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Fender Jazz Bass and Jazz Clones/'Super-J' basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Peter Weil, Jun 23, 2002.

  1. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Dear All,

    After playing many different kinds of basses, I have recently come back to trying out Fender Jazz basses and found them to have a great sound which would complement my other basses well.

    There are some great things about Fender Jazzes, but also some very annoying things - not enough frets (I like 22), the hum issue, the lightweight bridge, no active EQ, the difficulty of access to the upper frets......

    I'd like to hear about ALL of the different Jazz clones and people's experiences with them - the brand, the cost, things you like or don't like...

    I'm just trying to figure out whehter to go for a 'Standard' Jazz bass or one of the super-duper custom made clones which might address a few of the niggles I have.

    A few I'd love to hear about to start off:

    Fender's 'Deluxe' series
    Mike Lull
    Peavey's new line of Millennium Jazzes

    I can't think of more than these at the moment....

    Look forward to everyone's comments!

  2. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Hi Pete. Are you looking for a 4 string or a 5 sting. I beleive (not 100%) that Sadowsky basses are 21 fret except tor the 24 fret 5 string. I have a 24 fret 5 string & it is the best bass I've ever owned/played so far in my life.

    <img src="http://www.talkbass.com/forum/attachment.php?s=&postid=520588">

    This is my 4 string but it only has 21 frets. :(
    <img src="http://www.talkbass.com/forum/attachment.php?s=&postid=430844" width=450>
  3. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Before we talk about specifics, I think that it is important to talk about "value", or diminishing marginal returns when it comes to high-end jazz basses. While there are some amazing basses to be had that will meet all of your criteria, you need to ask yourself whether a Sadowsky is really worth the extra $$$ over a Lull or Lakland, and whether the Lulls & Laklands are really worth the extra money over a Fender or a Peavey, etc. At some point, the audience will probably not be able to tell ANY difference at all, and at another point, many players may not be able to tell ANY difference either.

    As Nino will tell you, a Sadowsky with EMG pickups is the ULTIMATE in a jazz bass. While I might not agree with his love for EMGs, most jazz bass freaks (myself included) will agree that a Sadowsky is the ultimate in retro-modern tone, feel, vibe, investment, etc. However, the "value" or diminishing marginals returns of a Sadowsky might not make it worth buying if you can get 90% of a Sadowsky in another bass that costs $1,000-$1,500 less.

    Otherwise, I would recommend that you look into getting a Lakland Joe Osborn model with active electronics. These are great basses, very close to Fender specs in feel and tone, but better all-around. Mike Lull's are expertly built and set-up, but not everyone feels as if they have it where it counts...tone. There also isn't anything really special about a Lull that helps to destinguish it from any other clone. Overall, I think that you would probably be disappointed with the active electronics in the Fender, and would probably have to replace them with a J-retro or other aftermarket system...adding to the cost of the bass. Peavey basses are a great value (not a lot of cost for a lot of performance), but again, they don't really have a vibe and are generally uninspiring.

    Your best bet might be to built your own bass-or have one built for you. Warmoth and USA Custom Guitars should be able to build you the jazz of your dreams with the specs you want, which would allow you to install the pickups and preamp of your choice...getting the best of all worlds. Hope that helps...good luck.
  4. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Check out Elrick's New Jazz Standard (http://www.elrick.com/files/elrick2.html) It seems to address all the issues that you have with Fenders - 21, 22 or 24 frets, choice of pups, good bridge, active EQ, lower horn recessed to give you easy access to all the frets, and a reasonable price.
  5. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    To JPJ: I agree with you about the law of diminishing returns. Given that we have a scale with Fender Squier at one end and Sadowsky on the other, it would be nice to hit a reasonable tone/cost ratio. Sei can build a Jazz style bass for 1300-1600 UKP depending upon my desires....maybe where I'd like to get in the long run, but expensive right now. I've also thought (and looked at Nino-Brown's) about Warmoth basses, the 'mail order and build' custom route. It's also a possibility, but I'm no wood expert and therer aren't a lot of bass boutiques around here to become an expert..... Why do you recommend the Lakland Joe Osborn so highly?

    To Nino: Your basses are wonderful. I have drooled over them at length. How many times have you posted those pics now? :)

    To Brooks: Thanks for the link. Unfortunately, the Elrick's headstock is not quite my aesthetic cup of tea. But, as you say, everything else I have talked about is addressed.........shame.

    If I went the 'mail order and build' route, does anyone have suggestions for the best woods/pickups/preamp?

    Another thought: anyone tried a retrofit graphite neck (Moses, Status) on their Jazz bass?

    Thanks for the thoughts. Keep em coming!

  6. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Sorry, I also forgot to say I'm largely a 4-stringer. Maybe once I master the 4, I'll move on. (6 years and counting...) I used to own a Warwick Thumb 5'er and I found it fun and useful, but came back to the 4 with some relief.

  7. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State

    You have some good choices available. When I was searching for my "ultimate" bass, I tried everything I could get my hands on. I would take advantage of some free time on business trips to check out the better bass stores. After a year search, I decided on Sadowsky. For me, his basses are clearly the ultimate blend of great tone, stunning workmanship and superb design. Before you make your choice, I would challenge you to give Roger a call.

    Regarding kit basses, although you can do well, you won't get a Sadowsky or a Lakland from Warmoth. I tried that and although I have a good bass with top shelf components that was assembled by a pro luthier, it's not a Sadowsky and it's not close.

    Only you can decide if the extra you get from a Sadowsky that takes instrument design from good or even great to flawless is of value to you. For me, there is no doubt. It's the best bass purchase I have ever made. My bandmates love it (and can tell the difference and prefer the Sadowsky to other high end brands I've played), the studio loves it and I often have folks from the audience that want to know what kind of bass it is because it just sounds "right". Further, you won't find a better person to deal with than Roger.

    Obviously, it's what's right for you that ultimately matters. Good luck on your search!!


    My Sadowskys:

  8. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    after owning sadowsky,lull,lakland,warmoth, etc, i say you can get something comparable to the parts bass builders when putting together a 4 string jazz. order a good body and then send it to pat wilkins to get the finish. there, now you have your flawless lakland and sadowsky finish. and if you know what your doing, putting together and setting up the bass isnt that hard. with the right wood choices and knowing what you want and putting aside any bias you have, youll realize youll end up with a pretty sweet bass.

    now is that cost effective, probably not. depends on what your time frame is. you can find almost any electronics/pickups used so you can save there but it will still be pretty expensive. but, still probably quite a bit less than the 3k entrance fee for a sad.
  9. Jontom


    Mar 11, 2002
    New York
    Agreed! I decided to make my own Jazz w/Warmoth parts. I've always loved the shape/playability of the Fender Jazz, but wasn't thrilled with the neck wood choice of maple,maple,or maple. And I've always loved the "hifi" EMG sound. So now I'm putting the finishing touches on my wenge/ebony neck-alder body-burl maple top Warmoth J-bass. It has a bombay mahogany stain(courtesy of Minwax) and many coats of polyurethane. Pickups are EMG J's. Black hardware. All this for under $800!
  10. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Interesting....a few conflicting reports here.

    Jeff....what happened that your build basses were not acceptable? Just curious as to how the Sadowsky had that 'extra' feel/tone/quality. Must make a trip to NY soon :)

    Jontom....Id love to see pics of that bass. Care to post the work in progress?

    Narud....who's Pat Wilkins?

  11. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    www.smart-distribution.co.uk the UK distributors for Lakland and Modulus, have reduced by prices by 15%, so you can now buy from the UK at US prices.

    The new Lakland (Skyline) Joe Osborn model will sell for £935. Might be worth considering. The Lakland Skyline series has got great reviews here on TalkBass and other bass-sites.
  12. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State

    My Warmoth is certainly an acceptable bass. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I enjoy playing it more than than my old Fender. Fit and finish of the body and neck, while very good are not great - swirls, overspray, etc. - but not bad. The tone is more uneven and it does not have the clarity, articulation or punch of the Sadowsky. But again, it's not bad at all.

    It just isn't my experience that one can buy Warmoth parts and put together a "super jazz". I do think you can do much better than an off the shelf Fender with Warmoth parts and quality electronics and hardware. But I think that's more a function of Fender not paying close enough attention to how their instruments are maintained once they hit the store.

    But you can't discount the value that Mike Tobias, Greg Curbow, Joe Zon, Roger Sadowsky and Dan Lakin and other top luthiers bring to overall quality of the instrument. It just isn't as simple as buying good parts and slappin' them together. Sure, you might be able to get 80% there, or maybe even 90% if you get really lucky and choose the parts that work well together. And, if that's close enough, well, that's cool! But, superior quality is really in the details and I prefer someone who knows what they are doing managing that element. I have found that to be money well spent.

  13. You've got to find the bass that speaks or sings to you.

    For me, it was Sadowsky. I tried many brands and they ranged from awful to excellent. But they bass that made me grin the most was a Sadowsky jazz bass with Sadowsky pups, not EMG.

    Several years later I have no regrets. It sounds wonderful live or in the studio, plays great, is light, balances well, quiet as hell with incredible s/n when recording, looks sexy, and gives me all the tones I want and need. It's my bass for life. I have a 2nd Sadowsky on order just for fun (PJ4) but I'm so happy with my jazz that I have second thoughts about getting a second bass.

    I tried: Fender, Fodera, Lakland, Modulus, Peavey, ESP, G&L, Status, MTD, Alembic, Curbow, Warwick, Ken Smith, Zon, Sei, and probably a few other brands I can't recall off hand.

  14. Peter Weil

    Peter Weil Seeker of The New Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    I suppose in many ways what I would like to do is get the Fender Jazz sound and then some.....but at the same time I don't generally have enough time to go the route of making the bass myself. So that's out.

    So, I suppose there are several options:

    1. Have one custom made to spec (after playing many more Jazz type basses and determining that spec more precisely.) I imagine Dave Pushic could do this for a very reasonable price.
    Anyone had this done? (No, not a six/seven string super sandwich of woods - but just a simple design; good quality solid body wood with no 'top' (burl/spalted maple, etc) + excellent pickups/preamp/hardware)

    2. Save up and buy one of the super Jazzes - general consensus appears to be Sadowsky's are the 'Super Jazz' of choice. Anyone care to dispute that?

    3. Buy a secondhand Fender Jazz and mod it for all it's worth. New pickups/preamp/bridge; perhaps consider one of the aftermarket graphite necks.....probably not a tremendously cost effective or time effective option....

    Interesting. Any more takers for this thread out there?

  15. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ

    Find yourself a used Hamer Cruisebass (preferably with a 2TEK bridge). It's my main bass right now and I am 100% satisfied. A great playing and great sounding bass! Plus ... Crappy Hamer marketing = Poor resale value = Excellent value for you!


    REVEREND: Never played one myself. They're apparently pretty lousy for slapping, but apparently do the "Jazz-bass thing" very well beyond that...

    WARMOTH: Build a Warmoth. I have yet to hear anything bad about a Warmoth project bass.
  16. There are often used/pre-preowned Sadowsky basses for sale on the Sadowsky website at a reasonable discount from new basses. You can wait for one that plays and sounds wonderfully but has some cosmetic dings and scratches.

    www.sadowsky.com Go to the "In Stock" page or try this link http://www.sadowsky.com/pages/framesets/fs_stock.html There's a nice 4 string jazz there right now.
  17. Here's one pic of it:[​IMG]
  18. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    I don't think it is exactly clear what you want other than a jazz bass. A stock Sadowsky is going to sound way different than an MIA Fender with a graphite neck. It all depends what bass matches the sound in your head. The only really solution is to play everything you can get your hands on and then decide from there. This may take a couple years.
    I've played some Warmoth basses, and imho they're not even close to a Sadowsky. I've played Fender I like more than warmoths. Not that you can really fairly generalize but oh well.
  19. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    pat wilkins is the guy that does the finishes for lakland, sadowsky and many others.

    if you just buy a bunch of parts out of the warmoth thrift shop theres no wonder why they dont add up. but, if you order something for yourself,add your input, then get it finished by someone other than warmoth you have a different story.
  20. How about a Paul Reed Smith? (yeah, I know, I'm inviting criticism)

    The pickups are hot, and the pre-amp adds mids like a mug.

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