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F Bass, just a few questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rojo412, May 3, 2004.


  1. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I keep getting myself in trouble. I thought the Status was my ultimate axe. Unfortunately, I played a WOOD bass at practiced and remembered the definition of "Sterile Tone" when I picked it up again. That, and I saw Rhonda S on MTV w/ Prince and was digging her active J tone.

    So I remembered where I left off last time I was looking at another bass. The F Bass BN5. It seemed to be the end all solution: Classic J bass meets active preamp and has splitable pickups.

    The questions, which I may have asked already (forgive me), are these:
    Is there a way to get 24 frets on a BN5? Were there years that they may have done that and discontinued? Or do I have to get a 6?
    If you were comparing the output, tone, and reliability of the F to a Fender USA Dlx, what would you say? You know, regarding its behavior in weird weather, how it hits the preamp of the amp, how often it needs service, its fret durability.
    How does it rank among J bass "clones", so to speak, in authenticity of tone, output, clarity, etc?

    Thanks, and forgive any repetitive questions.
     
  2. rusty

    rusty

    Mar 29, 2004
    Singapore
    Heh, Adrian's gonna have a field day answering this :D
    You might wanna email George as well - he's a swell dude from what I've heard :)
     
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I think George will make you a bass with any number of frets you want. I second the e-mail suggestion. George is a real nice guy, he's helpful and very accessible. He's certainly been more than patient with my endless inquiries.

    One thing though, IMO the F bass is anything "but" a J-bass clone. It's really a superb instrument, with a sound and a feel all its own. It sounds great live, but it really excels in the studio. Never in a million years could you get F bass sounds out of a J. At least not the sounds I'm getting. :)

    An interesting tidbit that you might want to be aware of if you're thinking of becoming an F bass owner, is that George's newer basses have a magic chemistry with Walter Woods amps. I have a 2003-model BN5, with the reversed tuners, and it's given me some of the most wonderful sounds I've ever gotten in the studio. Effortless too, it's like I can't go wrong. No matter where I leave the knobs, it sounds good! And that's "straight through the board" (or rather, straight from the line out of a WW MI-100), I'm not using any processing (no vt737sp's in this equation, like with some of my other basses).

    The BN5 is one of the nicest basses I've ever played. I've owned four of them over the course of the last ten years. I must say that the newest model is excellent, George definitely got it right this time. I know he's done some work on the pickups and the electronics, and whatever he did seems to have worked perfectly. Also that few inches of extra extension on the B string above the nut, seems to have made a huge difference in terms of the string balance and consistency. I can't say enough good things about this latest version.

    The one thing to watch out for, if you get a bass with a maple fingerboard, is the possibility of a dead spot in the "C" position on the G string (5th fret). Apparently "all" basses have this, but it's noticeable to varying degrees, and it seems to be most noticeable on the maple boards, as distinct from rosewood or ebony. And, some maple basses have it worse than others. Just a heads-up, you'll probably want to listen for that as you're checking out the bass. Or if you're getting it direct from George, make sure you tell him you want one that's as clean as possible. He's a good guy, he'll do you right. That's been my experience.
     
  4. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    You might be able to get a custom from George, but otherwise the only way to get a 24 fret instrument is getting a BN6. The BN5 has 22 frets.
     
  5. Yeah you can get 24 frets on a fairly expensive custom order, but why not get a 6 and get the extra 2 for free :cool:
     
  6. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The F-bass is great at imitating that 60's Jazz bass tone. They have a great sounding versatile preamp too. I haven't had any problem with weather changes affecting the bass(although I don't own an F any more). The F basses are right up there if you are looking for a top of the line Jazz bass. They have the feel, and the tone. Sadowsky basses do the job for me though. I just prefer the added sparkle, and the smaller body. You can get a 24 fret Sadowsky Standard 5.
     
  7. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps

    you will pay dearly for a 24 fret bn5- it's $1,000 additional ( list price, about $750 after discount) for 2 frets.. i wouldnt do it...
    besides , it could change the whole vibe of the bass, to me, sixes and fives sound different, same for 4 and 5... and some of us can't handle the extra muting and had stretching that a 6 requires, i gave up a while ago...i also hear and feel differences between bolt ons, set necks and neck thrus- and sometimes between 22 and 24 freat basses- George formula works just as it is, i would think twice about changing that...
    the output on an F bass is not the hottest by any means, it will hit your preamp front end politely, dont expect super hot output.. but that's what the volume and gain knobs on the amp are for..
    reliablity? it has been about the most trouble free bass i have ever owned... dead quiet ( except of course in single coil mode and panned to either pup, as ALL s-coil basses do) but in humbucking, its dead quiet.
    the truss rod is extremely accessible without removing strings and a quarter turn will make a difference you can feel..
    you will get the J bass tone and much more- the slap tone is to die for..they play effortlessly... i just love them, and i think you would , too!- i own another gorgeous bass ( see avatar) and it has the F bass preamp, it sounds wonderful and distinguished, like some of the best Foderas I have heard, but when you get an Ash F bass , especially with a maple board, you get a lot of Jazz bass style tone- but remember, thats just a launching pad for many other great tones...
     
  8. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Wow, I really appreciate the insight.

    I sure wish I was able to deal directly with George and have a bass built, but my funds definitely won't allow that, especially the $1000 2 frets. I am most likely going to have to get a used bass.

    The topic of "eras" came up. What years are most desireable, what years are least (if any)? I played 2 different F's in my entire life (belonging to "Larry Kaye," as he goes on the boards, my cousin). I thought they were both very nice and I'm sure were late 90s to early 00 models, not brand new. How do these rate?

    As I'm typing, I just noticed that Adrian Garcia posted, hello! I checked out the natural one at AccessBass, man is that sweet. If you wouldn't mind, curiosity is killing me, if you could PM the price, that would be awesome. I know it's new and I may have asked before, but I must ask again.
    I am used to playing with basses that have a very high output. I am running the BBE BMAX SS with a QSC PLX1602 into a SWR Goliath 4x10. The tone is incredible with my basses, but is anyone else running a similar combo with an F (or have in the past)?
    And how do F basses respond to aggressive playing? When I was playing Larry's, I was taking care (mostly because of the Labella Supersteps) to play at a moderate power level. I have never seen one with, say, Ken Smith Tapercore strings on it and thusly, have never been able to really dig in. I know that power in a preamp can yeild better headroom (won't fart as easily). What does an F bass do when you REALLY attack it (like play Rage Against the Machine fingerstyle or Level 42 slapping basslines)?
     
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Oh, and off topic. Adrian, that Nordstrand is SICK! Very... very... VERY nice.
     
  10. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    you're Larry Keller's cousin??
    ok, I'm done talking to you....
    kidding, Larry is great ;)

    check out the clip at the bottom of this page- I am laying into the bass pretty hard and if i remember correctly the groove is in B so I am laying into the lo b string pretty heavy.. it gives you TONE when you smack it!
    http://accessbass.com/Fbassestock.html
    I'll PM you about the one here...
     
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    :eek:

    Man, you're killing me.
     
  12. wyliee

    wyliee

    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    I've got an old split PU studio and a newer BN6. The two are very different but I wouldn't consider either better. The older style (my studio also has a macassar ebony board) is fatter I would say and the newer model is more refined and, IMO, focused.

    I run mine through a Raven Labs USIP, Sewart World Audio 1.2 and an Acme Low B-2 cabinet. That might not be too different from yours. I love it. I can hear everything, good or bad, that I do.

    I used to play much more aggressively and used Ken Smith RockMaster for many, many years. They worked fine, but I don't think I got all the nuances I can get now with a tad more refined technique and La Bellas. If you're interested, I'd also suggest trying the Dean Markley Will Lee signatures. I do think the La Bellas are very well suited for the F Bass though.

    -Eric.
     
  13. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    When I worked at GC, I put a set of the Markley's on a Conklin and and a Stu Hamm and they were okay, but I haven't really seen them in some time. Also, the super thin taper stuff scares me. Even if I hadn't busted one on my Warwick years ago, I'd still be afraid of tearing those Labellas apart. Is that crazy? Who uses them and plays on the heavy-handed side? Maybe I am nuts, I don't know.
     
  14. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    I use the LaBellas and though i am not heavy handed, i certainly dont hold back on them- never broke one.
     
  15. gfab333

    gfab333

    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I've been playing an F BN5 for nearly three years, and I have to agree with most of the previous posts, especially Adrian G's and Nonsqtr's comments. It's a great bass that's easy to play and has fantastic tone capabilities. I had previously been using GHS Supersteels with great results, but I recently put on a set of Elixer Nanowebs. I really like the tone and playability of these strings on the F; and indeed, the new string tone has out lasted conventional string sets. I'm going on three months.
     
  16. while I was in seattle last weekand I got the chance to play this guy: http://www.bassnw.com/New Exotic Basses/fbass_bn5_violin_amber_ebony.htm and I must say that I was super sweet, the fingerbaord is amazing and it is probably the best F bass I have played yet. I would have bought the thing on the spot if I had not just purchased a car. I think that F basses are one of the best merges of modern design and features will classic tone and vibe.
     
  17. I have used a few different brands on my BN6 and my Caron6, I went with Thomastik for a long time, but I think they need a beefier B string, they sent me an experimental set with about a 130 B that was cool, but too long on a couple of strings. On a broken string whim I used a set of Rotosounds for the first time in 15 years, and loved them. It's kinda hard to make any string sound bad on these basses, comes down to how they feel on the fingers, but since George started handling his own custom gauge La Bellas, I use them exclusively, play aggressively, no breakage.
     
  18. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    I have allways been impressed with their ash, wood seems importent to them. Thats what i like to here :bassist:
     
  19. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    Hexbass. a little bird told me your bass is either getting ready to ship or even may have shipped already- it's going straight to you, so you gotta tell me how it turned out!
    MAJOR, the F bass is a big reason why i have not gotten around to trying a Sadowsky yet- i think they may be in the same tone family, the super J style tone....and they are so beautiful... but i hear you and the others raving about their Sad's and i am very intrigued....
     
  20. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Adrian, both the F and the Sadowsky are great basses. I think that there is enough difference between the 2 to justify owning both. The Fbass does that Vintage J thing great. Awesome low mids, and a sweet top. The Sadowsky sounds a little more modern and hi-fi. The top end is super clear and sparkles(think Marcus Miller). The Sadowsky is also lighter, and I like the way it sits better than the F. You should definitely check them out!