Fender Kingman vs. Washburn Stu Hamm vs. Epiphone Zenith vs.?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GibsonLives, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. GibsonLives


    Jul 5, 2013
    Okay, before I jump into the subject suggested by the title, you will notice that this is my very first post here on TalkBass. You can, however, find me under the same username over at The Gear Page; in fact, after answering some of my acoustic bass questions, a couple folks suggested I also check out this forum.

    I'm also primarily a guitarist, but I have played bass at times in the past, and also done some fingerstyle acoustic stuff, so I'm getting there...slowly, mind you, but I'm getting there lol.

    Anyway, while I've owned a couple basses in my time, I'm currently looking for my first acoustic bass, mainly because I'd like a different, woodier, more "traditional" I guess you could say tone for home recording and general messing around.

    Here are some specifics I'm looking for:

    4-string fretted electric/acoustic bass

    I don't want to spend more than a grand tops, and honestly, I'd much rather spend substantially less if possible.

    I don't expect a bass to play like a guitar, but if there's anything out there with a thinner neck-profile out there, I'd certainly love to hear about it.

    Must project well acoustically (I do understand that most acoustic basses would get buried beneath the sound of a jumbo acoustic 6-string, so I'm not expecting miracles...and it's also why I need one with a nice preamp, which I'll mention just now....)

    Must have a decent preamp with pro-level EQ control, maybe some sort of feedback-eliminator, as I've heard ABGs are particularly susceptible).

    The three models I listed above all seem like strong candidates right now, but I listed them that way because I'm hoping maybe a few people with actual experience on these basses can give me the heads-up on whether they stack up in the real world to how their features-list looks on paper (and how sweet they sound in clips).

    Thanks so much for any and all suggestions. Sorry for rambling so much lol.

  2. verycoolname


    Jan 28, 2013

    Okay, so I'm a bit biased (I own one), but it really is a nice bass. Plus it meets much of your specs:

    4-string fretted? Yep.

    Less than $1000? Yep, though be warned, no case is included, and it's a tight fit in most gigbags. A case from Sweetwater is $89, so the total cost (bass+case) is still only a little over $600.

    Thin nut? Yep. It has a standard Jazz neck (1.5 inch nut), and is not "baseball bat" thick front to back. Extremely comfortable. I'm female and don't have giant hands, so necks are a big factor in my bass purchases; this one is perfect...plus it's bound and blocked. Awesome. Like you said, it's not going to be guitar thin, but for a bass it works.

    Projects well? This is iffy, I play (usually) with one acoustic guitar+two mandolins, and sometimes a banjo/fiddle is added to the mix. It's fine with the guitar+mandos, but anything over that and you need a small amp (I use a cheap 15W combo) to keep up (or break out the upright, which I did a few times...)

    Preamp? I've had no problems with it; it has a built in tuner, phase control, treble/mid/bass. Everything you need, and (at the moment) I have no reason to replace it.

    Overall it's a fantastic bass (IMO). It does everything I want it to do, and it works good in a bluegrass setting (which is why I bought it in the first place). It's also great for noodling around on when I'm too lazy to plug in my Ibby; in fact, I've written most of my bass riffs on it. I'm thinking of putting nylon tapewounds on it, but there's nothing wrong with the stock bronze strings.

    Hope this helps.
  3. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    Another fan of the Kingman. Love the Jazz neck profile.
  4. GibsonLives


    Jul 5, 2013
    Thanks, guys. I actually ran over to my GC and tried the Kingman (along with the Fender T-Bucket, which was decent, and a couple cheap Deans and Ibbys that aren't really worth mentioning).

    Kingman was kinda cool, from J-Bass mojo to (fairly) manageable neck that I'll probably get used to in time. I don't have much comparison for projection, but it didn't sound muffled or anything (unlike those cheap Deans lol).

    There were a few things I did not dig, the most obvious being a terrible case of neck-dive. I'd imagine those who stand with it must either drill a new strap-button or put the strap on the headstock. I wonder just how common neck-heaviness is with ABGs.

    Also (and I don't know if it's just something I need to ge:t used to, coming from guitar), it wasn't just physical balance; I felt like I was reaching half a mile to access the lower frets. A review I read about the Zenith said that was fairly common, but wasn't an issue with the Epi, but I don't know. I guess every instrument-type has its eccentricities (with guitar, it's putting up with us annoying guitar players lol).

    I also do dig the idea of nylon flat wounds, as they might be gentler on my fingers as well as deliver a unique sound for this strange sort of blues-roc(abilly)-doom-n-gloom music that I've been getting into lately. I also thought maybe the Zenith could get me closer to the stand-up bass sound when I wanted it, but again, I don't know what I'm talking about :).

    Thanks for taking the time, folks...the Fender's still a candidate, though I wouldn't mind other suggestions if you've got 'em.


  5. i have an old (>20 years) Alvarez acoustic/electric and I also have very long arms. I always felt like I was reaching out forever to get to the end of the neck. Finally I got my Precision and a tape measure out and started comparing. I was very surprised to see that the Alvarez is just a standard 34" scale. What is different is the bridge/saddle location. On electric basses it's very near the end of the instrument, on acoustics there a good bit more space between the bridge and the end of the instrument. I'm sure bridge placement on the acoustics varies some but all of the ones I've seen have some degree of this forward shift.

    As for the tapewound strings, I put GHS tapewounds on mine about 5 years ago and I'm very happy I did. Really toned down the clack and mellowed out the sound. Recommend it highly
  6. verycoolname


    Jan 28, 2013
    1. I knew there was a flaw I was forgetting! Neck dive is, unfortunately, very present in the Kingman. Mine points straight to the floor if I don't hold it. It's not a problem most of the time, because I use it sitting down a lot, but it is a problem when standing. I'm going to try and remedy that with a thick leather strap, and maybe repositioning the buttons.

    2. It is a bit to get used to (I play guitar as well), but I think it's less to do with the instrument in question and more to do with the fact that you're not used to playing bass.

    3. That was my thinking as well.

    And, FWIW, my final two ABG choices were the Zenith and Kingman. I chose the Kingman because A) my local mom and pop music shop had it in stock and B) I prefered the neck. YMMV. The Zenith is a good bass, though. I played one at GC; good, but just not for me.
  7. GibsonLives


    Jul 5, 2013
    Verycoolname, interesting that we were torn between the same two models. Since the Kingman is cheap, I don't mind drilling extra holes if that's what it takes. Thing is, I found the neck to be just okay, something I could probably get used to. The Zenith is unavailable for me to test-drive; could you describe how its neck-shape differs from the Fender? What I dig about the Epi is the Tone, though it was in a single YouTube clip...and we know how reliable those can be lol. Anyway, dude in that vid made it sound rather standup-ish to my untrained ears. Also, did the Zenith have neck-dive issues, and how loud was it acoustically compared with the Kingman? Okay, I'm all done asking questions...for now, anyway :).

  8. verycoolname


    Jan 28, 2013
    Haha, well, I bought it last summer, so I don't remember a lot of the issues in detail, but I'll try to to remember as accurately as possible.

    Neck: Honestly, I've never really liked Epiphone/Gibson necks, so maybe it was just a personal thing. Specs wise, the Kingman has a 1.5 (Jazz) nut, and isn't too chunky front to back. The Epiphone has a 1.68 (more of a Precision) nut, which I find personally less comfortable. YMMV. Like I mentioned before, I have smaller hands, so I don't like thick necks. Your problem may be more a matter of adjusting from guitar to bass. While it won't be exactly the same, I'd recommend trying out a bass (like a Precision) with a thicker neck profile to get an idea of the Zenith (it won't be exactly the same, but it'll give you an idea).

    Neck dive: Can't remember exactly, but I know two things:
    -People complain about Gibsons/Epiphones diving
    -People complain about acoustics diving
    So, I'm sure the Epi dives, just not sure how much better/worse it is compared to the Kingman.

    Unplugged sound: The Kingman definitely projected better. Here's a GC review of the Epi:
    Second off this is not an acoustic bass in any way. In fact the only hollow parts on this bass is directly under the F holes and where the controls are. It is no loader acoustically than any other solid body bass. The NanoFlex and NanoMag pickups sound good but it doesn't even sound like an acoustic bass when amplified. If you like the look then go for it, but don't think you will get an acoustic sound from it.

    Makes it sound like the Epi is more "semi-hollow" than full on "acoustic." I just remember liking the Kingman's unplugged sound better. Amplified they were both very decent, but other factors (neck, unplugged sound) made me choose the Kingman.
  9. GibsonLives


    Jul 5, 2013
    Verycool, your description was...well, very cool, thanks :). Looks like I still have more research to do, but I won't discount the Kingman just yet.
  10. sjeverett


    May 10, 2013
    I played a Kingman at a local music store for the first time last week. I never did plug it in but the acoustic sound was awesome. The neck is awesome. I play mostly guitar but do have a p bass so I'm trying to get used to the wide neck. The j bass neck was really nice and the action was really low and no fret buzz. When I get some cash, I'm getting a Kingman.
  11. GibsonLives


    Jul 5, 2013
    Well, I finally pulled the trigger...and it was for none of the above lol. Truth is, I've heard nothing but stellar reviews of the Breedloves, and MF is currently offering both a 15% discount AND 18-month financing, so I leapt at an Atlas Studio BJ350/SMe(basically, a simple fretted 4-string acoustic bass with a ridiculously improbable name). Thanks to everyone for your help; let me know if you think I chose wisely :).