Found a Warwick Fortress One, is it a good deal?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thehamsterman, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. thehamsterman


    Dec 26, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Hey everyone!

    I found a warwick fortress one 4-string bass in red at a pawn shop today. they're asking $399, but it has some pretty noticeable dings and scratches on the bottom edge of the body, and the back plate is being held on with tape.

    How do i tell if its worth the price? What should i look for as far as other things being broken on it? Also, how do i accurately figure out when it was made?

    Any help would be appreciated!

  2. Internet Police

    Internet Police

    Sep 4, 2011
  3. I'd gladly pay 4 bills for a gutted, wenge-neck Warwick. That taped-on control cover probably costs $20 to replace. We need more details- does the truss rod function/how are the frets/any MAJOR structural issues/modifications? BTW, the last two digits of the serial # should be the last two digits of the year of build.
    TinIndian likes this.
  4. thehamsterman


    Dec 26, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    I'm afraid i don't know how to check that without actually taking it in to someone. Any ideas on how to check it?
  5. jimmyjames77

    jimmyjames77 Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Just West of Chicago
    A fortress one is an OUTSTANDING bass. If the back plate is the only problem them it's the deal of the decade to me. They are undervalued at regular asking prices to me.
  6. xikbastard


    May 7, 2007
    the backplage easily fix, thats the one that covers the cavity right? and also check the neck and body for any noticeble cracks. as those instrument need to be waxed.

    if the neck is out of whacked u can send to a lutheir to set it up.

    anway bargain lower and than send to a luthier to make sure everything working, even better plug it in b4 u purchase, feel it, hear it and than pay for it.
  7. There's a lot to consider here- does it seem to play fairly well- are the strings like 3/4 of an inch away from the fretboard, or is the neck very obviously twisted or warped? Iffy action can often be adjusted but a broken truss rod or warped or twisted neck can be VERY expensive(for a Warwick)to fix.
  8. Pick it up & play every note(from open strings, then first fret, second, etc all the way up)on every string; if something isn't very obviously wrong w/it, it may be a steal.
  9. eneye


    Oct 29, 2011
    I have a fortress 5 that dates back to 1994. It has a 7-piece maple/bubinga neck--I really haven't seen another neck like it on a fortress but it sounds great! The body is 3 pieces of solid flamed maple. It's an extremely un-Warwick sounding Warwick with LOADS of bottom end, sizzling highs and a typical j-style growl. I love the details: the bronze frets, the wenge fingerboard and the adjust-a-nut. All have held up very well.

    That bass bass has only gotten better with age in terms of sound so I'd be all over a older Warwick with nearly 2 decades in bass form. In terms of looks, my Fortress has been gigged constantly for 15 years and it shows. Even so, it's taken the abuse. Even for an entry level Wick, the bass was very well built and it has aged like a fine wine.

    I have had some warping issues with the neck but they've all been a trussrod adjustment away. Some necks can have perma-damage if they have remain warped for too long without being adjusted.

    New that bass cost me 1200USD in 1996, I'd imagine a 4 string would run between 850-1000USD new. So now they want 400? Not bad. Again, consider those basses were made to sound better with age. They typically do.

    I admit, I don't buy bases for show pieces or financial investments. I care much more about how something plays/sounds/functions than I do how it looks.

    So, more important than dings, scratches and tape holding that plastic access panel Warwick uses (which is easily replaceable), what condition is the bass in as far as sound and playability? Is the neck warped? If it is warped, is it fubar? (a good bass tech will be able to tell you that). Are the frets warn down (almost as important as the neck condition)? Are there any dead notes on the bass? What condition are the electronics in? If all these issues are in the glass half-full and the bass feels/sounds good to you I'd go for it or try to talk the pawn shop down a bit.

    Even if there are some small problems ie noisy electronics, that's typically not much to fix and a good negotiation point if you really want the bass.

    My advice to you, do with it what you will, good luck.
  10. eneye


    Oct 29, 2011
    Oh forgot to mention, I'm nearly sure that the last two digits in the serial number (usually located on the back of the headstock) will reflect the manufacture date.
  11. eneye


    Oct 29, 2011
    Check this link out, this will help: Adjusting Truss Rod - YouTube It's even a Warwick.

    One note of caution. My fortress had a reverse truss rod in it for some reason so the tighten/loosen was reversed (counterclockwise to decrease space and clockwise to increase) I'm not sure it that will be the case for you but it is worth noting. Whatever you do only make small moves in either direction (half turns at most should yield a big difference).

    If the neck doesn't respond or the rod feels extremely loose, it's probably busted.
  12. thehamsterman


    Dec 26, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    got a chance to check it out today:

    neck and frets seem to be in good shape, but the strings were beyond dead, so it was hard to tell..

    electronics seem iffy...bass and treble controls just hard to explain.
    pots feel like they have chewing gum in them, and the others just feel like garbage.

    If its still there after the sale this weekend, i'll offer like 250 and see what happens, but it might need a complete electronics rehaul.
  13. eneye


    Oct 29, 2011
    If the pots are the worst of it, then I feel the bass is still a good deal. The best part about that bass would be the neck and the body and would be the most expensive to repair if they were broken.

    I'm sure a few of us here would love to see pics of the instrument. Let us know how it goes..
  14. Just grab it, new pots are easy replacing
  15. ilikebass7


    Sep 7, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Marco Bass Guitars
    Just got a 95 fortress one with wenge neck and ebony board. Fretless. Nice nice bass. Get it
  16. nirvanafan13


    Apr 14, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I also picked one up from a friend (it was in perfect working, quite good cosmetic condition) a few years back for $400. After playing it for about 30 seconds I handed over the cash immediately. He needed quick money because he was buying another Warwick (some kind of Streamer I think) from one of his friends.
    That bass is absolutely incredible. It's a fretless (which is pretty rare, it seems- I haven't seen another one on the internet) and it SINGS. From super-muah fretless to deep, thunderous, upright-esque P-sound, and everywhere in between. An absolutely AMAZING bass. I highly recommend these. And it has a pull-up for passive volume control.

    I love mine. If it's a playable or fixable bass, I recommend you get it.
  17. all things considered, GREAT DEAL, especially if you can get it for less!

    I had a '94 Fortress One 5 string for several years and it was a killer player.
  18. My Fortress One just turned 20 in February. As others say it sounds much better now than when new. I had a luthier clean the pots 3 or 4 years ago. Mine now has JAN III. I kept the old brass one but the new one is fine. Are the letters on the MEC pickups gold? If so you have the better pickups. I learned how to do ALL the adjustments years ago and when I sit down with an unfamiliar bass now I can spot problems very quickly. I actually took tools and (with the pawn shop's permission) set up a beat-up P-bass in the pawn shop. It sounded great after about 15 minutes. No matter how this deal goes you need to become good at setting up your own basses. You probably wouldn't have needed to write to the forum if you had that knowledge. Anyway, my Fortress is a 5-string. I have the neck perfectly set, the pickups very very low, the strings are low to the neck but have no buzz, and I use silver rounds. It sounds awesome. It is a heavy bass (mine is 10#) so you'd need a wider and better neck strap. If you match it with a 15/6/1 Greenboy cab and around 800 watts you will need to change clothes.
  19. Just checked and Warwick is producing a limited edition Fortress currently. The 5-stg is $4,000. Only 100 being made. The MIC "Rockbass" Fortress 5-stg can be had for around $700 - $800. If your Fortress were in excellent shape it might get $1,000. Might not. But anyway you can find values by doing an hour of searches online. Send photos if you get it. AND if you purchase it, go the the Warwick website and make a comment in their forum. Tell them what you bought, for how much, include the serial #, and show photos. You should get several replies with age, and any kind of advice you will need to get it looking great. Good luck!
  20. This is the bass that stopped me from hunting (endlessly) for a better instrument. I've owned Ibanez, Yamaha, Fender, and every no name under the sun. This is the winner, my 1994 made in Germany, Warwick Fortress One. I'm good for life.
    bluesdogblues likes this.
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