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Hartke Xk 5string, cool or crap?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dgce, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Sam Ash is practically giving these puppies away. These are not the all-wood Korean imports. These are the (US???) made aluminum neck bases with the real EMG PJ pickups and active preamp. I know when they first came out this top of the line axes cost a fair about of cash but as the line flopped, they're way on the cheap! Can't find a review on these models anywhere. Anyone own one? How's that low B string?


  2. I don't own a Hartke, but I do have a four string aluminum neck Kramer from the '70s. I think the Hartke's neck is basically the same design, and mine has similar active pickups and electrics. I can tell you that if it is anything like the Kramer that I have, it is an awesome bass: sustain and tone forever. Granted, the thing's a bit of a tank, but I just think of it as good exercise. And I've heard people talk about not liking to play with a non-wood fingerboard. To me, that makes no difference, because my fingers only touch the strings... Oh, and if you get one, I highly recommend ripping of the roundwound strings and putting on some flatwounds: the sounds you can get from an aluminum neck and flatwound strings are really, really cool.

  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    They're also giving the aluminum necked Vaccaros away. Whoever said that these things don't need any setup or trussrod adjustment should be shot. The strings were about half an inch off the fretboard. These things should have their necks shimmed before some unsuspecting kid buys one thinking that it's a good deal.
  4. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    Well I know the Hartke aluminum necks are made by the Vaccaros people. Now are you saying these Vaccaros necks do not have truss rods--any of them? I would think they would have learned the hard lesson learned by the graphite neck industry. All those old graphite necks of the late 70s and early 80s didn't have trussrods as "they were not neccessry". Ha! Fast forward 15 or so years and those necks are ****ed. Well in good if its bolt on but if its neck-thru...bye bye. I'll do some research but are you certain there is NO trussrod in the Hartke neck?

    Oh, and Kramer guy, does your bass have a truss rod? Those old alluminum neck Kramers must be well over 15 years old by now. I've tried a few over the years and they've played very well (and your right, they are tanks!). If the old Kramer alluminum neck basses are still comfy after all these years, maybe this trussrod ting is is a non-issue. Feed back?

  5. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    There is a lot of misinformation in this thread.

    Hartke XKs are made in Korea. That's what the K stands for. The Hartke XL series is the US version. Both have aluminum necks. The US has active electronics. I played an XK in a local store and almost bought one online. The tone and sustain are very good.

    I own a Korean made Vaccaro 5 string. It is now my main 5 and it does have a truss rod. However, I have not needed it because the setup from the factory was very good. I only did minor intonation and action adjustments. The feel and tone are great and the paint job is unbelievable. The fingerboard is rosewood and the back of the neck is all maple -- the only place to touch aluminum is on the headstock. The B string is very good.
  6. No truss rod; no need. It's all a function of a material's stiffness: I wouldn't imagine that graphite, which has characteristics analogous to fiberglass, would be able to hold up very well over the years without a truss rod, due to it's inherent flexibility. For a given weight, however, forged aluminum (the material out of which my Kramer's neck and, presumably, the Hartke's neck is made) is stiffer than steel (the material out of which a truss rod is made). That is why most sporting motorcycles now use aluminum for their frames. With the neck made out of a material that is stiffer than a truss rod, there is no need to have a truss rod: as long as aluminum is forged with the right shape, that shape will stay. Proof of that: my neck is still straight as a plumb line and has nice low action after almost thirty years. More proof: unless the weather changes drastically, my bass never goes out of tune. Thus, if the action is good on the one you play at the store, it will stay that way (almost) indefinitely.
  7. Oh yeah, if the action is as high as Christopher says they are, try checking the setting of the bridge; it may just be a matter of lowering that. If not, run, in the words of King Arthur when confronted by the Killer Rabbit: "Run away!"
  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Not sure this is really true. Aren't there a lot of Zons and Statuses and Moduluses and Moses out there w/o truss rods that are still great instruments? :meh: BassLab also builds with or without trussrods, today.
  9. I think the Vacarro company is out of business, hence the product dumping.

    Their web site has evaporated and Google doesn't list anything for them.

    So, what does that do to customer support or warrany issues if you buy one?
  10. http://www.vaccaroguitars.com/basses.html

    The site changed URL's. Looks like they are selling direct too.

    Sam Ash owns, Samson... which owns Hartke. Hartke must be bailing out of the bass instrument business... so it figures, the dumping of product on the Sam Ash web site .
  11. Jondog,
    I didn't mean to provide misinformation, I was just indicating what I knew about my Kramer, which I said upfront was not the same instrument. And I never meant to imply that the fingerboard is made of aluminum: it's not. It's ebanol, just like the Vaccaros listed on that company's website. I just meant that I'd heard people bitch that "that fingerboard just doesn't feel as good as wood" while their fingers were separated from the fingerboard by a string and a fretwire.
    And I don't know if its a good thing that these modern ones have trussrods, and apparently a wood sleeve into which the aluminum fits (as opposed to "T" shaped aluminum with wood inserts on the back, as on mine). It seems to me that it just adds parts and complexity in order that the manufacturer can get a half-ass forging job done on the neck and save a little money. Well, hold on, I just impugned our entire socio-economic system, didn't I? My bad. I suppose it still sounds awesome.

  12. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I didn't mean misinfo about the Kramer, just the Hartke country of origin/model letters and the truss rod issues. The Sam Ash price is $399, which is a good deal but not a giveaway. The Hartke neck is made by Vaccaro.

    I really like my Vaccaro, but I'd still like to get a Kramer like yours someday. The ebay prices seem reasonable, $300-$600. The only thing I might change about mine is to add an active preamp. The aluminum part is still T shaped, it's just encased in a maple sleeve. I'm not sure it adds parts, the sleeve is one piece and the Kramer had 2 inserts on the back of the neck.

    Also, graphite is stiffer than aluminum (I'm not positive on this, but I'm 90% sure). 1 or 2 manufacturers do put truss rods on their graphite necks, but most do not because the neck will not move. My '86 Steinberger, no trussrod, still has perfect relief and never goes out of tune.

    You do raise a good question about what the truss rod is made out of, I have no clue.

    You can trashtalk the profit motive and explain how the consumer loses w/ capitalism all you like. :)

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