, guys. Lots of brands for me to research!

    Instead of making a bunch of seperate replies, I'll throw in some thoughts here.

    1. Nino - you have some beautiful basses for sale...very reasonably priced too. Do you use real block inlays?

    2. Joshua - That's a nice Zon. I've put them on my list of companies to choose from. They're supposed to be very light...good for my aching back. On their website there's a red unlined fretless which I've been drooling over...for years now. Solid color, only two knobs...for a guy with simple tastes like myself that's perfect.

    3. Has anyone had any first hand experience with a Suhr bass? Just wondering how they compare to Sadowsky. Suhr is a large company which produces very, very nice guitars. Even though there is a lot of employees I believe each guitar is built by only one luthier through the whole process...so it is still a 'custom' guitar. NY Bass Boutique sells Sadowsky's and Suhr's and Jimmy says Suhr is the "best bass in the world". A Suhr should also be about $800-1000 cheaper than a Sadowsky as well

  18. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    If you are looking for THE BEST as far as classic Fender style instrunets go, I would recommend Sadowsky from what I've heard. I have had no personal experience with them so Im just saying that they are the prefered choice of many people who have tried them.

    Ive also heard great things about Benavente instruments. He has the Vintage Vortex series and the 51 serries which would cater to the style you seem to be going for.

    From experience though I would have to say Valenti is an excellent way to go.

    I have one already and another on order which should be ready soon.

    Here is the first one that I already have.

    Here is the one thats almost done.

    Here's a link to the thread talking about it.

    Nino does great work and is very receptive to special request. My electonics configuration on this bass is exactly the way I wanted and the same goes for the colors, woods, body style, pickgaurd etc. There isnt a single thing on the bass that I had to settle for. Nino is also great about helping to guide you to the right options. We discussed what would go into the bass and what was possible and what wasnt. He keeps me up to date on the progress of the bass and will call, e-mail, or send me an instant message if he has a question or just wants to let me know how its going. Great customer service.

    You probably wont find much information about Valenti basses since Nino just started doing this recently and hasnt had much exposure yet. My green bass is #001 and the other ones you see are #002, #003, #004. The Shoreline gold one and some of the other examples you see are from before he started doing it officially and was only building basses for himself. I definetly recommend that you talk to Nino and try to spec out a bass with the features you want to get an idea of exactly how much yours would cost. You could also ask me about them if you'd like even though in the end its Nino you want to talk to.

  19. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    The color of the first one above is really sweet. It looks like
    a cross between burgundy mist and shoreline gold or something. Me likes!