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Fretless 5 dilemma

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by embellisher, Dec 27, 2000.


  1. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    OK, I want a fretless 5, and for a long time I thought that I wanted a Pedulla PentaBuzz. I have had GAS for one ever since I saw an ad for them in the early 80's in Guitar Player.

    But now, I just don't know. I am still thinking of the Pedulla, but michaeln has his Lakland 55-94 fretless for sale for $1750, with case and bag. I know that is used, but still, it's a Lakland!

    I could stick with Pedulla and buy munjibunga's Thunderbass 5.

    Or, I could order a Carvin with all of the options that I have dreamed of, and have the Aguilar preamp put in to replace the stock Carvin, which I have heard sounds bland. I have heard that the MM bridge humbucker and the J99 in the middle position sound good with a decent preamp.

    I can afford any of these if I cash in an old 401K in January, and am leaning towards the Carvin unless I can talk michaeln into shipping the Lakland, but I am afraid that if I don't get a PentaBuzz, that I will regret it later.
     
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    All three are nice basses. I've played or owned all three. The Pedullas sounds great. I have a fretted Lakland 55-94 and have no doubt the fretless should sound great. The Carvin is more of a crapshoot simply because , until you get it and modify it, you don't know what you'll have, unless you've heard someone else do these mods. I modded my LB75 with all Bartolini and was moderately happy (not exactly what most people shoot for;)) Unfortunately I'll muddy the waters a little more. I'd look at these, too. Sorry.

    Peavey Cirrus fretless 5 (new or used, under $1400)
    Zon Sonus Custom or Special fretless 5 (used)

    Your first three choices are nice basses. What kind of fretless sound are you looking for?
     
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The only thing that's gonna set you right is the you-know-what.
     
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Brad, I am looking for the Jaco type mwaaah, although I will admit that I will never be Jaco:)

    munji, the you-know-what would be the Thunderbass?;)
     
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Yes, that would be it. You want Jaco? HAH! This thing sounds more like Jaco than Jaco EVER did. In actuality, it has really versatile tones. Just roll it back toward that bridge pickup and the mwah kicks in. It also has the optional and highly desireable Bartolini TBT electronics, so it has plenty of punch. In fact, just talking about it makes me think I'll go down to my practice room and play it for a while.
     
  6. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Em-B, I wouldn't recommend a fretless that couldn't give me that sound;) Flexibility is also a requirement for me... that's why I don't own a Rob Allen (yet). I've had my Zon Legacy for three years and it still makes me smile.
     
  7. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for the responses, Brad, and munji.

    Anybody else out there with experience with these 3 basses have any input for me?
     
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Brad, used Zons do not happen around these parts, and I have not found one for sell on any of the usual boards either.
     
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Here's a few places I've found them: Bassgear.com, eBay, Harmony Central, Bass Alone, Bass Northwest, Bass Palace, Giampetro Guitars, Bass Central.

    I found mine new for less than half price, a truly freak deal.
     
  10. I love my Carvin fretless 5. Had a Warwick 'vette Standard before it, another great bass. For the $$ it's hard to beat Carvin. Do they offer the Aggy pre-amp, or would you put it in aftermarket? The big humbucker does sound better than the standard J p-up (for me anyway).
    Ahhhh, the excitement of bass shopping.....
     
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    fretless5, they do not offer any electronics other than the Carvin ones, so I would have to mod it after I get it.
     
  12. I.'.I.'.Nakoa

    I.'.I.'.Nakoa Guest

    Aug 10, 2000
    Fort Worth.
    get all 3! thats a hard decision... i would go for the pedulla... maybe a nice rouge someday...
     
  13. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Finally, a comparison question I can answer first-hand!

    I took my Carvin fretles 6 to a store to A/B with a Diamondkote Pentabuzz. I did not compare the bottom-heavy tones, but with both instruments set to full buzz-saw bridge pickup midrange snarl (though NOT using the Carvin's mid-boost), I swear to you they were IDENTICAL in tone. I played both basses through my Cavin rig, then played both through an SWR silverado Special set for full mid-boost at 800hz. I do have to admit that the SWR sounded more lively than my Carvin rig, but, really, the two basses sounded the same played through the same amp.

    Honestly, I had not expected to leave that store feeling as good about my Carvin as it turned out! And BTW my '95 Carvin has two H50N pu's in it. I can't comment about the J99's or the MM-style.

    Hope that helps...

     
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for the comments, Eli.

    Have you by chance A/B'd it with a Lakland 55-94?:D;):)

    [Edited by embellisher on 12-28-2000 at 11:43 PM]
     
  15. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    ;)

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Of course, that is the PentaBuzz at the top left, the Lakland is in the middle, the Thunderbass would be on the right, of course, if I get that one it will be munjibunga's in AA flame transparent red with gold hardware, and at the bottom we have the Carvin.

    The Carvin would be fully loaded, flame of some color, with MM humbucker in bridge position, rounded body edges, my name engraved on the truss rod cover, etc.

    What should I do? :D

    [Edited by embellisher on 12-28-2000 at 11:41 PM]
     
  16. ka-tet

    ka-tet

    May 2, 2000
    I owned a Carvin 5 a few years ago and thought it was the worst sounding fretless I have ever heard. I couldn't get Jaco out of it. I had it for 6 months and then the neck developed a large hump in the fingerboard. I had never seen this before. It made the bass unplayable and Carvin was no help. I've played many Pedulla's and think the Pentabuzz sound very good but a little inconsistent. I wouldn't order one but if I found one in a store that was nice I'd get it. the problem I had with those is that several had dead spots. Dead spots are unacceptable on a fretless. The ones I played without dead spots were great though. I ended up buying a Zon Sonus Special fretless 5. It has absolutely the best fretless tone that I heard of the basses I tried and no dead spots.
     
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You have a lot of apples vs. oranges going on here.

    The Pedulla Pentabuzz is very J-bass like and has a coated fingerboard. Having played some of the early Pedulla Buzzes (4 strings) years ago, it is to my ears THE best off the shelf Jaco-sound fretless on the market.

    The Thunderbass (and Thunderbolt version) are much beefier sounding basses, good for those who think Js are wimpy next to Ps.

    The Carvin is also very J-like but if you get the MM pickup you can get a whole range of tones not available to the Buzz, built off that StingRay type sound.

    The Lakland can give you that StingRay thing, but it's also a bolt-on while the others are neck-through. Which do you prefer?

    Personally, if I was going to cash in a 401K and pay Uncle Sam the penalties and then spend $2K or more on a new bass, I would do it the old fashioned way: PLAY THEM ALL side by side if possible using the same amp (preferably yours). I would be willing to drive a couple of hours if a dealer had all of these (well, Carvin's a toughie unless you live in LA or can find a used one to try) and spend a few hours swapping back and forth between them.

    I actually did this at a Guitar Center a few years back before buying my first 5 string. I was able to check out a Zon, Tobias, Alembic, Pedulla, Carvin (used), Fender and StingRay side by side. What surpised me was how much I DISLIKED some of the basses. I also found myself wishing I could get a bass that sounded like the Zon but played like the Alembic (ha ha). In the end, I bought none of them because none was THE bass for me so why should I dump big $$ for one.

    Also consider a custom builder (there are many out there) who will build you a bass to your specs. The exact woods, pickups, hardware and finish you want and many will cost you no more than the basses you're looking at now.
     
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for the advice, Brian.

    I know that these basses are very different tonewise, although arguably the Lakland can cover most of the tones from the PentaBuzz, the ThunderBass and others that they can't.

    I have never owned a neck through bass, I like the ones that I have played, and would like something a little different from my Rapture, tonewise, but want the bright mwaahh as well.

    The problem with playing them all side by side is that I cannot find a fretless Thunderbass or Lakland within 3 hours of Dallas.

    We have GC and one other Pedulla dealer, and only 1 Lakland dealer.

    As for considering the Lakland, it is slightly used, is a better(IMHO, from what I've seen in fretted Laklands) built bass(although Pedullas are awesome) and has more tonal options.

    I would be getting it for 1/2 of retail, where the PentaBuzz would be at about 38% off, and the Thunderbass(which is used too) about 45% off.

    If I buy the Lakland, I know that it would be much easier to sell at near what I pay for it than either of the Pedullas would be.
     
  19. i have a pedulla buzz (4 string) don't know anything about the others, the pedulla is great and i wouldn't sell it for anything it is the bass i compare others to
     
  20. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you know, the groove tools offer a lined fretless version of the GT-7 as well. i've played these things at some namm shows and they were really great. i think one would run you, new, about $1200, probably less, but it would be a "special order" item, which means it would probably take a couple of weeks to show up, maybe less.

    just to stir up the pot some.