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Got a Douglas WEB-846 -- review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KrisH, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. KrisH


    Nov 6, 2007
    New Jersey
    So the GAS bug bit again a while back, and I was itching for something different, yet familiar. But I didn't want to lay down a lot of money to satisfy what was essentially a whim. What finally caught my eye was a Douglas WEB-846, a fretless 6-string bass from Rondo Music. I ordered the sunburst one because, well, it was cheaper, and I wanted to play it, not look at it. The order went in last Monday and the bass arrived on Wednesday. How's that for service? And as I found out, it's worth every dollar I spent for it -- for good and bad.

    Here's a picture of it:


    It seems decently built; the parts all fit together tightly with no obvious slop or gaps. The strings that came with it are pretty good too, some kind of bright chrome-ish un-named brand that weren't corroded or dead. It tunes up tight and stays in tune. And to it's credit, the active pickups and electronics are nice, too. I can get lots of different sounds from it, from deep rumbling to bright and punchy. And the low B string!!! :hyper: That's a wonderful new experience for me. Although I don't know how relevant the high C string will be.

    The problems I had were with the neck. First of all, it's a long scale (34") and I've been used to the 30.5" scale of my EB-3 for so long. Not that that's a problem with the bass, and I've been having fun getting used to it. :) But there were other things that were less than perfect.

    First of all, the fingerboard was "ebonized," i.e., painted black. I couldn't see that staying on for long, so I stripped it down to the rosewood right away and dressed it with lemon oil. Then, in the process of stripping it, I discovered a small gouge in the fingerboard, either a tiny knot that fell out or an errant tooling mark. It's not in the way of any fingerings, so I decided to let it ride. It had probably been filled with putty and painted over at the factory, and I exposed it when I stripped it I can always re-fill it in with some epoxy resin if I decide to later. After all, I didn't spend top dollar for the thing. :rolleyes: Here's a closup picture:


    Finally, the neck had a strange geometry, and I spent the last 3 days slowly tweaking it back into the correct shape. It has double truss rods, and they were badly mis-adjusted -- the one on the treble side was cranked way down tight and the one on the bass side was loosened almost the whole way. I adjusted, let it settle, over and over again, and had to spray the bass side with WD-40 and cleaned chunks of black paint out of the slot. But I eventually got them working together with the proper relief, and it plays pretty smoothly now, no buzzing or clatter with an acceptable action (3/32" on the E string at the octave).

    By the way, the dot makers on the side of the neck are placed where they would be on a fretted fingerborad, so I added a couple "fret lines" along the side with a silver marker.

    Like I said, it was worth every dollar I spent on it, but I had to put some time and effort into getting it tweaked to my satisfaction. If you enjoy going at your instruments with wrenches, screwdrivers and steel wool, it might be worth investing a buck or two into.
  2. I got the green one last week. I had played one of the first Fender fretless precisions in 1971 (single digit serial number) They never could keep the neck straight and I traded it in on a Jazz.

    I switched over to a Peavey TL-5, but always wanted to try fretless again, and why not a sixer, even though I too have not found a lot of use for the C string yet. Sounds so foreign to the bass notes.

    Upon receiving the bass it was trued up right out of the box and I did not have to adjust the neck at all.

    Since I switched over to EXEL Chromes last year, the first thing I did was order a set of GHS flats from Mike's chop shop on Ebay.

    I was totally blasted away by the tonal quality of the instrument with the proper strings installed. This bass sounds as good as any fretless that I have heard, and for themoney, how can you go wrong:hyper::hyper:
  3. KrisH


    Nov 6, 2007
    New Jersey
    My thinking exactly -- how can you go wrong? After letting the neck settle for another week and a half, the relief ran completely proportional and smoothly along the full 2 octaves of the fingerboard. So I was able to lower the action even more, to 5/64" on E at the octave. No buzz at all, plays sweet, sounds nice. I'd like to put a set of flatwounds on it, but 6 string? Not available at my usual outlets. I'll have to check out this Mike on eBay. Thanks!
  4. KrisH


    Nov 6, 2007
    New Jersey
    Looks like we got the same set of strings for the bass. I found I needed to widen the nut slots and a few of the strings, and enlarge the through-body holes below the bridge for the B and E strings, and the saddle slots, too. Plus I needed to re-adjust the relief in the neck and saddle heights. The neck takes a long time to settle in. It plays nice and smooth, although it certainly doessn't sound as bright as with those roundwounds, but deep and growly instead.
  5. How did you enlarge the through body holes?

    My original set of flats I had to pull the string as hard as I could to get it seated into the hole, then when the string turned out to be for a shorter scale, Mike's chop shop send me a new one.

    I had one heck of a time getting the B string out, eventually using pliers.
  6. dakpluto


    Oct 14, 2006
    Orlando, FL
    Dude, the pickup covers are awesome.
  7. KrisH


    Nov 6, 2007
    New Jersey
    I have a set of small files that includes a small round one that tapers. Started on the small end and worked up. It also worked for widening the nut slots.