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Fernandes Retrospect 5X

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by craigb, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    subtitle: What kind of 5 string can you get for under $300 delivered to your door?


    - alder body (I could only find one seam but suspect it's 3 pieces)
    - maple neck/rosewood board
    - single coil pickups
    - vol/vol/blend controls (????)

    The pic is the stock one from the Fernandes website. My digicam's rechargeables were dead this morning so pics of mine will have to wait.

    The neck: This is the reason I bought it, really. It's super narrow, 1-5/8" wide at the nut. I'm a person who likes narrow/skinny necks (G&L #6 - 1.5" wide at the nut, 7-1/2" fretboard radius, slim - is my favorite). Even a slim front-to-back 4 string neck 1.75" wide at the nut is too big. 1-5/8" (1.625") nut width necks can work, depends on the actual neck (I've had 4s and 8s with that width that were doable).

    It's maple, looks OK, nice and slim front-to-back. Satin finish which I like. On a first-glance basis the fretwork seems decent.

    the body: a decent slab of alder. I could only find one definite joint but suspect there are 3 pieces (if not more) in there. I intentionally chose sunburst (over the other option, black) so I could see the wood (and hoped that better looking wood was used because it was visible). Contoured.

    hardware: Well, it's got a bridge and tuners. Nothing particularly exciting. I may replace either or both depending on what I think of them after I get more use with it. A massive string retainer for all 5.

    electronics: A pair of passive single coils. They've got some growl to them. I need to work on the height/tilt adjustment to bring out some more of the upper strings. They pick up the B well enough. I'm a little confused on the controls. The "manual" claims vol-vol-blend for the controls. I suspect vol-vol-tone but want to open up the control cavity to check. The pots don't feel so hot so I suspect the first actual change will be those.

    Overall: The sound is good, very jazz-like (what a surprise). The overall feel is good and it came with the action set lower than I'll probably leave it. The strings are steel (uck - turn my fingers black). It balances well on a strap and isn't overly heavy (maybe a little heavier than my alder bodied G&L SB-2). String spacing at the bridge seemed to measure out to ~23/32 as best I could tell from my tape measure, so a bit tight. The B seems reasonably tight, not a ton worse than the E, definitely usable for me with a reasonable action (but I'm a med-high action guy anyway).

    I'm happy with the quality, particularly for the price, and worry that if I like the 5 it may become my #1 - because I'm not aware of any other 5s with that narrow a neck. I'm not saying it's as nice as my US G&Ls but it's a very good value for the buck.

    So if you need a very narrow necked 5 and don't want to spend a lot this is definitely worth the money. Oh yeah, it is MIC (made in China).

    more to follow as I have more time with it (and charged batteries for the camera) . . .
  2. is the control cavity visible under the pickguard cos I rekon that bass would look really nice with out from looking at the way the controls are laid out.
  3. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    The control cavity has a cover on the back - so that won't cause a problem with the pickguard off. But I like pickguards so I'll leave mine on (and never know what's underneath it).
  4. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member



    Other than a dark spot/splotch/streak down by the knobs the wood looks good. It's a nice looking bass.

    While the spacing is very narrow at the nut it's working for me - and I'm enjoying the B string. Even on this cheapie it sounds good (at least through my Dunlop headphone amp). The true test will be a band practice.

    The single coils will have to go if I keep it. I just don't like dealing with the noise/hum. Maybe some DiMarzio Ultra Jazz - if they will fit. I'll have to measure.

    If I end up liking it as much as it looks like I'm going to my biggest problem becomes can I handle using such a cheap bass as my #1 axe? Hmmm . . . maybe fodder for another thread in the future.
  5. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    Looks great from the pictures. If it plays good and sounds good who cares if it is a cheap bass?
  6. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I bought one of these shipped for $300. It was made great and played great, but the pickups are crap.

    I scored some Bartolini 5-string jazz pickups (easily found on ebay) and wired them in passive. Now this thing is wicked bad ass!

    Right now, I've actually got it set up with a high-C string and just the bridge pickup wired straight to the jack. It sound like a big Strat (cool for playing jazzbox style chord melody), but I think I'm going to put it back to normal setup soon. It was irreplacable when I was playing with this blues-fusion group last year.

    I'm probably going to score an Bart HR3.3 preamp and try it out in there too, but with just the Barts it nails the 60's jazz tone (to me).

    It's a great bargain that just needs a few mods.
  7. I think it looks nicer than a Fender. The lack of a chrome control plate allows more wood to be seen.

    I also think the straight string retainer looks better than a round string tree.

    The bridge is better than on the MIM Standard Jazz/Precision.
  8. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Personally, I hate fernandes for buying the HIWATT name and ruining it by using it for a bunch of crappy solid state amps instead of making the famous all tube DR series amps that Hylight Electronics made in the 70s. Now, Hylight has to resort to using the name MAXWATT for their HIWATT replicas. :mad: This really pisses me off. I will never touch a Fernanes instrument ever. EVER. :mad: :mad: :mad:
  9. It's nice to have principles, but you shouldn't blame Fernandes, you should blame Hylight for selling its rights. It's kind of like blaming Gibson for making Toby's, when nobody held a gun to the head of Michael Tobias and forced him to sell his rights.

    Also, the rights to the name, "Fernandes" could have been sold 25 times since the 1970s.
  10. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    They didn't sell them, Dave Reeves died prematurely. Then it was sold to Audio Brothers, then to Music Ground in the UK and fernandes in the US.
  11. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Deep breaths. Breathe...breathe....breathe...
  12. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    I have one of these, but didn't like playing on the short narrow neck. I also thought it had intonation problems, so I eventually de-fretted it. My son loves it; it's his primary bass. He likes it better than my MTD Beast which is a really nice bass but he uses as a backup. The neck on mine is a nice piece of wood, and very stable even though very slim.

    The bridge is an imitation Sadowsky early-style, on mine, at least.

    The pickups sound fine, or mine do at least, I just had to take them out and put some better foam under there so they could be raised up near the strings. I also did a complete shielding job on mine, using copper tape from StewMac, including the pickup cavities, and it's less noisy than some other single coil jazz style bases I have had.

    I don't understand the bias against Fernandes. They sell to a price point. One of the best basses I ever had was a Gravity 4 string. Three piece laminated neck, first-rate fret job, good hardware, wood craftsmanship worthy of a Fodera. I replaced the pickups with EMGs, and would still have it if I hadn't switched to 5 string.
  13. Silk


    Feb 16, 2006
    Thanks for this post guys, very useful as I am actually watching this kind of bass. ;)