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Fretless: Sadowsky?....thinking about it; input appreciated

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimS, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I've played some fretless basses in stores and it's pretty cool. And after picking up Michael Manring's Book of Flame (first time I ever listened to him) and digging the music and especially fretless tone of La Familia Sagrada I've got a bit of a fever for a fretless bass, probably 5 string. Manring used a custom Zon Hyperbass ("Jr") on that song.

    I will consider Zon (or even Roscoe, Modulus, etc) but I have two Sadowsky basses and love Roger's work. I'm asking Sadowsky fretless owners (a phone call to Roger to will ensue) about AND why they chose their
    • pickup combinations (jazz or soapbar)
    • fretboards (maple, ebony, morado)
    I want the punch of a swamp ash body and of course it will have to have a figured top to rival Rader's spalted fretless!:p

    P.S.-- Obtaining a high end fretless 5 will insure that I play like Manring, Wooten, and Miller, right?

  2. i haven't tried a fretless sadowsky, but you can't go wrong with a fretless zon or roscoe. you simply can't!
  3. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    I have to agree with the above. I recently bought a Roscoe SKB3005 fretless, and it is a killer bass. Previous fretless basses that I've owned include Fender Jazz Bass, Fury, Carvin, Fender Roscoe Beck V, MTD-535 and F-Bass. The FBass and my new Roscoe rank as the best fretless in my book.
  4. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State

    Here's my opinion...

    The difference in tone between the fretless F-Basses, Roscoes, Tobias (original), Ken Lawrence, Jerzy and Pedulas that I have played or owned and my Sadowsky are minor. All are great basses. I prefer the feel and workmanship of my Sadowsky to any of the above.

    That said, the Zon fretless basses I have owned were unique. More sustain than any of the above. The Custom I owned had a more traditional tone (but with more sustain) and the Lightwave had a very unique tone - very expressive but not traditional. If I played only fretless, I would own a "traditional" type bass and a Zon. Since I play fretless about 40% of the time, the Sadowsky (and the Fender Relic) are all I really need.

    You really should play a Zon. You will probably want one.

    Good luck!!
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    What kind of vibe are you after, Jim? I ask because lots of fretlesses bring different things to the table.

    My favorites are Zon, Brubaker, Stambaugh, Elrick, F Bass, Rob Allen and Roscoe, in no particular order. Killer Jaco sound? Brubaker, Zon, Stambaugh, F Bass, Roscoe, the Stambaugh with Bart setup and my Elrick Singlecut. Huge, more uprightish vibe? My Semihollow Elrick, the Stambaugh with Lane Poor soapbar and the Rob Allens.

    I've played one Sadowsky fretless and it was nice. I've played a few Fodera fretlesses and they've ranged from okay to pretty good. I know they can sound better, I just haven't laid my hands on that one yet.

    Bear in mind, the biggest factor bar none in getting the sound you want is in your hands. Some basses facilitate this, some fight you.

    Hope that helps.
  6. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Modern tone, not upright or Jaco.

    And yes, I know a lot of tone, as infretted guitars and basses, is in BOTH hands.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    You thought I meant ONE hands?


    I only mentioned the hands because it's amazing how different a fretless can sound from one player to the next.

    I'm not sure what "Modern" actually means... do you mean like Manring or maybe Mark Egan?
  8. anyone mentioned zon's or roscoe's for this?
  9. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    you rang? :D

  10. Jim, if you want to make an informed choice, I recommend a road trip. A goodly number of the basses you are interested in are sitting and waiting for you to check out about 2-2.5 hours north-northwest of you! Zero pressure, just come check 'em out so you will get an idea of what it is that you really are looking for.


    PM me if you have any questions.
  11. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    CALL ADRIAN @ Accessbass

    Tell Him you want this to be a fretless MONSTER
    I know it has Ultra Jazz pickups and Benavente preamp, so it will have a smokin Jazz tone!!!!

  12. Hmm, fretless is good. do it.
  13. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    MODERN as in Manring's tone....just to generalize. I don't want to get into another one of those 'yes, but don't forget how tone is altered in studio processing on the CD sound' soapbox sermons.

    Brian Barret,

    What is that beauty?


    I was thinking of that. Your inventory is exceptoinal. I'm definitely going to take you up on that this summer. I'll make it a multi-function trip and take my drum-playing sons to Cirque du Soleis and other stuff in Orlando.
  14. Jim, yes there may be some of the "yes but don't forget how tone is altered in studio processing and on the CD sound" in the Manring/Zon tone equation, but trust me - like the old Prego commercials: It's in there. If you're looking for a "Manring-ish" fretless tone, the Zon will probably be the most direct route, but not necessarily the only one.

    Let me know when you're headed up. You'll definitely dig Cirque, their bassist comes in regularly, very cool guy, screaming player!
  15. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com

    Its on Adrian's website (accessbass) in proccess. Its been posted before, people trying to get him to finish it out fretless with Black lines or something. Its all Macc Ebony top and board. Ultra Jazz Pickups with Benavente Pre. It would be an AMAZING fretless.
  16. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Is it still Jean-François Bédard?
    If so, tell him Yvon say hi, he will be suprised!
  17. YES!!! I will make sure to remember that you know him! :D

    He bought a Zon Sonus 5 Fretless from me about a year ago, awesome bass, awesome player. Did you ever play the bass he made for himself?? :eek: Man, that thing is incredible! :D
  18. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member


    Great. Now if I road trip up there you'll hear my feeble attempt at playing compared to these guys who do this for a living. I'll give you a heads up so you have an empty stomach upon my arrival.

    I'll probably get up there this summer for a weekend.
  19. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I've owned quite a few high end fretless basses and think it would be hard to go wrong with a Lakland, Zon, Pedulla Buzz or a Modulus Quantum.

    My Hexabuzz with soapbar PUs is the one fretless that works best for me. It just always feels great to play and sounds heavenly.

  20. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    i think MM uses fairly light gauge strings on his Zons (better for his detuning gymnastics).

    i think this has a bearing on his tone too.


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