Fretless bass wood/pickup advice (Cynic, Exivious)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alvaro Caceres, Jan 27, 2021.

  1. Alvaro Caceres

    Alvaro Caceres

    Jan 25, 2021
    Hi everyone,

    I'm thinking of ordering a custom Kiesel Zeus 5-string fretless bass. I'm looking for a sound similar to that of bands like Cynic or Exivious. Here are some examples of the sound I'm looking for: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

    I've been advised to choose either black limba for the body (nice lows, warm mids) or walnut (nice growl, punchy attack, clear mids & highs). Do you think any of the two better approximates that kind of tone?

    Also I've been advised to choose the Radium Radius Humbucker pickups, but again I'm not sure if I should have Bartolinis / Nordstrands installed as I'm getting something custom made.

    Thank you!
  2. Which woods do you hear in the clips you posted? Use those.
  3. Alvaro Caceres

    Alvaro Caceres

    Jan 25, 2021
    I believe Robin Zielhorst (Exivious) uses Ziricote (not available at Kiesel) and lately he uses walnut. Sean Malone (Cynic) used mahogany (again not available at Kiesel) and swamp ash body.

    Actually, I've tried messaging Robin and I'm so happy to have got a reply from him! :D He told me I'll need hard woods to get the mid-growly punch you can hear on those basses.

    I think I'll go for walnut; I've listened a couple of demos and it has beautiful lows; perhaps I can put a black limba top which may add warmer mids. To be honest I dreamed of having a poplar burl top with a California burst and all XD, but
    1. This adds tons of extra cost to the final build
    2. It looks like it doesn't add to the tone (or it rather substracts from it)
    As of pickups, I believe requesting non-Kiesel ones will void the warranty for the electronics, so I may try the Kiesel ones (Almicos) first, then switching to Nordstrand/Barts if the tone doesn't convince me.
  4. In my opinion that is about as specific you can get when picking woods for tone. There is so much variation and overlap in the qualities of an individual piece of wood It's like asking for a board from the north side of the tree that was cut down in April. And each bass can give a wide range of sounds so I pick wood for general specifics. And then looks. :) I own so many contradictions to accepted rules about wood tone that I think the rules are meaningless.
  5. Your right hand positioning will have much, much more affect on tone than getting a poplar burl top. Buy the bass you really want, not a mathematical guess on what might add up to be an imaginary ideal!
    gebass6 and mikewalker like this.
  6. Mastodon2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I had a Spector with a maple and walnut body with a poplar burl top and it wasn't short of growl and mids, but then it did have the very hot Tonepump preamp and EMG pickups.

    Hardwoods will get you where you want. Personally, I'd try and find a used Warwick Thumb fretless instead of getting a Kiesel. You may find that due to being fretless, a bass will have a naturally more mellow tone, so you can compensate by boosting your mids if you have an active EQ to get a bit more attack and presence in a mix.
  7. Alvaro Caceres

    Alvaro Caceres

    Jan 25, 2021
    Thanks everyone for all the replies, I appreciate all the good tips.

    Yeah I may be overthinking stuff; it's just that I want to get it right now that I can customize the bass exactly the way I want. Perhaps having a hard body wood, and having good strings, electronics (and most importantly technique) will help me in getting the sound I want. So I may just put the poplar burl top XD.

    I've seen other basses that sound great; the main reason why I wanted a Kiesel is that they're the cheapest custom-made 5-string fretless basses I've found so far. I thought of the Strandberg Boden, but they are way more expensive.